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Good Therapy Going Bad Because of Prior Bad Therapist

Thread starter #1
I've written some about my prior therapist......she was not well, she dissociated in my therapy sessions, and closed her eyes when I spoke about trauma. She introduced me to parts, and infantalized me......I guess that's the way I want to say it, and she made judgments about my insiders, my parts, my feelings that I didn't think or feel were true.......and she did not teach me grounding skills (she couldn't when she was dissociating while listening to me)....in the therapy room.....so I spent several years dissociating in therapy and not learning to talk trauma grounded. So when all hell broke loose with her, and she crossed a boundary, I realized there was more wrong with therapy that fell mostly into the ethics department- with multiple issues. While the details aren't important, she was the first T I stayed with long enough to do parts work....and there was unhealthy transference and she encouraged unhealthy dependence but at the time I was knee deep in active trauma and spent most of my time dissociated. When I left her because she betrayed my trust, my parts were enraged and I had head noise for months....and cried a lot. I felt betrayed.....again......before it was my family, now my T.


My current T is very respectful, open, honest, grounded, and highly experienced with PTSD/CPTSD/Dissociative disorders and I like her-she's intelligent, well spoken, and is current in her T knowledge. I thought I liked the last one too.....but T#1 was more like a big rock in a chair across from me... for each session.....she just sat there and stared. When I stopped talking, she opened her eyes, and would either look at me or the floor, or say how do you feel about that. So T#2 a much better fit.

With Covid and the unpredictability of "have to self-quarantine because I came in contact with someone who came in contact with.....the T schedule has been changeable" I feel like I can't start talking/processing what went wrong with my last T......but I know I need to because those old feelings are interfering with the work with this T. When I first met her....I dissociated so badly, she suggested we talk about T#1....talk around it till I can stay grounded enough to talk about the humiliating things that happened. She felt that my trust had been broken from T#1 and for our success, diving head into it (in the middle of a lot of family crap too at the time) wasn't wise-her goal for me stability. She wanted to work on grounding skills. So I put my feelings away, like you'd put away something in a box, and only mention the topic occasionally. However, the T#1 box top is coming off .

T#2 made plans to go on vacation this month for 3 weeks....told me way in advance.....no problem. Between recent surgeries, infections, and cancelled appointments, I need therapy to be concrete...same day, same time-no change unless she is sick. This was a problem with T#1-she'd cancel regularly without much warning and 5 times same day. Well, her therapist partners whom she shares a building are all rearranging their schedules for the school year to accommodate kids during covid, so my time was changed....but she didn't have a firm new schedule for weeks and it could change again in October. I need stability. Right now, transportation is an issue....I have to find a ride to T or pay a cab 100.00 round trip (and pay cash for T, too).....so for planning purposes now, same day/time is needed.

With all that said, I was disproportionately angry with her right before she went on vacation. Having to deal with another change and being angry....sent me into "f*ck it till you can get me a same day/time appt. I told her when she knew her schedule, and could make it consistent, I'd come...and I was curt....she realized I was angry-acknowledging my anger was the best I could do........transportation is an irritating issue right now. Staying home has made it harder to find distractions and regroup when I'm irritated. Rationally, I know she needs and deserves a vacation and it's to my benefit to have a rested T in a pandemic. But I also looked forward to getting out to T's and talking to someone and having a real convo....I'm alone most days and it's lonely.......and that's another part of my internal conflict: I have come to a point where the message in my head is "dump her." That message loops...."I don't need a T" or "I don't need her," but finding a good T fit is hard. I've been with her almost a year.

I think it is because of the humiliating issues I had with T #1......and the supportive feeling I have going to therapy with T#2...and my messed up....internal messages..."you need to leave this T before you get to close..and she screws you over while dissociated....." (flight time) "the same shit will happen....dump her."...so trusting her is an issue not because she's done anything wrong.....trusting her doesn't feel safe because of T#2 unprofessional behavior. I know in my head T is a good fit and I think I have a better handle generally on staying grounded....but the parts that were hurt by T#1 says......"run." My problem is I'm getting angrier and angrier....and if I go into T Friday (first appt back off vacation) I won't be able to stay grounded and I get loud when I'm angry and dissociated. I've been doing really well being grounded and in the here and now and am pleased how far I've come. Not sure how to talk about betayal and stay grounded......and I know rage....is a feeling I feel .....and not wanting to take that home in a pandemic, while I live alone. Then I just talk angrily to the walls.Concerned that I might get started on resolving this problem by talking to T#2 when Covid might kill the process because I see my T in person and then....so sorry...(one of us) has to wait 14 days or for Covid test to come back. negative (that's happened 3 times to me and impacted going to T each time)..and NO THERAPIST WILL COME INTO MY HOUSE VIA COMPUTER OR VIA TEXT! My last T texted me and emailed me for personal shit. I don't want my T in my house....my safe place ....a T doesn't belong there....it's not ethical. I like in person therapy because I'm able to leave a lot of the intensity of "stuff discussed" in the office which makes managing at home more successful. I recognize this is fear driven, and that's what I'm trying to overcome/work-through without losing my shit (I need to stay stable so basics get remembered) but my dissociation is automatic where fear/anger are concerned. Does this make sense?
Any ideas are welcome....because I'm really struggling with this.
 
