Ending therapy – and how to do it in the least painful way possible!

mylunareclipse

MyPTSD Pro
If a therapist just turned the camera off on me and went to talk to dog sitter I would probably drop them. That’s just me.
Unless I could send them an email with everything you have written here and we discussed it and was open about everything that wasn’t working for me.
I just get a sense that this is not an option for you? Bringing these facts into the session and discussing them openly? Every single one of them and how you were let down. After 7 years it seems like that should be possible.
It’s also probably you are somewhat stuck in transference countertransference. You acting like the good “girl” her taking you for granted and so on. Were you the good girl, people pleaser in your family? Did people take you for granted? What stops you from expressing that anger now?
 

Sideways

Moderator
If a therapist just turned the camera off on me and went to talk to dog sitter I would probably drop them. That’s just me.
It's all context for me.

If they're having to work from home (especially at short notice), which a lot of people are at the moment, it wouldn't necessarily be a deal breaker for me.

The dog walker doesn't necessarily come at a fixed time, or maybe the T has told me that they might get interrupted at some point. Both of those reasons would be entirely acceptable to me. As is getting a drink (including OJ) before an appointment starts.

One of my Ts recently got her first puppy, and it caused quite a few unexpected and strange disruptions. But that's life with a new puppy, and I wouldn't want to lose a good T just because she's anxious about a new furball in her house.

They're humans with lives, not robots. And as long as the situation is handled professionally and respectfully I will often give a fair bit of grace for them to be human.

I couldn't count the number of times a therapy appointment has been briefly interrupted on me, for a whole host of perfectly human (and some slightly bizarre) reasons. And sometimes those interruptions even catch the T off guard.

Telehealth appointments also massively change the dynamic. Staring fixedly at the screen is normal. Not looking at the screen once is normal. It's not the same as being in the same room where body language is doing so much of the normal communication for us.
 

mylunareclipse

MyPTSD Pro
I agree with you that context matters. Ie my therapist going to get a package mid session or answering a phone call because her family member just had surgery etc etc. but in all cases it was handled with grace and care and I was told I am sorry for the interruption or add a few min at end of session etc etc. on the other hand I had a therapist once have someone clean behind her etc while we were talking and didn’t mention it at all and when I emailed saying I felt uncomfortable she dropped me. Context matters of course. I just get the sense that this therapist just turned camera off and left without apologizing or saying oh I am sorry I have to step out for one moment etc. I didn’t read any of that so I am assuming it didn’t happen.
 

Sideways

Moderator
I didn’t read any of that so I am assuming it didn’t happen.
Yeah, I try very hard not to make those sorts of assumptions personally, especially in threads that are veering towards the "this therapist is shit" pile on.

Because there's sooooo much context we can miss when we're feeling at a cross roads with our Ts. It can often become almost reflex to react with "dump that T" or variations on that, when in fact the context changes the picture dramatically, and what is really going on is that therapy has simply become challenging or uncomfortable. So, the key is often in nailing down what the underlying issues, rather than the more superficial issues that have brought those deeper problems and emotions to the surface.

It may well be time this T was given their walking papers. But knowing why we're doing that is really helpful, and my guess is not because the T wanted an orange juice.
 

barefoot

Sponsor
Ok, I think this thread is escalating in a way I didn't expect, intend or really want.


@Friday I appreciate you taking the time to write such a full response, but you are honestly way off here.
I do not have an abusive therapist. Working with her is not one giant trauma re-enactment. I think you have taken 2 + 2 from some of the things I've said here and made it = 100.

What would resolving things look like?
At the moment, it means getting clear about what I really want to do. Do I want to end therapy now, talk about ending therapy and make a plan to do that over whatever timeframe, or do I want to refocus things with her so that I start having more satisfying sessions again?

What it doesn't look like is me turning up on Wednesday feeling sore about some things and then ending therapy on the spot with her because orange juice made her late, the dog walker turned up and disrupted our session for a few minutes, and then she said something in the moment that got my goat last week!

I wonder if she’s this good at mirroring other client’s skeleton keys, or if she sticks mainly with clients who are hardwired through trauma to never leave her (to find a better therapist) as long as she treats them just badly enough the prospect seems impossible, withholding affection until ALL of the client’s attention is focused on her, and how to make things work.

Whilst that follows the general abuse paradigm?…


…It’s a specific kind of increasing levels of disregard, followed by insult, followed by flooding affection/attention; that’s primarily used by pick up artists, politicians, & pimps. People who need to keep assets (plural) “on the hook” & chasing after them.

I think you've taken what I've said to a whole other level, which isn't where I'm at.

