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Transference?

(10 Posts)
NolongerAnxiousCarer Thu 30-Mar-17 19:34:00

I was seeing a therapist (therapist 1) through work the end of last year gor PTSD, I had about 6 or 7 appointments, which left me feeling worse and worse. When I explained why I wanted to stop seeing him he said he thought maybe it wasn't the right time for me to work with him and left it open for me to book in for furthur appointments if I wanted to. He seemed pretty confident that I would be back.

I then saw therapist 2 privately. Therapist 2 was excellent and made a huge difference in only 1 appointment, he didn't think I would be likely to need any follow up, but was happy to see me again if I felt I needed it. From a PTSD point of view my symptoms haven't returned and whist I know there are still some difficult issues with regards to DHs illness, generally I feel good.

I'm now waiting to see therapist 3 jointly with DH for family therapy with regards to his diagnosis and its impact on both of us.

I was reading something last night which was explaining what transference was and how important it was in therapy. It suddenly clicked that one of the reasons I struggled with therapist 1 so much was how much he reminded me of my DM, and not in a good way. I've had therapy years ago regarding my childhood and relationship with DM and thought I'd dealt with those issues.

My immediate thought was to go back to therapist 1 and share my realisation, immediately. But then my rational brain is saying that if he was actually any good and this was important, he would have helped me to realise what was going on at the time I was seeing him.

So would it be better to take these insights to therapist 2? Or to see if therapist 3 looks at these issues as part of those sessions. Or just register these thoughts and not do anything with them as such. Or is this really not relevant or important.

I think that one of the reasons that I feel inclined to go back to therapist 1 is that he made it so clear that he was expecting me to need to go back to him. I'm not sure if this was arrogance on his part or if he saw something in me that needed longer term therapy. He came highly reccommended by collegues, so I susspect he's good at certain stuff, but felt he handled my PTSD really badly.

Just wondering if anyone had any insights.

Eulalia2 Sat 01-Apr-17 08:59:10

Hi there I remember you helping me on another thread so here are my thoughts. I think it is unlikely T1 would know about the transference as it is such a difficult thing to detect unless you gave any clues. You must have been behaving quite negatively because of these reminders and that is why he feels you needed further therapy. Not sure why you feel he was arrogant but that could be you redirecting anger issues towards him. Do you really need to see him again or are you using him to try to resolve anger issues which may not be appropriate with the transference you are feeling. If it is working with T2 too then stick with him. Also even though you feel good it might not be proper good, ie you might just be experiencing relief and maybe some more sessions would be better just to ground those positive feelings. Obviously I don't know the details but just a feeling I am getting from your writing. Sorry not sure what DM means - is it dear mother?

NolongerAnxiousCarer Sat 01-Apr-17 12:14:33

Thanks for the reply. Behaviour wise I think I just shut down, which is how I would handle DM too (yes dear mother) I find it very difficult to stand up to her, or answer back. I spent my childhood pretending to be the person I thought my parents wanted me to be instead of being myself. Then moved to the other end of the country so that I could be myself.

One of the things that T2 worked on was the very fixed belief that if I don't do as I'm told something very bad will happen. It was one of the memories that came up from childhood whilst working through the PTSD and related anxiety. Although on the surface that memory has nothing to do with the events the PTSD resulted from (which happened as an adult).

I think the arrogance that I was seeing was the fact he seemed to think he knew my thoughts better than me, which again could be transference from DM. To be honest I still don't think he handled the PTSD well T2 was able to resolve it so quickly and easily, which makes T1 look very poor in comparison.

One of my main reasons for considering T1 again is cost. Work will pay for as many sessions as I need with T1. T2 is private and we can't really afford it at the moment, also when he helped me so dramatically I said to DH next time we could afford it, it was his turn to see him. DH would be fine with me going instead of him, but I would feel guilty when DHs MH is so much worse than mine, although he does have a CPN and psychiatrist to support him already.

At first I felt amazing, all my PTSD symptoms stopped imediately after seeing T2 and haven't come back. I think you are right that a lot of that was relief, because over the next few weeks I realised that I still needed to process the trauma, its just that with the PTSD block removed now I actually could think about the incident and come to terms with it, which is what I've been doing on my own the last few months. And I do feel much more at peace with it now, its never going to be a pleasant memory, but I've been able to have a cry, which I couldn't before. So I generaly am feeling good. I still have some anxiety about the future and a repeat of the trauma, which is a very real posibility as its linked to DHs illness. I'm hoping that T3 will help us with that as thats what we've been refered to him for as a couple.

