Note: Mumsnet has not checked the knowledge, experience or professional qualifications of anyone posting on Mumsnet Talk, so this is not necessarily the best place to seek help if you're feeling seriously distressed or suicidal. Mumsnet cannot be held responsible for any advice given on the site. If you need help urgently, please see our mental health web guide which can point you to expert advice and support.

This isn't right is it - therapist

(63 Posts)
springykyrie Tue 25-Feb-14 02:21:32

I've been seeing a therapist for just over a year. I have experienced a major loss which I am badly struggling to come to terms with, hence therapy. Due to a toxic childhood/family I have had a lot of therapy at various times over the years.

At first, and for months, I talked and talked (and talked!) in our sessions and wondered why on earth she wasn't picking up on anything I said. I'm afraid I steamed on because I suppose I've been off my head, desperate. I was confused and frustrated that she barely spoke, month after month, and I recently burst out (not my finest hour) 'can you say something please!' and she responded by saying I was being 'controlling'. When I asked her about this at the next session she changed it around and said she had said that I was 'in control in that situation'. This was very clearly NOT what she had said - I'm feeling gaslighted! And that she is fucking with my head. This is like an abusive relationship ffs.

I asked her why she says barely anything - she said she has said a lot. I don't know what she can possibly mean: the very rare times she does speak, she repeats a mantra, like a robot: 'I am here for you to change' (She speaks in soundbites, weird phrases she repeats - phrases that don't make any sense: when I ask her what she means, or to repeat something she has said, she refuses [am I being trained?]. I can't repeat her phrases because I don't remember them, mainly because they make no sense at all to me, they're like a different language/lexicon. It feels cultish.) On the very rare occasions when she does answer my questions she takes an age before answering - l-o-n-g silence (perhaps she does that to shake me off but I stay silent and wait for her answer. I have to wait a very long time). She makes no reference to the vast majority of what I have said - except to make (short, pithy) observations now and again that are very negative (about me). She has never said anything even vaguely positive, encouraging etc. In answer to this she says her opinions are not relevant and 'don't belong here'. When I ask her what does 'belong here' she refuses to answer.

I eventually became angry and attacking re: her refusal to answer any of my questions; her inaccurate recall of what I or she had said (which every time casts me in a negative light). She immediately responded by saying that she isn't meeting my needs and that I should see another therapist; that I made her feel like a 'crap therapist' and that she is 'not here to be attacked'. I am astounded by this - of course a therapist is potentially going to be attacked at some stage by a client, surely?? Not physically - of course! - but verbally. At one point my actual words were 'you are full of shit'. Not great of me, of course, but that's the sort of thing that gets said, surely.

I have never experienced anything like this. Can anyone shed any light on this? I am on a low income and this is all I can afford. Perhaps we are missing one another by a mile but some of this is surely not right?

Spychic Tue 25-Feb-14 02:24:33

Definitely not right. Can you record a session or two? Or at least take notes? I'd be reporting her.

AlfAlf Tue 25-Feb-14 02:33:10

To use her own words, she really does sound like a 'crap therapist'. How odd confused she clearly isn't doing anything to help you.

BelleOfTheBorstal Tue 25-Feb-14 02:49:35

She sounds awful. In your shoes I would be looking for a new therapist.

Weegiemum Tue 25-Feb-14 02:52:02

This is in no way a proper therapist. Please find someone else, or can you ask your GP for referral to nhs psychology services - they were the best for me!

Apparentlychilled Tue 25-Feb-14 03:36:59

She sounds awful! I'd get rid. IME a bad therapist is nearly as bad as none (once you're past the immediate crisis). Maybe see if you can find someone better and, if £ us a concern, ask if you can see them eg fortnightly instead of weekly or something similar.

CorusKate Tue 25-Feb-14 03:54:09

What kind of therapist is she? TBH if she's a Jungian analyst or something, I wouldn't be surprised by this kind of behaviour, whereas I'd be astonished if a CBT practitioner was like this.

springykyrie Tue 25-Feb-14 10:24:53

ah yes, sorry about the late-night rant. Good to get it down, though!

She is apparently a person-centred integrative therapist (and it was blood out of a stone to get that out of her tbf). In an attempt to make some sense of what she's doing, I was thinking that the org is a charity with a strong emphasis on treating addicts, particularly alcoholics (and was the only place I could afford, though I am not an alcoholic). I reasoned that addicts can 'muck about' (my words) and I said this, that the org was geared towards addicts ie people who muck about (lots of denial) and could be why she assumed I was mucking about and needed getting in line. She said "not all" (usual pithy sentence) ie not all clients are addicts. This seemed deliberately obtuse, she wouldn't discuss my point with me. In fact, she discusses nothing at all, precisely zilch. I keep saying to her 'what are you doing?' because I genuinely don't understand why she is so intractable, so opaque, so damning. I feel I have been sentenced and found guilty, but I don't know what of. Whatever I say, she takes the opposite stance.

