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Feelings of shame stirred up by unresponsive therapist

Discussion in 'Treatment & Therapy' started by Justmehere, Jun 25, 2018.

  1. Justmehere

    Justmehere Help support myPTSD - more info in Social forum Moderator Premium Member

    My therapist went on vacation for a week. Before and after the week she was gone, I asked for a phone call. She said I can always ask, and she’ll let me know. I hardly ever ask. No response. For over two weeks. I found other support.

    No response to a request for a scheduling change either.

    The last session left me feeling really upset with her. I emailed about it - she encourages emails, with the understanding that she will usually not respond. I shared something really shameful in the email, trying to explain I think my upset with her is probably connected to this past event and past pattern.

    I have an appointment this Thursday. It hit me this weekend that maybe she’s not responding because she plans to quit. I haven’t had any feelings about that possibility. Just feeling rather “whatever” about it.

    At work today, this all crossed my mind and I’m staying regulated ok, but I keep blushing. Random waves of shame. Maybe it’s connected to a fear she will quit because I’m upset about the last session or the old stuff it stirred up... but it’s really bugging me that for over two weeks there isn’t any yes or no to my request for a call. If she said no, that would be ok. But the lack of any response is hard.

    Not sure what to do except show up Thursday - and yet at the same time, I’m thinking of canceling Thursday, since I can’t even get a response to rescheduling, because I have a hard day at work that day and having a very hard therapy session before work... isn’t a good mix.

    Any thoughts or suggestions?
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  3. KwanYingirl

    KwanYingirl I'm a VIP

    As difficult as it may be, I suggest you go to your Thursday session and tell what you told us. With all the shame we carry, advocating for ourselves is really really hard and I agree it’s fear she’ll terminate you. I’ve had to go to my shrink and just lay it all out, I was so anxious about it and his reaction was very affirming. He said part of his role is to be a safe person I can practice my self advocacy. It was empowering and I was pleasantly surprised.
    So if you can just see her as that, a support to develop better coping skills, you can’t feel that you have to have rainbows shooting out your nostrils. She does deserve to say her side of the story, and if it’s not what you wanted from her, perhaps it’s a good opportunity to take a stake in resolving the conflict and accepting the results.
    That damn shame ugh I so identify with you.
  4. Justmehere

    Justmehere Help support myPTSD - more info in Social forum Moderator Premium Member

    Part of the problem that I got upset about at the last session was that instead of working on coping skills with me, she just said “regulate.” She tells me all the time I already have plenty of coping, boundary setting, and advocacy skills. So we focus on processing trauma, which is good, I guess. But I am really bothered that I asked for help to “regulate” and there wasn’t any. Just a statement to regulate. When I tried to talk to her about how that felt, she said I wouldn’t hear her right, which is perhaps fair because I am perhaps having a fair amount of negative transference.

    I am leaning towards not going on Thursday. I wanted to reschedule but she isn’t responsive to that request. To go, I would have about 4 hours of sleep the night before and then have to get up at 4am and travel to see her (she is out of town) and then work a 12 hour shift as soon as I get back. I can not do that for a stressful therapy session. I don’t mind self advocacy. Doesn’t phase me. But the lack of response does and we have been off for awhile.

    I’m falling apart on my break at work.

    I think I need a break from therapy with her for this week. We can try to talk it through again next week when I’m not maxed out on stress levels.

    She won’t respond to requests to reschedule this week so whatever. I could just tell her I’m flat out canceling... and I could see her next week when I have more breathing room.
    Zoogal, ladee, blackemerald1 and 4 others like this.
  5. Friday

    Friday Raise Hell Moderator

    That sounds like the smart play, in any regard.

    Judging others by myself here... any chance you’re getting mad at her / sinking into shame in order to give yourself a “reason” to take a break this week, beyond the fact that your schedule is insane and you need to?

    Like I said, that’s very much my MO... that I need to isn’t enough, there has to be another reason, or I can damn well suck it up. Cough. No matter how badly that screws me over, nor how smart it would just be to do it the other way... so I’m not saying this is something you’re doing, just something I’ve learned to look out for in my own life. Saves me a lot of grief to just give myself persmission.
    ladee, Junebug, blackemerald1 and 8 others like this.
  6. Justmehere

    Justmehere Help support myPTSD - more info in Social forum Moderator Premium Member

    Yeah, that’s very possible...

    Today was terrible - it was like one person after another not coming through.

    I can’t bring myself to cancel the appointment. I guess at the heart of this I’m rather annoyed that I’m daring to reach out and try to rely on support and life isn’t working out so that I can connect to any face to face support.
    ladee, Junebug, blackemerald1 and 7 others like this.
  7. HollyBeans27

