Am I over reacting? (Dog in therapy)

Scarlet13

MyPTSD Pro
Ok, so I have a therapist that I have seen for 8 years. I have an attachment to her and she has been good for me, with a few minor issues here and there. I came into see her a couple of weeks ago. I have really been struggling with anxiety/depression lately mainly due to a super stressful new job and am considering a career change.

When she came to get me she said, “I have a surprise for you. It’s a therapy dog!”
It really was her own new dog that she recently got like maybe 6 mos ago. She explained that the dog was casually brought to her office by her partner and am not sure why, maybe because he could not watch her?
She explained she’s had the dog since 1 pm and forgot to let me know there would be a dog there. I was supposed to see her at a later time remote, but an earlier spot opened so I came in person.

I am not a dog person and was completely uncomfortable. The dog did slobber me which is literally one thing I hate and felt uncomfortable. I also witnessed a friend get mauled and brutally bitten by a dog as a child.

This was a super cute dog, but it was hard because I felt a lack of control. I also pretended it was ok although I did say I wasn’t a dog person and had a dog trauma. I had this “acting like it was ok” response because I was put on the spot and have an attachment to her, And wanted to do the session.

The dog was doing dog things through the session and did settle about halfway through, but it did feel like my session had been compromised.

It is now a while later, feeling upset and uncomfortable about this, even angry. It feels unprofessional to me. I would not randomly bring my cat to my job (I am a teacher). Half of my kids would be over joyed and the other half would be or might be upset. The therapy space should be kept sacred and neutral as much as poss. I know my T cannot help things like construction, smells, or if the ac broke, but she can control this. Even if she had let me know that’s still not right, like it isn’t really a choice because it would have been therapy with the dog or miss it and that’s awkward and unfair.

I just know that literally the majority of her patients were thrilled with this dog being there. For me, I would have liked the choice between a dog present or dog free therapy session.

I am trying to figure out what to do and don’t love the idea of seeing her and talking about it because I feel like she messed up. This would be me getting therapy for my therapy and I do not know if this is reparable. Please let me know what you think and what you would honestly do!
Thanks!
 

siniang

Policy Enforcement
“I have a surprise for you. It’s a therapy dog!

that she recently got like maybe 6 mos ago.

The dog did slobber me

Uhm, yeah, NOPE. It isn't. Certified therapy dogs (and their handlers) go through intensive training (to, for example, learn not to slobber on people). Almost all certifying orgs stipulate that the dog must have been with you at least 1 year. Also, therapy dogs are invited, not pushed onto clients/patients.

This was a pet dog brought to work. Nothing more and nothing less.

One that should've been put in a different room during your session after you indicated you're not comfortable.

It feels unprofessional to me.

Because it was.

Your anger and discomfort are very justified.

As for your question what I would do? Start looking for a new therapist. I would try to address it, but depending on her response, I'd personally like to have a backup plan in hand.
 

Scarlet13

MyPTSD Pro
Uhm, yeah, NOPE. It isn't. Certified therapy dogs (and their handlers) go through intensive training (to, for example, learn not to slobber on people). Almost all certifying orgs stipulate that the dog must have been with you at least 1 year. Also, therapy dogs are invited, not pushed onto clients/patients.

This was a pet dog brought to work. Nothing more and nothing less.

One that should've been put in a different room during your session after you indicated you're not comfortable.



Because it was.

Your anger and discomfort are very justified.

As for your question what I would do? Start looking for a new therapist. I would try to address it, but depending on her response, I'd personally like to have a backup plan in hand.
She was sort of joking about it being a therapy dog. She knew and indicated it was her pet at work, but then kinda joked about it. I did indicate my discomfort by saying I was not a dog person but I didn’t show I was uncomfortable due to feeling put on the spot. This is a shared office space so not sure where the dog would have gone. It is hard because she has legitimately been a good T but this was odd.
 

Friday

Moderator
I think an overreaction is a pretty common end result of underreacting… which is what it definitely reads as what happened. Especially underreacting per lessons-learned-in-trauma thing.

Keep silent in the moment = explode at leisure.