I don't know really understand why 'withholding affection' has come up? Not really sure what affection even looks like in a therapeutic relationship, it's not a word I'd use in that context. If you simply mean warmth/care – she is warm and caring. There is no withholding. And I've said on this thread, it's not that these irritations make me feel like she doesn't care about me – more that perhaps she has got a bit complacent over time and doesn't pay so much attention to these professional courtesies with me as she thinks I won't mind (which I generally don't, so I guess I am a bit confusing that way....I don't usually mind....and right now, I mind a bit more!)

Calling me out at the end last time for talking too much, which has meant she hasn't been able to make interventions....wasn't said with any spite either. It still pissed me off, but she wasn't being cold/nasty about it.

As I keep saying, it really felt like I had taken her by surprise mentioning perhaps ending therapy soon, and I then got a defensive response from her. I can't know her intention because I don't live in her head, but I suspect she thought she was giving me genuinely useful feedback in her triggered defensive state.

Acting like a pimp?! Er, no.


But you called it when you “pulled away” by cancelling the appointment, as she’s pulled this on you so many times you knew exactly what she’d do next.

- First she “gives you a chance” that you didn’t reeeeeeally cancel the appointment… oh you DID?!? Must have been in spam! (Now watch, she won’t have appointments for weeks, but if you had had the appointment anyway? Know her well enough to know there’d be appointments for her good girl in spades)
- Then it’s increasing levels of disregard in session, once you can finally get appointments
- The BAM! That disregard? Is YOUR fault. She’s here for you, but yoooooou won’t let her be! Smack on the nose.
- (Now watch, she’s going to be lovely, kind, & caring.)

She's fine about me cancelling/rescheduling appointments. I've done it plenty of times – no problem. The thing in this case is that, for whatever reason, she didn't see my email, so she didn't realise I'd cancelled, so she turned up for our call to then find out I wasn't coming, and that was annoying for her. Not that she was angry with me (although the 'What a pain!' felt a bit short and I didn't really appreciate that!) But annoyed with the situation...that she was ready for a session that then wasn't happening and that she should have known about but somehow didn't. But then she seems unable to say 'oops, I missed that somehow' but instead always seems to try to make out she doesn't make mistakes ('it went into Junk' = not her fault)

The pattern I'm talking about that I've seen before is: I give her some feedback about something that isn't working for me or I tell her that I feel frustrated about lack of progress or I say I'm thinking of ending therapy...in the moment, she tends to have a defensive reaction, where she will often try to defend herself/her skills as a therapist by then raising some way I am contributing...then she'll go away, the triggered feelings obviously settle, she'll then be able to reflect properly on it, and she then comes back next time in a non-triggered state and able to have a really open, productive discussion about it. And, as I'm mentioned in an earlier post, that state isn't a phoney, fake 'I must try to be nice to reel her in and stop her from leaving' state. It's that she can have a proper conversation about it because she's not feeling under attack or whatever.

The issue seems to be her inability to self-manage when she gets taken by surprise by a bit of 'negative' feedback/me saying I'm thinking of ending and her knee jerk reaction to protect her own sense of being 'good enough' Not that she is punishing me because I pulled away by cancelling a session, so then I have to get back into her good books, which is what you seem to be suggesting?

These things (not being able to admit to making mistakes/feeling defensive if she thinks someone is saying she isn't good enough) are her issues – things she should be working on about herself. They impact me and I'd prefer that it didn't happen (I can probably count the number of times it's happened in seven years on one hand) But it's not some evil, manipulative, abusive plan to hoodwink me.

no willingness -much less excitement- to work with someone else? (Even having to hide looking into EMDR, until it’s a done deal -that she’s never heard of??? BUT Is soooooooo willing to help you with how HARD it will be! WTFO) But just to focus on her-her-her and how to make it work with her?
Again, without all the context, you have taken this to a whole other level that works with your narrative of my T being a terrible person.

When I was investigating the trauma service/EMDR option (which is an NHS service) I was keen to continue having sessions with my T alongside it because we were in the middle of some good stuff, which I wanted to keep going with. Some T's won't work with you when you're seeing someone else as well and certainly the NHS service seemed to suggest that you shouldn't be working with anyone else once you start working with one of their therapists. So, I was worried that continuing with both at the same time wouldn't be possible. I explored the NHS option, not sure whether they'd take me anyway, or whether I even wanted to do it. When I felt like I probably did want to try it (but still had reservations) I talked to my T about it and asked her if I could still continue having sessions with her while doing that as I knew some T's have a policy that they need to take a break at that point. She said absolutely, she would not say I would have to take a break. And that, in fact, she didn't understand why some T's would insist on that because, since EMDR can be quite an intense process, it made sense that clients would be able to continue with their talk therapist who they have a relationship with, so that they could help them process what had come up in EMDR and help support them if it became difficult.

When I first mentioned potentially starting EMDR, she was clearly taken by surprise. And I think it did trigger her 'aren't I good enough?' insecurities. But we had a very open conversation about it – and yes, I had to explain a bit about what EMDR is – and I asked her if she would still be willing to work with me while I was doing it, because that's what I wanted to do.