Eulalia2 Sat 01-Apr-17 14:36:49

That's a shame about the cost. Maybe it is just a question of how you get on with T2 and that the relationship is working better between you. But I get the impression that there is something T1 has revealed that you still don't feel is fully resolved. You have to take my posts with a pinch of salt just now as my mind may not be working clearly as you will have seen from my own posts. However I have read that people experiencing manic type symptoms that I am can sometimes get a lot of insight. This could be total rubbish in this case so as I say please if you feel I am not making sense then ignore me. I am at the stage of feeling good and like I want to help everyone but maybe it is not right to do that so just putting that in as a disclaimer! It sounds very difficult to be dealing with an old trauma and a more recent one at the same time as you trying to deal with the recent one could be impacting on recovering from the old one properly. Particularly if its to do with your husbands illness whereby you feel a duty to stand by him. The couple counselling sounds ideal but personally I think its good to have your own space as well as you need to explore how you are as a person not just in a role relationship type thing ie as a wife. I understand the trauma thing to some extent as I am 'stuck' with the circumstances of my DHs death and I also had more recent trauma with my mother. I feel they both need to be talked through individually as am sure you need it too. Your things happened at different times of your life, you were a different person then and you will still hold in you the emotions you had as a child. You are doing well to work through so much of it yourself.

NolongerAnxiousCarer Sat 01-Apr-17 21:41:04

Thanks, you do sound very insightful. I think that T1 has unwittingly bought a problem to the surface that I didn't realise was still there. The problem is now I'm aware of it I do feel like I need to do something about it.

I'm not sure what to expect from the family therapy we are hoping to start soon. I believe that this draws on our experiences within each of our family histories so it may cover some of my parental issues at least in the context of any impact they are having on our current issues with DHs illness. I'm very lucky that as well as these 3 therapists I also have access to a councellor through work who I can see for my own issues at the minute I'm seeing her every couple of months just to look at how I'm doing so I could take these issues to my next appointment with her. To be honest the childhood memory that came up in the PTSD therapy wouldn't be considered traumatic to an adult but obviously left a deep impact on my 10 year old self.

Woollymammoth63 Sun 02-Apr-17 17:45:06

Hi anxious, I've had some uncomfortable feelings in therapy. It turned out to be transference and counter transference, where my therapist herself was feeling intense because of a trauma I was describing. The intensity and discomfort in the room I found quite intense. Often when I feel like that, change comes.
I would suggest considering whether you feel you can actually work with therapist one, maybe book with him for a further session and explain the intensity of your feelings and why and that does he think he can work through that with you. If that's not possible, rebook with therapist two and explain the same. In actual fact, the transference issue will probably come up with any therapist you start to get close to, as that attachment forms, they are the blank slate that you transfer your feelings to, positive and negative, often ascribing them parental figures, allowing you to work through that relationship.

NolongerAnxiousCarer Sun 02-Apr-17 19:52:53

Thanks woolley, thats interesting. I wouldn't say I felt close to T1 but he was definately a blank slate. It was more that I talked to him because he was a therapist and that was what I was supposed to do, rather than because I trusted him. It would be interesting to know if there was any counter transference, I did feel alarm from him when I explained the trauma and DHs MH issues, and he almost gave me a safety briefing about DHs condition, he also seemed reluctant to tackle the trauma issues as he said that the trauma was likely to recur.

I've never felt that shock from other professionals I've discussed the trauma with. The CPN from DHs team said "don't worry its just a blip" the first time I spoke to him about it. The councellor I saw first at work, who I've worked with a lot over the years, never seems shocked by anything, and she has told me that her mother had the same condition as DH, so I feel like she gets it. T2 I've known for a few years through work but not in the role of therapist, so he is less of a blank canvas, I happen to know that his mother also had the same condition. T2 is someone I feel very comfortable with, the type of therapy he does doesn't involve much talking, he is very skilled at what he does and can zoom in on where he needs to work and make changes is your thinking very quickly and powerful. I trust him implicitly, which obviously helps hugely. I've yet to meet T3, but seeing as its been arranged through DHs MH team, I suspect he will have some understanding of DHs condition too.

I kind of think I will probably work with T3 first and then decide what to do from there. The parental issues arn't going anywhere, they've been there over 30 years. If they start shouting at me and I don't think I can deal with them with T3 in his capacity as family therapist I'll consider what to do about seeing someone else alongside him.

Woollymammoth63 Sun 02-Apr-17 20:14:54

Just thought to clarify, she felt upset/ reminded of something in her own life from what I was saying, inadvertently became impassioned/ animated and I interpreted that as her being angry and not wanting to talk about it, or worse, feeling I'd done the wrong thing. I asked about it , we discussed it and she consciously became more gentle and calm so I would feel reassured.

NolongerAnxiousCarer Sun 02-Apr-17 20:40:17

Thank you smile

Woollymammoth63 Sun 02-Apr-17 20:59:51

smile

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