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Counsellors or anyone who has had it- your experiences please.

(45 Posts)
counsellingtricks Tue 16-Aug-11 21:47:54

I posted a few days back about the genogram used in my last session.
Talking mainly about marriage- go or stay.

I want to now ask about counselling and outcomes. I am feeling frustrated about the counsellor's lack of comment. She asks lots of questions , says things like I seem angry, disappointed, suffering loss etc as my marriage is not what I had hoped- but zilch else.

I know she will not take sides or be judgemental, but I also feel I am talking into thin air.

I am pretty clued up with my own behaviour, family background etc etc- have analysed it a lot over the years, and withut boasting, I'd say I am pretty self aware.

There is nothing I have told her that I have not told close friends, or acknowledged myself. No big revelations. No "Arrrrrh that's why it doesn't work" moments.

I come out feeling I have had a good old moan, talked about stuff, but that's it.

I suppose I need or want her to say "Yes you are justified in feeling that" or, "Yes you are right, that is not acceptable behaviour" etc etc. Nothing.

Is counselling for me?
I don't think I will find more answers like this......

jasper Tue 16-Aug-11 22:53:09

I could have written your post word for word in a former life when I went to Relate.
It was worse than useless.
I know it works for some, but was hopeless for me

FabbyChic Tue 16-Aug-11 23:08:18

It's how counselling works unfortunately. I didn't find it helpful. I was undergoing Schema therapy but had to stop due to work commitments, now that would have been good for me, but hey ho.

Tortington Tue 16-Aug-11 23:15:16

i seriously can't get my head around going to see a counsellor on your own for exactly the reasons you mention. if i want a good old moan i comeo n mumsnet and tell you all dh is a cunt and you tell me to leave the bastard and i feel better grin

relate worked for dh and i becuase there were things...behaviours that had become the 'norm' things that were wildly abnormal were normal in our family and then dh was clearly uncomfortable when i talked about it aloud to a third person in the room..and unknown person, it became blatently clear that these behaviours were abnormal, and he couldn't excuse them or tell me they were normal - becuase that third person in the room wouldn't skip over the lies

Eurostar Tue 16-Aug-11 23:47:52

what are you hoping to get from counselling? You sound quite resistant, this is your second thread where you seem to be saying that you have analysed yourself and know the answers already and you doubt this person can give you anything new. If you are hoping for someone to be on your side, that's not what counselling is about. How can they say that someone else's behaviour is unacceptable when they are not there? - beyond the obvious things that are always unacceptable such as violence or other forms of abuse.

If she is trained in the psychodynamic school this taking the relationship with her outside of the relationship in the room and trying to second guess her and find reasons to prove her wrong is actually probably at the core of what you should discuss with her. From what I understand, psychodynamic counsellors try to look at how your relationship with the counsellor might replicate your relationships elsewhere in life. That's why they try to be a blank page, so you can transfer ways of relating onto them without too much personal knowledge of them or their opinions.

counsellingtricks Wed 17-Aug-11 08:43:33

I don't think that is quite fair Eurostar

I went into counselling to try to help me make a decision. This is what I told her when she asked.

I don't know if she uses a psychodynamic model or not- she is Relate trained, 12 years ago.

I suppose I simply can't see the point in spending an hour- and £45 on mapping out my family tree, with ages, deaths and marriages/children going back 3 generations, to try I suppose, to find some link between what happened in my childhood, to how I feel now.

I'd already worked out years ago that when I married DH there were alot of similarities between him and my father-(women marry their fathers is a common though not universal belief/practice) which was part of the attraction because I was a daddy's girl and put my dad on a pedestal. But have since discovered that DH lacks some of the things I had in a dad and they are things that matter. I have also worked out that the things which attracted me and my mum to our husbands have in fact been the things which drive us away from them as the years go by- my parents almost divorced in their 70s.

I had already worked out that DH's family were useless at discussing anything emotional - because his father was a refugee, found talking about his childhood too painful, English was not his 1st language, his mother preferred to be an ostrich, avoid conflict, all of which impacted on DH so he is unable to talk about anything emotional, and avoids conflict at all cost.

I suppose my expectations of counselling were that someone with more knowledge of relationships would help me confirm that DH and I are in fact incompatible, no matter how hard he tries to meet my needs.

She was hooked on the idea at first that he had Aspergers, but having given me a book on it (DH and I had already done the Aspergers online test) but I am sure he isn't, and she agrees. he has many traits of people with Aspergers, has a strong OCD side, scores well above average on the test, but does have empathy.

So that's it- I suppose if I am honest, I had hoped that she would confirm we were not suited, down to her understanding of relationships, or at least tease out of me that decision for myself.

Does this make any sense?

