Mind-Fuck By Therapist

I am on a roll of transferring my posts from my old blog, Safire Falcon.  Today, I decided on a post I originally called,  ‘Evaluating a Therapist,’ which I originally wrote and posted in November of 2013.

After reading through it and editing a little, I decided on a title that better described what happened.  Given the state I was in back then, I am giving myself some much needed compassion pertaining to sticking it out for as long as I did.  I still don’t even think that what this woman did was a deliberate act of sabotage. But deliberate or not, it had the same effect.

At the time I started to see her,  I was not even a year away from my mind-fuck of a family and I was still feeling affected by the break up of the affair that ended in January of 2012. I can remember now, so well the fog in my brain back then, when I had started seeing this therapist. The result of all the abuse I had survived.

I can still recall the cloud of depression that had taken over my brain and thought process. I can think back on it now and feel the difference in clarity of how my brain is functioning now in comparison to the lack of that function back then.  Given this present improvement, I would like to believe that I would handle the predicament I found myself in with this therapist, in a much different way.

As I re-read what I wrote here, I found myself shaking my head and thinking, “How appalling this therapists behavior really was!” I feel some anger, but I also feel the alleviation that I am not in that situation now. And then there’s the relief of now being able to see how much of a mind-fuck it all actually was and know without a doubt, it wasn’t  me.

There was an additional disappointment in relation to this, particularly after the first couple appointments with this therapist, which may have also added to my self-doubt during this period.

I had voiced a concern about the disorganized appearance of the therapist’s office to someone I saw as a major support for me as I was waking up to my role as family scapegoat.  This supporter of mine, minimized and even laughed a little at my apprehension about how that might reflect her capability as a therapist.

I stopped seeing the therapist shortly after writing this and then at some point in 2015 reviewed what I’d written and at that time, added an update.

So without further ado, here’s the story:

She told me in one session, when I went to her in a really dark depression, that I need to find a hobby, maybe join a gym.

I’ve been seeing a psychologist who seems pretty scattered. Her office is a cluttered mess and although I never have expectations of someone being a compulsive neat freak, which would probably be just as bad, I like to see a little bit of order from someone who is helping others get their lives straightened out.

This bothered me from the beginning and I almost didn’t go back for a second visit, but I figured I should really give her more of a chance. But I continue to do things like that…give people, especially therapists…another chance even after my intuition nudges me and says, “No, this isn’t a good idea.”

And that’s because one, I’m not so sure it’s my intuition or my perfectionist traits telling me this therapist (or whatever the situation) might not be a healthy one. And two, self-doubt.

Up until a few years ago I was pretty good at giving people the benefit of the doubt without much thought.

I’ve never really been too self confident though and easily gave the benefit of the doubt even when it didn’t feel right. My self doubt would take me to the conclusion that it ‘must be me’…’something is wrong with me.’

The end of the affair, triggered the trauma already laying somewhat dormant and trusting anyone or myself is now a shaky dilemma. I simply don’t. I’m suspicious of everyone.

It’s pretty mind fucking actually. Although I see that my original thoughts were at times correct, that something was off about someone or that the situation in general wasn’t healthy for me, the self doubt can still become magnified.

But still, the trust in and of others is pretty much non-existent. I factor in my hyper-sensitivity and it’s as clear as mud as to whether someone including myself is trustworthy. I don’t want to displace any feelings though. I’m hyper-conscious of the possibility of this, given the effects of the traumas.  And so the therapist gets chance after chance.  Maybe she’s pushing buttons, not on purpose, but pushing them nonetheless, which tells me there’s something to work on. Which is a good thing.

There’s the chance I’ve devalued her to the point I want to call it quits. I have felt recently that this is it. If things don’t work with her, I’m done with therapy and will need to find another way. I’m agitated in general I guess, which is coming with the depression right now. But it seems to be aggravated when in her presence. I think it seems as though she’s not understanding, when in reality she does, but I’m not reading her correctly.

Edit Saturday, 9/2/17: Maybe she was the bad therapist I thought she was all along and even enjoyed pushing buttons. Maybe not, but maybe didn’t even have the consideration to be careful. I do know and understand now that she was incapable of giving me the validation I needed at the time.

She suggested she give me a psych evaluation and the process was excruciating. It took longer than it should’ve because her schedule clashed with the times I could get a ride over there.

When we were finished, she gave me a copy to review and to my disappointing surprise, it seemed to be written by a third grader. In addition, it was clear she hadn’t really listened too well to my answers to her questions. The things she wrote had my words twisted in some instances. The stories were told flatly with no real emotion.  My experiences just didn’t translate well to her ear and mind apparently.