There was no sense of 'her-her-her' and how I had to keep working with her and make it work with her.

I also wasn't looking in to the EMDR because working with her wasn't working – we were making progress on some difficult stuff at the time. But since the trauma service was a local (and free) option, I thought it was silly of me not to ever try to access it.

As an aside, 'trauma therapy' isn't such a thing here in the UK as in USA. I know it's been mentioned several times on the forum before – seeing a 'trauma therapist' isn't very common here. Mostly, you see a general therapist and they may or may not have had some interest and training in trauma. So, the opportunity to access a specialised trauma service is quite rare.

And as my T is not a 'trauma therapist' not all her clients are there to work on trauma. So, to go back to your earlier point, no, she doesn't only work with trauma clients who are hardwired to never leave her.


now seems to own your future, as well.

This sounds very dramatic and I don't really know what it means in this context. No one 'owns' my future. I am trying to work through when is the right time for me to end therapy. I feel conflicted about it. But not because she or anyone else 'owns my future'.

She also didn't stop me from trying EMDR with someone else. Covid did.

If a therapist just turned the camera off on me and went to talk to dog sitter I would probably drop them.

She didn't just turn the camera off without mentioning it. She told me what was happening (that's how I know it was the dog walker) and said she was sorry but she had to go and sort it out. It felt particularly abrupt as she turned the camera off, which she's never done before when she's had to get up or leave the room. So, the camera going off was unusual and didn't feel great because it was quite sudden and I wasn't expecting it. And when I'd been struggling to try to turn the conversation round and feeling like we weren't connecting/she wasn't very present, suddenly having a camera turned off kind of exacerbated that feeling. When she returned, she apologised again. And she apologised for it again at the end of the session. And we overran a few minutes so I didn't miss out on time.

The reason I mentioned the dog walker, was not really because I was that annoyed about the dog walker and her having to go and deal with it. That's the sort of stuff that happens when you work from home. But it happened off the back of a few other things, so my irritation overall was greater. And it happened at a time when I was trying to get traction with a different topic, so it was more frustrating in terms of the timing of when this disruption took place.

I mainly mentioned the dog walking interruption in the first place to highlight that her perception of that session was that I had bulldozed her by talking at her all session so that she couldn't get a word in and make any interventions, even though she was really trying....and my perception was that we had a session full of disruptions, where I felt I was really trying to get an 'in' to talking about more meaningful stuff but that she seemed distracted and not very present and it just didn't happen.


I just get a sense that this is not an option for you? Bringing these facts into the session and discussing them openly? Every single one of them and how you were let down. After 7 years it seems like that should be possible.
It is possible. I can absolutely go on Wednesday and reel off this list of things that have irritated me lately. I'm just aware that these are surface level/practical things that have caused me irritation and annoyance....but I'm not sure that the best use of the time on Wednesday when I'm trying to decide how to proceed or not with therapy, is for me to sit there talking about orange juice and the dog walker and turning off her camera and did my email really go into her Junk folder? I suspect it isn't. I suspect that, annoying though they have been, these are not really the things that are really important.

Though, on the other hand, perhaps I do need to go through them all with her in order to surface what the important stuff underneath them really is? Something for me to think about....and any thoughts from anyone welcome on this – is reeling off a list of these irritations when I see her next useful/needed, or is that in itself a distraction from what we really need to get into this week?!

So, it's not that I don't feel I can tell her. I'm just trying to work out what is the most useful way to spend this week's time with her.

Were you the good girl, people pleaser in your family?

Nope. And I really don't see what being a 'good girl' or a pleaser has to do with any of this. You seem to be going down a route....but I don't feel I'm on that same route with you.

I just get the sense that this therapist just turned camera off and left without apologizing or saying oh I am sorry I have to step out for one moment etc. I didn’t read any of that so I am assuming it didn’t happen.

Already addressed this above.

But also just to say - I'm aware that I get into a lot of detail and that I write long posts. It honestly always amazes me that anyone bothers to take the time to read them all as I know some must be really put off by all the text! So, I am always grateful when people do read my posts and take the time to comment – knowing they will probably get another long post back to read in response!

I am always mindful that I don't want to write too much. If I were to write every single bit of context of what I said, what she said, what she did next and what she then said and how I then replied....we'd be here all day! :-) You're right, I didn't initially say that she had apologised. But if she hadn't have let me know what was happening and hadn't have apologised and if she hadn't made the time up afterwards a) I wouldn't have known that it was a dog walker situation and b) her not apologising and me then ending up short changed for time would have been on my list of things I was annoyed about ;-)

The camera going off bothered me because she has never switched it off before when she has had to leave the room and because I was already feeling lack of connection and the camera going off just exacerbated that further. That's why I mentioned the camera going off and not the other stuff about it that didn't bother me.


