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Did my therapist purposely trigger me to prove her point??

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What’s the therapeutic benefit of her not hiding it in the way that she does??
She has boundaries. She asked you to do homework for the therapy that she provides. And you didn’t do it.

In a healthy relationship, if one person doesn’t meet their obligations, the other person is, very often, disappointed by that. By letting you know she’s disappointed, she’s reflecting what would happen in an ordinary, healthy relationship. There’s massive benefits to that. One of the really helpful things any therapist can do is model a healthy relationship - how it evolves, what healthy boundaries are like, etc.

So, I guess what I’m wondering is would there be some therapeutic benefit to you of your T hiding how you’ve made her feel? No right or wrong answer.

Just - sometimes the things that piss me off most in therapy are the moments that are (trying to find the way to say it) most ‘real’. Reality is confronting and uncomfortable. And sometimes I f*ck it up.

I’ve had Ts tell me in the past when I’ve disappointed them. It hurt like a bitch. And they weren’t wrong to be disappointed (which is why it hurt). The fact that our relationship continued regardless of their disappointment, and that they were still right there rooting for me when I lifted my game - that was the part that really mattered. That actually helped. More than I can say.

So maybe it’s all me projecting my own shit. Could be. Maybe she’s a lousy T, or you’ve got to the end of what she can offer. Or maybe this hurt, but there’s benefit to it irrespective of that discomfort.

Just my thoughts. Take what’s helpful, leave the rest.
 
Short story lonnnnng:

So I’m about 5 to 6 months into therapy and I found a great therapist who I got along with, but sometimes just due to me being me, and things I have going on sometimes I don’t get my assignments done on time. I understand that not completing these things when she’s asking me to isn’t ideal and holds me back, but of all the things she’s taught me in this five or six months, one is to not be so hard on myself when I don’t accomplish something.

For example, I am opening a business right now, currently have an online clothing boutique and opening a local store, son’s father in the ICU after motorcycle accident with brain damage, went no contact with my mom (reason for therapy), let go of friendships that weren’t healthy recently, so the small circle of support I had to help me with my son before is completely gone now so now I have more on my plate and all by myself, and then I was like let me throw therapy on top of this. So when I tell her my struggles in my business and my life and that I stress that I don’t do things correctly, or get them done on time (working for yourself is hard you have to be very motivated and when you’re depressed, well you know what happens.) So she tells me are you just looking at the bad? Are you not looking at the accomplishments you are making in your business and she gets me to see that I am accomplishing a lot and I should recognize that. That I’m making accomplishments even though it’s slower than I think I should. Well guess what I understand that now and I was like you know what you’re right and I’m able to go a little easier on myself with this process and if I don’t get something done today at the boutique that I need to, I don’t stress about it and beat myself up over it. But at the same time I am applying that to other areas in my life where I feel less then as well because that’s the goal right, to get me to use these techniques to think of things in a more healthy way and so to me that applies to therapy too. It’s my money, I’m not being forced to do this, and if I find it too much to get the Assignment done then I’m not gonna stress about it because when I went into it and realized “oh my gosh this is like being in school with all these assignments and you have to write all this stuff and this is definitely going to be challenging” and I would get stressed out about not having assignments done because when I don’t have an assignment done, or maybe when I would miss an appointment (which I’ve only missed two in the almost 6 months I’ve been going which for me is really good), she gets very visibly disappointed with me.

She goes from being very upbeat and my super cheerleader on all the stuff that I do and have going on, and like the only one who supports me when I say oh I did this to get the Boutique ready, I did the floor or I finished the walls and whatnot and she’s like right there in my corner, always a smile when she greets me, but then the second I don’t do something, It’s visible disappointment.

After the first appointment I missed, when I rescheduled (we do this online by the way), when our cameras turned on she was not her usual smiling self and I was like oh boy she’s upset and here I am starting to apologize profusely like I’m really sorry whatever whatever. It was an important reason why I missed. Same thing the first time I hadn’t finished an assignment when I said I would, which was writing about a family member, visible disappointment and “I can’t help you if you don’t do what you’re supposed to do” which I totally get it and she’s right. But that led me to start to stress out that I was gonna let her down lol. But using the tool she gave me I very quickly was like no by your very definition I should not let you stress me out and I know that I am here and giving my everything and if I prolong this another week because I didn’t get my assignment done this week that’s my choice.

