Does the therapist attempt to get their client to say things they already know the answer to?

I feel like this has happened a few times.

Essentially last spring I had an evaluation related to a recent traumatic event but they inquired about passed trauma as well. I find I'm unable to remember a lot of that evaluation, but I do remember that I tried to be honest and mentioned some trauma from my childhood when they asked (I just can't remember the extent of details I shared with the therapist doing the evaluation). So now I've just started going to therapy and she uses that evaluation and it stresses me out that I don't know what's in it. Sometimes she'll know something I wouldn't have expected her to know and I'll realize later I must have said it last spring in the evaluation.

Well today I finally asked her what it said about a specific topic and told her how I couldn't remember what I'd said last spring. She said something like "Oh I can't remember, I'd have to reread it. It was pretty vague" This confused me because if it was vague how did she know the stuff she mentioned before? And I'm pretty sure I tried to be honest and give some of the details the therapist doing the report had asked - I just can't remember what they were.

So then a few minutes later my therapist asked me if the referenced event occurred when I was a child or adult, I was so confused that she'd ask that because she has definitely referenced it as occurring when I was a child in passed sessions, but still I clarified to her that I was a child. She followed it up with another question on something she'd also referenced in the passed. I don't get it. Was the report really as vague as she was now acting? If so, how had she known things in the passed? Could she have just forgotten what the report said? Or was this an attempt to get me to talk about it (which I struggle to do)?

I generally like her so much but this interaction made me really uneasy. Like it felt like she either couldn't remember something major OR she was trying to trick me into speaking about it. Both possibilities kind of bummed me out. Any thoughts on which is more likely? I kind of get the feeling she was trying to get me to talk about it - but if so why ask things she's already established in the passed? Like did she just want me to directly say them (rather then her referencing them)?

Also I really wish I knew what the heck I said (or didn't say!) in that evaluation. What would be the intentions behind her not seeming to want me to know what's in it?
 

Friday

Moderator
I generally like her so much but this interaction made me really uneasy. Like it felt like she either couldn't remember something major OR she was trying to trick me into speaking about it. Both possibilities kind of bummed me out. Any thoughts on which is more likely?
You know there are a whole lot of other possibilities, right?

Just to start with the premise... that she knows something you don’t expect her to know, so that it must come from the report? Some might. For sure. Or none of it may come from the report, and be (almost) entirely session based. Why almost? Because when you’ve studied & worked in a field for over a decade there’s a helluva lot of trending a person is going to be very familiar with. As an example? Most victims of sexual assault split in one of two ways; sexually promiscuous or sexually avoidant. When you know that, an offhand comment can speak volumes. And that’s just one trend amongst hundreds. Some of which would make perfect sense to anyone, others of which you might have never heard of & think is a freaky totally unique to your situation, but are actually really normal/expected/not weird at all. Which can be a lot like watching a magician 🤯 How did you knoooooooow?!? <<< But if every time that happens? You assume it’s in the report? You never get the “ABC is totally normal” speech, with examples about how ABC often becomes XYZ or 123

So that’s just to start with, and there are a bunch of other possibilities, as well not just that one example. Like you mentioned something in passing 3 months ago, that’s unimportant to you but has bells and whistles on it for her, so she touches base with it from time to time to see if that’s something you’re ready to look at. And maybe half a dozen or a dozen other possibilities.

But to jump back to “did she forget something major OR is she trying to trick me?”

Sure, she might have forgotten something major.
Or she might be trying to trick you.
BUT??? There are maaaaaaybe 50 other things that are also possibilities. Just off the top of my head. (That I’m not going to list out because 😵). But really, 50+.And if we don’t assume the premise? Even more.

All equally likely. As I’ve never met the woman, don’t know how she works, and have no way to guesstimate which is more likely for her, given her character, training, personality, etc.

What’s super interesting to meeeeeee?

1. The all or nothing thinking (This? Or This? No in betweens, or other options) >>> check out the articles on cognitive distortions / negative thinking styles.

2. That the 2 options you came up with are ones that bum you out. (And probably the ones that hurt the most, out of all the different possibilities).

3. You like her... and your knee jerk is to come up with answers that both distance you from her, and hurt you, in one fell swoop.

Which are all totally normal/expected for trauma, by the by. And very much worth talking with her, about.
 

Mach123

MyPTSD Pro
Yes and it’s interesting you phrased it that way. I think it’s a blessing and a curse. She knew all about me when I walked in there. She already knew how I felt and a lot of what I was going to say. She’s an expert . That’s why I always insist it has to be a specialist. The downside if there is one is it makes her want to fit me into her box. She thinks she knows me better than I do. She’s wrong lol. She won’t tell me everything she thinks . She guides me. I resist her. I know she thinks she knows the answer sometimes and, I surprise her.
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
I get into thoughts like this. It gets intense.
However, I think taking her at face value rather than second guessing her motives might help.
I think all the trying to figure out why she said things, comes from a place of trauma. We have to know everyone's motives around us to make us feel safe . And this is what you are projecting into this interaction with your T?

She may well have forgotten the precise details of what she read in that evaluation. and she may realise how important that event is to you, so she may not have wanted to say what her recollection of the event was incase she got it wrong and that caused you distress?
So her being vague may be her being honest?

You can ask her anything you like.
Bringing this back up with her in your next session, how you responded to what she said, what it made you think, etc, might all be really valuable.
 

shimmerz

MyPTSD Pro
Like it felt like she either couldn't remember something major OR she was trying to trick me into speaking about it.
I had a therapist that I used to have problems with trust. She would try to put onto me what she was seeing in me. Uh uh. No way. I would call her out every time. So yes, it is possible that is what she is doing. But I think coming from a place of maturity and not trauma it would be up to you to say 'hey, this is what is going through my head when you are asking me this stuff. Set me straight and tell me what you are doing will you please?' You may be surprised as to what her answer is.

We have to know everyone's motives around us to make us feel safe . And this is what you are projecting into this interaction with your T?
Honestly, if this is where you sit and you stay there, your brain will be in looping hell. Nobody needs that. Especially not you. Move through it - for your own sake - by discussing your thoughts about it with her.
 

David1959

Confident
Sometimes she'll know something I wouldn't have expected her to know
This happens constantly with my T. She often shares insights that are spot on but are not related to what I have told her. What I finally figured out is that because she has been trained and worked in the filed of CSA for many years she has insight that I don't. She is able to take disperate things I have said and derive the truth out of it that I see as amazingly insightful.

Just stick with her.
 
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