Does your therapist notice your dissociation before you do?

Lostvoice

Learning
I’m not sure she notices it at all. I mean some times I’ll get the “where are you right now?” question but mostly I’m just aware of coming back from dissociation and the confusion that comes with that for me. I think she notices more then she says, if that makes sense?
 

ninja

MyPTSD Pro
My first therapist usually either don't share her observations or said me but I wasn't able to register it. So impossible to know if she discovered it before me. To be fair I start consulting her as a 7 already very traumatized girl who only started to talk after she gave me no other choice. Dissociation was so part of my daily life it was completely normal to me
It can be so challenging to recognize it, and it makes sense that the more it happens the harder it is to recognize. I also think, depending on the person and the particular situation, it can sometimes be safer to allow the dissociation than to poke at it.
No mine does not notice before me. I wish he was better at anticipating because then I could use some of the skills we go through. I get to far into the system and my response is anger that I can’t just...whatever it was I was supposed to be doing. Then the stubborn part kicks in and I’d rather just call it a day.
I'm sorry yours does not notice. Have you talked to him about it at all? Maybe he can start to help you look out for when it happens?
Can you reframe how you feel about it? Can your T teach you what it is they’re seeing so you can stop yourself? If they’re anticipating it maybe yell you that? Are you able to pinpoint what you were thinking right before? I can only guess you’d like to control or be rid of the problem sounds like your T can help you put out the campfire before it burns down the forest.
I can try to reframe! She tells me my eyes drift away. I know that having trouble getting words to come out of my mouth is a big sign, but once I'm there it's hard to come back..although I do think this has improved recently, and I have been able to start talking again. I think shame and humiliation and powerlessness are particularly bad, maybe because we haven't worked directly with them yet. Maybe that's what signals my T to keep a closer eye out. Hmm.
i never thought to ask, but i believe 100% of my therapists and most of my peer supporters were able to tell before i was during those early years. probably not so much as my awareness of dissociation and skills with the therapy tools have grown. my work with peer supporters has me pretty convinced that the outward tells other people see are more obvious than the inward tells i can only feel. body language really does communicate important messages more accurately than words and we don't get to see our own body language.
I hadn't really thought about it, but this makes so much sense (and knocks the shame down a few pegs) - thank you!
And also anger and frustration with myself that I had ‘wasted’ time and money in another session.
Oh yes....
And stupid because I thought I'd be okay talking about whatever the thing was. There is a part of me who thinks I'm self-aware enough to know whether a topic is okay or too much, and it's taken so much time to get to a place where I can acknowledge that no, in fact, I do not always know.
I used to get so frustrated that I couldn’t control it, and it felt like it would just always stay that way. But things did shift a lot.
I'm so glad to hear it shifted, and it sounds like you did a lot of work to get to where you are with it now.
 

ninja

MyPTSD Pro
The first therapist I had noticed right away. He described what he noticed, and I thought it was weird, because I thought what I was doing was normal.
I can imagine that being a bit of a shock, since it sounds like he was the first to really notice and make the connection?
All the trauma T’s I’ve worked with have been able to read me. Which is a big part of why I chose to work with them.

I’m the opposite to bothered… I looooooove and adore when I’m working with a T who can & does do that.
Yeah, and then there's this... I like that she is so attuned, and I find it terrifying. Usually the terrifying wins (well, apart from the fact that I'm still going to see her!).

Her attunement is effective... it means she has a solid grasp on when to confront avoidance and when to stop me from jumping face first into a pile of overwhelm and dissociation. Honestly, sometimes I feel like my body is a bowling ball and my head is the bowler and T provides the bumpers that I don't always think I need.
I didn't think that was rambling, I thought it was fantastic! And I got a lot from how you processed , so thank you for sharing your thoughts.
Thank you! I learned a lot from what you shared.... and it is honestly more helpful than I could've imagined to start to feel less alone in this.
Yep.
At first she mentioned it to me -but now she usually pauses until I figure it out.

It makes me kinda crazy, but it helps me see the signs so when i'm not in the office I can try to be more aware of it on my own
It's a bit of an interesting experience to have someone sit across from you and seemingly so easily see something that can feel so hard to see personally? It can start to poke some holes in the denial/minimization/avoidance.

Sounds like you've made a lot of progress in this area - I have to believe that the more we can open up to learn from our Ts, the more we can notice ourselves, and the more we won't feel as controlled by it.

My T pauses and often turns her head sideways - she says she does it to try to get my attention. Now that I think about it, I think my eyes are a pretty good indicator. If I can't look at her, we've got an issue.
I’m not sure she notices it at all. I mean some times I’ll get the “where are you right now?” question but mostly I’m just aware of coming back from dissociation and the confusion that comes with that for me. I think she notices more then she says, if that makes sense?
It does make sense! I think skilled Ts are aware not to move too quickly and name a bunch of things right off the bat. It takes time, and is so powerful when the realizations and awareness can be felt from within.. but that goes on its own timeline.
 

barefoot

Sponsor
I'm so glad to hear it shifted, and it sounds like you did a lot of work to get to where you are with it now.
Yeah, thanks. Although, to be honest, when you’ve dissociated so much and for so many years and it’s been quite a helpful way of removing you from difficult feelings, sometimes staying present in the gloop is a challenge! While I know it is good progress, sometimes I would love a bit of dissociation to kick in again!

And I wish I had something specific I could share about how I made the progress/what I did/what my therapist did. But, the truth is, I have no idea! It’s just like every time I showed up to therapy, and all the time I guess we continued to see each other and strengthen the therapeutic relationship, we must have just been chipping away, tiny minuscule bit after tiny minuscule at a time…and, in the end, it just happened less and less. I still get spacey sometimes and sometimes my voice still gets hijacked and I can’t speak. But it isn’t as deep, intense and brutal and the fallout doesn’t last long. And I can generally stay present for much longer.

I like that she is so attuned, and I find it terrifying.
Oh, I relate to this!

I think my eyes are a pretty good indicator. If I can't look at her, we've got an issue.
Same for me. If I start to ‘go’, my eyes tend to drift to one of a few different positions. None of which will include looking in her direction! I also notice that, I can generally do eye contact at the start of session, when we’re just sort of checking in, reconnecting, and being chatty - not doing any therapeutic work. As soon as we then shift to talking about something more difficult, I break eye contact and talk off to the side. She must totally know when I’m about something difficult because I look away! And then I find that, the longer I look away, the more easily Im going to get spacey/trancey…and the harder it’s going to be to make my eyes look back to her at some point in the session.

My T pauses and often turns her head sideways - she says she does it to try to get my attention.
My T used to do something similar, though it took me ages to realise and I don’t think we ever spoke about it. One of the places my gaze used to go when I started dissociating was to near her feet. And another was near her hand. It’s not that I was really looking at her hand or foot…but they were in my line of vision if I was looking in a certain place. So, she would suddenly tap her foot, or tap her hand on her chair - quite a sharp, sudden movement, which would often be enough to make me blink. She’d also sometimes combine it with clearing her throat. It would just be enough to pull me out of my trance for a moment.
 

Freddyt

MyPTSD Pro
Oh hell yeah. She can even point things out I'm doing I don't notice.

I enjoy playing poker and read a few books and one thing I remember that is too true is "your feet never lie". I talked to my T about it and I can't get away with anything now!
"Look at your feet?" and I realize where my stress levels is.

Last session it was like "the window (tolerance) just closed" and my T came back with "I think it just slammed shut so hard it shattered"

So yes, my T can read that stuff like a book. I even asked one day how long it took from when I walked through the door the first time to tell I had PTSD. My T said it was less than 5 minutes....
 
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