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.