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Therapists Uncovered.....


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I've been through a few rough patches in my life, and I've always turned to professionals to help me out. Not because I was convinced that I was crazy, and not because I could not deal with my problems myself, but because I was so caught up in my own problems, I could often not see the real issues behind them. They would manifest in different ways in my life, from getting migraines when I was small, to muscles spasms in my back, or feelings of detachment, anger, hurt, guilt, sorrow, DEPRESSION and total loss of control.

 

I want to share my experiences with different types of councilors with all of you, and I also want to add a disclaimer that not all therapists work the same, and if you find yourself visiting one some day, your experience might be totally different from mine, or you might go for reasons different to mine, but quite often people are too scared to go, or don't think they need it, or they don't know what to expect, and this is why I want to try and shed some light on the subject!

 

If you have experiences to share please do, it will de-mystify therapists for a lot of people, and hopefully assist others in deciding on the best course of therapy to take.

 

Marriage Councilor

I got married to my high school sweetheart when I was 20 and we were married for 3 years. It was not a good marriage, but I was happy. Until he started cheating, that is. He cheated on me 3 x with random one-night stand girls, and then later I found out he also had an affair for 1.5 years of our marriage with my best friend. He used to go on business trips a lot, and that is where all the trouble began. Well, one day he came back from a trip again. When I went to greet him at the gate, I gave him one look and could not stand to even be in the same room with him anymore. He insisted we go for counseling before I could file for a divorce.

 

So... Off to the marriage councilor we went. The therapist greeted us both warmly, and told us to sit. He told us that we would each get a turn to tell our side of the story, and we were not allowed to interrupt, the other, or in anyway say belittling remarks, or verbal abuse. EVEN if we disagree, we were not allowed to interrupt each other.

 

R got to go first. He told the therapist he had no idea why I wanted to leave him, he said when he messed up he always asked for forgiveness, and so it doesn't make sense that I want to go now. He said he was struggling with the fact that I did not take as good care of him as his mother did, and he was very disappointed with that. (he had Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and still attached to mommy's apron strings).

 

When it was my turn I told the therapist how I stayed at home, cooked, cleaned, decorated, gardened, and had a full time job to help pay the bills. I didn't deserve being cheated on and I could not handle it anymore. R didn't trust me to go anywhere with anybody if he wasn't around.

 

The therapist asked each of us how we see a marriage if each of us represented a circle in a picture. R said he saw the circles as one on top of the other, since in a marriage two become one….

 

I said that I see the circles that way too.

 

Boy we were wrong!! The therapist explained to us that in a marriage each person still stays their own entity, but the two circles overlap with about 20% linking them together, and the area that overlaps, that is the marriage. If you don't do it that way, one of the partners in the marriage will totally loose themselves, and be controlled by the other. (i.e. once circle)

 

He told R that to go out and do wrong things because you know you will stand up in church on Sunday and be forgiven, only to go and do the same thing next week will not build a strong and healthy marriage. He had to stop his behavior, be GENUINE in his remorse and start working on our marriage.

 

He told me to FORGIVE because I made a promise, and to forget and move on to rebuild the marriage.

 

I decided not to forgive, I could not forget and I proceeded to file for divorce.

Visiting this therapist helped me, even if I didn't follow all of his advice, what he told us about the circles was a revelation to me, I realized how little I knew about relationships and how to make it work.

 

Therapist

I was suffering from depression and feeling miserable in every relationship I ever got into, so I decided to go and find out if it is something I'm doing wrong that I cannot identify, so I went to see a therapist.

 

The first two sessions consisted mostly out of talking about my past. I told her the things I thought were bugging me, and the things I have been through up until that point. She gave me homework. Around the third or fourth appointment she told me to go home and draw a timeline of my life. Not a lot of details but something in the line of this

 

1972 Born

1975 Dad leaves us

1978 Start school

1980 Get new step dad

Move house

Start new school

Get sent to boarding school

1986 Loose step dad

Start high school

1987 Date first boyfriend

1989 Meet R

1990 Finish high school

1991 move into

 

Etc. You get the picture. She let me talk mostly, and now and then she would ask me how I feel about stuff, If I still hated him, If I missed him, if I was angry at my mom and questions like that. She would also make affirmative remarks like "you have achieved so much in your life, you must be proud of yourself" or "you are the main character in your own movie" (Initially I thought that was a very negative statement, telling me that I'm a narcissist or something, but I feel better about it now. She told me that the patterns we learn as kids from our parents on how they treat each other and us kids has a huge impact on how I choose my love partners later in my life. That if my dad was emotionally (or completely) unavailable, that unconsciously I would go out and choose a partner like that. (AND I DID!!) If there were verbal/emotional/physical abuse in our house, I would also most likely end up with that. The dynamic in my family was that of a strong, self sustaining mother, raising her kids without a dad's influence in their lives, and that is exactly why I struggled to get along with a partner, and SHARE emotions, attach myself to a new love etc. Because I was following the example my mom set.