I’m an adult and it’s my money. If person a who went to the same thing as me can be farther in the process of healing in a year, and it takes me two years to get where they got in year, oh well, we got to the same place right? That’s what she was trying to tell me when I am having maladaptive thinking about the other things in my life so you better believe I’m applying that to everything, which includes therapy too, but I also understand that I’m stubborn and there for a reason so there’s that. So last appt we’re doing cognitive distortions and challenging problematic thinking and I guess I thought I was supposed to be writing mine down and I didn’t. I took all the sheets she gave that I was supposed reference and was supposed to pick out which thought it was, all or nothing, should statements etc and read them completely. Even tho I didn’t write these down, I immediately started using them in real life. Knowing about these really does help you see when you’re doing it and how to turn it around. I used that shit like crazy lol! I was able to completely change the way I reacted to a bunch of things that week that wouldn’t have gone the same way 6 month ago.

I was super proud that I was able to pick this up quickly and start applying it. So I guess my mistake was telling her I didn’t do the assignments and not clarifying whether or not I was even supposed to be writing these things down or if I was just supposed to pick out the specific issues from the list she gave me on what the kind of thought it was. I told her immediately when I was like oh I kind of didn’t “do it” when I probably should’ve said “didn’t write anything down” but I did use this all week and then I told her all the situations where I used it and she was just super mad.

Like her whole demeanor changed and she was just like oh so you’re healed and you don’t need me then you don’t need to be here and I was like no like that’s not what I’m saying but what I’m saying is like I applied this to real life, I didn’t write it down. Sorry but I used it and it actually help me And she had me feeling bad about it so it was a very uncomfortable session for the rest of the session and I was kind of silent a lot, which is not normal, but it was just a lot of her like looking at me and like you know, shaking your head at me and I can’t help you if you don’t wanna do this, I can’t help you if you don’t wanna do that but I guess you’re healed now because you know everything and I’m like yo.

So the session ends, and six months ago me would have definitely not scheduled again right away. I’ve been really good about scheduling every week. I would’ve rescheduled, rescheduled again and then most likely dropped her and found someone else or quit altogether. I wouldn’t have even dealt with it, but I was like no, you’re not gonna do that you’re gonna go back, you’re making your appointment right now for next week and you’re not gonna run from this like normal you’re gonna deal with it so that’s what I did.

So I show up to my appointment today and instead of the normal smiling face that she always greets me with and how was your week and tell me about it, she was not enthusiastic at all, very like oh well just tell me what’s been going on and just not her normal self. And I was just trying to answer her questions and stay positive and let her know what’s going been going around on and the topic came to my son getting out of school and me and just kind of getting ready to go back to work because I still have to work while I build this boutique and I’m also trying to go to school for business so I’m like you know this is the first time I’ve been alone and not had any help like at all at all and so I’m just so you know I’m trying to prepare for that and she was like what do you think is gonna go wrong, what do you mean prepare and I was like I’m not saying anything will, I’m just saying I’m just getting ready to face any challenges that come my way in a more healthy way and instead of freaking out about it, I’m just gonna be ready for whatever and deal with any issues head on in the best way that I can and know that I’m gonna be ok.

This was not good enough for her. She just kept questioning that like why do you think somethings gonna go wrong and what if everything goes right and I’m like well that’s great if everything goes right, but she just kept like egging it on like she wasn’t accepting what I was saying. Like she was accusing me of just assuming everything was gonna be wrong and I was having maladaptive thoughts that something bad was definitely gonna happen or I wasn’t gonna be able to handle it so I was preparing for a shit storm or something and I was like no, it’s not like that, like that’s not even how I’m feeling. And she just kept pressing and pressing and pressing and she can see me getting more visibly agitated because I’m like just repeating it and she’s just repeating the same stuff over and over and she just maintains that really cold demeanor.

So I was there like not even knowing what to say and she’s just staring at me and asking me questions about why I would say I need to be prepared and I was just getting so frustrated like how much more do you want me to explain this to you until the point where I was getting like loud with her until I started crying like I don’t understand like how much more you want from me with these f*cking papers, like I’m doing it in real life, I don’t get it and she was like that’s it I’m ending the session and just hung up.

I was heated not gonna lie during the session when she was pressing me I could feel myself getting hotter, but Kinda in the back of my head I was like is she doing this on purpose to try to get me to see that I need to do these assignments and I’m not healed and I’m still reactive etc, well shit, who wouldn’t react to that?

