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Provocation therapy/ Counsellor playing devils advocate

(167 Posts)
abanico Sun 11-Oct-15 20:08:12

Does anyone have any experience of this? Would a counsellor tell you if that's what they were doing?

Headdoctor Sun 11-Oct-15 20:14:06

Can you say a bit more? I've never heard of provocation therapy. It doesn't sound particularly therapeutic.

TarkaDarling Sun 11-Oct-15 20:18:25

I've never heard of this, but I only have knowledge of person-centred counselling and CBT.

It is definitely the therapists job to suggest alternative view points and sometimes even to challenge clients. But this should be done in a considered, sensitive way within the context of a safe and respectful therapeutic relationship.

TarkaDarling Sun 11-Oct-15 20:20:33

OK, a quick Google brings up this guys' Wiki page: Frank Farrelly

abanico Sun 11-Oct-15 20:22:51

I've been having a bit of a difficult time with my counsellor and basically feel like I have been wasting her time for nearly 2 years. We are having a bit of a conflict, I feel, and she has started saying things that sounds so absolutely ridiculous that I feel like she is making fun of me and it makes e feel really, really stupid.

For example I said I think people don't like me because of my appearance, I think this is far too simplistic but I think it's part of it. She refuses to believe this because she thinks I look ok (I am passable but a bit fat, and I am not white). I have had people - strangers, acquaintances and family - be actively repelled by my looks and my fatness. But she refuses to believe this could be true, because she is a nice woman and thinks I look ok in any case, so she seems incapable of believing that people would be so mean and shallow to not like someone because of their looks. This has come up a few times over the years, and then this week she said, quite shortly "Well if you think the only reason people don;t like you is your looks, the only thing you can do is change your looks". Obviously she is taking the piss because this is a ludicrous suggestion - I could lose a bit of weight but I can't bleach my skin and change my face. But I don't know what she was trying to achieve by such a ludicrous suggestion.

There were some other things as well that have come up and I can't tell if she just thinks I am wasting her time or if it's supposed to be some sort of reverse psychology.

abanico Sun 11-Oct-15 20:24:14

Yes I've had a look about this kind of thing.

It was never offered as an option, it just feels like she has been attacking me (but she said at the end of my last session when I was almost in tears that she wasn't trying to attack me, but I don't know what the fuck she was trying to do by trying to make me look stupid then).

fearandloathinginambridge Sun 11-Oct-15 20:29:21

have you told her how her responses are making you feel?

fearandloathinginambridge Sun 11-Oct-15 20:30:36

Sorry cross posted. So you have told her.

TarkaDarling Sun 11-Oct-15 20:33:57

that's absolutely outrageous! shock

I have no idea if she's practicing 'provocation therapy' or not, but I would not want to give her any more of your money.

fearandloathinginambridge Sun 11-Oct-15 20:37:09

It doesn't sound like a positive situation for you. Perhaps time to look for another counsellor?

DisillusionedGoat Sun 11-Oct-15 20:40:15

I would stop sessions with her. Report her. Explain that the adversarial approach is causing you distress and that you are not willing to continue with this approach or/and this counsellor.

Sending you a unMNty hug. It sounds dreadful.

abanico Sun 11-Oct-15 20:43:18

Well I haven't told her they made me feel like shit yet, no. It hasnt really dawned on me until this weekend, I don't have another appointment until later this week.

Kr1stina Sun 11-Oct-15 20:44:00

Can just check, have you been paying for therapy with her for two years ? How often do you see her ?
What kind of counselling does she practice ?

Joysmum Sun 11-Oct-15 20:44:45

No way I'd continue with a counsellor that made me feel like that. Finding the right person with the right approach is vital.

abanico Sun 11-Oct-15 20:54:39

It's weekly. I have been doing ok and was quite getting on with her and felt like I was making very very slow progress. But

It's psychodynamic therapy but I have problems talking about my past and I think she is pissed off that I am not engaging with this method very well.

I was already feeling fragile before my last session and told her that I felt like I didn't feel like I wanted to live anymore, she asked if I really felt I get no enjoyment out of my life. I have never said that, I have always said that I do get some enjoyment but I feel that there is something fundamental in my life missing, because I don't have any people in it, however much I try. so I have been trying to say "it's not that bad", but if I am supposed to be content with continuing with something that is not that bad because I might have a life without love from other people, but at least I have my health and a job, what use is it talking about my past? It might have been without love, but at least I had an education and a roof over my head. Which is kind of how I got on with my life up until now, but this approach is clearly not working.

I don't know. I'm so confused. I really, really wanted to die these last few days. I'm so distressed and feel like no one is listening to me, not even my counsellor.

abanico Sun 11-Oct-15 20:58:25

I don't want to jump ship altogether yet, because I can't bear the thought of starting from scratch again and thought we got on quite well. I told her something before that made me really uncomfortable and she said it's good that I can raise it when I am not happy with what she is doing. But then it just felt like she completely lay into me after that. I don't know if it's because I am feeling oversensitive. I don't know. But it just feels like everyone else treats me, like an idiot who needs to be told some harsh truths. But no one listens to my truth.