I made some corrections and found that I could do a much better job of describing it all, telling the stories accurately and really painting a vivid picture…the true picture.

When I went in for the appointment, fully prepared with corrections and better descriptions and depictions, she had rewritten the whole thing anyway. Before I had handed her my copy of corrections, she handed me something completely new.

This was frustrating for two reasons. First, I felt as though I put in all that work for no reason. And second, I hadn’t seen her in weeks, given our conflicting schedules, so I could have actually found some time to come pick up and her rewritten copy before the appointment, if she’d had a staff member call me.

I was visibly annoyed, so she allowed me to read off my corrections while she wrote them on her copy.

After we were finished and before I left, she told me she’d have a staff member call me when the corrections were finished, so I could pick it up and proof it again before our next appointment.  I agreed as I thought this would save us both time and the evaluation could finally be finished.

I wanted to get back to actual therapy sessions.

I never got a call.

Going over such lengthy evaluations is continuously taking up our appointments. It’s ridiculous and she seems scattered, unorganized and seems to be annoyed with my insistence that she actually be accurate with the information I’ve given her.

I think for efficiency purposes and to further help the process, her attention needs to be more focused and it just simply isn’t. I’m not expecting any special treatment, just follow through.

This does provoke anger for me. And it’s also tempting to take it personally. But at the same time, stopping myself, I realize this is probably a personality trait of her own and has nothing to do with whether she likes or dislikes me. Although, it’s gotten to the point that she probably doesn’t like me and to be honest I don’t like her. In fact it’s become obvious (I would think to both of us) that once we get through the evaluation process, I won’t be seeing her anymore.)

It’s frustrating to have gone this long feeling unheard and not listened to, and to end up in a similar situation once again, basically back at square one.

In the beginning, when I first went to see her, she diagnosed me with PTSD, I think after the second session. She told me this, and unfortunately I didn’t see it in writing.  But I remember specifically having a conversation with her after a session, when she said, I believe you have PTSD.

The day the evaluation was complete, she handed me the papers and let me open it without saying anything to me at all.

I read and along with her having written other diagnoses, she’d also included borderline personality disorder.

Although I was already suspecting this and had tried to convince other therapists in the the past that I had it, I still felt shocked and upset. The time period I had been seeing her, I was feeling raw and depressed much of the time. So a little consideration for her to say, “Let’s talk before you read” would’ve gone a long way.

Not to say she was responsible for my feelings or emotions, but it’s one of the jobs of a therapist to guide and help her client.

When I became upset she gave me a blank stare.

When I asked why PTSD wasn’t in the list of diagnoses she gave me another blank stare.

I said, “When I first started coming here, you made it pretty clear you thought I had PTSD.”

She shook her head to say no.

Update May 12, 2015

I let what I thought of her writing, comprehending and listening skills slide. I wanted to address it with her, but I didn’t think it would’ve made a difference. When I’d spoken to her about another issue (paragraph below) I ended up feeling guilty.

I understand there are times that therapists might draw from their own experience to help validate a client or help them to feel better about their own situation.  I’ve had therapists who’ve done it and have had no problem with it, when it’s done appropriately.  But the way this therapist did it, felt more like she was trying to turn the tables and utilize me as a therapist.

Don’t get me wrong there were times I could see and feel the validation and understanding, or at least it seemed that way. I questioned more than ever though after the evaluation experience. And being heard without question, is the most valuable thing for me in therapy.

Just as I had decided during the evaluation process, I stopped seeing this therapist. I decided the situation was not a healthy one. You could argue that it might have been a place for me to practice the things I needed to improve on, but I would disagree.

I don’t think in the middle of the most painful time of recovery, is the time to be trying to have a Buddhist mindset with your therapist. I felt it would be better for me to have a therapist who I would feel validated by, someone I felt heard by and someone I felt understood by. At least 90 percent of the time, as well as get the impression that she was present with me.

There were other problems as well, with both her and the staff:

There were times when I’d speak to a staff member there and leave a message with them. And the next time I would talk to the therapist, I would find my message mixed up when reiterated back to me by the therapist. Other times the same receptionist I had spoken to previously about a particular topic, would have no idea what I was talking about as I spoke to her a second time about the same thing.

Before I had taken the evaluation, I called the office to make my first appointment for the evaluation. It wasn’t a normal therapy appointment so I mentioned to the assistant that’s why I was coming in.

The assistant who answered put me on hold for a minute and when she came back to the phone she said, “There’s nothing here, you need to fill out the forms yourself.”


