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Feeling weird about counselling

Ecdysis

MyPTSD Pro
So, I'm on a waiting list for therapy which is due to start in January.

Until then, I've got a couple of free "counselling" things organised... Both of these counsellors are social workers, not trained therapists.

One of them is organised through the local women's shelter and has been quite helpful so far.

The other is organised through the unemployment/ disability office and I've seen a counsellor there before who was quite helpful, but the one I'm seeing now... I feel like it's not going to work....

We had a good initial session, but today was the second session and it pretty much sucked. But even with the first session, I was sceptical about whether it would work.

I was having a bad day today and instead of showing empathy, she started crossing all sorts of boundaries.

It was like she couldn't cope with seeing me feeling miserable, so she kept pushing me to work out what to "do" to stop me feeling miserable.

When it became apparent, that this was causing me more distressed, she suggested we cut the appointment short and just "leave it there".

According to the unemployment/ disability place, I'm meant to see her twice a week for 90 minutes each time.

That feels like way too much for someone who's stepping over my boundaries and who I don't feel very compatible with.

My instinct is just to write an email and cancel all future appointments cos my threshold for dealing with anything difficult or stressful is just zero right now.

At the same time, I'm worried about refusing help... Cos I need all the help I can get right now.

Just... this doesn't feel like "help"... It feels tainted and weird somehow and not helpful at all...
 
Ugh... I have to leave in about half an hour to see this counsellor again. I'm still so unsure as to whether to just cancel it outright, or just wait for the sessions to get worse until it's obvious it won't work or whether I should somehow be "trying harder" to "make it work".

I can't tell what part is the depression just being negative about everything... and what part is my actual gut instinct telling me "this is not going to work - steer clear of it".
 
Is there anything she can do that would help? Like what’s her strength/speciality, and maybe you just take what you can get in that area from her for the time being, and don’t cross into areas she’s unhelpful with?

It’s worth being quite upfront as well, say the first session was good but you didn’t find the second helpful, can you work together like the first session? Maybe she’s really good at coping skills, or can give you a little list of small things you can do each day to fight the depression?
 
Can you discuss how you feel about her stepping on your boundaries and pressuring you to do something? She should know her therapy is NOT helping you and switch to something that does help.
 
Thanks all.

It ended up being a weird session yesterday. Tho, thankfully, she'd noticed too that the session before was "unhelpful" and so she addressed that issue too.

It seems that she's figured out that as a social worker, she's not going to be able to magically fix my PTSD or depression (which seems a somewhat late/ lame realisation, but uh, I guess better late than never...?)

We had a discussion about what could be helpful, what definitely isn't helpful and brainstormed some ideas about where to go from here.

I think we're both still sceptical about whether it's going to work.

I sent her a voice message today, requesting that instead of 2 x 90 minute sessions per week (so 180 mins in total) we reduce it to 1 x 120 minute session because I don't think I can handle her "attemtps at being helpful" twice a week.

I guess we'll see where it goes from there. I think there's a good chance that we may still come to a decision that "it's not working" and decide to cancel it completely.

I have to say it was a super stressful experience and it basically f*cked up my week and going through it felt like a hole in the head that I so didn't need.

But interestingly, it's kicked some self-protective stuff into gear, that had gone missing during my really bad bout of depression.

I talked to the AI (Dr Catalyst) about the weird counselling situation and de-briefed about what I was thinking/ feeling and what would be reasonable expectations from non-psychotherapy counselling and what are red flags and what are boundaries that should be assertively defended...

It feels like it's been an (unwelcome) growth opportunity... You know, the kind of situation that challenges the heck out of you, but without being quite so bad that it overwhelms you and you go into shutdown...

So, some positive has actually come from this semi-lame, semi-useless counsellor. It's kick-started some assertive, self-protective decision-making and action-taking to advocate on my behalf regarding what is helpful/ unhelpful and refusing to accept shoddy services and to have someone with close to zero experience in trauma, depression, etc to be patronising to me and to claim to know "what is good for me".

Kind of a messy experience, but maybe it's a nudge from fate/ the universe that I need to start advocating for myself again and get my shit sorted out and that laying face down in a giant puddle of depression needs to just bleeping stop...

