Disclaimer: I am not a therapist and cannot offer anyone any advice. I can only tell my own story.
I’ve made no secret of the fact that I have been struggling a lot lately and part of the problem is a lack of support. I’m not yet ready to talk about everything that’s been happening and there are a few things I can’t talk about for legal reasons. They’ll be shared as soon as the person who triggered this problem has had his trial but for now, I can talk about my own life and the challenges I’m facing as a result of the trauma.
I decided to consult a psychotherapist. It seemed like the responsible thing to do, given how bad I was feeling, although I did have my doubts. A considerable amount of damage was done by a healthcare provider so I wasn’t that keen, but when you’re a mother, you do what you need to do. However, I got as far as two appointments before I decided this woman I had consulted was totally wrong for me.
I’ve spent a few days not knowing where to turn next. I even questioned my judgement. Was I just looking for reasons not to go back? Was I trying to avoid the responsibility of taking care of myself? Or was I completely justified in my decision? I’m one of life’s
overthinkers. It’s the downside of being a writer. But here are the reasons I decided to walk in the other direction of the therapist I started seeing – and not turn back.
If a therapist does this, I think it’s a sure sign that they’re not listening. If they’re not listening, it’s probably a good indicator that they won’t be giving me the treatment I need – or the respect that I deserve. Finding someone who listens to what I have to say is probably the most basic of requirements when choosing a therapist. Even if you are getting help on the NHS, you are still entitled to ask for a change.
They ask what upsets me – then do it
My two triggers are 1) therapists talking to me about their own problems and 2) playing “devil’s advocate”. I just don’t like either of those things. At my first appointment, my therapist asked me what I find triggering and what qualities are important to me in a therapist. Those were the two things I specified not liking at all. At my second appointment, she did them. It seems like a massive red flag to me. I know there will be some bullshit excuse about testing my boundaries, and that might wash with some people but I’m not down with that.
They use techniques I have asked them not to use
Some people might enjoy being challenged and might actually feel like it nurtures them, but it’s not for me. I’ve been a massive ball of anger and sadness since my last session and it’s just not what I need to be feeling. Provocation therapy is just what it sounds like – they tell you your worst fears are true and that the person or people who caused you the pain were right to do so, in an attempt to draw out that fighting spirit. She did this to me. It turns out, I have no fighting spirit in me at the moment. She looked panicked when she saw just how upset I was at her provocation therapy techniques.
They mock me
I always want to feel respected and treated as an equal. The approach I am looking for is for two people to work together as equals toward a shared goal – making me feel like I can cope again. What I don’t like is when people tell me that events that have happened, that I have witnessed and have proof of, are a figment of my imagination. “There’s that imagination again,” she said, more than once. That’s really upsetting. She has no basis for that and it’s nothing short of gas-lighting. I have letters of apology as proof of one of my traumas as well as witnesses who have lived through it with me. I don’t know if this is some kind of psychotherapy technique too, but it’s not making me feel stronger. Quite the opposite.
I just don’t trust her
This is reason enough. Trust is vitally important. Listen, for anyone who is about to jump in and comment that therapy is hard, I know that. I’ve had therapy before, but I’ve never had any of these red flags before. Some of the questions she asked me felt wrong and she was trying to drag me down this road where I analyse things that happened when I was a baby in my pram. I understand that part of therapy is digging into your past and trying to figure out the root of the feelings, but there is a time for that. That time is not right now when I am barely surviving.
Put it this way: if my house is on fire, I’m going to need to put that fire out before looking for the match that started the fire. I made it very clear that what I wanted was to learn coping techniques and strategies, to guide me through the intense emotions and help me to help myself. I don’t want to feel the level of anger or sadness that I do but it’s so powerful that sometimes I just can’t get away from it. I also don’t want to die, but there are times when it feels like the only option. Surely the best place to start is to show me where the water is so I can put that fire out? Then, and only then, will I start looking for the match, if I ever feel like doing that. And it will be MY choice.
I honestly feel bad for people whose first and only experience of therapy will be this person’s approach because they will think it’s normal. It certainly hasn’t been like this any other time I’ve seen a therapist.
What I plan to do, now that I am processing what happened, is seek out a soul-centric therapist who, instead of going over what’s wrong, will focus on what’s right and help me to rebuild my world rather than analysing the wreckage of the past. I have a lot of positive things and people in my life and I have a lot to offer the world. I’m not so far down the hole that I can’t see that – today, anyway. I’ve found a couple of people who offer this service in my area so I’ve contacted them to get prices and then I’ll take it from there. If I need to eBay some old shit to get the money together, I’ll do it.
It still feels weird writing these kinds of blogs again. I used to do it all the time but then I got self-conscious and wanted to be professional, not realising that writing these posts is far more useful to more people than a lipstick review will ever be. If all I do is help one person see that I am going through the same as them, it’s been worth it.