 

Your parents are your role models in life, if you grow up in their house, and see their behavior and attitudes, automatically as young child you accept it to be the norm, and you conform to it. Kids don't know that it might be different in other households, and that their "right" way is actually very unhealthy and totally the "wrong" way of doing things, it's their frame of reference, and it's all they have to try and carve out a life for themselves. At this point in therapy my depression lifted, I was going to go on a nice holiday, so I didn't feel I needed to see her again, although I was wrong, we only touched the tip of the iceberg.

 

A few very traumatic things happened in my life after that, I got into an abusive relationship, I lost him to a motorbike accident, I lost my house, my job, my car because we had a home business together, on his name, and we were not married, so his family took everything.

 

I eventually found my current husband, we've been married for 2.5 years now, we have a beautiful baby girl and I'm happy…..

 

But still depressed and still getting anxiety attacks etc. So I decided to go and see another therapist, I was scared my depressive episodes were going to start affecting my current relationship…

 

Hypnotherapist

I found this guy by accident, I thought he was just a normal therapist, and I don't believe in this hypno hype thing.

 

At the start of my therapy he told me that I will not want to talk about it, and my sub-conscious will find any excuse for not going to therapy when it gets hard, things like running late, having a headache, having to cancel appointment because something else came up.

He told me to resist those urges and force myself to come if I really want to heal, I owe it to myself.

 

Anyway. We went through a very detailed questionnaire of my life from the time I was born, I could not remember lots of it (probably blocking out a lot). He started doing relaxation therapy with me, putting headphones on my head, letting me sit in a recliner chair and just relaxing for 20 minutes, listening to him describing the sea (with the sea in the background) or the mountains, or wherever you feel like going. I was so tense at first I could not relax at all, but it got better by session 3 and by session 4 I was looking forward to my little "holidays".

 

Next we did a word association test, where I was in a relaxed state again, he would say a word, and I had to respond immediately with an association that sprung into my head. Some of my responses REALLY surprised me. I didn't loose control of myself, or go into a trance at all, I was just relaxing, and thus more open to explore my feelings. (he did make a suggestion to my sub-conscious that I was safe and ok).

 

The next session was groundbreaking for me. Visualizing a rainbow with all the different colors swirling around me, I was relaxing in the chair, when he took me back (as an adult) to visit the house I lived in as a small child. I had to visualize the fence, the shrubs in the garden, the front door, everything. By now it came easily to me, since it is a memory I had. A little girl came out of the front door, of about 5 years old and walked up to me. (I had to visualize her too, he just suggested I do it). Then he told me it's me as a child, and I have the opportunity, now as an adult to talk to her, hold her, love her, and tell her things will be ok.

 

I cried and cried, basically bawled my eyes out, and held her - in my minds eye, I told her that I loved her, and that she meant the world to me, and that it will be ok. You see I was neglected as a child and I needed love and reassurance. As a grown-up I was able to go back and make contact with her. Apparently they call it making contact with your inner child. At the end of the session he told me she shrunk smaller and smaller until she could fit into my hand, and when I held her against me, she melted into me, and now lives in my heart. Having a child of my own, you can imagine how emotional this was for me. But you know what; It made a WORLD OF DIFFERENCE TO ME. He suggested that she will always be there, and I can talk to her as often as I want, in my heart, and it will make her grow stronger. She is growing stronger everyday. I'm now mothering myself.

 

I resisted therapy the next day I had to go, because I knew we were moving on to when I was bigger, and I remember more of that time, nothing pleasant. I virtually dragged myself by the collar to go, but he simply used relaxation therapy again, and we worked on letting 3 emotions go: GUILT, FEAR and WORRY. It gave me the break I needed to gather strength to face the next demons in my past.

