An Open Letter to My Therapist – C: Week 28

Dear C

Previous meetings, specifically that of today (Thursday 29 October), refer.  I should like to enquire as to what you feel that the mandate of our work together is.  It has been my long-held understanding that the point of psychotherapy is to improve the mental health and emotional difficulties of the personnel that the psychotherapeutic community refer to as ‘clients’, ‘patients’, or patronisingly, ‘service users’.  I should be grateful if you could confirm that this perception is in fact an accurate representation of the nature of your profession.

Assuming that I am indeed correct in this apparently nefarious and naive assumption, I should like you to clarify exactly why the opposite seems to be so frequently the case as regards the relationship that we presently share.

You were, quite reasonably in my view, asked today to read some material prepared by me, primarily from my online journal.  A great deal of effort was put into a proper and considerably redacted construction of this diary by me, an effort that I deemed to be worthwhile owing to the fact that the diary records some very personal and incredibly painful memories, thoughts and feelings that I feel utterly incapable of expressing verbally.

I should imagine that from the interaction between us since your refusal to read these words this morning, that you realise that said refusal has distressed me considerably.  I hold you responsible for this, and therefore again would question the mandate of our relationship.

If you have failed to recognise that I am a highly intelligent individual, then let me remind you that I have a tested IQ of 148.  Therefore, I should assume that someone who has your own level of intelligence would be cognisant of the fact that I am thoroughly aware of the concept of therapeutic boundaries, and indeed that I am not the only person on whom you need to concentrate in your work.

Notwithstanding this, C, I feel that your rejection of this simple request was unreasonable and frankly unfair in the extreme.  Firstly, given as I am aware that you take notes on me, speak about me behind my back to VCB and quite possibly LGP and are willing to fill out administrative forms pertaining to my social security status, it surprises me that it would be considered inappropriate by you to take half an hour to read a few pages that would give you considerable insight into my past, and into my mind.  This is, after all, the crux of what you, as a clinical psychologist, are meant to be doing, is it not?  I fail to see how this breaks any boundaries, and given the relatively small timeframe required to complete the task, I do not feel that the level of effort required by you to complete this reading is unreasonable when weighed against the value you would obtain from it in terms of my psychotherapeutic treatment, which you are meant to be conducting.  Indeed, I believe that what you would gain from it is considerably disproportionate to the (in universal terms) infintessimal amount of time you would invest in it.

As I told you this morning, if you cannot be arsed to engage with the material, I would appreciate that honest response from you.  Instead, you claim that you were unwilling to participate in this exercise owing to the supposed fact that it would be “unhelpful” for me to fail to verbally articulate these details.  I believe this excuse to be what is colloquially termed a ‘cop-out’.

Whilst I could appreciate and understand this position were the behaviour of giving you written material consistent, as I pointed out several times I was giving you these documents on a one-off basis as a catalyst for discussion.  My apparently idealistic view was that you might read the stuff, then probe me on specifics therein, which I would then be unable to avoid discussing.  Instead, you chose to infer this isolated behaviour as the start of an entire methodology of avoidance on my part.

May I just point out again – as I did this morning – that I thoroughly and utterly resent the implication that I may behave like some silly little schoolgirl, passing you notes back and forth.  This was intended to be a one-off, and if you had given it a chance, it would indeed have been such a thing.

If you think that I am stupid enough not to recognise your probing on me passing you notes back and forth as an investigation of the transference I feel towards you, then pleased consider yourself corrected.  If you want to discuss the nature of transference, please just ask me.  I have been upfront and honest with you on this subject in the past and do not intend to discontinue such candour.  Please do not dress your enquiries up, as you later in the session did, as something vague and nebulous like, “what’s happening between us at the minute?”  (On a sidenote, this is a surprising question coming from a psychologist to a dolescum!).