I have said to her that I would like to report my experiences (with her) to some kind of body. she suggested her supervisor - fat lot of good that would be, but it is a first step.

grizzabellia Tue 25-Feb-14 10:30:57

I would say that this type of experience may occur in psychoanalytic types of therapy when, yes, it can be discomfitting to realise the therapist is not going to say very much but will occasionally reflect back to you key observations. If this is the case and she is working with transference/ countertransference all the problems you have described subjectively would form a basis of this analysis - not sure whether this would be part of person centred therapy though.

springykyrie Tue 25-Feb-14 10:43:14

But if that is the case, grizza, why would she immediately suggest I go elsewhere? If she wants to work on any transference/countertransference then here it is/could be!

The trouble started when she said she thinks I will take off (leave) the minute something goes wrong between us. I had discussed a relationship that went badly wrong and I cut it off - it was a relationship I knew to be dodgy but it was fun while it lasted (not a romantic relationship). It has taken me years to cut and run when a relationship goes bad and it was a triumph of sorts for me. But as usual she presented this in a negative and damning light and I was uncomfortable that she assumed the worst about my motives, without exploring why I had made the decision to cut this woman off (actually, the woman had cut me off and I didn't chase). She seems to assume the worst about me and my motives - why would she do that?

My goodness, springy, what an experience! No, this doesn't sound right or at all helpful. What you need (all of us really) is compassion, not another challenge to deal with.

It sounds as though your instincts to stop seeing her are spot on and I wouldn't spend any more time over-thinking that.

So what are your options now? Could you ask to see a different therapist in that organisation? Could you ask your GP about getting help through the NHS?

And I'm so sorry for your loss. I wish you all the best with relief from your pain.

larahusky Tue 25-Feb-14 13:19:03

There are loads of awful therapists around - really. They can get all the training, pass all the exams, but still break basic rules (like not influencing a decision or passing judgement). And it is awful when you are the client/patient in that situation because you are vulnerable and he/she is abusing (probably not deliberately) the position of an expert.

I don't think you should bother reporting. I think you should leave, and go to your GP practice and ask if they can recommend anyone (probably a long waiting list for counselling rather than CBT on the NHS). You can also go to counselling organisations and ask if they have reduced rates for people on lower incomes.

Sounds like she is really messing with your head at a time when you can't take it.

SilverStars Tue 25-Feb-14 14:12:53

She sounds like she uses the psychodynamic model which is common including in the NHS. And she was letting you know our options, if you do not want to work the way she works you have the right to choose how and who you work with.

In the NHS it is rare to get a year of therapy. It is usually more short term and problem focused sonandifferent experience. Often 6-8 sessions if ou want to try it. Of course your area may be different.

springykyrie Tue 25-Feb-14 15:13:28

It is not NHS, though I have deduced that she probably does work for the NHS (I was speaking in a derogatory way about eg CBT offered for 6 sessions, saying that 6 sessions of counselling is not long enough for a lot of us) and she hotly defended it - a rare moment of humanity but, predictably, I was the loser in that exchange (and she absolutely refused to discuss it further when I brought it up again). I know she is trained in CBT and I think she may be a practitioner through the NHS, as she signposted CBT through the NHS.

What's that? Pigs fly re counselling on the NHS? It is through a counselling org that I got this. I had to wait a long time and the first person who called me to offer me a slot talked to me like I was a piece of shit - when she said she would offer me counselling I laughed out loud and said she must be joking, I wouldn't want to spend a minute with her. She sounded surprised.

I think the language she/they use is boundaried language eg saying exactly what they mean, to the nth degree, splitting the proverbial hair into a thousand exquisite strands. eg the word 'would' in 'she would offer me counselling': she wouldn't use the word 'could'. It may be 'safe' for those who practise it and know what they're doing, in their little club, but it is not safe if you don't know the rules and don't know what is going on - and no-one explains it to you, you're supposed to know. I have repeatedly asked my therapist 'what are you doing?' because I don't understand this foreign world - but she won't explain anything at all. Am I supposed to know? Through her training? She is clearly training me. I feel manipulated and I feel abused.

My therapist has a supervisor (of course). I don't have a 'supervisor' to work this hideous stuff out with. The trouble started 3 weeks ago and I have been off my head for 3 weeks because of it, only just settling down to some sort of humanity. I have no way of processing this and, although I feel ok now, it is long term that the nagging doubts and wretchedness play out re why didn't it work? and, crucially, was it me?

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

springykyrie Tue 25-Feb-14 16:27:51

I'm thinking I need to park it Season (but how to deal with the doubts which I know will come?). I am also thinking of selling my house to free up some funds! NOt just for this but for a lot of things - it's been on the cards for some time. ie funds to get some proper fucking therapy.

I'll take a look at that links - thanks.

minniebar Tue 25-Feb-14 17:37:06

I'm a psychodynamic counsellor and frankly I'm very confused by what she's saying too!
In my view, part of the therapist's role is absolutely to take the client getting angry with you - and to then work with that anger and the transference, not just to constantly bat it all back to you.

If she's a member if BACP (the regulating body) you can complain to them.

