Currently ignoring/‘punishing’ my therapist


I went back and we went over things and we figured a way out of it together.

what's the worst that can happen from confronting her and expressing your feelings? Confrontation seems to be hard for you but maybe it could be an opportunity to practice being assertive when things go wrong rather than run away?

This has been my experience too with previous ‘therapeutic ruptures.’ Although it’s been hard before, I’ve always gone back in to talk it through with her and it’s always been worthwhile and a useful way forwards.

I have never before just decided not to engage in any way for a couple of weeks.

So, I guess I am wondering what’s different this time.

I’m wondering now whether it’s that previous ruptures have been quite practical things where I felt she’d dropped the ball/let me down eg messy conversations about fees or her not following through and doing what she said she would do on something that was important to me.

This time, I felt invalidated, criticised, judged. And that’s new.

And when I spoke up in the session and said those things weren’t landing she didn’t seem to hear me and was just kind of on a roll. Which then felt more invalidating

So, in terms of what’s the worse that can happen by bringing this up with her? I guess, at least partly, it’s that I raise those things again and she doesn’t really hear me again and then I leave feeling invalidated again. And I know that won’t definitely happen. But maybe that’s a fear. Asserting myself and speaking up and still feeling unheard and invalidated.


Asserting myself and speaking up and still feeling unheard and invalidated
Totally get that and hear that. It's huge putting yourself out there with the risk that you feel unheard and invalidated again.
But at the moment, you're in this limbo that is not resolving.
It sounds like you have to take action in some way to resolve it as it is just here hanging over you until something shifts. And that something needs to be you as she has left it for you to arrange.

If you don't want to send an email setting this out, then you could just arrange a session and then talk about it. Or the email could be really brief saying something like "I've not arranged the session before now as I've been struggling with some of the things you said last time and don't know how to raise it all with you".

It sounds like your options are just to walk away which will protect you from feeling invalidated by her but might leave you with a sense of no closure and wondering about it all. Or you try and talk to her again, which will either solve the problem or you have the risk of feeling invalidated.


How about emailing her and asking: what did you mean by...........?
Give both of you a break. Can't imagine recovering from the Virus and having a rough session. Is it video? T and I both hate them. Can't see total body language response. She probably would have noticed you were about to cry in a person to person session. She can't fix it, if she doesn't know what's wrong.
Understand about cancelling. That's why I have a standing appointment. My T won't accept cancellations by email. I have to call him. No leaving message with his receptionist either!
Hope you are feeling better soon.


How about emailing her and asking: what did you mean by...........?

Although she’s open to email, she doesn’t really get into discussion content-wise on email. So, logistical emails are fine. But if it’s more about session content, the only response she tends to give is an acknowledgement of the email and ‘let’s pick up next session.’I don’t think she’ll want to get into clarifying herself/resolving this over email.

Also, it wasn’t really just one thing she said. There was the one thing she said, which initially raised my defences, but then about 15-20 mins of session where she was talking a lot and it was all just a real miss.

She probably would have noticed you were about to cry in a person to person session

We’re on video call, yes, but she knew something was up. I got very defensive and also challenged some of what she’d said so she knew things weren’t landing well (but I think she was confused about why that was). And she knew that I was on the verge of tears at the end - my voice was very wobbly and I was doing things I normally do when I’m trying not to cry - she noticed enough to ask a couple of times if I was ok. I think she wanted to get things sorted out and smoothed over then. But by that point I didn’t want to engage and just wanted to get off the call.

Understand about cancelling.

I didn’t actually cancel.

Usually, I have a regular on-going session time so I only have to contact her if I need to change it one week for whatever reason. During lockdown we haven’t done that as we’ve both needed - and offered - more flexibility. Plus I was poorly for some of it and did miss one or two.

So, we have been booking in the next session as we go. Hence, we didn’t already have our next one booked in and when she suggested we get our diaries out and arrange our next session I said no because I felt upset and angry with her and just wanted to get off the call.

Which is why I’m now in this situation of knowing I have to make the next step and keeping her waiting for over two weeks to arrange our next session... And that now just feels more awkward.