At two points you enquired as to my position on your failure to accept my written work.  Whilst I do not remember the specific phrasing of the first such question, I do remember finding it offensive in the extreme, as there was an implied suggestion in your words that you would find any distress on my part as being manipulative.  You will recall that I told you that this insinuation was not welcomed by me.  Whilst you stated that you did not feel that the word ‘manipulation’ was appropriate, you did not, however, make a forthright denial that that was indeed what you thought my reaction might be.

When I am having a panic attack in your company, C, please do not condescend me with encouragement into practicing Zen buddhist breathing with you.  I find this an incredibly uncomfortable pursuit (no doubt you are curious as to why); for some reason, it creates a frisson (on my part) between us, and I find it horribly inappropriate.  I shall find my own methods of managing panic attacks, thank you.  I have been experiencing them for 12 years; I have known you for six months.

As I recall, the aforementioned panic attack led you to muse somewhat on the issue of my vulnerability, and the fact that I hide my face from you (by keeping my hair down) and fail to articulate some personal issues to you as I do not want to be vulnerable.  This is a rational position on my part.  I used a rape analogy to exemplify my point; that if I walk home alone at 3am, drunk, wearing a short skirt and a low-cut top, that I am putting myself at risk by virtue of my vulnerability (and for Christ’s sake, please do not read anything into that particular example.  Nor should you make the assumption that in this example ‘at risk’ equates with ‘deserves’.  That is not the case).  In fairness, this point was accepted by you, but was nevertheless diminished on the grounds that your office is a safe and confidential place that allows me to express a vulnerable side of myself with impunity.  Whilst I am willing to accept the good intentions of this statement, it is still and withall a fallacy, C.  Your office is not a safe place, and you are not a safe ‘object’ (in the psychological sense).  You are not safe because sooner or later, understandably, and by your own frank admission, you too will reject and abandon me, just like everybody else has done.

You will be aware that today was probably the first time in our entire relationship that I have expressed hostility beyond mild irritation towards you.  On that note, towards the end of the session, I found myself engaging in yet another self-vituperation, using a range of perjorative nouns and adjectives including, “dick,” “bitch”, “self-obsessed,” “hateful” and “monster”, amongst a multitude of others.  Whilst not denying these self-beliefs, I believe that this particular invective was actually a projection onto myself of my then-feelings towards you.  Arguably I could simply have stated how furious and disgusted I was with you, but then I would have caused myself even more distress, as I would have feared abandonment by you (even though I was ((am)) intensely angry with you) and wiould have felt horribly guilty (I feel guilty about everything).  So the fact that I manifested any hostility at all is somewhat remarkable.

Another related incident of note is that during the aforementioned invective, I accused myself of being a “childish brat, throwing toys out of the pram in all directions”.  You stated that this was “only part of [me].”  The strong suggestion to be inferred therefrom is that you agree with this assessment, at least to some extent.  I cannot criticise you for this position, as it is indubitably correct.  However, I have chosen to bring it up as an interesting reflection of the current state of our dyad.

At a juncture towards the end of the meeting, you asked for a second time how I felt vis a vis your failure to take my documentation.  I stated that I was “not best pleased.”

In future when I make an unambiguous statement of this nature, can you please accept my words without asking me to articulate further what it is that I mean.  I would think it unwise for me to give you my completely uninhibited view, which is that I think you’re a lazy, selfish, irresponsible piece of shit.  Beyond providing said view, there is little more I can add to the sentiments already expressed.

On a similar but unrelated note, when I am banging my fists on the chair and throwing my glasses on the floor, you are the Master of Understatement to suggest that I “must be quite agitated.”  Again, saying what you actually mean would be greatly appreciated.

I believe that you caused me an unnecessary amount of upset both in and outside of your company today.  In session with you, as observed, I was extremely agitated.  Your continual verbal pushing of me did not aid my psychological state in any way, unless you consider increasing mental pain to be a move towards better mental health.

I can recognise why you consider it imperative to investigate my reluctance to actually face my history and feelings with you directly, and why you want to find out why I find it so difficult to look at you, or to be looked at by you.  I do understand that.  Nevertheless, I fail to see how it is mutually exclusive to reading the documentation presented.

