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All the connection i could possibly desire but is it healthy?

Discussion in 'Treatment & Therapy' started by UnicornSightings, May 10, 2018.

  1. UnicornSightings

    UnicornSightings Well-Known Member Donated

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    Hello. I come here for sage advice. I have admitted to my t the desire to connect more between sessions and his solution is to allow that. Adding an addition secure messaging appt as well as emails (which have always been allowed) and working up to phone calls (my idea in lieu of the messaging sessions to combat my phone anxiety). Now, for the first time in a LONG, LONG time I’m truly excited for something. That longing for connection is going to be met. I will be able to open up more in that capacity and the goal is to bring the openness of writing into the sessions. So there is a goal. And it seems for now he is good with indulging me a lot of contact, should I want/need it. And I don’t abuse it and have really been against it for the most part because I don’t want to take advantage of it. This new part of me wants to accept his claim that longing for connection is natural and ok and lean into it. Here’s a human who finally cares and knows I need someone to truly talk to and is all ready to hear me! It’s an incredible thing! And it’s brand new territory, the idea or really relying on someone to listen and be there. And I do NOT want to ruin it. I wonder if it can bring some real healing, finally. Letting someone in. But, being the worrier that I am, I wonder if all this allowing of connection will cause an obsession. I’m already fairly obsessed with the idea of therapy, being on forums quite often and such. I guess there’s a weird fear of becoming really obsessed with another human being in a way that will cause me tremendous pain. Like, how could I NOT develop crazy strong feelings for someone like that? Right now the feelings I have for him are good. Solid. A good connection and I like him so much. I think I trust him. And I believe he cares. That is huge for me. To not doubt that anymore.

    I don’t know. You guys have always been brutally honest with me so I’m asking what you think of this situation.
     
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  3. Rumors

    Rumors I'm a VIP

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    I don't have any words of wisdom but sending support. I do think you might be overthinking things. A set of clear expectations might help you find some boundary. I have a very supportive therapist. Sometimes it is hard for me to accept her help bc I don't feel worthy of it. Maybe look a little more in to how you receive things from others and where that comes from. Good luck!
     
  4. Justmehere

    Justmehere Defying the odds Moderator Premium Member

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    Does he know this?
    Have you shared this concern with him?
     
  5. Nessa7

    Nessa7 Well-Known Member Donated

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    I have the same questions as @Justmehere

    I do think it is a really big improvement and a good sign that you're taking your difficulties with therapy into account right away. I think everyone has one thing or maybe a few things that their life would be easier if they recognized that they can't be entirely rational and reasonable about. Often acknowledging that something can be a problem is half the battle.

    I might make a plan for how to make it easiest to stop if it does get to be too much. Maybe write an email with what you would like to say to yourself and your therapist in this scenario if it were to happen. My first t had me do exercises like that quite a few times.
     
  6. barefoot

    barefoot I'm a VIP Premium Member Donated

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    I’m not sure about this....

    On the one hand, yes, I think it’s good that you’re feeling ok to express a need for connection, that you feel open to connection, that you feel more willing to let someone in... And I absolutely think a therapist can help us with that stuff - they can be the person to model what healthy connection can be like and allow us to practise that in the therapeutic relationship etc.

    My gut though tells me that really that should be done within session time, rather than it spilling out into whenever you feel like connecting with him.

    What boundaries has he put in place for this? For instance, has he said anything about a limit re frequency of out of session contact or around the length of that (eg when it comes to phone calls, is he allowing, say, a 5-10 min check in or is he potentially going to be on the phone with you for an hour? Or if you two are messaging, is he just going to reply once or twice to acknowledge you reaching out to connect or is he prepared to message back and forth with you for ages?) Has he suggested any boundaries around the content of the between session connection time? ie what will/won’t he be prepared for you both to message or talk about? I can email/text my therapist out of session time either for scheduling or for if I just want to share something with her (eg if I’ve had a mute session and just desperately want to express something that I couldn’t say, or if I want to make myself accountable for talking about something next time). I know she will read it and she may send a brief acknowledgement (literally a “thanks for sending this through...let’s discuss next time) but she will not get into discussing the content over an email/text. That waits until we’re in the room together.

    Are the phone calls you’re now working up to going to be phone sessions instead of face to
    face sessions? Or additional between session contact? If this is really to address your phone anxiety (I hate the phone too so understand how anxiety-making phone calls can be) there are ways you can work on that with him during session time rather than him saying you can call him whenever you like for a chat.

    I can see why you’re excited about this - firstly because you feel it’s progress for you to be more open to leaning in to connection and, secondly, because it may feel like it’s a sign of your need for connection being met for the first time. Is there also an element of you feeling increasingly attached to him and therefore wanting more time “with” him?

    I just can’t help but think you need to proceed with caution here.

    I remember you posting about your previous T and how attached you were to her and how painful that was for you at times. I think I also remember her changing her boundaries with you so that you weren’t allowed to email her anymore. And I think you said that part of the reason you chose your current therapist was because he’s very different to your last one (not a maternal transference figure etc) so you were hoping that the same dynamic and attachment etc wouldn’t repeat (sorry if I’ve misremembered any of that!)

    Since in your OP here you are writing about him “indulging” you with a lot of contact and you feeling worried about becoming “obsessed” with him because “how can you not develop crazy strong feelings” for him...to me, that all feels very emotive and I’d say looks like you could be getting into repeating those old attachment patterns again?