So, the key is often in nailing down what the underlying issues, rather than the more superficial issues that have brought those deeper problems and emotions to the surface.

Yes, absolutely this. Because, I know the issue isn't orange juice. Or a dog walker turning up. Or whether my email went into her Junk folder or not ;-)
And perhaps my writing a lot about those surface level irritations that all came bunched together, which made them much more annoying than the odd one would usually be, is a form of avoidance in itself?

Though, as I mentioned above, perhaps I do need to bring all these things up with her this week, so we can then explore what's really going on underneath.

There is something about feeling de-prioritised underpinning those things, I think?

But, more broadly, I am concerned that we are on very different pages at the moment. For us to have such different takes on those sessions...concerns me a bit. I am also realising that the lack of consistency with session frequency (which we have both contributed) has made things much more difficult. That's a practical thing that we probably could resolve – especially now the summer holiday season is over – if I choose to continue.
 

barefoot

Sponsor
As I said before, I truly am grateful when people take the time to read my long posts and respond. But I feel like this thread has really spiralled into something it was never intended to be. Even me and my love of detail...I can't possibly write down every bit of contextual information. But it feels like some people are just cherry picking bits and pieces from what I've written and then making assumptions about what else has happened, or making stuff up that just suits their narrative of whatever rabbit hole they've gone done with this.

I first started this thread because I was leaning towards wrapping up therapy and was keen to hear from people who could help me navigate the painful feelings of loss I anticipated. I didn't actually get many responses to that! So, perhaps not many people have been in that position, or perhaps it's just going to be painful for some and, if it is, you've just got to bear that it's going to be painful?! Perhaps there's just no getting around it, if that's how it feels.

The thread then sort of morphed into something else as I added more following my next session and then people started asking more questions and commenting on that.

It's nice to get some support and validation along the lines of understanding my frustration etc, especially from people who I know have followed my therapy journey for a long time. And I find it very helpful – and am very grateful – when people are willing to talk things like this through with me. It's a really big decision for me. I want to think it through carefully and in a measured way, so that I can feel clear and positive about whatever decision I make. And I really appreciate people helping me with that.

But once we get into people reading between the lines, making assumptions, or picking this quote and that quote and mashing it all together to come up with a pretty dramatic picture that just isn't what's happening...that isn't very helpful and it just tends to end up derailing a thread, so that it then becomes more difficult for me to do the clearly thinking things through thing.

My therapist is not a terrible person. She is not abusive. She is a flawed human being (as we all are) and, therefore, a flawed therapist (as they all are)

It doesn't matter if you wouldn't tolerate a therapist who is nearly always running late. Or if you would have dropped her when she went off mid-session to talk to the dog walker. I'm not asking whether any of you would put up with those things or not. That's not what the thread is for. I'm generally totally ok with those things – I know some people wouldn't be, but they are not deal breakers for me. They are just, for me at the moment, a cluster of practical things that have come all at once and which have caused me some frustration and annoyance...And I get that I've written quite a bit about them...but narrowing the focus on those things, isn't really that helpful. They are part of a much bigger picture.... And to not see the rest of the picture really skews perception of what's going on. And doesn't really get underneath why I'm considering wrapping things up and also why that's such a difficult and painful decision for me.

I know we have a great saying round here of 'take what's useful and leave the rest' – and that's exactly what I'll always do. But it makes it quite difficult to do that when it starts to turn into a 'you should fire your terrible therapist' thread.
 

scout86

MyPTSD Pro
I was already working on a reply when you posted so I'm going to back up and say that i LIKE the amount of detail you go into. Partly because it makes things easier to make sense of but mostly because it shows you think about this stuff (and how you're thinking) and it shows that you're trying really hard to sort things out, be fair and be reasonable. I like that! (So don't worry about too much detail!)

I think @Friday brought up some good points about the patterns that seem to exist here. Those kinds of patterns "things get slowly uncomfortable, increasingly hard to tolerate, blow up, briefly get better, rinse and repeat"..... Here's a thought, they don't always happen because either party is deliberately orchestrating them, maybe. Maybe they exist sometimes because BOTH people believe (as my T likes to say) "that's the way we do things around here." I'm going to give your T the benefit of the doubt and say maybe she's not PLANNING to be stuck in that particular rut, but she is. At least I strongly suspect she is. And, she's probably had a fair amount of success with it. Maybe she even grew up in a home where that WAS the way things were done and it was what was expected. Who knows? And I don't think there's much reason to go down that road.

I'm trying to resist the impulse to psychoanalyze her, but...... You might be on to something when you mention she has insecurities. Then again.... Let's take the notifications thing on her computer as an example. Seems like if you were insecure and wanted to make a good impression you'd turn the sound off. Period. (The notification sound is ALWAYS off on mine. But I get a visual notification which I can ignore.) My T usually has his phone around while we're talking. (In person, thankfully.) He usually has the sound turned off. Once in awhile he forgets and is somewhat mortified when he gets a notification. Once in awhile he apologizes and says he has to respond because he more or less has an emergency going on in the background. The one thing he has never done is acted like it's no big deal.