#2
Covid is throwing a spanner in the works. Medical professionals are right in the middle of that. Cancellations while awaiting tests may be the norm for some time. That's a big challenge with therapy everywhere right now.

So, at least that part - making space for the emotions that's bringing up (uncertainty, fear, anxiety, distrust, and on and on) is perhaps a helpful way forward. Acknowledge those feelings - they're very real. But our ability to control that? Is extremely limited.

Totally get the "not in my house" thing. I had a shocker of a T (thought he was a miracle worker at the time) who got me to instal WhatsApp on my phone, because seeing me twice a week wasn't enough. He had to message me, and hear back, every friggin day.

That created a few...issues! So, I hear ya!

I've negotiated my way through Facetime appointments by taking them out of the house. Literally driving myself to a local park (nice outlook), and taking the appointment in my car. Because yeah, not at home. That boundary got crossed, and finding "healthy" again is hard, hard work.

I don't trust mental health professionals, so I'm butting up against a few progress issues myself atm. Like, how do I make any progress while not trusting any of them? It's not my current T's fault, but it's playing out with her.

For me, I've started by recognising where it comes from (like you've done - it started with T1, because they did x, y and z). Then I think the next step is deciding ahead of appointments that I'm going to start dealing with a specific issue, and having a rough idea in my head, in advance, how much I'm going to share.

That way, I'm deciding how much is too much, and how much is uncomfortable/challenging without flooding me.

Is there any opportunity to do some grounding work in another format while working with T2? Just saying that because being solid on grounding really is essential before doing any real trauma work (which sounds like it includes work around T1 for you). You're going to overwhelm yourself, and not have the skills to get yourself regulated again, unless you've done that.

My second piece of advice would be: give yourself more time. Frustrating as hell. But, you actually have the rest of your life to figure this all out. Each appointment you make tiny steps. And those steps add up. Wanting to tackle major issues this side of October, during a pandemic, with trust issues on board...may not be realistic.

Finally, be willing to compromise. It's one thing to throw out your schedule because your T has decided to take the kid to footy this week and you get dumped unceremoniously at the last minute. It's another thing to have a month's worth of appointments booked up, with next month's to be figured out in a fortnight. That's actually pretty reasonable.

And last minute "can't attend till I get yesterday's covid test results back"? Is going to come up. Try and make peace with that, and perhaps have a backup plan for when that happens (eg. If T cancels at the last minute, I will spoil myself to a long bath and a good movie to self soothe).

Just tossing out ideas. Hope something in there is helpful:)
 
Thread starter #3
Covid is throwing a spanner in the works. Medical professionals are right in the middle of that. Cancellations while awaiting tests may be the norm for some time. That's a big challenge with therapy everywhere right now.

So, at least that part - making space for the emotions that's bringing up (uncertainty, fear, anxiety, distrust, and on and on) is perhaps a helpful way forward. Acknowledge those feelings - they're very real. But our ability to control that? Is extremely limited.

Totally get the "not in my house" thing. I had a shocker of a T (thought he was a miracle worker at the time) who got me to instal WhatsApp on my phone, because seeing me twice a week wasn't enough. He had to message me, and hear back, every friggin day.

That created a few...issues! So, I hear ya!

I've negotiated my way through Facetime appointments by taking them out of the house. Literally driving myself to a local park (nice outlook), and taking the appointment in my car. Because yeah, not at home. That boundary got crossed, and finding "healthy" again is hard, hard work.

I don't trust mental health professionals, so I'm butting up against a few progress issues myself atm. Like, how do I make any progress while not trusting any of them? It's not my current T's fault, but it's playing out with her.