 

I'm currently still in hypnotherapy, and I have to say I find it very helpful, it helps me deal with my demons one at a time, it's not overpowering and the therapist explained the whole length of therapy for me: and what each session would consist off. So it's not just years and years of therapy without knowing if he's getting around to helping you with the problems.

 

I really hope somebody will find this helpful and insightful, feel free to post your own experiences too!

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Wow, sonjam... what an insightful and open post. Thanks for sharing all of your experiences. I will add my story about cognitive behavioural therapy later on. Seems like esp. the hypnotherapy worked really well, but I share you primary inhibitions towards it. Maybe I should try it anyway

 

Ilse

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Great run down sonjam of your experiences with therapy!

 

And I agree bang on with that whole "circle analogy".....like you, many do believe two become one...I always used the 1+1 does not equal 1 deal, it equals 1(you)+1(them)+1(relationship), but the circles is much easier to visualize for people!

 

I am glad however you have had some positive experiences from it, many people do dread going to therapy, but as another wise woman here said before it can be the best investment you ever make for yourself. It will NOT be easy, and at times it can be very painful, but the rewards if you put your effort into it can be great!

 

My mum actually went to a hypnotherapist a few times during her cancer treatments....she went to actually however "reduce" her effects from chemo. Somehow he guided her through sessions prior to treatments that reduced the side effects she had the first few times, seemed to work for her fairly well.

 

I have been to a therapist in my life as a child due to issues over my parents divorce, for eating disorders in my late teens, and after a severe loss in my life. It was very helpful for me. I think though I may have to go back and finally confront some of the long term things, that I have never really dealt with though too, some of them related to those aforementioned things. You inspired me to go again! Now I just need to find someone I can afford now that I am going to be a student again and losing my health care coverage! I know hypnotherapy here is not cheap for example, which I think may be a good idea for me after what I have seen (and heard from you!).

 

I wish you the best in your current therapy journey

 

Hugs,

 

RayKay

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Thank you for sharing this with me. I enjoyed reading every word and it has helped me. Right now im teetering on the edge of going to see someone that maybe can help me. I probally have a world of things built up that need to be worked out. Everything from abuse to loss to past history of starving myself.

 

My new husband (2 years in march) has been encouraging me to go. I dont know why but I am afraid to go! Before my mother died, and Im sure alot of my problems stem from our relationship, she had told me on many occasions that I was crazy. I know that she loved me. I loved her. I dont think she trained me right growing up. I dont think I was shown unconditional love. There was physical and emotional abuse. She passed away this month, two years ago. I am 18 weeks pregnant and this is a girl Im having.. due in dec. I plan to name her after my mother despite all of the things. Gosh Im crying now. We even have good insurance that would cover most of the cost the only thing that is stopping me is me. Thank you for giving me insight. If I ever do make that call enotalone may be the first to know about it.

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Nice post sonjam. Very insightful, thank you for sharing. I have been seeing a social worker for several months. She is LCSW, Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She is fabulous. I did most of the talking and she did most of the listening. She has valuable insight on what was going on in my life. She gave me little homework assigments to do. She also gave me little handouts as well. I have struggled with assertiveness all my life. So, she gave me this formula to follow....

 

1. This is how I see it.

2. This is how it makes me feel.

3. This is what I need from you.

 

She taught me that using *I* statements makes it more likely for the other person to listen to your needs and point of view, rather using the attack method..."you don't do that, you don't do this...." approach.

 

Another thing my social worker taught me is this...

 

"Expecatations are premeditated resentments."

 

I LIVE by that now and I can say with much certainty, my life became so much easier and uncluttered.

 

I love this topic.

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I made the call just now. I set an appointment. Its a community service place in town here, and one of the things they do is mental health. I am not sure what they will do when I go. Im not sure I even want to go. But, I am going to go either way. Im really nervous about this. Going to go see a professional on Tues. Aug 15. It starts.....

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"Expecatations are premeditated resentments."

 

What an absolute GEM!!! I will also make it a rule in my life from now on!!

 

Southerngirl, the hardest thing to do is actually making the appointment and keeping it. Once you are there and you met your new therapist and start building a TRUST relationship with them you will not believe how you could have coped without talking to them!! It's like the floodgates open and it just pours out of you. Sometimes there are so many things floating around in my head that I forget some of it, and I'm scared I can't get everything out. But in the end All my stories and experiences leads to the same problems, anxious, depressed, self-sabotage etc. So even if I don't relate everything (some things are still too personal for me to talk about) If I could just get somebody to help me deal with the BIG things, the little ones should fall into place by themselves.