Going back to the "bulldozer" thing for a bit. I do the opposite, in a way. I change the subject hoping to switch the conversation to something "safer" and maybe the person I'm talking to will forget that we were going somewhere I don't want to go. My T has ADHD, so this works really well. We've had some interesting conversations that we might have both enjoyed but had nothing to do with the reason I was in his office. Turns out he knows what I'm doing. 🤐 Further more, he lets me do it. Why? Well, because there's this thing called a "window of tolerance" and he's not going to make me stick to a subject that I clearly want to avoid. When the time comes that I can handle sticking to the subject, we will. I can't imagine him ACCUSING me of doing what I'm doing. If he saw it as a problem, he'd find a way to discuss the reason for the behavior, I think, rather than making an issue of the behavior itself.

Something I've noticed around here is that there are a lot of people who are really quick to go with "fire them!" I'm not totally sure why. It's a common reaction from a group of people. There's another group that has more or less the opposite reaction. I think maybe the truth is sometimes one approach is right and sometimes the other is. The trick is to make sure you're doing what you're doing because it fits the situation, not because it's your knee jerk reaction.

You mentioned your T getting supervision. We're all learning all the time and no one starts out as good at a thing as they hope to end up. So, if she's willing to work on HER stuff, there might be no need to give up on her. The one thing that's pretty clear to ME at this point is that you don't want to fire her. If you decide to quit, you want it to be for good reasons. It doesn't sound to me like you really want to quit now either, you want to sort stuff out.

That looks like a long non-answer. I'm going to suggest you keep thinking and maybe writing too. Writing helps me, at least, to sort stuff out. Be aware of the dynamic where things get bad, then blow up, then promises are made, then promises are ignored. It's an easy trap to fall into and it might be easy to fall into from either side. (Something I hadn't really considered before.) Hang in there! I'm really impressed with your honest efforts to work this out.
 

barefoot

Sponsor
When is thevlast time you felt you really got something from a session?

And the time before that? Was it just before or a long time ago?

So, thinking about sessions you've had this year, how many of them were worth £100?

Something I've just written in a previous post made me think of your questions here.

I think it has been the challenge around consistency (re: session frequency) since August, which has really caused me more frustration and feeling more unsatisfied with some sessions. Fortnightly sessions are generally ok and are what I can afford at the moment until my health and work picks up. But once we get into longer gaps than that, everything feels very distant and intangible, and that's when I get into that tendency of updating her on everything that's happened, rather than picking up on where we'd got to with the work previously....I find it very bitty and hard to get traction and difficult to create any momentum because it feels very stop-start. And something that may have felt important to bring up at one point, probably don't feel at all pressing three or four weeks later when I'm finally in a session. So, the lack of frequency and consistency in the rhythm of sessions over the summer has been a real barrier for me, I think.

When was the last time I got something for a session? Ironically, last session! I really needed to just get some stuff out (things I couldn't talk about with anyone else) and have someone listen and empathise and offer support. I didn't need anything else from that session, just that. And she absolutely did that.
Until I then mentioned talking about wrapping up next time and she gave me the feedback, which pissed me off!

I'm not having session after session when I think, well that was crap and a total waste of time. If that were the case, this would be an easier decision.

It just feels like there is a disconnect at the moment and that we're not quite on the same page and are a bit stuck on those different pages...but I think the inconsistency with session frequency has really compounded that.

Earlier this year if felt like we were doing good, important work around some historical stuff...it was around the time that we (you and I, not T and I) wren posting here about that Janina Fisher Fragmented Parts book. And we seemed on a really good path and momentum was really building and I think we both thought 'this is it, this is what we've been working towards all this time!' And then I got freaked out by it and I know I had a load of resistance come up towards it...and then we just stopped talking about it so we just sort of left it hanging...

So, @scout86 I suspect T thinks this is an area of the work I am avoiding. Because we have just left that stuff and not gone back to it or mentioned it since. But I haven't deliberately avoided it. I told her I felt resistance towards it, I got a bit shut down with it, and then neither of us have mentioned it since. I wanted to do it. But didn't seem able when we tried :-(
 

joeylittle

Administrator
I mainly mentioned the dog walking interruption in the first place to highlight that her perception of that session was that I had bulldozed her by talking at her all session so that she couldn't get a word in and make any interventions, even though she was really trying....and my perception was that we had a session full of disruptions, where I felt I was really trying to get an 'in' to talking about more meaningful stuff but that she seemed distracted and not very present and it just didn't happen.
Might be useful to remember, when you're thinking about this - you were coming in with a sense of pressure already, because of the shortened session. It wouldn't surprise me if your speech was rushed - you had 90 minutes' worth of session you'd planned in your mind, but only 60 minutes to get them done in. You were also trying to be mindful of leaving time for discussing these issues - another reason you may have been going quickly. It's very natural that you'd then feel annoyed when there are disruptions, and then she observes that you're 'plowing' through information....which is probably what you're doing - but only so that you can get all of the things in that you'd like to talk about.

