Posted by: Marie | August 12, 2009

(123) What should I do?

Post #123
[Email to a local therapist who specializes in treatment after sexual abuse sent Monday, April 6, 2009 — I didn’t know her, I just liked what I saw on her website]

Hi, Jenny –

I need some guidance . . I started therapy in February 2008 to deal with self-sabotaging behavior. As we started digging around in my psyche, I was surprised by the recovery of memories of childhood sexual abuse . . . at least, I’m pretty sure I’m not making them up . . . too many things fit together well for my memories to not be accurate.

On the Date by Martin Chen

On the Date by Martin Chen

Anyway, that therapist told me that converting back to Christianity was a vital part of my healing . . I told him to keep his religious beliefs out of my therapy, he wouldn’t – in fact, he became relentless in his conversion efforts, so I ended my relationship with him.

I tried it on my own for a few months . . not so good.

A couple of months ago, I hired a psychologist, thinking that maybe her advanced education would cause her to be better equipped to deal with my “stuff”. Well, she has been instrumental in getting a very solid “personal care” program going (nutrition, exercise, hygiene). However, she refuses to give any energy to ugly thoughts.

Anytime I try to talk about the ugly stuff, she cuts me short and immediately tells me I have to turn it into a positive. She believes that, if I am really ready to put it all behind me, she can do a visualization exercise with me and it will be in the past – I won’t have to think about it anymore and I can get on with my life.

Of course, I am strongly triggered by lying down, especially with someone else nearby, especially in a strange place – and I’m triggered by having to “let go” of my awareness of my surroundings – so, any kind of hypnotic-like exercise is pretty much out of the question until I deal with the triggers – but she won’t talk about what’s behind the triggers, so I’m screwed.

I have to filter the ugly stuff out of my journal and out of my sessions with her – if I don’t, she is immediately on my case, telling me to find a way to think and feel positively about it. I feel paralyzed in my work with her.

I’ve never had a chance to get my arms around what happened – I’ve never really talked about it with anyone, at least not in depth. I’m not even sure I understand how it is impacting me.

How do I know if it is time to try therapist #3? Should I stay with her and try to educate her? Or, should I bail and maybe try working with someone like you?

I hope I’m not putting you in an awkward situation . . . I just don’t know what to do . . . thank you, in advance.

– Marie

Quotes 033


Responses

  1. I’m surprised you asked someone if you SHOULD dump her. I have imagined you strong, strong willed, and stubbornly so. I don’t think I’m wrong.

    Mr. S tried that route with me (once) not long after I began therapy with him. I told him then and there that this S*&^t had to come out. I said I was no longer a child and never again will anyone silence me. And then, I politely said, “So, I don’t think you will be able to help me. If you can’t hear the horror, you won’t be able to understand me.” To which he replied, “That is of course your choice, but I can see now that you need to talk about it. We will do something else.” And we have. Not that your T would react the same, I have just envisioned you as stronger than I am.

    But, can’t wait to read what you did. Hope you at least spoke to her about it — and then dumped her.

    • Hi, Ivory –

      I hear what you are saying about the “should I?” “shouldn’t I?” debate that was going on in my head . . .

      I have a long history of bailing on relationships instead of sticking around to work through them. I didn’t want to repeat that pattern in therapy, especially since that is one place I would have the opportunity to learn another way.

      I was having trouble believing the “problem” wasn’t me — my relationship with my previous therapist ended in conflict, and it was happening again here — I was the common denominator . . . how could the “problem” not be me?

      I’m glad you were able to find a way through the conflict with your therapist . . good for you for standing up for what you needed, and for sticking with it!

      – Marie

  2. If you post what Jenny replied I’ll be interested to read it.

    The clannish (oops I mean professionalism, of course) of therapists can get in the way.

    At this stage it looks like not being able to talk about the negative was getting in the way of your growth. (Though frustration is sometimes a necessary prelude to doing things differently.)

    Looking forward to the next instalment.

    • Hi, Evan –

      You’re in luck! I will be posting Jenny’s reply! LOL

      Your assessment is right on the mark . . . something had to give — and something did. Stay tuned . . .

      Thanks for your input!

      – Marie

  3. Hi Marie,

    “Anytime I try to talk about the ugly stuff, she cuts me short and immediately tells me I have to turn it into a positive. She believes that, if I am really ready to put it all behind me, she can do a visualization exercise with me and it will be in the past – I won’t have to think about it anymore and I can get on with my life.”

    Oh, my god. This is not therapy. I don’t know what she thinks this is, but this is not therapy.

    “I have to filter the ugly stuff out of my journal and out of my sessions with her – if I don’t, she is immediately on my case, telling me to find a way to think and feel positively about it. I feel paralyzed in my work with her.”

    Okay, again, this is not therapy. This is getting paid for therapy but not providing it.

    “I’ve never had a chance to get my arms around what happened – I’ve never really talked about it with anyone, at least not in depth. I’m not even sure I understand how it is impacting me.”

    This is what therapy and healing is. This is what you are paying her for. The stuff that she was doing is life coaching. That is not what you are wanting to do. She is wrong. She is wrong. She is wrong.

    Good and healing thoughts to you.

    Kate

    • Hi, Kate –

      All I can say is, “Amen”. You speak the truth.

      – Marie

  4. Hi Kate,

    I don’t know the situation in the US (I’m in Australia) but psychologists here often just run people through some basic CBT stuff and call this therapy. This may be what Marie was experiencing.

  5. Hi Evan,

    Cognitive therapy is very common here. It is good for a lot of the aftereffects, but not so good for actually processing memories and the pain. Some therapists here are good at both and some are too entrenched into their training or beliefs about what works.

    Thanks for mentioning what goes on there.

    Kate

    • Hi, Evan & Kate –

      Yes, I agree with what you are both saying about CBT and how it relates to Dr. Barb’s approach . . .

      – Marie

  6. Sounds like you already know the answer – you’re not getting what you need from Dr Barb. Sounds like you have PTSD to deal with and who knows what else? You definitely need to be working with someone who can help you defuse the triggers.

    Personally, what worked for me was EMDR. But everyone’s healing path is different. The good thing about that one though, is there’s no hypnosis involved and its very gentle.

    Good luck in your search for the right therapist and don’t give up til you find them!!

    • Hi, Svasti –

      Your assessment of what was going on with Dr. Barb is very accurate . . .

      I agree with you on the PTSD diagnosis . . .

      I have heard of EMDR, in fact, Jenny suggested it in her response (will be in the next post). I have not tried it yet, but am keeping it as a possibility. Thank you for your input and suggestions!

      – Marie

  7. Even though you “had long history of bailing on relationships” at least you asked for guidance about the situation. I think this shows growth on your part.

    It doesn’t sound like Dr Barb could handle sexual trauma at all. I don’t think I could of stayed a couple of months with her at all.

    Good for you for reaching out for additional help even though working with this T seemed to be an uphill battle.

    • Hi, lostinamaze –

      Yes, you are right . . . I didn’t want to throw away an opportunity to heal if it was my damaged self causing the problems. I just really didn’t have anyway of knowing where the problem lay.

      Thank you for the kind words!

      – Marie

  8. The Courage to Heal books worked wonders for me.

    • It really is amazing book, isn’t it!


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