I think that triggered me to get angry too because I don’t like that, I feel like that’s playing games with me just to prove your point. I feel like she saw me getting more and more agitated and used it to try to teach me something when she should’ve just moved on but it went overboard and then she just ended it.

Like I don’t feel like that was right for her to do to me and I feel like it goes against everything she’s teaching me. I feel like she wasn’t hearing that I was telling her how much success I was having with these papers and just kept doing that to imply “you didn’t complete the assignment and now look at you thinking your healed and look how easy it is for me to trigger you and oh look, now your triggered and upset and I’m gonna hang up” which I don’t even think I didn’t complete it because I’m not sure is she ever even said I had to write it down to begin with, and this is all because I didn’t clarify it and I understand that, but I still don’t think that went right and now I just don’t know what to do.

Schedule another appointment? apologize? do I have anything to apologize for aside from not clarifying exactly what she wanted from me?

I’m just really confused and new to therapy after having a really bad experience with it 15 years ago and a bad experience 10 years before that when I was a kid. So am I right to feel like she took that too far? Is it normal for therapists to act like that? I totally get that I don’t know how this goes and I’m new to this so I know this could be normal and I just don’t know it.

Thanks for reading this lonnnng short story.
I’ve had a lot of experience with therapists and different kinds of therapies. Here’s some general background before I give you my advice: One of the problems with behavioral therapy, which is what you’re doing, is that it sometimes it boils down to discipline and punish. Instead of offering empathy, which patients need, it relies on carrots and sticks. That means the therapist has to make a judgment about your behavior in order to offer a carrot or a stick to get you to move forward. I think you’re feeling that sense of judgment heavily. Another issue with therapy is that it focuses on the patient’s inner life sometimes at the exclusion of the patient’s life circumstances out of the office. You have a busy life. That should be taken into consideration by your therapist.

I think you should find a new therapist since it sounds like she is making you feel irresponsible and that she’s only concerned about the process she was taught and is not flexible enough to adapt to your needs. Shame is never a good way to get a patient to move forward. Should you look for a new therapist, it might be helpful to ask in detail about their methodology during the consultation, as well as observe carefully the level of empathy that they present. Hope this helps.
 
Short story lonnnnng:

So I’m about 5 to 6 months into therapy and I found a great therapist who I got along with, but sometimes just due to me being me, and things I have going on sometimes I don’t get my assignments done on time. I understand that not completing these things when she’s asking me to isn’t ideal and holds me back, but of all the things she’s taught me in this five or six months, one is to not be so hard on myself when I don’t accomplish something.

For example, I am opening a business right now, currently have an online clothing boutique and opening a local store, son’s father in the ICU after motorcycle accident with brain damage, went no contact with my mom (reason for therapy), let go of friendships that weren’t healthy recently, so the small circle of support I had to help me with my son before is completely gone now so now I have more on my plate and all by myself, and then I was like let me throw therapy on top of this. So when I tell her my struggles in my business and my life and that I stress that I don’t do things correctly, or get them done on time (working for yourself is hard you have to be very motivated and when you’re depressed, well you know what happens.) So she tells me are you just looking at the bad? Are you not looking at the accomplishments you are making in your business and she gets me to see that I am accomplishing a lot and I should recognize that. That I’m making accomplishments even though it’s slower than I think I should. Well guess what I understand that now and I was like you know what you’re right and I’m able to go a little easier on myself with this process and if I don’t get something done today at the boutique that I need to, I don’t stress about it and beat myself up over it. But at the same time I am applying that to other areas in my life where I feel less then as well because that’s the goal right, to get me to use these techniques to think of things in a more healthy way and so to me that applies to therapy too. It’s my money, I’m not being forced to do this, and if I find it too much to get the Assignment done then I’m not gonna stress about it because when I went into it and realized “oh my gosh this is like being in school with all these assignments and you have to write all this stuff and this is definitely going to be challenging” and I would get stressed out about not having assignments done because when I don’t have an assignment done, or maybe when I would miss an appointment (which I’ve only missed two in the almost 6 months I’ve been going which for me is really good), she gets very visibly disappointed with me.