I'm not saying this with criticism towards you or towards her. Just that it's likely both her perception AND your perception are both accurate, and both valid. It doesn't necessarily mean you're not on the same page in the big scheme of things.
Though, on the other hand, perhaps I do need to go through them all with her in order to surface what the important stuff underneath them really is? Something for me to think about....and any thoughts from anyone welcome on this – is reeling off a list of these irritations when I see her next useful/needed, or is that in itself a distraction from what we really need to get into this week?!

So, it's not that I don't feel I can tell her. I'm just trying to work out what is the most useful way to spend this week's time with her.
I don't think it's useful to focus on the list - that would be a distraction.

I think you've said a few different ways what's truly bothering you - it's something along the lines of this:
There is something about feeling de-prioritised underpinning those things, I think?
Yes. I'd observe also that you're uncomfortable with some of the ways your interaction with her is (or has become) casual...You mentioned earlier feeling worried/concerned that she's relying on you to make accommodations for her because you've been a client for such a long time. (Sorry, can't find the passage where you said it).

I think it would be pretty straightforward to move past these feelings and re-establish the therapeutic alliance, if you wanted to.

Do you still want to end the therapy instead of doing that? Or, for you, is it more important that you try and work through the stuff in all this that's about how you've been affected by it? I could see that being useful, but also, can see how it just all adds up to, this relationship has run its course.

Reflecting on your thread title - painful for who?
The camera going off bothered me because she has never switched it off before when she has had to leave the room and because I was already feeling lack of connection and the camera going off just exacerbated that further. That's why I mentioned the camera going off and not the other stuff about it that didn't bother me.
Just a weird question - and I'm genuinely curious - after further consideration, do you know more about why this gesture had this effect? You're clear that you were already feeling 'off', and this made it worse...do you feel like you understand what her turning off the camera meant, for you?
But, more broadly, I am concerned that we are on very different pages at the moment. For us to have such different takes on those sessions...concerns me a bit. I am also realising that the lack of consistency with session frequency (which we have both contributed) has made things much more difficult. That's a practical thing that we probably could resolve – especially now the summer holiday season is over – if I choose to continue.
Just wondering - if you consider that your take on the session and her take are not mutually exclusive, and therefore not representative of being on very different pages - do you still feel like ending therapy with her?
 

grit

MyPTSD Pro
This thread is really an eye opening for me. First I want to say there is no easy way of leaving any relationship after 7 years without pain. I feel all these things are coming up because maybe (just maybe) you may have a pattern of making a huge fist so you do not feel so bad when you are dumping someone. What therapy 'supposed' to teach us is that we can break a relationship without resorting to our learned behaviours in childhood where we retaliate, annoy, do all these ploys so the other person MAKES the decision for us. I do not know for sure but it felt like you were looking for a way to end therapy without pain and now you started to nitpick the therapist - so you can leave feel good about it, but will crash with shame, guilt, and yearning cause you created drama just so you could break it off and not feel anything momentarily. But deep inside, there is you resisting this thing cause you know more.

This is my answer to your headline. I think now you are recognizing your own pattern and seem to be exploring what is going on. So kudos!


The other reaction I have is this: What is therapy?

The therapist is a tool where we project parts or experience or sometimes functions. The therapist (a good one anyway), hears, feels what we are projecting and tries to relay back to us as interjects. Same way a parent may have had. A child cries about a knee bleeding (does not ask the mother hey mom can you soothe me - I am hurting over here), the mother recognizes the child is asking for soothing and soothes while teaching what soothing is so the child knows how to soothe tomorrow. This is a good case scenario. You can think of millions where this goes haywire!

Therapy is exactly the same except the child in the room is also adult.

I would ask you to see in your own writing what is the "soothing" like functions you are asking your therapist? And then hopefully you will see (as you also wrote here) how much she has been functioning for you in this capacity and sometimes recognizing this may make us feel shame (shit I did not know that) or sad (wow she has been working this hard for me) anger (wtf why did not she just says so) and may other feelings can come...the ultimate one we are aiming is humility and gratitude to learn this side of us that we did not learn as children and take the pain with the wisdom.

You will see you are asking a lot of things without asking directly. You cannot ask them directly cause the therapist or anyone in the universe cannot give you what you have inside of you. I think now you are defending your therapist cause of course you know more than anyone how much she has been assisting you with feelings and functions you never learned before.