 

Just one thing: Therapists cannot SOLVE your problems for you, what they do is assist you by giving you COPING TOOLS to be able to fix those problems in your life yourself, and they facilitate the process. That way, when you are done with therapy, you will have been equipped with the tools (life skills) you need to be able to deal with problems in future.

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I never expect anyone to solve my problems I only feel that as human beings that when you go through horrible things it can be useful to have someone to talk to to help regain control of your health. Being treated disrespectfully and cruelly is not part of the agenda that should come into their profile.

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MI_Shell, that must have been quite horrible, going to somebody for help, and then being treated badly! Did this happen with different therapists, and did you report them to the Medical Professionals council? I'm truly very saddened to hear people in this profession would exhibit kind of behaviour! If I may ask, what country do you live in?

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I've been dreading my next therapist appointments, because as you all know it is very hard to talk about things that hurt, and sometimes we are not sure WHY we hurt, we just do.

 

But I stick to the plan and I went back yesterday. WHAT A LIFE CHANGING EXPERIENCE!

 

For this session the therapist let me imagine soft rain falling. I could hear, see and smell the rain. I was in a hut in the mountains, wrapped in a soft woolen blanket, in front of a fire place, and I was safe and happy. When I could visualize all these things around me, he asked me to have a look in the library room of my life, where all the chapters of my life is stored neatly in shelves, from my birth, my toddler years, primary school, high school, student years, marriage etc. Some of these books were stored neatly on the shelves but others were just shoved in there, and some were lying scattered on the floor.

 

He asked me to take a look to see which books lay scattered on the floor and If I felt like cleaning up some of it. I browsed around and thought my rebellious teenage years were quite a mess! He asked If I gave the teenager girl in me some love and attention sometimes. I said I tried but she was very unlovable. He asked why, and I told him she's upset about being sent to boarding school, and didn't enjoy it there, she rebelled. All of a sudden telling him this triggered a very old memory – I was sent to boarding school for one semester of my school year when I was in grade 1, just 7 years old!

 

My emotional dam wall broke and the tears came pouring out as I realized I was SO ANGRY at my mom for sending me away! She abandoned me, her little girl, and I was so sad, so angry and felt so rejected. I cried and talked about missing her, calling her from the payphone and telling her to come and fetch me every afternoon after school. I was absolutely miserable. You see I grew up without a dad until then, and only had my mom - my security, my only parent and I thought I must have been bad because she sent me away. I was lucky in that she sent my brother there too, he is a year older than me, but they split us into different groups (boys and girls) so I only got to see him when we called mommy to come and get us.

 

At this point the therapist said he could se I carry so much anger around with me, that we had to deal with that first. In my imagination I had to leave the hut, and walk through the forest and up a high hill. On top of the hill I found a few boulders some big ones and a few smaller ones. The boulders represented anger and I could clearly see the HUGE boulder representing the anger I felt at my mom for sending me away. I had to take a hammer and start chipping away at the boulder, I was free to express anger, resentment, sadness, to scream and shout and cry if I wanted. I just cried and chipped away at the boulder.

 

Eventually, covered with dust and tired and drained, I stood in the place where the boulder was, there were a few scattered pieces lying at my feet, but I could see the valley behind the boulder, with the sun shining down.

 

This was such a crippling weight that I have carried with me for all my life, never realizing it was there! I was looking in all the wrong places. Looking back I don't hate my mom, never have, I realize she was only a 24 year old girl herself having to raise two kids on her own, and it was hard and she did not do it to harm us, but to try and keep us safe. But as a little girl I did not understand these things, and could not deal with the rejection.

 

That lead to me always wanting to please everybody in my life for fear of rejection, and placing a tremendous amount of strain on myself to bend over backwards to try and make sure I will not be rejected. It affected so many aspects of my life. Hence my lack of assertiveness later in my life.

 

Today, I have a physical pain in my heart, but I know I scratched open a big festering wound, and it is clean, it can start healing. Some of my other issues are resolving themselves because the CAUSE has been exposed. I'm no longer treating the symptoms, I'm treating the cause.

 

Thanks for reading everyone!

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