The Mystical Therapist

           

            You know, I often think about what my therapist really thinks.  I’m pretty sure the majority of clients do that.  I’ve read a lot about the one sided nature of the therapist/client relationship, I’ve read about how attachment works, I’ve read about how the client wants to occupy a special place in their therapists life.  I’ve done a lot of reading.  It’s an interesting area of study.  This is why I love therapist blogs.  One in particular is What a Shrink Thinks.  It gives you a glimpse of what really goes on in the therapists mind.  It fulfills that craving I feel to know, to see, to really get into that mystical place that is the therapist brain.

            I’ve had the extraordinary opportunity to work with some amazing female therapists.  A few of them were in person and another was online.  I never pass up the chance to say how much I like Discussing Dissociation.  Not that Kathy needs any advertising from me as you’ll see in this article but I don’t mind saying that her blog and one on one sessions I’ve had with her have been invaluable.  I’ve never had a male therapist so I have no idea what that relationship would look like or feel like.  I don’t know that I could even build that relationship.  But the women whose care I’ve been under for significant periods of time, well they’ve just been fantastic.

            I saw my first therapist when I was 15 and she continues to be a part of my life.  We’ve sort of segued into a hybrid sort of friendship but with boundaries sort of relationship.  I know that if I still lived in the same city as her I could call and seek therapy from her and she would be perfectly willing.  I also know that if I called and asked if she’d like to go for coffee she’d oblige me that way as well.  I know that I can send her a joke on Facebook just as easily as I can send her a private email asking about her health.  I know these things emotionally, intellectually.  I know them deeply.

            Another woman I worked with was quite the opposite of that first therapist.  She did not allow hugging or touching but still managed to develop affection for me and me for her.  She was very closed off about her personal life; it was not something we discussed at any great length at all.  But I grew to care deeply for this relationship, to depend on it for my very life.  When circumstances forced us to part ways when I left the city she told me that she would never forget me and that our experience changed the way she would conduct therapy in a profound way.  That made me feel so good.  It could have been a line she fed me but I really don’t believe that.  I believe she was being genuine and her declaration was heartfelt.  I have called her since leaving and she has been helpful in trying to find new resources for me.  Though she gently encourages me to rely more and more on the therapist I’m seeing now.  That is her style.  To push me in the direction I need to go however painful it might be is what she has always done.

            Anyway, what all this rambling is about is just to demonstrate that every therapist has their own style, their own way of dealing with the complexities of their job.  And to also talk about what it’s like to want to be a bigger, more important part of your therapist’s life.  What is it like to really get inside their minds?

            I haven’t yet developed that need, that attachment with my current therapist.  I feel as though I’m right there ready to take the leap. I just need one more push, one more reason, a teensy bit more reassurance that the leap will be worth it.

            I’ll be writing more about this subject again, but this is a good rough start.  Tell me what you think about the relationship you have with your therapist.  I know for multiples there are so many different levels and layers.  How do you deal with all of that?

Therapy. Wait, what were we working on again?

 

One of the things I love about my therapist is that she checks in with me every so often to make sure we’re on the same page.  Do I know what her goal is?  Do I know what my goal is?  Are they the same?  Are we in the right stage, going in the right direction?  Are we moving forward or standing still?  How do I feel I’m doing now as compared to a month ago, 2 months ago?

            Today was one such day where we kind of looked at each other like, okay wait, what are you saying?  Where are you going with this?  I told my therapist that I kind of felt like we were in a holding pattern.  She didn’t necessarily agree with that assessment.  So that is why we stepped back and looked at our game plan.

            To me it feels like I’m playing the waiting game… again.  Waiting for the consultation with the DID specialist.  Waiting to see if she accepts me as a full time client.  Waiting to see if I’ll be continuing with my current therapist in some capacity.

            My therapist explained that even if we do continue seeing each other she wouldn’t be digging into trauma work with as of yet.  She feels that I still have a ways to go in achieving higher functioning in my daily life.  After dissecting what exactly she means, I have to agree with her standpoint.

            The goal now is to achieve some sort of structure in my day to day life.  I don’t have much of a schedule that I follow right now.  And what little scheduling there is certainly doesn’t include things like exercise, getting out of the house, regular meal times etc.  I’m very isolated at the moment which is partly to do with the season but I have been making strides in that department.  I try and accept invitations from friends more often and even initiate an afternoon out for coffee.  But there are other things such as volunteering that I have yet to follow up on.