@Friday - I forgot to answer your question and now I can't insert a quote... poop... Um, yeah so "what are we supposed to do" is kind of a mystery to me too. I've straight up asked her several times and get very evasive, weird answers. I don't think she knows herself, tbh. I've got a vague notion of what we're meant to be doing in theory/ on paper, but it seems officially there's quite a lot of leeway and more or less she's supposed to do "whatever is helpful". So I guess to some degree it's good that it's so custom fit, but it means having to work through what that means on an individual case basis... I still do get the impression tho that she's kind of guessing randomly at stuff... She did say that she's new to the job... I dunno... I think most of us with years of PTSD / depression/ other MH issues, have met these types of therapsists/ counsellors at some point... The ones that "mean well" but are totally out of their depth... It's not a good situation... If they're harmless, then they just end up being a bit useless... If they're assholes + out of their depth then they can become quite blaming and insinuate that it's the patient's fault for being too complicated and not being a "nice" patient that they can easily treat with their insufficient experience and training...
 
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@Friday - I forgot to answer your question and now I can't insert a quote... poop... Um, yeah so "what are we supposed to do" is kind of a mystery to me too. I've straight up asked her several times and get very evasive, weird answers. I don't think she knows herself, tbh. I've got a vague notion of what we're meant to be doing in theory/ on paper, but it seems officially there's quite a lot of leeway and more or less she's supposed to do "whatever is helpful". So I guess to some degree it's good that it's so custom fit, but it means having to work through what that means on an individual case basis... I still do get the impression tho that she's kind of guessing randomly at stuff... She did say that she's new to the job... I dunno... I think most of us with years of PTSD / depression/ other MH issues, have met these types of therapsists/ counsellors at some point... The ones that "mean well" but are totally out of their depth... It's not a good situation... If they're harmless, then they just end up being a bit useless... If they're assholes + out of their depth then they can become quite blaming and insinuate that it's the patient's fault for being too complicated and not being a "nice" patient that they can easily treat with their insufficient experience and training
Cha.

It’s one of those things that makes total sense in setting up a jobs program… because soooo many people have so many “easy” to sort out problems, than anyone with even basic training can at least recognize and set them in the right directions to receive help they never knew existed, or didn’t know how to access, or have been told they’re too stupid, worthless, whatever and need a cheerleader who believes in them.

(Our state of Vermont did something similar to this; requiring all new parents, ALL new parents/no exceptions, to be visited by a social worker. Twice. In the early days, and then after a few months. The vast majority needed nothing. That was it. Quick 2 visits and done. But for those who DID need help? Suffering with PPD, or unexpected single parenthood, or job loss, or drug/alcohol problems, or a medical emergency, or panic attacks, or an abusive spouse, or or, or? The social worker was right there. To jump start next steps. No stigma, since it was required of everyone. No impossible journeys (to go to a miserable state office and beg for help when already under insane pressure at home).

The goal of the program? To reduce the prison population. As the 2 common factors present with nearly all inmates? Child abuse & poverty. How to combat child abuse and poverty? From day 1. And it worked. 20 years later prisons all over the state had to be shut down, for lack of inmates. It’s not a sexy program, and it’s a very expensive one (on the short term) so I cannot imagine it ever catching on nationwide. But there was a medical doctor as governor in Vermont, and he made it happen in his state. The program has since been disbanded, a few years after he left office if I’m remembering correctly, and prisons are opening right back up. But? It was so successful it’s in every Psych101 textbook, and half the econ101 & crimJ101 textbooks.

So it makes sense to me that in a socialized med country? That SOMEONE, to find/sort/counsel the most common of problems? Would be there.

But that doesn’t mean that they’d be any use for the minority of big bad serious skills needed problems… except in being an offical voice rubber-stamping/ being a signature for funding specialized & expensive treatment. Or to serve as that cheerleader, as they attempt to do something their life makes difficult, until more specialised help can be acquired. Or even in tandem. Not letting employers get away with shite, case & resource management, Etc.
 
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Well, I had another appointment coming up this afternoon but my gut instinct was an ever louder "no, no, NO" about it so I've just written two emails to ask for this counselling to be cancelled. It's completely unhelpful and counterproductive and I do not like the counsellor at all. Best to get out early and dodge a bullet before it gets even more negatively entangled.

It's a pity that it's a missed opportunity but I'm grateful my gut instinct is talking to me at all - that's been sorely missing for a long time.

I am a bit worried about "where else to get help" and confused about "what kind of help *would* be helpful?" but I guess those are questions that I can deal with in the coming weeks/ months.
 
So, I had an appointment with the trauma therapist I'll be seeing as of January. It was a good session and he offered me that I can have another 4 appointments with him between now and January, cos my health insurance will pay for it. So that was a nice surprise. The session was quite good too. Challenging too, but I think that's a good sign. I spent a lot of today reflecting on it and processing it.

As I'll only be seeing him once a month, I think I'm going to try keeping a therapy journal to keep my therapy homework "present" and to chart any problems and progress.
 
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