    HollyBeans27 Well-Known Member Premium Member Donated

    @Justmehere - two things stick out to me. First and foremost, it’s your therapy, plain and simple. So, if you want to cancel ahead of time, with more than 24 hours notice, you can do that. If you want to try to reschedule by email or text, or even a real phone call, you should be able to do that too. If you need to take a week off or more, you can do that as well. Again, you are in charge of your therapy; your therapist is just the facilitator and guide toward change. The second thing that sticks out to me is the fact that at least for right now, this minute, your relationship does not seem collaborative. The lack of response would bother me to no end as well. It’s give-and-take, and I really feel that you deserve some sort of response, unless your T is on vacation or something to that effect?! You deserve not to be ignored. You are important. I’ve been struggling with something pretty significant lately, and it doesn’t appear to be getting any better anytime soon. My therapist has always encouraged me to reach out, and I finally did yesterday. She emailed back, and although I was not able to see her today in addition to our appointment later this week, she offered to talk on the phone with me and was proud of me for asking for extra support. Give-and-take. You don’t strike me as someone who asks for support in between sessions very often, so the fact that your T is not responding, even something as simple as a yes or no to a phone call, is really offputting and disheartening quite frankly. Anyway, I just wanted to validate your feelings, and let you know that you are not alone! We support whatever decision you make but know that whatever you do is right for you in this moment.
    EileenOR, Wilmot, Zoogal and 7 others like this.
  8. scout86

    scout86 I'm a VIP Premium Member Donated

    Since she's told you she thinks that, I guess I can see reasons she might have gone with the simple "regulate". Kind of like taking off the training wheels?

    Sometimes my T doesn't respond and I have no idea how he decides when he's going to and when he's not. (I suspect I get more replies when he's bored. LOL) I think he'd respond to a request to reschedule. That's a business thing, not a therapy thing. Not responding to that makes me wonder if she got the message.
    If that was ME thinking that, what would happen would be that next week I'd come up with an excuse not to go. You might operate differently. I tend to think the appointments I dread the most are the ones I really shouldn't skip. If she can't handle the stressed out you, who can? BUT, in your situation? I'd shoot my T an email and ask him point blank if he's going to fire me. He knows this is a "thing". That would be both a question I'd like an answer to and a way of warning him where I was going to be coming from.
  9. Justmehere

    Justmehere Help support myPTSD - more info in Social forum Moderator Premium Member

    I am being a putz. Or I feel like I am. I am also exhausted.

    After reading you all being so reasonable about it here, I took a deep breath and texted to ask if we can reschedule and said if I didn’t hear back, I’d take it as a no and plan accordingly. She responded 2 minutes later.

    So that’s good.

    She was clear - no possible way to schedule a call, but if she has a free moment she’ll try to call, and no rescheduling options for her this week, but we still have our appointment next week.

    I asked if we could do our session as a phone session instead. I’d pay for the time, I wouldn’t be avoiding all this entirely, and I could sleep a few more hours and function better.

    I should tell email her to tell her I’m scared she’ll quit. Except... it’s more like I’m ashamed, apathetic, and angry that I’m so quit-able.The fact that I feel those things instead of fear, it worries me.

    @scout86 - I like your analogy with training wheels. They are off, in a way, except I feel like I can’t figure out the needing people / whole connection thing, in a very elementary way.

    It’s like I’m ok, or I think I’m ok, until I think about the connection with her, and then I feel like the core of my being is very rattled. It’s got to be about the past... It doesn’t make sense for the here and now.
  10. Freida

    Freida Been There, Done That, Lived to Tell the Story Premium Member

    This is so me!!!

    I'm wondering if there is something bubbling up that has you focusing on her by misdirection? I'm possibly way off base but I'm not sure that I see where she is indicating you are quit-able. I see that she should have responded earlier yes - but did she give you a reason why when she called the right away the second time? Is it possible that there is some kind of trigger that you haven't found yet that is making your brain go this direction to try to explain it? I hope that makes sense?
    If so, it might be important to keep that appointment - even by phone - just to see what comes up....
    And I think emailing her and telling her your fears is perfectly reasonable. If she isn't planning on it shouldn't she know she is sending you mixed signals and that is what is upsetting you?
  11. scout86

    scout86 I'm a VIP Premium Member Donated

    I can relate to that! And, just like learning to ride a bike, it might not be unreasonable to expect a few crashes along the way. (Believe me, I do my own version of this!)

    I'm glad you contacted her and that she got back to you. :) You've had weird stuff happen in the past, so I'm sure it's hard to trust that this will be ok, but it will probably be ok.
  12. Mach123

    Mach123 I'm a VIP Premium Member Donated

    I think you are normal for having PTSD symptoms. I see everything you said as symptomatic and I try and see that when I have those feelings, and I certainly have, it's my condition, it's not me. Thinking about it as I'm writing it I think this is the single biggest change I've had and the thing that probably helps me the most? That's what it looks like, that's what it is. Time to go to therapy. Hope u feel better.
    ladee, Abstract, Justmehere and 2 others like this.
  13. KwanYingirl

    KwanYingirl I'm a VIP

    I really like the training wheels analogy. Support while learning to go it alone/other settings/totally different “bikes”. Part of my winding things up in my emotion mind, always thinking my docs don’t really want me, I’m not important, etc. I have just got to force myself to stop submitting to poor communication by my shrink (my therapist is a good communicator, but even he has disappointed me at times). Instead of running away, I stand up for myself. And this is all new for me, by the way. To hear my shrink “invite” my feelings of anger towards him as a therapeutic opportunity was life changing for me. Those damn worry wheels in my mind just take me places I don’t want to go. I’m glad you got positive feedback from her. And whether or not you end up seeing/talking to her or not, you’ve got us here 24/7.
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