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Does councelling make things worst before it gets better ?

(23 Posts)
Myfoofneedspruning Wed 15-Jul-15 10:40:26

Hi there,

Hope you can help me. Dh and I have been seeing a councellor for 4 weeks and I really find the experience traumatising. She is touching lots of upsetting subjects and I often feel ill after a session.

pocketsaviour Wed 15-Jul-15 10:47:25

Yes, I think it can.

I think it particularly happens when your previous method of handling conflicts has been to ignore your own feelings, not talk about stuff, or try to "just forget and move on". It can be very unnerving to suddenly have to feel your feelings when you've been trying to bury them completely for the past X years.

hellsbellsmelons Wed 15-Jul-15 10:49:34

What are you having counselling for exactly?
Has he been abusive in some way or another in the past?
Or is it just to get things back on track?

MarwoodsTrenchcoat Wed 15-Jul-15 10:51:38

Do you feel able to tell the counsellor this? You should be able to, that kind of communication, and having it listened to, is an important part of a counselling relationship and the process of learning from the counselling.

How does your husband respond to the same material?

It's a complex question though.
Possibly you need to cover some things more slowly, you need to have more say over the pace. Perhaps you could benefit from individual counselling as well?
Is this necessarily the right therapist, or the right form of therapy for you? (And as different personalities and histories suit different types best, the same might not apply to your husband.)

If it's trauma recovery (eg memories of abusive relationships or childhood, or bereavement) it's particularly important to be able to set your own pace. I only answered this thread because only an hour or so ago I'd already linked to a book dealing with this point
www.amazon.co.uk/Keys-Safe-Trauma-Recovery-Take-Charge-ebook/dp/B00E94I1FY/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1436947384&sr=1-1&keywords=trauma+recovery+keys

Another thing that's very hard to face is if you're realising you've behaved badly yourself; it's not a good idea to be leaving therapy with so much shame and guilt you find it hard to function, deal with work etc and that's potentially counterproductive.

MarwoodsTrenchcoat Wed 15-Jul-15 10:54:28

And does the counselling go into any tactics for learning to manage and regulate difficult / overwhelming emotions? It sounds like it might need to.

Myfoofneedspruning Wed 15-Jul-15 11:15:26

It's to get us back on track, no abuse. When we have a disagreement, he completely disengaged with me, look on the floor or walk away which aggravate me. We are working on that mainly.

hellsbellsmelons Wed 15-Jul-15 11:39:49

In that case you need book a session alone with your counsellor to discuss your feelings when having the sessions.
See if you can get to the bottom of this in your own session.
Even if it's with another counsellor maybe?

hellsbellsmelons Wed 15-Jul-15 11:40:37

Also, just look up 'stonewalling' abuse.
Ring any bells??

MarwoodsTrenchcoat Wed 15-Jul-15 11:55:26

Re. the arguments (I think this came from a John Gottman book though there are studies online too). On average, men get higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol during arguments, and, partly because of social conditioning not to talk about feelings, they are more likely to walk away as a means of dealing with the stress response. (And the average female partner felt that he didn't care what she thought, and/or that she was being abandoned.) I think the suggested strategy for improvement was for the men to start talking after they've had a while to think - not got the book any more.

Yes to talking individually to the counsellor.

Joysmum Wed 15-Jul-15 11:55:59

Yes is does in my experience.

I've started counseling this year and caned my 4th session because I just felt that wcerything I could depend on and trust was getting ripped apart without giving me the coping strategies to rebuild.

I went back the following week because I'd remembered her saying this was common in my introductory session. I admitted that I wasn't ill I just could not cope. She allayed my fears and that was the session things started to fall into place. Got a long way to go yet but it's getting better and I have hope. smile

MarkRuffaloCrumble Wed 15-Jul-15 12:08:32

Hellsbells, it's not necessarily abuse, it could just be that he can't deal with confrontation. I'm like this and funnily enough it used to be my XH that would clam up and say nothing for fear of making things worse, now in my current relationship DP is the talker and I'm the quiet one! I know how frustrating it is to be on the receiving end but it's also hard when you're up against a formidable 'opponent' in an argument and I just shut down to protect myself.

Myfoof, I have tried counselling with both XH and DP - it was much more effective with DP because a) he talks! and b) we would talk about it afterwards, go for lunch and decompress a bit, then revisit things later when we weren't so emotional. I would come out feeling very emotional and touchy and I know DP felt very challenged at times too.

However, in the end we quit counselling as it was just an expensive way of bringing up things we'd already resolved ourselves in private. It did help in some small ways, but if he hadn't been so open and communicative this would have been the only way to get things out in the open in a neutral space. Talking about negative things is never easy, but it is necessary to move on, so either counselling or some sort of structured talking session, even if only the two of you making time and using some methods to ensure fairness and calm, is needed.