Her supervisor is there to supervise her, yes, but they should also be advising her on working ethically. And it doesn't sound like that's going on here.

I'd cut your losses and move on, definitely.

poorincashrichinlove Tue 25-Feb-14 17:53:32

Sounds like the therapist was experiencing transference / countertransference. Any therapist worth their accreditation would have taken this issue to supervision so that they can do the best by their client. You have every right to be angry. It sound like she's strung you along.

scruncheduptoes Tue 25-Feb-14 18:01:25

I had psychodynamic therapy on the NHS and your therapist sounds like mine! I found it very frustrating and frankly unethical - like you, I felt that there was a lot of negativity, blame and judgement. I complained but I found it hard to express my issues and clever language was used to reframe her behaviour in terms of transference/counter transference, and it was hard to remember the details of the sessions after they had ended. I was funded for 18 months' therapy and I was relieved when it came to an end. I would have been quite annoyed with it if I had been paying for it.

In hindsight I wish I had ended it earlier as it didn't really help in the long term (was a few years ago now and don't think it helped towards any improvement in my life) and the process was really quite unpleasant. I know that therapy on the NHS is supposed to be like gold dust, but sadly that means that the clients who do get seen tend to fit into quite severe categories of mental illness, and I really think my therapist's judgement was clouded by that.

I would not bother with complaints either and just move on, as you are a paying client you have some freedom at least to find a new therapist (there was no option to change to a different therapist on the NHS).

springykyrie Tue 25-Feb-14 20:15:57

You have worded it perfectly, scrunch. It felt like I was in a job interview, under great pressure, having to qualify everything I said, forcefully required to back it with examples (when I confronted her). I said as much - the pressure was intense, I felt under the cosh. I felt very confused and could barely string a sentence, or thought, together [I am heartened that I was aware of this at the time ie I registered that I was very confused and couldn't think properly]. I hate to say it but it really felt as though she was deliberately confusing me to knock me off track. Yet all I was trying to do was discuss how I felt in the sessions. I actually took to writing things down and this went down very badly indeed - I was simply trying to clarify what she said and what I said, literally to follow the line of discussion because I had become so confused.

re making a complaint. This is not my first experience of bad, damaging therapy and it has always stuck in my craw that I slunk away and didn't make any kind of complaint, or observation, to the PTB. I am probably in a stronger place now and see things with greater clarity - probably not as in awe, which is probably due to experience. I feel incensed that therapists can be dishing out this damaging, mickey-mouse, shit. Though, like you scrunch, I know they could run rings around me (with psychobabble) and I know I won't find it easy to come up with a concrete argument. Anyway, we shall see.

She said in one of these 'argument' sessions - and it came across as a ticking off - 'you are being given a gift' (to change, it turns out) and I immediately batted back 'so are you'. She has had the great privilege of my trust as I exposed my deepest: that is not cheap. (I don't mean just me, but anyone, any client, who risks this dynamic and risks exposing their true selves to a stranger.)

This thead is really helping me. Thanks so much for responses, they are a great help.

minniebar Thu 27-Feb-14 18:38:00

Springy I often thank clients for sharing their stories with me - because you're right, it is a privilege. I also will apologise if I've upset them/overstepped the mark, because I have the hugest respect for them and how hard it is.

That's why I love my job - being alongside someone as they make the personal, painful transition to greater self-awareness and being able to help and support them through that is just an amazing privilege IMO!

Yuppers Thu 27-Feb-14 19:37:25

I see a person centered therapy and it sounds nothing like this. The therapeutic relationship is crucial in healing (I believe, at least) and it certainly sounds like that relationship is not going well.

Person centered- I feel validated and understood, I'm free to set the agenda. Sure he challenges me and he'll explain thing, but it's my therapy.

If it's not helping, move on.

Yuppers Thu 27-Feb-14 19:39:41

Minnie, you sound like an awesome therapist. My therapist tells me it's an honour, or a privilege. It's nice to hear that as a client.

I really agree with your last statement where you say you may be missing each other by a mile.

There is something between you that isn't being understood at all - an absolute fundamental misunderstanding.

You could carry on and try to work it out (and I can see why you keep going back as you've been together a while) or you could cut your losses and move on.

It's possible she's not the right therapist for you.

springykyrie Fri 28-Feb-14 00:46:43

I tried to 'work it out' at the last session but it was hopeless. It seems that unless I am on my very best behaviour she becomes extremely obstructive - in very petty ways. She chops and changes, pulling the rug from under my feet, changing things around, deliberately obtuse. I do feel very angry but she refuses to allow me to be angry - unless it's couched in the right words it seems. Fuck her, frankly (I haven't said this but I would like to!).

I feel extremely low about this, quite mad. A safe space for healing eh - it's been the very opposite. I honestly think she's dumping a lot of her stuff on me - I despair. She has made it very clear she wants me to go and is not prepared to work with me, short of chucking me out ie she repeats over and over like an automaton that I must think about when I want the sessions to end and is pushing me for a date.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now