            So the idea is to make up a schedule of an ideal day/week that strikes a balance between those things we must do and those things that are pleasurable, and then add those things into my actual schedule.  That means scheduling a shower, doing the dishes, vacuuming, going for a walk, going to the dog park, spending meaningful time with my wife.  Scheduling absolutely everything.

            But everything has to start somewhere, so much against my all or nothing nature the one thing I choose to add this week is going to the dog park at least 4 times.  Should be doable right?  I’ll keep you posted.

            In the end, my session with my therapist was quite productive today.  I like knowing where we stand.  It gives me that sense of control over the process that I so desperately crave in my life.

            After all, that’s what therapy is about right?  Building a sense of mastery in one’s life.

Remember, it’s okay to ask in therapy, “Wait, what were we working on again?”

Fear in all its Forms

So yesterday in therapy we talked about the darkness and the light.  We talked about how life has both, needs both, to balance the other out.  The reason we were talking about this is because I have been in a bit of a lull. A period of calm you might say.  With the exception of feeling a little melancholy here and there I’ve had mostly good days.

            I’ve written about this before in a slightly different context.  It is in these times that I find I can’t enjoy myself too much.  I can’t relax too much.  To let my guard down that way would be dangerous and ill advised.  It is hard to accept that things are okay without feeling that the other shoe could drop at any moment.  Of course, this all fits in with the PTSD and so, is somewhat inherently part of my makeup.  But what my therapist would like me to try and realize is that I don’t need to waste the okay times anticipating the bad.  The bad will come eventually whether I am prepared for it or not.  So why not just relax and basque in the glow of happiness without judgement?

            That’s where the DBT skills come into play as well.  Being mindful, present, doing one thing in the moment.  Filling up my time with pleasurable activities and being mindful of what exactly this emotion is.  I guess I truly am learning a few things in DBT.  I still don’t believe it’s the be all and end all that some chalk it up to being but it does have some useful ideas.  I guess really I’m a fan of anything I can do to keep out of the hospital.

            I know that many, if not most DID people have been in and out of the hospital at least a couple of times.  I’ve been close to being admitted a couple of times myself but in those moments of evaluation I was able to pull it together enough to receive outpatient care instead.   Being put in the hospital terrifies me.  I don’t know that I would even stabilize me in a time of need or if it would just scare me to death.  So I hope to avoid that eventuality at all costs.  Perhaps this fear even keeps me from reaching full healing potential.  For if I dig too deep I risk destabilizing and leave myself vulnerable to the need for intervention.  Unacceptable.  Maybe one of you can explain to me what happens in the hospital to take the mystery out of it for me.  Fearing the unknown is a huge issue in my life

            Fear in any form has been a huge issue in my life.  What to do about that?  What to do?

D.I.D. Specialist

So I received some news this past week that I haven’t shared yet.  My therapist tried contacting a colleague of hers to see if she had any experience treating someone with DID.  Her colleague did not but pointed out that there is a new psychiatrist in town that specializes in trauma.  My therapist just happens to have other clients that go to this psychiatrist so she felt comfortable enough contacting her about me, minus the revealing details of course.  IT turns out that the new psychiatrist worked in a large city and was involved in a women’s program that dealt extensively with trauma which inevitably included patients with DID.  Imagine that! A psychiatrist in our little city with such experience.  It’s like winning the lottery in a way.  My therapist was glad to find this out so she set up a referral for me.  The new psychiatrist has agreed to do a consultation to see if she’d be willing to take me on as a full-time client.  She is now in private practice which allows her to be selective about her caseload giving her more control over her schedule.  I understand this.  I just find it quite miraculous that I’ve finally found someone who has seen this disorder before.

My current therapist is a social worker with 20 years under her belt dealing with all manner of things.  She understands trauma and has been really good for me so far.  The new psychiatrist indicated that she would only consider taking me on if I was fairly stable and had a good sense of grounding and being present.  So my current therapist and I are working on making sure I have the grounding down pat.  As we went through a few techniques together I was actually surprised at how much I knew already.  Of course knowing it intellectually and putting it into practice are two totally different things.

Anyway, I’m very excited about this new development.  It will likely take a couple of months to get the actual appointment but that’s better than the years I waited for my current treatment.  I’m so very thankful for my current therapist.  If you are reading this… please know that.