I explained to her, “No, a psych evaluation is administered by the therapist and will likely take a bunch of appointments to complete. I need to make an appointment to come in to get started.”

I was frustrated and got upset, impatient and agitated.

I was pretty annoyed that I would have to explain that to someone I would think would/should already know that. And this after having communication got fucked up a number of times previously.

There were other instances too when I’d left voice mail messages and when I’d call again because I wouldn’t receive call backs, I’d ask the person answering the phone if my message was received. And the reply would be yes and then tell me that I said something I never said.

Who wants to go to a therapist and deal with being mind fucked? Its exactly what I was trying to get help for. My childhood was one big mind-fuck. My family was one big mind-fuck  And where do I end up. Back in the lap of another web of mind-fuckery!

I don’t really know if she was fucking with me or if she is just genuinely scattered and disorganized as well as her staff being so too. But either way, it was not a healthy environment.

Currently, in September of 2017, I am in DBT, both individual and group. The individual therapist is validating and helpful. Group is giving me the opportunity to understand how to cope with my emotions in a way that makes me see how important these skills are for children to learn from parents and teachers.


Angry and Disgusted + More Bad Therapy

Ozzy85astNo. Livid.  Not to mention fed-up.

As I read more and more of the book called The Body Keeps the Score, I get increasingly more pissed off at my present therapist and the system.

I am already angry at my therapist and keep ruminating about what we talked about at my last appointment, which I will get into down the page. But first:

When you’re on public assistance and broke, you are at the mercy of the system and the practitioners that accept that particular insurance. In my case, in this US State and in my immediate area, the pickins are lousy. Asking for someone who specializes in trauma and PTSD seems to be futile. I don’t think they have anyone in the system that actually does, but will tell you they do anyway.

Since I’ve been utilizing therapists in this system, I am on my seventh therapist. This is a disgrace.

You would probably think that I am the problem since I’m the common denominator. And I don’t deny that it could be the case. But what I think is that  I’m looking for more than what the therapists in the system can provide. Which would be a therapist that specializes in helping trauma survivors.

The book I’m reading gives lots of examples of true healing from trauma. Which to me means integrating the memories into life so that they do not impede on living your life. It means that you are not walking around chronically angry and blaming everyone and everything. It means that you can see the event as something that happened and not be so tangled up in it, that it paralyzes you from doing everyday things, like grocery shopping, as one example. It means that just getting up in the morning to face another day is no longer exhausting. It means that you can get more than one task done. It means that you are not triggered by the assholery of others in the present and see it as their issue and then are able to go about your day, maybe shaking your head at their behavior or sneering in sympathy at worst.

But in all the years I’ve been in therapy, and that started long before these last seven therapists, I have never experienced what I just wrote in that last paragraph.

Obviously. Because if I had I wouldn’t continue to seek it out.

It’s still infuriating to get a blank stare after telling a therapist about the things I’ve been reading about and wanting to be excited, but know better because of all the previous disappointment. It’s frustrating af getting that blank stare. It’s even worse when it comes from a particular therapist that convinced you he or she understood trauma.

I’m done being jerked around by therapists. Just fucking done. Next Tuesday will be my last appointment, but I’m so tempted to just write a letter and hand deliver it before then because the actual appointments are re-traumatizing and therefore doing much more harm than good.

Two Tuesdays ago I walked into my therapist’s office with a written out letter to read to him. I was frustrated and felt unheard and misunderstood.  I wrote the letter out to organize my thoughts so that I could be more organized in letting him know what I was thinking and feeling about the whole situation.

I had told him previously that I need certain types of guidance. I need to figure out a way for therapy to be more somatic. I didn’t know exactly how to do that, but knew I needed a therapist’s intervention. I was hoping maybe he would pick up the ball and do his own research, if only on the internet to see what I was talking about. I’d mentioned enough for him to do certain searches.

Later, as I read more about somatic type therapy, mostly in the book I’m reading now: The Body Keeps the Score, I communicated more specifically.  I told him that I need his help to be grounded in the present when I tell my past traumas. I need to be in the present, I need to feel my butt in the chair. Because what happens is that I get distressed and feel the emotions I felt back then. But with no way to release them, this is not helpful. It also puts me in physical distress with heart palpitations and other symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks. I added that talk therapy alone has proven to not be helpful for me.

So after I read through the letter and even explained myself further as we discussed what I’d written and how I felt, he went through a session of me being grounded, feeling my body in the present and guided me through and asked me about how I was feeling, as I sat with eyes closed and took deep breaths.