    I guess some other things to think about:
    - apart from the fact that he is male and has a different personality and maybe (I don’t know) a different therapeutic approach than your previous T, what makes this different so that you will be able to have all this extra contact and connection time with him while avoiding getting sucked back into a challenging dynamic and potentially painful attachment issues?
    - have you thought about when/why you might get in touch? ie what will make you want to contact him? Will that in itself prove to be very stressful - feeling like you want to get in touch with him but then debating with yourself about whether it’s ok or whether you are abusing his offer?
    - will you feel ok if you try to connect with him out of sessions and he’s not available?
    - will you feel ok if somewhere down the road he changes his boundaries or even withdraws the offer of between session contact altogether?
    - do you think you will be able to identify it if you do end up getting “obsessed” and do you think you will be able to manage this?

    You sound upbeat about this and I don’t want to put a downer on that if you genuinely think that this is a positive, healing way forward for you. But I’m sensing some anxiety/uncertainty from you too (hence, I guess, why you have posted here asking for feedback) and I do think this scenario could become quite challenging unless you both have a really honest conversation about the concerns you’ve outlined here and agree some solid boundaries for how it will work.
     
  7. Emotional girl

    Emotional girl Active Member

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    I have to agree with alot of what @barefoot has written.
    Speaking from my own experience with my T and judging by this post and your past posts it does sound to me like you are attached to your T already.
    The part where you wrote" how can you not develop feelings" is a dead give away to your attachment . I wrote exactly this kind of statement myself to my T a few weeks ago.
    I think strong boundaries need to be set by him and you need to have a honest conversation not only with him but with yourself as well.
     
  8. UnicornSightings

    UnicornSightings Well-Known Member Donated

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    I think you’re quite right with the overthinking! Thanks.
     
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  9. UnicornSightings

    UnicornSightings Well-Known Member Donated

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    Actually yeah. Well sort of. I joked about it. I alluded to it. I hinted about it. So no. I guess there’s that fear of him pulling the plug on it if I make him think it could potentially be damaging. But he’s fully aware of last therapist issues and my worries about transference stuff happening again. And I have told him about how I want to feel emotionally closer to him. So that’s what prompted the extra messaging session offer. I have a tendency to overthink so I don’t know if I even have to worry about what I’m worried about.
     
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  10. UnicornSightings

    UnicornSightings Well-Known Member Donated

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    I think that’s a really good idea. Like plan out what this would look like if it was crossing into unhealthy territory. I’m gonna talk to him about that. Thank you!
     
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  11. UnicornSightings

    UnicornSightings Well-Known Member Donated

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    Thank you soooo much for such a detailed comment. So many good questions. I should’ve been more clear with the extra contact details. Basically email has always been open. He charges for more than 10 min of his time. That’s his boundary. I have been good to not abuse it and feel like that will stay good. The problem I’ve had is I feel bad not having a firmer rule. Like how many emails is 10 min. How long of an email. Does a short reply count? All this and more and I’ve brought it up often, my anxiety over not wanting to be “too much” or “bother him” and he’s assured me that there’s no issue. His thing is “if there’s a problem we will discuss it” and “maybe the work is realizing people will tell you if there’s an issue and it can be worked out” to which I replied that I’d rather there never be an issue in the first place! Always striving to never bother people. Anyway he proposed a messaging session through a secure app at a set time for a set amount of time and will charge. So it’s just another way to do a session and have me be more open through that medium with the goal to bring that into the actual session more. And he said with this, his email replies will be more just acknowledging it and “we will talk about it in our messaging session” kinda thing. So as I’m writing that it’s clear he’s setting boundaries that work well for him... And the thing is, maybe to someone else, this new setup isn’t a huge deal but to me it’s massive. Someone is willing to make extra time for me because I want it. To connect with me because I want that more. He says he thinks I deserve someone to talk to. That he has had that issue although he didn’t go into any of his own stuff, of course. So part of me thinks it’s maybe a bit of pity but I don’t care so much about that cause I’m so excited for it. I communicate so much better in writing and our sessions are a lot of small talk and joking and me being nervous as hell with occasional emotional stuff. So there’s a point to it. I feel like maybe I don’t deserve it though. I have a history of wanting to communicate with people via writing out my feelings and it hasn’t ever really been met. So all the usual reasons that are coming up to tell me no are so small in comparison to the excitement about it. And I guess that’s my red flag. If I’m excited and happy about something then surely it will end badly? A core fear. I should tell my t that!!! I will.

    And your memory of my past posts is dead-on!!! :) Why is he different, you asked. It feels different. I don’t want him to adopt me like my last t. I finally after 5 or 6 months really believe he cares. I feel a strong desire to tell him everything. I told him that. Is it unhealthy? I don’t know! I’ve never had an emotional connection to anyone before so I don’t know what to look for. I have an obsessive mind. An overthinking mind. I feel like when I express my real feelings about my life and my past that yeah, I’ll feel closer to him. Isn’t that just what happens? So I fear not being able to handle that. Another thing to mention to him.

    Thank you again for such a great reply.
     
  12. Sietz

    Sietz Well-Known Member

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    Honestly, even without knowing you or your therapist, I feel there must be boundaries and the time span of a session, plus occasional emergency emails/texts is more than enough.
    I really don't think it's healthy to have that much contact with a T.
     
  13. UnicornSightings

    UnicornSightings Well-Known Member Donated

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    It’s one additional session a week, though. As a way to work towards making our in-person sessions more productive since I can be more open in writing and the goal is to being that to the room. And emails he does allow without a limit and I see your point there although he will charge if it takes him more than 10 minutes and also may not reply at all. So I don’t know. It’s more than my last t allowed but then again I never told her I wanted more contact. She did say I could schedule extra sessions though. So it’s an extra session with my new t.
     
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