Room101isWhereIUsedToLive Sun 11-Oct-15 21:03:38

The whole point of therapy is to be able to be open and get support. It doesn't sound like she is doing this so really it is probably time to look for a new therapist.

Kr1stina Sun 11-Oct-15 21:06:20

You say that you really want to die. That concerns me a lot . Are you getting medical treatment as well ?

abanico Sun 11-Oct-15 21:06:33

another one that happened a while ago when I was talking about my dad, in the interests of engaging with the "talking about your past to heal the present" thing.

My dad fucked off when I was a baby. He was ordered to pay £1 a year in maintenance until I was 17 - he did not pay this. He half heartedly tried to track me down when I was an adult and said he thinks about me all the time. I said I wasn't really interested in jumping into a happy father-daughter relationship. He then didn't bother me again, fine.

So I told this to my counsellor, and said I don't really feel anything towards my father and couldn't care less if he got hit by a bus tomorrow, to be honest. She then said "But he's your dad!". I thought this was such a bizarre comment, I have absolutely no connection with him apart from the fact he impregnated my mother. But I don't know if saying "But he is your dad!" was a sophisticated psychotherapy technique to try and stir up more anger in me; to make me say "Yes he was my dad, how dare he treat me this way", to heal my underlying feelings of resentment and being abandoned, rather than my "meh, he could get hit by a bus for all I care" attitude. Or if it was just an incredibly imbecilic comment. I'm confused.

abanico Sun 11-Oct-15 21:10:07

Kr1stina, no I'm not. I'm still feeling terrible but I am a bit more stable at the moment. I got some very kind support here when I was at breaking point on Thursday. I am registering with a GP because my current one is atrocious and would probably exacerbate the problem.

abanico Sun 11-Oct-15 21:11:40

Thank you all for your help

Kr1stina Sun 11-Oct-15 21:19:46

I think you need to register with a good GP and make an appointment ASAP . It's not normal to really really want to die and you may need some medical help as well as talking therapy .

Do you have any RL friends who know how bad you feel right now ?

I agree with the others that it sounds like the counselling isn't working for you and you need to find another counsellor . If you have the money to pay for it, you should be able to do this quite quickly

There are different types of counselling and they don't all of focus on the past, If you feel that's not Helpful .

abanico Sun 11-Oct-15 21:23:54

I have absolutely no friends or family I can talk to in real life. This is part of why I feel so lost right now.

Finding another counsellor is going to be so hard. I'm not rich, I had to wait months for this one. I have tried loads of counselling before, since I was at school - I had group therapy, art therapy, CBT... they all end up saying I need to talk about the past and they can't help me. I feel like I am beyond help.

I have filled in my GP forms and going to take them to the new surgery in the morning. They'll love me. "Hi, I'm a new patient and I'm suicidal.".

I'm not sure medication will help me and I am terrified of being sectioned. I don't think I am at immediate risk of harming myself at the moment.

springydaffs Sun 11-Oct-15 22:10:44

From what you've said, i didn't hear that she was ridiculing you when she suggested changing your looks (obviously she didn't mean changing your skin colour imo). I saw it she was suggesting looking at the problem from a different angle, from various different angles; circling the problem to see if anything fitted. It is possible to change our 'looks' in a variety of ways: dress, haircut/style, contacts/glasses etc. That's how I read it, that she was trying different angles/solutions.

I also hear 'but he's your dad!' as a reference to the universal pull of a blood parent, whether we want it or not. Or are able to acknowledge or access it: it is there. Imo this is what she was referring to.

As for being sectioned, it is nigh impossible to get sectioned so you don't need to worry about that. An awful awful lot of people need to be sectioned, or at least to be offered residential mh care, but the funding simply isn't there except for at the severe end of things - and you don't sound as if you're there. I assume you're still working eg ie functioning, even though you may be feeling very unsettled at the moment.

I'm so sorry to hear you are suffering so much. Please be assured these rocky times pass, they really do. I know to let them fling me about, even tho I don't know where I'm going to end up: bracing can cause more damage?

I hope you get good support from your gp. In the meantime do contact the Samaritans, they are very good when things are bleak - though if you feel the person you are talking to isn't doing it for you just cut the call (you don't even need to sign off, just replace the handset) and dial again to get some one else.

I'm glad you posted flowers

fearandloathinginambridge Sun 11-Oct-15 22:15:49

I had to walk into a new GP two years ago and tell her I was suicidal. I can promise you, if your new GP is a good one, then they won't judge you or think anything other than how best to help you. Unless you are in an extremely bad place (a psychotic place) then you are not going to be sectioned. medication can be so helpful, particularly when combined with good counselling. Speak to the GP about possible therapy options.

Have you visited the Mental Health board here. It was hugely helpful to me.

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