HarlotOTara Wed 17-Aug-11 08:48:50

I have a lot of experience of counselling, have just seen this but need to go out. I can give you my take on it if it helps but it might be a bit long. Will be back later to answer if you like.

didyouseewhatshedid Wed 17-Aug-11 08:50:25

The counselling 'industry' is just like any other industry. You get good and bad, although having heard some of those who work in the industry talking on this board - I'm guessing they work in the industry judging by the daft, unnecessary language and jargon they use - I suspect mostly bad.

disambiguation Wed 17-Aug-11 08:56:19

I have been to counselling and yes, there are definitely good and bad counsellors. If you are not getting anywhere with the one you are seeing, you need to see someone else. Having said that, the point of counselling is to try to get you to solve your own problems, often achieved by getting you to talk about things you would usually avoid talking about because they are too difficult/painful. They are not going to 'confirm' anything for you - only you can solve your problems.

counsellingtricks Wed 17-Aug-11 09:09:33

Harlot that would be useful, thanks.

I feel muddled. I have a friend who had counselling for years and her counsellor was too much the other way- she was directive in as far as she told her she must leave her DH.

My counsellor asked why Dh and I were not having couples' counselling: I want to be able to speak the unspeakable about him, and not worry that he is mortally hurt.

I also feel much more inclined to go, rather than stay, and want to discuss why I feel this way. I don't think the marriage is really ever going to fulfil some of my most basic needs- essentially lively conversation- (any conversation would be good!) and good company.

But there is a huge amount of history , ( and 2 older kids) care, respect and concern between us, and DH is desperate for us not to split- which is making it incredibly hard for me.

I have also posted on the "leaving a good, kind man" thread, as that is us.

I suppose, what I hope to get out of it, is hearing myself say why he doesn't meet my needs, and not have friends contradict me saying " oh but he isso this, that and the other...."

So whilst I don't want anyone to tell me to stay, I would like ( and I can see the cherry picking here- no need to rub it in) someone who knows how personanliteis click or not, assure me I was right in thinking as I am.

She asked me last night if I didn't trust my own judgement- well no, I don't- because if I had, I would not have married him anyway. The point is, do I make the best of it, or do I get out- that's why I went to her.

counsellingtricks Wed 17-Aug-11 09:11:27

p.s.- Last night she wanted to have a slight gap between our sessions ( I'd seen her twice within a week lately) as she said we had covered a huge amount and she wanted to "process" it and think about it.

What does that mean????!!!

I wondered if she felt she was not sure what to do next- or if she was going to discuss me with her supervisor.

HarlotOTara Wed 17-Aug-11 11:51:38

Counselling, I have been a trained counsellor for 16 years now and have quite a lot of experience I suppose. Do you know what your counsellor has in the way of training, supervision etc.? Her way of working appears different to mine from what you have written.

In the model I follow you would only see a client more than once a week if you were trained to do so - not something to be done with little xperience or training. It would be unethical in my way of working. Changing how often you would see a client is unsettling, unboundaried and not consistent (fundamental to developing a good counselling relationship). I would only do this after discussing it with the client and coming to a mutual agreement and this would be carefully thought about. I also wouldn't be saying I need to 'process and think about it' in this context. Processing what is happening in counselling is an ongoing thing for both counsellor and client really and doesn't need extra time as such.

With regard to being very directive - counsellors don't normally as we are not there to give advice and tell someone what to do. I am there to help clients work through their experiences and come to their own decisions and understanding. I would be pointing things out and we would examine experience, issues and emotions together. I might suggest something in a 'have you thought of this' way but ultimately I am there to help a client understand themselves and what has brought them to where they are (if that makes sense). I do spend more time listening than talking in sessions - that is my role - but I see it as an ongoing conversation in which we are both working towards a more fulfilling and satisfying life for my client. I will reflect back and link things, try not collude or over-identify.

It might be worthwhile bringing up these concerns with your counsellor. The relationship that develops between counsellor and client is fundamental to the whole process - and there is a process involved. I would also say that there is a thing called transference (sorry if I sound patronising) which means we may experience our therapist coloured through the emotional experiences of other relationships. For example if you had a very critical and attacking mother or father, you might experience and expect the counsellor as being the same. Talking to the counsellor about the way you experience her might be very fruitful. Emotions are nebulous things and sometimes hard to pin down!

Sorry for the essay - I have found it very difficult not to go off on a major lecture on what is counselling blush - at least my take. Let me know if I can answer anything else.

Eurostar Wed 17-Aug-11 11:52:24

"I suppose my expectations of counselling were that someone with more knowledge of relationships would help me confirm that DH and I are in fact incompatible, no matter how hard he tries to meet my needs."

If you told the counsellor that this was your expectation, I am surprised she took on your case. I really don't see how any ethical therapist could tell you that as there is no magical formula for relationships. At least with couples counselling a therapist would have the chance to reflect back to both of you the perceived problems that you voice.

It is actually fine to ask her what she means and if she means she is going to discuss your case with her supervisor. Is there a possibility that you are avoiding conflict with this counsellor and therefore taking your concerns outside of the room? To my amateur eye, taking your concerns about your counsellor to MN, who cannot see the whole picture,seems similar to what you are doing in your marriage, taking the problems to a third party and asking them to make decisions for you that you feel unable to take yourself.