Stick with it, but give it a timescale and make sure you're talking in between sessions in a safe and respectful way too. One recent revelation we've had is that our arguments follow a pattern and that actually within the first 5 minutes we've both put our POV across, the rest is just escalating to try and convince the other to change their mind, which rarely happens and if it does, it usually takes 24 hours of pondering to really come to light, so whenever the actual argument ends isn't really the end.

I have said that if either of us feels uncomfortable with where a row is heading we should have a 'safe word' or some kind of signal to say, essentially, "I have heard you, you have heard me, we both love each other and want to be happy together. I will think about what you've said and if I need to modify my behaviour in any way I will do. Now let's be friends again."

I have yet to test it in battle, but I'm hoping that if it can diffuse things before they go too far it will be easier to talk about things afterwards when we're calm because we won't have both resorted to saying hurtful things to make a point!

Myfoofneedspruning Wed 15-Jul-15 12:13:15

I'm crying and I don't feel I can carry on with being married to him. I'm working all the hours I can to help provide for our family. I look after the house, the cooking, the children during the week but I feel I get nothing back. I'm feeling really lonely.

Winniethewylde Wed 15-Jul-15 12:28:56

My heart goes out to you as I know how it feels. My DH and I had 4 sessions and after the fourth one we had a huge row and I told him I couldn't do it anymore. He was basically agreeing with everything in there, having no real opinion and not opening up at all while claiming things were other people's fault rather than his. I felt like I'd been emotionally wrung out. A horrible experience. We are now separated so sorry I can't be more positive but flowers for you and hope your situation improves.

hellsbellsmelons Wed 15-Jul-15 12:38:19

Are you the only provider for your family?
Does he pull his weight at all at home?
Cook at all? Shop? Washing? Getting kids ready?

I'm sorry but this is sounding worse and worse and I'm not liking the sound of your DH.
And counselling is never recommended when a relationship has any sort of abuse involved.

What would you miss about him if he were to leave tomorrow?

hellsbellsmelons Wed 15-Jul-15 12:38:59

That's 'joint' counselling - not counselling!

MarwoodsTrenchcoat Wed 15-Jul-15 13:12:45

How exhausting. Clearly much more than an issue of communication styles then.
Sounds like something that - if he is plain lazy rather than abusive - needs clear goals set, about him doing a fair share of chores and looking after the kids. And if he doesn't keep to those then it may be time to think about moving on.

fuckingfuckfuck Wed 15-Jul-15 13:34:22

Yes it can get worse before it gets better.

In my case it got worse, then better, then worse. I found it helpful. So did my DH but he found it cemented the feeling he doesn't want to be with me and we are now separated. I think that's the risk you take and either outcome is ok as long as it's what is best for you, or both of you if possible.

gatewalker Wed 15-Jul-15 14:44:48

Counselling/therapy tends to go "better,worse, better, worse .... better"; it's cyclical.

However ...

it should never be consistently 'traumatising'. Which suggests to me that you are in the room with a traumatiser.

Stonewalling is psychological and spiritual abuse (i.e. "you have no right to exist). I'd suggest making some decisions, and going to therapy yourself.

gatewalker Wed 15-Jul-15 14:45:28

When I refer to "traumatiser" above, I mean your husband, not the counsellor.

Myfoofneedspruning Wed 15-Jul-15 18:02:58

The councillor opens cans of worms...how my parents used to fix a conflict : well they swore at each other, fought a lot etc...his parents : he never saw them arguing...so basically that makes me the problem person.

I have up my game since the beginning of the year meaning I work 55 hours a week and I'm earning more money so we can pay our debts. We have a cleaner once a week but he never cooks, doesn't really help with the children during the week. The week end he is really hands on, he has positive, he is kind, he is a great dad...he is not violent or disrespectful.

junebirthdaygirl Wed 15-Jul-15 22:10:16

In my experience counselling can open up a lot of hurts and even if both are totally engaged things can get worse. It's like opening up a wound and letting the horrible puss out. But do know this you are not at fault just because he never saw his parents fight. They may have been in non communication not dealing with any stuff which is just as harmful if not more than roaring and yelling. Don't put yourself down. He did not come from a perfect family you are just more Inn touch and more honest about yours. Counsellor knows that too.
.

Myfoofneedspruning Wed 15-Jul-15 22:37:48

Thanks junebirth, I'm feeling so bad that I can't even talk to my parents at the moment because of the memories resurfacing.

AcrossthePond55 Wed 15-Jul-15 22:47:48

A counselor shouldn't point a finger and define anyone as the 'problem person'. You are not your parents. He/she can work on behaviour that is not conducive to good problem resolution without apportioning blame. In my situation it was more my DH assigning blame based on what was said in session, not our counselor. Be sure your husband isn't twisting things so that the counselor's simple statements of fact becomes an accusation. If you feel this is what is happening, bring it up. My DH was set straight immediately by our counselor.

Yes, it can be painful to have things brought to light. But the 'pain' should be on both sides, we all have our faults. Counseling can be a hard slog, but worth it in the long run if the marriage survives it.

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