You were right in your assertion that I “want to connect with [you] in some way.”  I do not think it would be a massive leap of faith for that inference to be made based on the fact that I have been trying to find adequate therapy for 12 years.  My only wish is that you would be willing to meet me half-way on how that connection is achieved.  As you are so fond of pointing out, our alliance is a co-construction.

Finally, please do not assume that I fail to recognise that you have other work to do and a life to lead.  On the other hand, please do remember that through your own volition you have put yourself in a position of great power and responsibility, and that it is not reasonable from anyone’s point of view for you to knowingly abdicate from that.

In light of the strength of that responsibility, may I return to my original point, and question the exact point of psychotherapy.  A prompt, detailed and honest answer would be much appreciated.  Thank you.

Anyway, C, do take care of yourself* and I can’t wait to see you next week**.

Yours affectionately***

SI [hugs and kisses]****

Translations

*  I hope you contract some incredibly painful (though admittedly non-fatal) illness.
**  I’d certainly be unable to wait if I could find a baseball bat with spikes through it.
***  Fuck you, you balding, scrawny cuntfuck.
****  [slaps and punches]

Addendum

I am sure this negative attitude will be relatively ephemeral, but Christ almighty it is strong as of this moment.


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21 thoughts on “An Open Letter to My Therapist – C: Week 28

  1. That was a wonderful blog post! I can’t believe your counselor refused to read your journal. I usually will write out letters to my counselor, just about all counselors have always allowed me to do this, since I have such a hard time talking about things out loud. I would encourage you to find another counselor, if you can.

  2. How utterly fucking invalidating. “Unhelpful” my ass. And how typically patronizing (“behave like some silly little schoolgirl, passing you notes back and forth.”). Here you are pouring out your heart with these words—an invitation to see an honest, insightful, vulnerable view behind the façade that I feel pretty sure is standard operating procedure on a day-to-day existence.

    What pisses me off more than anything is knowing the time he invested in scribbling in your chart after you left (and most notably entries he would give to VCB and LGP). He most likely would have only had to spend half the energy to simply read your words.

    I can only image that the ONLY reason why you didn’t beat the shit out of him was that you’d be sectioned. Talk about the power he controls. Scary thought knowing that you are supposed to be entrusting your innermost being to this witless, useless dick.

  3. wooo what a shitty session. I’m not surprised you’re absolutely furious it must feel that he’s completed uninterested in you. I really don’t understand why he won’t read it. I’ve never tried to do that with anyone but if it’s how you feel safe communicating I can’t understand why it’s an issue. I’d be tempted to take the same things in next week and read them out loud ignoring any interruptions so he gets it anyway,

    You must feel horribly devalued. What a bastard. I think some honesty is called for – he must understand that it’s reasonable and part of therapy for you to hate him and be furious at him. At least the serial killer does that.

    I’m not sure what to say to you sweetie to make it all better. Please don’t take your anger at him out on you – you’re worth more than that.

    I think you’re a good thing, hugs xxx

  4. Aside from my attachment to C, there is a difficulty in seeking out a new psychologist in logistical terms; I see him on the UK’s National Health Service, which is notoriously shit for mental health (I waited months to see him, after seeing others on and off for years and never getting anywhere). If I ‘finish’ with C, the NHS will assume that it is my belief that I no longer need therapy, which of course is horseshit.

    I could go private, but I would need to be sure I’d be getting more out of such a relationship in order to make that financial investment. A personal recommendation would be best, but I don’t know anyone local undergoing private therapy 😦

    Still, the major obstacle is my attachment to him. I make no secret of it. I don’t think I’d be so enraged and upset about this morning if I didn’t care about him nor want his validation – which is of course exactly what he failed to give me.

    Meh. Therapy sucks.

  5. All the words I wanted to say have already been said (much more eloquently than I could) by everyone one else commenting … I whole~heartedly agree that what you have experienced today what an entirely unfair devaluing barrage of negativity that you simply neither deserved nor ‘needed’. I have two hypotheses:

    a) Men just don’t get it. Male therapists that is. I know mine doesn’t.
    b) Therapists just don’t get it.