I feel, could be wrong, that when you see her next time, you will have much more clarity of what is being transpired here.
 

barefoot

Sponsor
@scout86 Yes, there are patterns here for sure – and I'm pretty sure that you have read various threads from me about therapy over the years where the same themes and patterns come up. They probably read like a bad case of de ja vu....here we go again...push/pull, I want to run, we've had a rupture, we're through the rupture and it's all better than ever...but now we feel too close...so perhaps I ought to run...and now she's said X and I'm pissed off, perhaps it's time I wrapped up therapy...etc etc. So, yeah, I totally get that this is not the first time I'm bringing something like this up and that things like this:

Those kinds of patterns "things get slowly uncomfortable, increasingly hard to tolerate, blow up, briefly get better, rinse and repeat"..... Here's a thought, they don't always happen because either party is deliberately orchestrating them, maybe.

repeat and that it's not necessarily anyone's 'fault' or that anyone in the scenario is doing something deliberately or intentionally (especially with negative intent)

But likening these sorts of patterns and dynamics to a pimp and their prostitutes didn't feel accurate or helpful – because then, I would imagine (I won't claim to know for sure!) there is deliberate, intentional and harmful manipulation.

My family don't do open conversations where anyone talks about how they feel. So, if someone is really angry about something in my family, 'the way we do things' is to not say anything. Or maybe say something to someone else, but not to actually address it with the person themselves. And then, you silently seethe away feeling increasingly annoyed and agitated. You then possibly make some passive aggressive remarks or slam a door or noisily crash around with saucepans in the kitchen for half an hour. And most of those things, everyone uncomfortably ignores, even though it's all very obvious. If someone does ask what's wrong, you must absolutely insist that you're FINE!'(ideally said in a slightly raised voice) And then, sometimes, the anger doesn't dissipate, it comes to a head and then there is a brief explosion of shouting and/or tears. Which everyone feels rather uncomfortable about. And then, after that, we all just ignore that it ever happened and just go about our business as usual.

So, yeah....that was how I grew up and how it still is in my family. I have done a lot of work on myself about it, not just in therapy, but also things like, in my work, I actually specialise in training people around conflict and I've done a lot of training myself, becoming a workplace mediator etc. I don't think I've ever shared that here – partly because I am always a bit paranoid about disclosing too much and making myself identifiable on here, but also because I guess I am a bit embarrassed that I am highly trained and highly effective when it comes to other people's conflicts. But that I still get caught out sometimes and struggle with my own. I am much better than I used to be. And have got much better about raising things with my therapist. But getting into conflict with my therapist is still an area that I find confusing and anxiety-making.

I don't know a whole lot about my T's upbringing but from the few things she has shared, I suspect she may be had a similar experience. And that our dads in particular are quite similar (I remember once telling her that my dad's way of punishing you as a kid if he was annoyed with you, was to ignore you for days. Not just not speak to you...but to act as though you were completely invisible. And it would be like that until he decided to just start speaking to you again. She said her dad used to ignore her like that too) So, I do think we both have our own stuff around conflict and that we have both done lots of work on ourselves about it....but sometimes we still get caught. And, if we both get caught together, I guess that's when it gets messier!


The one thing he has never done is acted like it's no big deal.

She is always mortified if she's left her phone on and it rings or if someone knocks on the front door or whatever. Mortified and very apologetic.

With the computer notifications thing....she is totally phobic of tech, especially computers, but also her phone. She didn't even know you could turn the notifications off! I tried talking her through how to do it on our call and I could see her trying to do it, but she was just getting really flustered and it was still pinging.

To be fair on her, I have since read that there is some glitchiness and some people really can't seem to turn theirs off in the usual way....that it stops notifications visibly pinging up on their screen but that it doesn't stop the sound (this is what she says happens to her....that they don't pop up on her screen now, but that she can't seem to stop the sound) So, she has tried. But it hasn't worked.

So, I would then call Apple Support to try to get it sorted...but she is so tech phobic that the thought of phoning Apple Support terrifies her because she thinks she won't be able to understand/do what they're telling her to do. So, I don't think it's that she's not bothered and doesn't think it's a big deal. I think she is embarrassed and hates the disruption (she used to always apologise when it pinged but then it became silly because she was sometimes having to apologise for a few in quick succession and that was more disruptive than the pinging itself!) But I think her fear of talking to someone technical means she's chosen not to take the next step in trying to get it properly sorted out.


I change the subject hoping to switch the conversation to something "safer" and maybe the person I'm talking to will forget that we were going somewhere I don't want to go. My T has ADHD, so this works really well.

Ha! :-)

he lets me do it. Why? Well, because there's this thing called a "window of tolerance" and he's not going to make me stick to a subject that I clearly want to avoid. When the time comes that I can handle sticking to the subject, we will. I can't imagine him ACCUSING me of doing what I'm doing. If he saw it as a problem, he'd find a way to discuss the reason for the behavior, I think, rather than making an issue of the behavior itself.