Until next time,

ppp

Manipulation… Good or Bad?

So we’re talking about interpersonal effectiveness in group right now.  Two long words to describe how to get what you need and want.  Or conversely you can describe it as how to say no to what you don’t need or don’t want.  Other words you can use are how to manipulate a situation to your best advantage. 

The facilitator of my group said that manipulate doesn’t have to be a bad word.  I had a hard time swallowing that at first.  But then I looked at it another way.  I guess in a manner of speaking we are manipulating the world around us all the time.  Scheduling what we’ll do when, who we’ll see, who we won’t.  We work towards gaining the things we want, plan what to get rid of or ignore.  All of these things are a kind of manipulation.  I think when it becomes a bad word is if you are subversive about it, or hurtful and deceitful

We all maneuver through our lives.  Some of us are very skillful.  We’ve learned highly adaptive ways of dealing with the world while others of us have not been so fortunate.  The fact that the brain can be changed, molded and in some cases stunted leaves us all vulnerable.  An abused person develops completely different from a non-abused person.  A loved person has certain advantages over an unloved person.  That is not to say that we can’t overcome obstacles planted in our way.  In fact it means quite the opposite.  We can train or manipulate our brain chemistry by learning and practicing a new way of being. We can work hard at finding different ways to handle the trials of our lives.  We can adjust our course, choose a new journey, and seek a smoother path.  The best thing to do is find support, find information, and find all of the things you need to accomplish whatever goals you set for yourselves.  Manipulate the world around you in an honest, gentle way and be kind to yourself.

So manipulate away.  It’s not such a bad word after all.

Do You Know What Kind of Therapy You’re In?

So let’s talk therapy.  There are so many different kinds of therapy.  Different theories, different modes, different styles.  How many different kind of therapy do you think you’ve been exposed to?  I’m trying to remember.  There’s been individual counselling as well as a few couple sessions.  I’ve done several different types of group therapy.  I’ve done online chatting both individually and as a group.  I’ve also done forums and of course this blog I would also consider therapy, albeit self-directed.

I’ve been taught CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) and DBT (dialectical behaviour therapy).  I’ve had one counsellor that described her style as coming from a feminist perspective, another as a family systems theorist.  There’s client centered healing, oh  and my latest read was based on a Janetian theory which pays much attention to hierarchies of action systems.  There are many things you do in therapy like processing memories and learning practical skills.  There are countless theories and approaches.

I look at this and I think, “I should be the healthiest person around!”  There are a thousand types of therapy I’ve not been exposed to as well.  Do you know what theories your therapist is partial to?  Do you think yo have the right to know?  when I was younger it didn’t even occur to me to ask.  When I was moving to escape the bad guys I did ask that therapist what her main perspective came from so that I could tell any future therapist what I had worked with in the past.  Then I read this article by Kathy Broady and she talks about her approach at great length with her clients.

I have a great deal of respect for Kathy.  I discovered Discussing Dissociation when I was without a therapist after i moved.  i found all of the articles so informative and so in tune with what my experiences were.  Kathy is very knowledgeable and experienced when it comes to DID.  I know there has been some controversy out there about her but from my own personal experience, she’s been great.  A life saver even.

Anyway, I just wanted to p[ut these few questions out to see where you all stand.  Do you know what theories your therapist ascribes to?  Do you have a particular approach you feel you respond to better than others?  For any therapist out there, do you feel you are flexible as to what theory you use according to what client or do you stay rigidly within one or two?  Let me know what you’re thinking.

Unsettled

So we are currently having a snow storm.  It’s blowing like crazy.  Kind of pretty really  Even at this stage of winter.

The last few days have been fairly uneventful.  Uneventful in an emotional/mental way.  I’ve spent time with friends. I ‘ve gone out of the house even. Wow.  But things inside are pretty calm.  It always makes me wonder if a storm is brewing.  Past experience tells me that it won’t last, this calmness.  I guess that isn’t really a healthy way to think, but there it is.

I haven’t written or spoken about the memories yet.  Maybe the insiders are in hiding knowing I’m considering doing this.  I’m supposed to be trying to communicate more with them.  Maybe the timing of everything is too wonky.  I feel… unsettled.  That’s a good word.  Just plain unsettled.