    The truth is out there, but apparently not in concise little 50 minute sessions the way they would like it to be … comfortable, neatly wrapped up in a predictable dance of ‘you say’, ‘I say’, followed by some emotional outpouring, leading to the inevitable ‘thanks for everything you’ve done’.

    What a load of crap.

    You deserve explanations. Lots of them. And I think your letter is just fabulous, well~expressed and beautifully composed. No doubt it will entirely throw him off~balance, which is fantastic. Hopefully it will let him *make him* see beyond his Doctorate to the reality of your situation. Perhaps you should turn your experiences into a Thesis … I know it’d make excellent reading too 🙂

    Love ya xx

  6. As you clearly have specific reasons for finishing with him, the NHS would not be entitled to assume that you no longer need therapy. You would probably go back on a waiting list, though.

    That said, I myself never read written submissions from patients unless they are very short. I don’t pointedly refuse, but I make it clear that it’s not how I work.

    Your attachment is not a reason for staying with him. It’s a reason for finishing with him, in my opinion, because it puts you in an intolerable position.

  7. Morning dearest,

    This is so sad and frustrating for you.

    In regards to C, I want to start with “what an utter c*ntflap” but I must take a deep breath and start with the rational.

    So, can we deconstruct this in some way that makes sense?

    possibility a) boundaries – he thinks that if he reads something (esp a blog) then he then obliged to keep doing so and that would be outside of the frame?
    solution a) if this is the case he could **tell you** and you could discuss it

    possibilty b) talking – he wants to keep you talking about stuff in the room rather than “getting away” with writing stuff down.
    solution b) if this is the case he could **tell you** and you could discuss it. Surely it’s better he reads something and then you discuss it together afterwards rather than you never talk about it at all?

    Possibility c) he’s f*cking with your head to see what kind of reaction he can get from you
    solution c) smite him. he clearly deserves it.

    For all the “let’s talk about it” mentality, it really does seem to be a one-way street – we talk, they obfuscate.

    I don’t know lovely, it seems odd to me. In my overly lengthy therapeutic career, counsellors/therapists have much rather received something written than sit in silence for hour after dull dreary hour or procrastinate and meander around such subjects as the weather… or the current socioeconomic climate… as long as it’s discussed afterwards of course (because there is no escape 😉

    And the zen thing? how very trite. I’m with you – I would have told him to back the f*ck off.

    I don’t know which school of thought it is that dictates “one size fits all” when it comes to analysands. Some of us, when presented with stock counsellor questions such as “how does that make you feel?” or “what’s happening between us right now?” will gut-react by up-chucking on your DrScholls. So be warned.

  8. Okay, time to weigh in on this. First of all, you would make a terrific lawyer! Second of all, you’re trying to keep one arm’s length away from C, and he’s trying to bridge that difference between you by engaging you one on one. Reading to him allows the discussion to become in the 3rd person rather than the 1st person. You take your “self” out of it. I’ve been through this already with my therapist. My therapist, like yours, refuses to read anything I offer. She will, however, be happy to hear whatever I choose to read to her. So I will OCCASIONALLY read something I’ve written to her. Usually I end up crying at the end. Then we talk about it from that point. Will C allow you to read to him? Or would you rather not? And by the way, I know you’re not going to like this, but I’m rooting for your relationship with him to continue. I think he’s good for you,. I think your willingness to show and tell him what you’re really thinking is excellent! You’re getting more confidence in his ability to “stay the course” when you’re feeling safe enough to show him how you feel. I’m proud of you!

  9. Arguing with C is a major accomplishment! Congrats! I know how hard that must have been, and now you’ve broken through a major barrier to your healing! If you voices get angry- which I suspect they will- please get yourself to the hospital. please please please.

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  11. Brilliant letter, i don’t get why he wouldn’t read your stuff though that seems really lame, hope you went to town on him!!

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