If we’d have already had the next session booked in, I think I’d have been tempted to cancel but I don’t think I actually would have. I think I’d have made myself go ahead with it and we’d have already therefore already tackled this by now ?

Hope you are feeling better soon.

Thank you! Think I’m finally on the up virus-wise!


The more I think about it through this thread, the more I think that the thing I’m struggling with isn’t so much what didn’t go so well in the session.

She said some things...they didn’t land well...I felt upset/annoyed...because I felt criticised, judged, invalidated...and I’m still not feeling good about those things.

But I get that this will come down to there being a miscommunication.

It’s happened before. We talked it through. It was all fine in the end.

This time feels different. And I think it’s because my reaction is different. I’ve never just disengaged before like this.

And because the internal conflict feels very intense this time. It’s far from unusual for me to feel a push/pull in therapy. But this is so confusing - feeling so many different things all at the same time:
- exhilarated/triumphant because I feel in control
- wanting to ‘punish her’ - including thinking ‘make her wait another week’
- embarrassed/ashamed for a) being angry/upset in the session and b) for my behaviour now - including the above points
- worrying that I’ve done something wrong
- awkward and anxious about me having to make a next step
- relief that I’m not engaging with that relationship at the moment
- feeling I need to protect myself
- wanting to see her/speak to her
- wanting to continue not seeing her/speaking to her
- And probably other stuff too.

It just feels like a lot. And when so many feeling are conflicting, which ones do I listen to and act upon?! It’s exhausting! And I don’t have a whole lot of energy at the moment.


How about just writing a really quick email to arrange the session. Don't send it. Just write it. And then assess how you feel about writing it?
And then keep it in drafts, don't delete it. Think about it and then decide if you want to send it?

Maybe just writing it will make you know what you want to do?

feels like a lot. And when so many feeling are conflicting, which ones do I listen to and act upon?! It’s exhausting! And I don’t have a whole lot of energy at the moment.
That does sound like a lot and does sound very confusing.
My T tries to get me to unpick these messages and work out where they come from. Almost always the most confusing message in my head is younger me soaking up all the trauma, shame, silence, etc and the adult me is wanting something else, a shift in a different direction.

Try and let go the embarrassment? Easier said than done I know! But it sounds as though this is holding you back from what you want to do.


Ok, so, I bit the bullet last night and sent the briefest of emails – just a short sentence asking if she has any availability this week.

I now have a session in a few hours....! ?

Anxiety is through the roof!

I think I need to try not to spend too much time listing all the things she said that didn't land well? Because I don't think that will help move things on and I'll probably just get wound up about it all again?

I think more important is maybe to try to discuss my reaction of disengaging and all the conflicting thoughts/feelings that have come with that?

Maybe?? I don't really know...

Anyway....thanks for all your thoughts and suggestions...I think, in some way, they all fed in to me finally taking a step and getting into an action.


Go you! Really really brave taking that step.
And it sounds like you have a plan about how to talk about it, which sounds sensible and considered.

I really really hope it goes well for you and she is able to reassure you and hear you.


I hope you find inspiration in Emily Dickenson poem called: A Loss of Something ever Felt I

A loss of something ever felt I —
The first that I could recollect
Bereft I was — of what I knew not
Too young that any should suspect

A Mourner walked among the children
I notwithstanding went about
As one bemoaning a Dominion
Itself the only Prince cast out —

Elder, Today, a session wiser
And fainter, too, as Wiseness is —
I find myself still softly searching
For my Delinquent Palaces —

And a Suspicion, like a Finger
Touches my Forehead now and then
That I am looking oppositely
For the site of the Kingdom of Heaven —

A loss of something ever felt I — - Wikisource, the free online library

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I think you're really brave, @barefoot for putting all this out there. I have this same issue - he says something or responds in a way that pisses me off and I shut down and cancel appointments - and I have it a lot. Not something I've been willing to look at because it's embarrassing.

So thank you. And I hope you figure out a way to handle this and share here! So much good discussion in this thread!


Thank you @grit
Poetry isn't my strong point but I take from this poem a sense of loss – and perhaps a feeling of being lost – seeking answers and happiness....but perhaps looking in the wrong place for them...?!