She goes from being very upbeat and my super cheerleader on all the stuff that I do and have going on, and like the only one who supports me when I say oh I did this to get the Boutique ready, I did the floor or I finished the walls and whatnot and she’s like right there in my corner, always a smile when she greets me, but then the second I don’t do something, It’s visible disappointment.

After the first appointment I missed, when I rescheduled (we do this online by the way), when our cameras turned on she was not her usual smiling self and I was like oh boy she’s upset and here I am starting to apologize profusely like I’m really sorry whatever whatever. It was an important reason why I missed. Same thing the first time I hadn’t finished an assignment when I said I would, which was writing about a family member, visible disappointment and “I can’t help you if you don’t do what you’re supposed to do” which I totally get it and she’s right. But that led me to start to stress out that I was gonna let her down lol. But using the tool she gave me I very quickly was like no by your very definition I should not let you stress me out and I know that I am here and giving my everything and if I prolong this another week because I didn’t get my assignment done this week that’s my choice.

I’m an adult and it’s my money. If person a who went to the same thing as me can be farther in the process of healing in a year, and it takes me two years to get where they got in year, oh well, we got to the same place right? That’s what she was trying to tell me when I am having maladaptive thinking about the other things in my life so you better believe I’m applying that to everything, which includes therapy too, but I also understand that I’m stubborn and there for a reason so there’s that. So last appt we’re doing cognitive distortions and challenging problematic thinking and I guess I thought I was supposed to be writing mine down and I didn’t. I took all the sheets she gave that I was supposed reference and was supposed to pick out which thought it was, all or nothing, should statements etc and read them completely. Even tho I didn’t write these down, I immediately started using them in real life. Knowing about these really does help you see when you’re doing it and how to turn it around. I used that shit like crazy lol! I was able to completely change the way I reacted to a bunch of things that week that wouldn’t have gone the same way 6 month ago.

I was super proud that I was able to pick this up quickly and start applying it. So I guess my mistake was telling her I didn’t do the assignments and not clarifying whether or not I was even supposed to be writing these things down or if I was just supposed to pick out the specific issues from the list she gave me on what the kind of thought it was. I told her immediately when I was like oh I kind of didn’t “do it” when I probably should’ve said “didn’t write anything down” but I did use this all week and then I told her all the situations where I used it and she was just super mad.

Like her whole demeanor changed and she was just like oh so you’re healed and you don’t need me then you don’t need to be here and I was like no like that’s not what I’m saying but what I’m saying is like I applied this to real life, I didn’t write it down. Sorry but I used it and it actually help me And she had me feeling bad about it so it was a very uncomfortable session for the rest of the session and I was kind of silent a lot, which is not normal, but it was just a lot of her like looking at me and like you know, shaking your head at me and I can’t help you if you don’t wanna do this, I can’t help you if you don’t wanna do that but I guess you’re healed now because you know everything and I’m like yo.

So the session ends, and six months ago me would have definitely not scheduled again right away. I’ve been really good about scheduling every week. I would’ve rescheduled, rescheduled again and then most likely dropped her and found someone else or quit altogether. I wouldn’t have even dealt with it, but I was like no, you’re not gonna do that you’re gonna go back, you’re making your appointment right now for next week and you’re not gonna run from this like normal you’re gonna deal with it so that’s what I did.

So I show up to my appointment today and instead of the normal smiling face that she always greets me with and how was your week and tell me about it, she was not enthusiastic at all, very like oh well just tell me what’s been going on and just not her normal self. And I was just trying to answer her questions and stay positive and let her know what’s going been going around on and the topic came to my son getting out of school and me and just kind of getting ready to go back to work because I still have to work while I build this boutique and I’m also trying to go to school for business so I’m like you know this is the first time I’ve been alone and not had any help like at all at all and so I’m just so you know I’m trying to prepare for that and she was like what do you think is gonna go wrong, what do you mean prepare and I was like I’m not saying anything will, I’m just saying I’m just getting ready to face any challenges that come my way in a more healthy way and instead of freaking out about it, I’m just gonna be ready for whatever and deal with any issues head on in the best way that I can and know that I’m gonna be ok.