So what would have mostly likely been a non-event in the moment, with the dog being taken elsewhere for the hour? Has turned into days/weeks of BFD right up to including ceasing therapy with this provider entirely being on the table.
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
Totally understandable how you feel. Someone else was brought into your therapy session without your explicit consent. And that became about her and not about you.

I would say you don't want the dog in therapy. You're not responsible for her doggy day care.

But she is an otherwise good therapist. So this doesn have to be the end.
You state your need. And given you know her well, seems like she would respond well to that and not bring the dog again?
 

Scarlet13

MyPTSD Pro
I think an overreaction is a pretty common end result of underreacting… which is what it definitely reads as what happened. Especially underreacting per lessons-learned-in-trauma thing.

Keep silent in the moment = explode at leisure.

So what would have mostly likely been a non-event in the moment, with the dog being taken elsewhere for the hour? Has turned into days/weeks of BFD right up to including ceasing therapy with this provider entirely being on the table.
Ok, I love this part:
Keep silent in the moment = explode at leisure
Ha ha so true! But also it was entirely inconsiderate of her and unprofessional of her to bring me into this situation. That’s what I feel upset at. Not the actual dog or my lack of immediately communicating I didn’t like it.
It was not ok prior to me coming. Also it wouldn’t have helped to remove the dog, an older puppy, to where? She rents an office space in a large house that’s been turned into other offices for service providers. I think I honestly had a proper response given the situation. Tolerate the pup (he was cute) and try to do therapy. I am super familiar w/ just putting up with things, and this wasn’t exactly that. I didn’t really realize my feelings until even weeks later after processing it.
I WISH it wasn’t a big deal. She is an otherwise good therapist, but maybe there is better out there? On the other hand I would dread the intakes and having to story tell my life all over again.

I’d recommend an email addressing your concerns and then see how she responds. Her response or lack there of would tell me what I’d do.
She wouldn’t love me trying to do “therapy “ through email which is how it would seem to her because this is sort of an attachment rupture or something like that.

Totally understandable how you feel. Someone else was brought into your therapy session without your explicit consent. And that became about her and not about you.

I would say you don't want the dog in therapy. You're not responsible for her doggy day care.

But she is an otherwise good therapist. So this doesn have to be the end.
You state your need. And given you know her well, seems like she would respond well to that and not bring the dog again?
She totally would respond well. I like that you are saying maybe this doesn’t have to be the end. Though at the root of any therapeutic relationship, it is a business matter. I hired her to do a service and this is really the tricky part because I hold “therapeutic love” for her. I also don’t want to stay when her services and professionalism isn’t consistent. She can be a bit casual at times, which can be nice but then can also lead to, “hey my dog is randomly here.”
She also said to me in session that she thought I would be remote. I did change to in person as soon as she offered the earlier time so this wasn’t a surprise. This also felt manipulative to say because she had the dog there earlier and that means she assumed it would be fine which is the issue.
As far as remote, a puppy in the room during remote is not great either, but obviously not as bad.
It’s difficult to weigh the “therapists are human” aspects with she’s not meeting my needs aspects. It’s painful even. I am struggling with a lot of change right now and could use her full attention.
 

Wendell_R

MyPTSD Pro
But also it was entirely inconsiderate of her and unprofessional of her to bring me into this situation. That’s what I feel upset at. Not the actual dog or my lack of immediately communicating I didn’t like it.
This is a very appropriate response, I think.
She wouldn’t love me trying to do “therapy “ through email which is how it would seem to her because this is sort of an attachment rupture or something like that.
I can understand that fear. But if I was in the same position, I would be angry at my therapist that I have to burn up therapy time dealing with her screw up. I will say, though, that it's been useful for me to express my anger at my therapist in session. Being angry has been so frightening for me much of my life that being able to say I'm angry to someone that is relatively safe has been healing. It's okay that therapists are human--you still get to be angry with what happened and get to express that anger if you want to. The therapists are human comes in when we forgive one another for mistakes we make or for things that don't work out the way we thought they would, and then we figure out how to move forward. That process has been a big revelation for me.
 
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