Afterward, I also clarified again, as I had in previous conversations about this topic that I do want to talk about my past traumas while using this method. He nodded, rescheduled me and I left.

This Tuesday, I went in and the first thing he asked me about was how things are going at home with Mr. B, since that has been a source of difficulty and stress.

I answered that things are better right now and also told him that Mr. B borrowed a book from the library about how to cope with living with someone with PTSD. So Mr. B appears to be taking some of the info in the book and utilizing them to create a more peaceful existence for himself and me by doing some different and helpful things in support of me and the PTSD symptoms I’m dealing with. (Serious run-on, but oh well.)

But that wasn’t enough, Mr. Therapist kept wanting to push the topic of Mr. B and what he’s like personality-wise. He was analyzing Mr. B. for some reason. And not only that, Mr. Therapist didn’t see or recognize I was becoming increasingly distressed by this, so therefore wasn’t coming through on my request of him to reel things in. I felt like he was bombarding me and I was overwhelmed by the relentlessness of what he was doing.  I had  mentioned this issue as well in the letter I’d read out loud to him the previous week, so it was doubly distressing.

Finally I had the presence of mind on my own to say, “You know what…Stop, just stop.”

Then I got into telling him, “See this is what I was referring to when I told you I need you to intervene. Stop and guide me to take deep breaths and feel what’s going on in my body.”

He then said, “Well, how about if you give me some sort of signal, like hold your finger up or something like that.”

I wanted to tell him that if he wanted a finger signal, there was only one finger he’d see. But I refrained.

I did become quite distressed though because I felt like I was being toyed with. He gave me every indication the week before he understood what I needed and wanted and what I was telling him, and this week it went out the window.

I told him that doing that would require me to have that presence of mind to even think to do that. To realize that I’m in a state of distress. Then I said, “It’s your job to see what’s going on, to read my body language, my face, to know that I need help.”

He told me he didn’t see in my body language that I was in distress. He hadn’t detected it.

I asked him, “That my tone of voice, raised and obviously upset, didn’t indicate to you that I was in distress?”

{Side note: This morning I came across something Bessel Van Der Kolk wrote in The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma: “The therapist is usually too busy listening to the words to pick up on the body language of the client.”}

There was more back and forth with my therapist and one other thing he said was something along the lines of that the client has to take some responsibility and that compromises are in order, blah blah blah.

“Well yeah, but there are certain things a therapist is there for. If I had the presence of mind to hold up a finger to signal distress to you, I wouldn’t need therapy.”

Finally I got through or at least he acted like I did. But not without the preceding distress. He ended that discussion with, “OK but the eventual goal is for you to be able to catch it on your own, bring yourself back, etc.”

“Absolutely!” I said.

(Edit Sunday 9/10/17: I should have “Well no shit Sherlock! That is one of the most ridiculous redundant statements I’ve heard. Is it not a goal always in therapy, for a client/patient to go off on his own at some point and not need a therapist at all??? I mean come the fuck on, DUH!!!”)

I’ll be the first to say and I’d said it to him the week before, I have no interest in just managing my symptoms or depending on a therapist forever. I want to heal and one day walk out the door of a therapist office and never return because I can do life on my own.

This is an old therapist. You’d think he’d know how it works. And maybe he does. Maybe he’s stubborn, maybe he enjoys the argument. Maybe his goal and the goal of the general mental health industry is to keep us in therapy for the money.

(Edit 9/10/17: As I reread and edit this, it brings to mind how my father used to torment me at times when I’d ask him for something or if I could do something. He’d say no just because he felt that saying yes right away would be relinquishing control. And somewhere inside me I knew this. Most of the time what he said no to would be the most ridiculous thing and it would feel like he was deliberately setting me up to react. He’d eventually say yes. Once when he was ready to give in, I’d already had enough and screamed that I hated him and took off in my car. He called me later to apologize but if he was really sorry then what the fuck was all the fuss about in the first place. I see a similar pattern with this therapist, I’m writing about here, although the topics were different.)

One thing is for certain in relation to this therapist: Our inability to see things eye to eye make it impossible for us to work together.

At the end of the session, just as he was pulling out his date book to schedule another appointment, he brought up the issue of communication. He basically threw the blame onto me for his not understanding what I’ve been trying to tell him about the type of therapy I need. (Pushing even more buttons.)

He said, “You’ve mentioned seeing other therapists and that the communication was lacking. And in your communication with Mr. B, I think he has trouble knowing how to respond to you.”

