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So.. what exactly IS therapy, and is this right?

(5 Posts)
scaryclown Tue 28-Mar-17 23:14:53


I am pretty sure I need some therapy - not because of mental illness as such, but there are some things about life that I am struggling with now - eg I would really like to make contact with old friends, but don't feel confident/feel ashamed at how badly I'm doing, am feeling very homesick for my past if you see what I mean etc. The sort of things goodfriends would sort, I guess, as well as family stuff.

Noone I know really talks about any of this, and a lot of people I should rely on are too fixed in how they think people should respond, so I gave up talking to them about things that matter (its almost like they have decided who 'me' is without listening to me, and respond to that version, not what I feel is the complete me iyswim),

Soo.. anyway I have tried counselling three times before, and every time I've expected it to be like what you see on films/high production TV shows, listening, making sense, reflecting and being directed sensitively back when you move on from an issue without depth, etc, however every time its not felt like that.

The first got really agitated when I asked what kind of counselling she did, and started saying 'you think you know better than me, eh?' and 'you are challenging and difficult and it will take a lot of sessions' hmm - I didn't continue after the second session as it got worse - I did note though when I left that all her certificates were on the wall in a tiny pastel office, and were all low grades - so perhaps she was a particularly insecure counsellor?

The second time was really because of a work situation, and my union had said to participate because then I am taking all the steps I can to mitigate stress. WIth this one, a very skinny wimpy guy in a very big house immediately said 'you will need a lot of sessions, maybe two years, is that OK with your insurance', so I was immediately skeptical (as he hadn't even checked my name at this point). That was more like the TV version in that he listened and nodded and said 'hmmm' a lot, but when I explained the workplace bullying, he was very intent on 'proving' I had imagined it, such that I was saying 'I have EVIDENCE of this you know, its not made up'. That felt better, but was really 'surface' as in 'why do you feel he's bullying you', 'I don't know for sure, but its probably because my results are good, and he worries there is a progression from good results to sales management' 'ah, but why do YOU get bullied', 'well its not just me, but I get the most, because I have the highest sales totals'.. you know like an argument about what happened rather than a 'has this been a pattern in your life' or 'tell me more about him, how was your first meeting' etc like you see on the sopranos or whatever.

The third recently was after I was assaulted in a nightclub, and went through a period of feeling essentially like I was a school, vulnerable, feeling like 'adult' world was different from my world, and not wanting to go to pubs or nightclubs for a bit. It affected my work as they put my injuries down to 'me getting into trouble' rather than me being a victim of a random attack (very parental grin) and so some conversations were about work and jobs and career.

Anyway this time, nearly ever session was the counsellor balls out arguing with me, eg 'jobs aren't for everyone being friends, you have to knuckle down, why don't you knuckle down' , 'I do!, I work really hard, and yet at the moment my work view me as bad because I had bruises on my face - I told them I was assaulted, but they call it 'scary getting into fights in nightclubs' 'but you need to show you are a worker if you want to do well at work, I used to work in .. blah blah blah, and we didn't get anywhere if we didn't work, you have other hours in the day, why don't you write a book' ' because in the remaining hours I do housework, recover, and play sport' 'you don't need to 'recover' normal people work and don't need 'recovery' periods, 'my work is physical' 'so's mine' ' you're a counsellor' 'but I have to walk to work sometimes' etc etc etc.

Towards the end of ever session she would say something like 'we can spar like this all day, but next time we need to do some work... but then she would argue with me next time.

She was also very 'diagnosing' eg 'have you been really productive and then other times not productive' 'me:'yes', her' ah' have you heard of.. ' me 'I'm not bipolar, just its normal to have productive periods and unproductive periods ' her:' its normal to be depressed too, can you do a depression diary' me' I'm not depressed.. affected, but not depressed' her 'you sound angry, you are having a panic attack' me ' no I'm angry, just angry'

her: 'You sound agitated' me 'not agitated, animated I've just had a great sleep and some coffee and have rushed in, so that's why I'm out of breath' her 'its a panic attack isn't it' me 'no!'

What should I be expecting?

NolongerAnxiousCarer Tue 28-Mar-17 23:32:10

I've had councelling a few times and its not been at all like you describe yours. I'm thinking you've a bad time finding a councellor thats a good fit for you. I did see a psychologist I struggled with, he was very nice, but his style didn't suit me at all, I felt like he was trying to force me to think in a certain way, I hated it. For me the type of therapy that I've found most effective is nlp ( neurolinguistic programming ) I do think the relationship between you and the therapist is more important than the type of therapy though.

Goldfishjane Tue 28-Mar-17 23:33:04

Are you in the US? Just wondered re insurance.
Hopefully you'll get lots of replies but I've had two experiences. One was for PTSD and was useless. The counsellor fixated on the fact that I lived alone - which is one thing that kept me sane - and also kept repeating how terrible the incident was, like I hadnt registered that. I stopped after two sessions.

The other experience was a bit different, it was like a "checking" thing because I had bad anxiety. I only had one session but the counsellor was excellent. She gave me her number in case I needed her again but medication kicked in over the next couple of weeks, confirming her thoughts, and my thoughts, that it was about brain chemicals more than anything else. Both NHS referrals.

These are very specific cases but I didn't want to read and run. I hope you find someone helpful.

Tortycat Tue 28-Mar-17 23:46:36

Not those things! They sound awful experiences. I think you've been unlucky in your pick so far. Are these accredited therapists? Where have you found them?
Make sure you're seeing accredited therapists who cone with recommendations if possible.

What to expect slightly depends on the approach your therapist takes and their professional background i.e. counsellor, psychologist, CBT therapist etc. However all good therapists should be empathic and help you feel you can talk freely. A good therapeutic relationship is necessary to any therapy. I would also expect a thorough assessment and explanation of how they understand your difficulties and what they think would help. I wouldnt believe anyone who says you need 2 years of sessions without a very thorough assessment (and even then this would be very hard to predict and unlikely unless you're presenting with serious problems).

I work in mental health and am sad you've had such disappointing experiences. Unfortunately there is huge variation in quality of therapists, even accredited ones, so it's worth persevering. Maybe a conversation at the start about what's been helpful or unhelpful in the past would be useful (and again I would expect a good therapist to enquire about this even if you don't bring it up). Good luck

scaryclown Tue 28-Mar-17 23:52:14

Thanks, its good to hear that others have had experiences where the counsellor isn't right - it would be easy to think that counsellors are always right and you are wrong. The weird thing is that I felt with my counsellors that they were treating any life that wasn't 'normal' as 'crazy' whereas I guess I wanted to be reminded that life being not like a text book IS normal iyswim.

Also another thing that was annoying is that in two of the cases above, the counsellor got the time of our appointment wrong, and blamed me in a 'plenty of people are waiting to see me, you need to be considerate' sort of way, which felt like a real 'I am functional, you are not' sort of thing, like CJ in 'The rise and fall of Reginald Perrin' IS that a common experience?

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