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Crying In Front Of/Eye Contact With Therapist

Discussion in 'Treatment & Therapy' started by Awakening, Nov 11, 2007.

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  1. Awakening

    Awakening Well-Known Member

    When talking about certain things, I am unable to make eye contact with my therapist.

    Sometimes she asks for me to look at her, but I can't and she doesn't force it.

    Obviously it's about - shame.

    Also - I cried quite a bit at our last session. And I found it the most isolating, lonely experience.

    I thought it might be relieving or comforting.

    But to sit in a chair with someone dead opposite me whilst I cry..well I felt like a rat in a lab.

    Which is very odd - when I feel very connected/attached to my therapist, and when she is very compassionate.

    But when someone cries I would move to comfort them - perhaps I was expecting this? I don't know.

    She murmured all the right sympathies.

    But frankly I found it a cold, hollow experience.

    I have requested before to sit with my back to her, with my head in the corner, but she was not keen on this.

    Could I possibly suggest her not sitting directly in front of me, but to the side perhaps or on an angle?

    How do others do it?
    reallydown likes this.
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  3. Marlene

    Marlene I'm a VIP Premium Member

    Eye contact is still a tough issue for me. I can make eye contact with my therapist now...but it's something I have to make myself do. He did compliment me on the eye contact and the fact that I'm not hiding my face behind my hand anymore. I wonder if he knows how hard I fight not to do that anymore?

    Crying in front of anyone (except my husband) is very difficult for me. I even have a hard time letting myself go and have a good, hard cry. It's like I can let a little out at a time and then I tell myself to knock it off...and I do. I think it goes back to loss of control for me. And for a lot of us.

    You can suggest anything you want to your therapist. How y'all set up your session is as unique and personal as the sessions themselves. But hiding yourself from your therapist isn't going to help you. It's only going to reenforce your hiding. My suggestion would be to talk about it to her and see what she thinks.

    BTW-in answer to your question. I sit face to face with my therapist. Some days I'd rather email or phone in my session. But I know that's just another way of avoiding things I've avoided for too long.

  4. canucklady

    canucklady Active Member

    I understand what you are saying. I have a hard time with eye contact and now she reminds me to look at her when I start to space out. Hiding from your T probably won't help, but I don't see why you can change seating arrangements where you are not directly in front of her, to the side or at an angle. One time, thought T was sitting way too close to me, so she moved her chair back a bit so I felt more comfortable. Of course we needed to discuss why was feeling anxious later. But if you and T could work together, am sure you can find seating arrangement that helps you. Oh yeah, one more thing that helps me, is that I am closest to door, an escape route I suppose.
  5. Claire

    Claire Well-Known Member

    It took me a long time to sit down at all with my therapist. Now I do but not on a chair. I sit on the floor in the corner. Sometimes I lie down under the chair with my back to the wall. I feel pretty silly telling everyone this but I dont care so much anymore! It works for me and I tell my therapist everything now, including the silly stuff. I couldn't do that if I didn't feel physically comfortable. I move about a lot in sessions. Sometimes I need my head on the wall by the door. In the door frame. Yes, i have trouble with eye contact too. I want to look at him but its hard. I'd really like to be under the desk! but i'd feel very silly doing that. I have told him I'd like to be there though. He never seems to mind which makes things so much easier for me. I dont think I'd be as far on with things as I am if he wasn't so accepting.

    Have you asked why your therapist has a problem with your suggestion? I cant see why it would be wrong to move the chairs about but I can see why she might not like you sitting with your back to her. Maybe you could come up with a compromise together?
  6. ilim

    ilim New Member

    Wow, I thought I was the only one with this issue. I had a bad therapist, and when she told me to look at her, she's say it as though I were lying, like I was being scolded. The one time I cried, she told me to pack up my feelings and leave. What a [explitive]. So now, if I went to a therapist, which I won't, it would be really hard for me to get over those things.
  7. ruddy

    ruddy Active Member

    It's been an uphill battle for me. I can make eye contact and be open now, but it took quite a while. At first I could write about things that happened and share that with him, but couldn't talk about it. At one point I told him that I would imagine myself morphing into a snake and slithering out of his office under the door during session. I think trust is the key. I had one therapist who tried to rush me too quickly and I just quit going. I think some therapists are impatient and just full of themselves.
  8. kers

    kers I'm a VIP

    I am still having lots of trouble looking at my counselor and not hiding my face. Hes been very accepting of this difficulty, which is making it easier for me to accept that this is how I am right now.

    I often watch my counselor's reflection in the window instead of looking at his face. It's the best I can do sometimes. I can only manage to make eye contact for a few moments at a time. I feel very threatened when he sits directly in front of me, so he sits off to an angle and often sits in his chair sideways!

    I think as our confidence improves, and as our shame decreases, we can maintain eye contact more and not feel such a need to hide. It's a long process, though.
  9. cactus_jack

    cactus_jack Well-Known Member

    Trust is a huge key factor that we all notice. If you cannot trust the counselor, what value is the counseling? I literally don't trust anyone. Period.
  10. 2quilt

    2quilt I'm a VIP

    Find a therapist you trust.
    Find a therapist you "click" with.
    You are the paying customer!
  11. Awakening

    Awakening Well-Known Member

    Thanks everyone, I appreciate all the replies.

    I really do trust my therapist though. I trust her more then I trust anyone else in my life. I trust her more then I've ever trusted anyone.

    But it's not a 100% thing, because obviously trust is an issue.

    Its more about I don't want her to see me. I feel so embarassed that she sees me cry, sees my weaknesses, my vulnerability, sees just how sensitive & emotional & broken I am. I humiliated by that. Even though her responses are very kind. I still feel lonely.

    I think maybe I'll ask about moving the chairs slightly as face to face is making me feel very exposed.

    We've vaguely talked about this before - she didn't say yes or no to the corner but something along the lines of 'i'd prefer to see you, and prefer that the shame didn't take over when it's already got alot of power'.

    She's a wonderful supportive challenging therapist, so the problem is with me and my distortions, I'm just not sure how to override these defenses or the shame.
  12. Grama-Herc

    Grama-Herc I'm a VIP

    I spend all my time on my T couch in the corner curled up into a little ball. I pick at my fingers, fiddle with the edge of my jeans and just about anything else I can do to avoid looking at him and until your post never realized it.

    I do sit infront of him as his office is very small, every corner is filled and there really is no place to go or hide which I now realize is on purpose.

    My goodness our docs are the smart ones aren't they.

    Since you do trust your T just keep on going and talking and releasing the secrets and believe me when I say "IT WILL GET BETTER". Maybe not completely but at least we are the better for their help

    Hang in there and good luck, we know how you feel

    P.S. I've cried rivers in his office over the years---and rivers-----and rivers!
  13. dontknow

    dontknow New Member

    do you know what your therapist actually looks like? I have no idea what my therapists face looks like, I can't bring myself to look at him even when he's not looking at me. But I do know what all his trousers and shoes look like.
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