This was not good enough for her. She just kept questioning that like why do you think somethings gonna go wrong and what if everything goes right and I’m like well that’s great if everything goes right, but she just kept like egging it on like she wasn’t accepting what I was saying. Like she was accusing me of just assuming everything was gonna be wrong and I was having maladaptive thoughts that something bad was definitely gonna happen or I wasn’t gonna be able to handle it so I was preparing for a shit storm or something and I was like no, it’s not like that, like that’s not even how I’m feeling. And she just kept pressing and pressing and pressing and she can see me getting more visibly agitated because I’m like just repeating it and she’s just repeating the same stuff over and over and she just maintains that really cold demeanor.

So I was there like not even knowing what to say and she’s just staring at me and asking me questions about why I would say I need to be prepared and I was just getting so frustrated like how much more do you want me to explain this to you until the point where I was getting like loud with her until I started crying like I don’t understand like how much more you want from me with these f*cking papers, like I’m doing it in real life, I don’t get it and she was like that’s it I’m ending the session and just hung up.

I was heated not gonna lie during the session when she was pressing me I could feel myself getting hotter, but Kinda in the back of my head I was like is she doing this on purpose to try to get me to see that I need to do these assignments and I’m not healed and I’m still reactive etc, well shit, who wouldn’t react to that?

I think that triggered me to get angry too because I don’t like that, I feel like that’s playing games with me just to prove your point. I feel like she saw me getting more and more agitated and used it to try to teach me something when she should’ve just moved on but it went overboard and then she just ended it.

Like I don’t feel like that was right for her to do to me and I feel like it goes against everything she’s teaching me. I feel like she wasn’t hearing that I was telling her how much success I was having with these papers and just kept doing that to imply “you didn’t complete the assignment and now look at you thinking your healed and look how easy it is for me to trigger you and oh look, now your triggered and upset and I’m gonna hang up” which I don’t even think I didn’t complete it because I’m not sure is she ever even said I had to write it down to begin with, and this is all because I didn’t clarify it and I understand that, but I still don’t think that went right and now I just don’t know what to do.

Schedule another appointment? apologize? do I have anything to apologize for aside from not clarifying exactly what she wanted from me?

I’m just really confused and new to therapy after having a really bad experience with it 15 years ago and a bad experience 10 years before that when I was a kid. So am I right to feel like she took that too far? Is it normal for therapists to act like that? I totally get that I don’t know how this goes and I’m new to this so I know this could be normal and I just don’t know it.

Thanks for reading this lonnnng short story.
So it sounds like she was really helpful 6 months ago, but as you’re progressing (making appts after conflict, instead of running; applying tools to real life; etc.) it’s becoming less and less of a ‘good fit’ as far as your needs/wants and personalities?
 
So it sounds like she was really helpful 6 months ago, but as you’re progressing (making appts after conflict, instead of running; applying tools to real life; etc.) it’s becoming less and less of a ‘good fit’ as far as your needs/wants and personalities?
Plus.....therapists don't get experience points you can see.....I would think though it might be the point where your T might say "yeah, sorry but I'm in over my head here."

Unfortunately, ego sometimes gets in the way.

When I interviewed my new T that was on my list.....have you worked with (insert long list of problems)? I got the answer I wanted, which was basically - yes and here are the tools in my toolbox.

As well as the personal fit - it might be a thing to ask what tools and experience your T has moving on from here? It does pay to be blunt and if the answer isn't what you want to hear, might be time to move on.....
 
I would think though it might be the point where your T might say "yeah, sorry but I'm in over my head here."
This would be a very weird thing for a CBT therapist to say. Because fundamentally, they can go on helping a person with day-to-day issues indefinitely. There isn’t really any point where CBT typically becomes ‘unhelpful’, and my personal experience? Is T’s typically rely on their patients reaching their own decision about time to move on, rather than suggest anything that might be interpreted by a patient as “you and your shit are too hard/too complicated/you need to go elsewhere/ you no longer interest me” etc. Which is how the “I have nothing more to offer” line very often gets interpreted as.

I don’t think that’s an ego thing, so much as fulfilling their core purpose, which is to be a therapeutic support for the person that’s in front of them, irrespective of whether that person’s issues are big or small, or how long they’ve been in therapy.
 
There isn’t really any point where CBT typically becomes ‘unhelpful’, and my personal experience?
My experience is the opposite… but I was actively attempting to avoid trauma therapy, for a few years. Both my own (badass!) Marriage & Family CBT therapist, and new people I was interviewing, kept referring me to trauma therapy / trauma therapists. Basic/General trauma was in their wheelhouses, but trauma related disorders were not.
 
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