For me, I've started by recognising where it comes from (like you've done - it started with T1, because they did x, y and z). Then I think the next step is deciding ahead of appointments that I'm going to start dealing with a specific issue, and having a rough idea in my head, in advance, how much I'm going to share.

That way, I'm deciding how much is too much, and how much is uncomfortable/challenging without flooding me.

Is there any opportunity to do some grounding work in another format while working with T2? Just saying that because being solid on grounding really is essential before doing any real trauma work (which sounds like it includes work around T1 for you). You're going to overwhelm yourself, and not have the skills to get yourself regulated again, unless you've done that.

My second piece of advice would be: give yourself more time. Frustrating as hell. But, you actually have the rest of your life to figure this all out. Each appointment you make tiny steps. And those steps add up. Wanting to tackle major issues this side of October, during a pandemic, with trust issues on board...may not be realistic.

Finally, be willing to compromise. It's one thing to throw out your schedule because your T has decided to take the kid to footy this week and you get dumped unceremoniously at the last minute. It's another thing to have a month's worth of appointments booked up, with next month's to be figured out in a fortnight. That's actually pretty reasonable.

And last minute "can't attend till I get yesterday's covid test results back"? Is going to come up. Try and make peace with that, and perhaps have a backup plan for when that happens (eg. If T cancels at the last minute, I will spoil myself to a long bath and a good movie to self soothe).

Just tossing out ideas. Hope something in there is helpful:)

@Sideways Thanks so much for responding. I feel like such a goon for not figuring out sooner that T1 was herself, ill. But in your case, I can't imagine having contact with a T everyday. OMG No....and no more T's texting me. I went twice a week and didn't get any better...actually think I got worse. But contact w T everyday, didn't leave much room for downtime for you.

Some good ideas you have given-really. I'm a teacher.....and teachers learn stuff and should be able to do....and spit it back out at someone else-except grounding.....it doesn't come as quickly as math or language arts. I feel like I lost 3 years of important work "time" w/o getting grounding skills out of it. It's gotten lots better, I'm not in a continual fog all the time, because the abuse stopped and I've been able to let go of the people that were triggering. I haven't "processed" the trauma grounded....only chaotically and while not grounded leaving the office regularly unsafe where I could have walked across the street and been run over by traffic.........I didn't do much anger w T1 until she was another dysfunctional crazy in my life.....I was so upset with her, when I left, I spoke the truth and she just sat there crying....oh yeah, very messy.

Regardng Covid and all the changes....I feel like I'm losing time in my life...I'm in the 4th quarter of life and don't want to spend the rest of my life fixing old shxt that exists in my head that is done and over with. I really try to work hard in therapy, and deal with stuff....but the old T stuff is interfering and I guess it wasn't time....unnecessary contact w abusers stopped in June. It really hasn't been long.

Covid is keeping me locked up (and currently I'm transportation challenged-the car being my most safe place and my way to nature photography)....which is it's own pleasant and in my head, an accepetable form of dissociation and that once a week made a huge difference. My alternative till I'm back in the driver's seat.... I bought a kayak and ordered a waterproof bag for my camera. Hopefully, it will come soon. I can do nature photography right out back.....I have 2 months to go before I'm totally independent again.....and this is my new diversion. I'm hoping it will help me sleep better. Just got clearance to be able to exercise....

At some point, I'd like not to have to "create" a diversion or solution because the past is creeping in again and causing me issues. My diversions cost money.....and they are always carefully thought out but I'd rather buy a kayak just because I want one....not because it would help me stay balanced.

I think a plan B is a good idea for cancellations, and Facetime would work outside....not in house-not even sitting in my car.

I recognize the trust issues are a barrier....but I think you have a good idea....to decide what to work on before going in....I did that all the time before w T1, and she made snide comments that she didn't plan, turned sideways, and kicked her feet up in the air....arms up.... and said she didn't plan and was doing okay.....that was a nutty session.

I'd show up with specific stuff to talk about. She said most clients of hers don't plan therapy-I thought it would save money and I'd make more progress if I had a goal....and followed through each week with something related to it. My nature is planning....as a teacher I planned every thing, but since I've been with this new T, feels like a moritorium with poetry, journaling, or art.....I feel like there's serious negativity there that ties back to T1 . Those activities feel like an off limits place in my head. It doesn't sound rational...it just is how my head is coping with the last T. But good food for thought. I do know that not going in without a plan isn't getting me anywhere in therapy right now.....Yeah....that would help.

Thanks again!
 
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