There are other therapists and other types of therapy that are more collaborative and make you challenge your beliefs and behaviors head on. However, your current type of therapy (and most Relate counsellors did train in psychodynamic but you can ask her you know!) sounds like it might really be very useful for you in the end because if you continue you may get to the point where you can trust your own decisions without having to have someone else's approval and being sure that you are not making that decision based on an unhelpful pattern.

counsellingtricks Wed 17-Aug-11 12:48:24

Eurostar- much of what you summise is incorrect- sorry! I didn't tell the counsellor that- they were my own thoughts.

Are you in fact a counsellor as you write as if you are?

Harlot- I'd really like to PM you, as I don't want to out either myself or my counsellor- don't think that's ethical, as I do respect her.

HarlotOTara Wed 17-Aug-11 13:16:40

Please do

counsellingtricks Wed 17-Aug-11 13:23:46

okay- have done!

garlicbutter Wed 17-Aug-11 14:11:54

She doesn't sound very confident/experienced, and the bit about HER needing a break to process your talks would put me right off. All therapeutic relationships are two-way (ideally, you both learn something from it) but you're the paying customer; you're the one who should be learning most and getting the more demaning 'process' from it!

It's no secret that I've done lots of therapy and am changing fundamentally as a result. I'm now quite a bolshy client - I will direct the sessions if I feel my counsellor hasn't understood - so can usually make a silk purse out of a sow's ear! But this is thanks so some truly gifted therapists, and powerful books, who've shown me what counselling can do and how to work effectively with it.

She is right to ask you lots of questions and to encourage you to examine your feelings on each one. However, I'm not to impressed that she's telling you how you feel, unless this provokes you to examine yourself more deeply. It also strikes me that she's completely missing out the next stage: "How does this connect with your lived experience?" As a top-of-the-head example, you might say you feel lonely when H does something, then she would ask more about the type of loneliness you felt, does it remind of anything in your past, when did you feel like that as a child, etc. That could lead you to make the mental/emotional connections you are seeking from this treatment.

Since she's given herself some time off, I reckon you may as well use the break to find yourself another counsellor -perhaps not from Relate. I've only seen Relate once, and the woman was fantastic. They're only required to be trained in relationship counselling, though, and you seem to be looking for something wider & deeper than that, for you personally.

In short - you're not getting what you paid for, but I believe you can get it from a better provider! Good luck smile

counsellingtricks Wed 17-Aug-11 14:26:26

Thanks Garlic.

I suppose what worries me is that she is the 2nd counsellor I have seen- last one was 2 years back- so I wonder if it's me, not them!

She says she has more than 10 years experience.

She tends to summarise what I have said and attach a "feelings label" to it. eg angry, lonely, isolated. Well yes- but what next??!!

This is a very simplistic way to describe what I feel she is doing but it appears to me that she is asking me to examine all my family background and relationships, in order to help me understand who I am and what has made me who I am today. Then with this knowledge I will kind of "join the dots" and come to some conclusion about my marriage. I don't want t do what I see as wasting time talking about my dad, my mum, their marriage etc, I want to talk about me and DH and whether it's a) time to leave b) have I the guts to do it and c) how to cope with the guilt afterwards.

garlicbutter Wed 17-Aug-11 14:33:07

Why the guilt? Do you feel responsible for DH's feelings?

didyouseewhatshedid Wed 17-Aug-11 14:33:26

Sounds to me like this counseller is just muddying the waters OP. You are either into this guy and see a happy future with him or you aren't and you don't. A counseller can't answer those questions and shouldnt need to. You should know yourself.

garlicbutter Wed 17-Aug-11 14:34:36

Oh, btw, one of the WORST counsellors I've ever had was very experienced and is quite famous in her field. She's still crap though - clearly better at promoting herself than helping her clients hmm

counsellingtricks Wed 17-Aug-11 14:42:37

Garlic- I don't feel responsible for what he feels- I can't control that- but I feel responsible for hurting him by my actions- just the same as if you stamped on someone's foot on purpose! You know it would cause pain.

didyousee- if only it was so easy as you seem to say! smile

garlicbutter Wed 17-Aug-11 14:51:53

I get you smile

So let's say you accidentally pranged my new car (I haven't got one, but I'm still feeling the pain grin ) I am fearsomely upset. What do you do about my anger, disappointment and despair?

counsellingtricks Wed 17-Aug-11 15:19:30

Ah, but garlic- if it was an accident I'd be remorseful. Huge apologies. All my fault for being a dumb driver. And pay for the repairs. But if I did it on purpose I would have done it with some grievance in mind and walked away, pleased for getting my own back in some way!

garlicbutter Wed 17-Aug-11 15:29:28

OK, so you see feeling disengaged / insufficiently loving in your marriage as a deliberate action, rather than just bloody bad luck?

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