This after seemingly to be on my side validating the issues I’ve had with Mr. B. And even in that very session he was on a track about Mr. B’s faults.  This guy had even nodded when I’d said something about there being such a thing as ‘good enough’ therapy and that I feel strongly that I hadn’t found it. And now he was using what I’d told him against me. (Just like my mother.)

He was deflecting. And he was dumping his inability to understand what I’d told him more than once, onto me.

But that being said, I also see that I have been attempting to make him into something he’s not. I am also falling back into the behavior of listening to his words and not wanting to accept his actions.  And instead of doing what I really should have done after the initial phone call, I’ve continued to try to fight him. (Just like I would do with my father.)

This is such an old behavior of mine, trying to mold someone to work for me, to fit them into a mold so I can get what I want from them, simply because they are right there in front of me. Instead of just finding the person or therapist or friend or significant other who already fits the bill.

Yep, I’m quitting therapy next week.

Update and edit: I have been in DBT both individual and group therapy for a couple months now. The therapist is pretty good. Certainly not tormentive…not a word but it works.  She is validating and acknowledges me. She is also completely on my side.

But I do have a bit of an issue which I addressed but I don’t feel it was completely resolved so I will revisit it with her.

She has been late a couple times and I have problems with that if it’s a chronic issue. It messes with my trust and I have discovered recently that it is a value of mine to be punctual. So when I give that to someone I want and expect it in return.

I have been under this impression I guess that it’s something I have to accept from someone if that’s “how they are.” Well, no not exactly. I may not be able to change it, but I have every right to get away from someone who can’t or won’t respect my time as I do theirs.  It’s also a matter of my own self-respect.

In Need of Some Input on Therapy: Please Help

sbtEach time I’ve been in therapy for a while with a particular therapist,  I feel like I reach a certain point where it’s actually making me feel worse rather than better.

I’ve had therapists who did absolutely nothing to help and just acted like they were friends I ranted to and cried on their shoulders.

One therapist I found out never went through her own therapy.

The therapist before her, waited until the week before she was about to leave ‘that job’ before telling me. And yes, she referred to it as a job.

Another therapist pushed my buttons and didn’t seem to listen and because I got impatient and reacted to that behavior she diagnosed me with BPD.  And still another kept telling me to come out from under the (figurative) table while I was in the midst of being abused by my family while my father was dying.

These women all caused additional damage than what I had when I walked in to their offices for the first time.

But I persevered. I must be a glutton for punishment…seriously.

The therapist I’ve now been seeing for a few months is a man old enough to be my father. He told me he had experience with trauma before I went to see him. I specifically ask that question when I make initial contact. And I had done that with the other aforementioned therapists as well.  But when I get on the couch and after a few months, it appears to me that they have no idea how to help.

I’m confused. I go in week after week after week and tell different portions of my story, I basically rehash all the same stuff I’ve talked about in therapy before.

This man is validating of my feelings.But I keep waiting for something more. There is only so much talking someone can do.

But then, he did make it clear in the beginning that he’s ‘not into techniques.’ He vaguely told me he’s done his own “work,” in fact his exact answer was, “Of course” with the tone of “how silly of you to ask.”  He didn’t say that directly but it was the impression I got.

He’s been pretty good about helping me interpret dreams and I appreciate that and it’s been helpful. But I think overall, therapy is making me worse, especially physically. I walk out many times after talking about specific events like a shocked deer who was just hit by a car.

I get so worked up talking about my shit and there is no direction to help me feel my feelings, take deep breaths or help me to ground again. But I guess that’s a “technique”, so…

I end up feeling exhausted from some appointments but not like I had just released anything really, which would be the effect I’m looking for,  but instead it’s more like adrenal fatigue and it takes me a few days to recover. It causes heart palpitations and additional anger.

Would you please comment and help me understand what is supposed to actually take place in therapy. I read and hear stories about people who love their therapist and in fact some are healing and walking out of their therapists office at some point, never to return because they can go live their lives.

But I’m not getting that. I’m just feeling worse. I’m feeling stuck and I’m feeling like all these therapists want to do is hear the stories. They seem to think it’s all about talk and all that can be done is management of the problem.

This therapist won’t even diagnose me and I think it’s pretty clear I have PTSD. I find myself wondering if he actually gets it and what is he reading to continue educating himself.  I feel like we’re not on the same page and I don’t even know what the goal is.

I am in it to heal, not manage.

I’m not looking for anyone to tell me the topics or what they talk about to their therapist, just to give me an idea of what goes on. Do you sit and talk about your past and things that bother you and that’s it?

Or is there more?