Well, this is what she's usually like too. Usually, I'd be saying 'Ugh! I can't believe I've wasted all that time talking at you about all that and there's no time left to talk about X' And she's always really reassuring and non-critical and says that I did what I needed to do. She has explicitly said before, 'if you're avoiding something, there's a good reason....you'll get to it when you're ready....let's not force it...' And would ask me not to be self-critical. Which is why her saying that at the end last time took me by surprise! And why it feels like a very knee-jerk thing from her, rather than something thought through.

The trick is to make sure you're doing what you're doing because it fits the situation, not because it's your knee jerk reaction.

Yes, exactly....that's what I'm trying to do, but not sure I'm getting very far at the mo!

Be aware of the dynamic where things get bad, then blow up, then promises are made, then promises are ignored. It's an easy trap to fall into and it might be easy to fall into from either side.

Yes, this is something helpful for me to keep in mind and perhaps something useful for me to bring up when I see her this week. To bring up dynamics/patterns....rather than all those individual annoyances, perhaps?

And seeing it written like that, it definitely makes me think of family dynamics, as well as with T.
 

barefoot

Sponsor
you had 90 minutes' worth of session you'd planned in your mind, but only 60 minutes to get them done in.
Yes, your whole opening para is accurate. To be honest, if there hadn't been the scheduling mix up on the previous session, then a longer gap between sessions, then her telling me on the day that she could only do 60 mins not 90mins, I don't think any of the rest of the stuff would have bothered me. Make your orange juice, see to your dog, it's all good... But my whole plan for the session having to change because of having a shorter session that anticipated, and then feeling a bit panicked about not getting to the important stuff I really wanted to talk about...you're right, maybe I did speed up and talk at her more than I realise.

And yes, both perceptions can be accurate to the individual. I haven't meant at any point that I think she is lying/making it up when she said I was talking a lot. I'm sure this must be what she thinks I was doing.

You mentioned earlier feeling worried/concerned that she's relying on you to make accommodations for her because you've been a client for such a long time.
And in a way I think this is tricky for her to 'get right'. Because, on the one hand, I like the informality and I generally like a more casual approach. I wouldn't want things to feel formal and stuffy and rigid. And, if she had been those things, I don't think we'd have been able to form a very warm relationship from the get go.

But there is quite a fine line that she walks (a line I make her walk, I guess) between what feels like us having an informal way of working, which is possible because we've got to know each other well and because we're both willing to be flexible with each other, to accommodate the other, because this is a long-standing client relationship...and when that then starts to feel like, is she taking me for granted, is she just not making the effort with some professional courtesies anymore because she doesn't feel she has to with me?

So, to be fair on her, I possibly make this edge a bit impossible for her to get right all the time. Because I want her to be magically, perfectly balanced in the middle, just so, all the time. And, of course, that's impossible.

think it would be pretty straightforward to move past these feelings and re-establish the therapeutic alliance, if you wanted to.

Do you still want to end the therapy instead of doing that?
It would be easy to get past these annoyances and to get back into relationship and to get things back on track, I think.

But, these annoyances are only really the surface level irritations that have prompted me to start thinking about wrapping up at this point. I know it would be easy to see her this week, lay all this stuff out, tell her I'm felt de-prioritised and a bit ignored and not feeling like I can get her full attention...and she would reassure me and me would agree what we're going to do going forwards....I guess, going back to @scout86 point about these patterns showing up...I think we could easily pick things up, refocus the work, come back at it all with re-set intentions and renewed energy and focus....but I don't know how to maintain that. I don't know how to make sure I'm not back in this same boat in 6 months or a year's time again. It's a repeating pattern...and I don't know if that's just on me or whether we are both feeding into it...but re-establishing the therapeutic relationship and alliance is the easy part. It's what happens again a few months down the line that is the bit I struggle with and have doubts about.

Reflecting on your thread title - painful for who?
Painful for me. Because I will miss her. And, even thinking about ending therapy (even now when I'm wound up with these annoyances, still smarting from her bulldozing comment last week, and feeling generally stuck with the work) brings up very strong feelings of loss and grief.


do you feel like you understand what her turning off the camera meant, for you?

I was already struggling to feel connected/she didn't feel fully present, so her turning the camera off exacerbated that. I think though, reflecting more as I'm writing all these posts here today, I think there is also an element of feeling ignored/her not paying enough attention. And, although switching off her camera made her invisible, because my camera was still on so she could still see me...I think it somehow made me feel more invisible to her. Not sure why that is or whether that really makes any sense....if anything, I think her turning hers off while mine was still on would make me feel more exposed (and that is probably what I would expect me to say about it – I am big on not wanting to feel exposed! And I'm not usually a fan of video calls, because I do tend to feel self-conscious and exposed with the camera on) But, yeah, for some reason, I think this was the opposite. It was like she had switched me off?
 
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