Grounding in therapy - looking at T etc

barefoot

Sponsor
I used to dissociate and get flashbacky things in therapy pretty much every session. And then, gradually, that didn’t really happen any more and I was able to stay present…at worse, just spacing out a bit but it was then easy for T to get me back by saying my name.

Then, this week’s session…was suddenly back to behaving like five years ago. It’s been a difficult couple of days.

Anyway - when I’m ungrounded and T is trying to get me grounded and present, she tends to make suggestions like asking if I can look at her, or asking if I can stand up and move around a bit.

In the moment, even if I am not very present, I can hear her and understand what she’s asking. And I know she’s asking so that I feel more back in my body and so that I can connect/be present with her.

But I find that I don’t do them. Because, I really strongly don’t want to. So, I tend to ignore her and just carry on doing what I’m doing (which is usually staring silently into space)

I’m wondering - what do you do when your T tries to do those grounding things (like ‘name 5 things you can see in the room’ etc - my T doesn’t do this but I’ve heard it mentioned before. If my T did ask me this, I suspect I’d just carry on sitting in silence!)

I don’t think it’s that I just willfully don’t want to do as I’m told. And I’m not trying to be awkward. There is just a very strong internal ‘no’ at the suggestion of doing grounding things.

I wonder if it just feels safer to carry on sitting still and silent and staring at nothing?!

Do you feel able to follow these sorts of suggestions in the moment? Or do you feel resistance? And, if you feel resistance, do you push and make yourself do them?

I guess I’m partly asking out of curiosity. But also partly worrying that I should be trying harder and forcing myself to do them when I don’t want to?!
 

Friday

Moderator
Do you feel able to follow these sorts of suggestions in the moment? Or do you feel resistance? And, if you feel resistance, do you push and make yourself do them?
Toooootally depends on the therapist and what they’re suggesting.

Either “things” or “tones of voice” that speak to me? I can follow in the blink of an eye. No thinking required, much less feeling. Action. Done. Cheers.

“Things” & “tones of voice” that do NOT speak to me? Don’t even rate snarling at them in my head. Not gonna happen, or I’ll double down… and be irritated at myself/childish “I don’t wanna!” tantrum throwing refusal later… but also recognize this is a conversation we need to have.
 

Sues

MyPTSD Pro
When I disassociate in therapy, which is often, I'm checked out, and my therapist knows he can't ask me to do anything right away. So he'll just talk. Ask me to take deep breaths, and eventually he will start asking me questions, nothing big, just simple little questions. He can tell when I'm more present. I don't like to get up and move around, so I don't do that if he asks.
 

Charbella

MyPTSD Pro
Mine says things he knows will get a rise out of me, then follows it up by asking yes/no questions which get me nodding my head and eventually goes to asking what happened.

If he gets no rise out of me then he knows the question I want him to ask is do I want to end the session because if I do, I’m done and can just nod yes, and if not then I start thinking about what that means. Do I want to continue the conversation as it’s going or change subjects and he usually asks that next.
 

OliveJewel

MyPTSD Pro
I know she’s asking so that I feel more back in my body and so that I can connect/be present with her.

But I find that I don’t do them.
I experienced this often in therapy. I rarely to never did what she recommended. She still recommended anyway. I don’t think it’s so much a question of “doing the right thing” but rather speaking to the adult/wise self parts that are still there when you are regressed/dissociated. Like T is checking in with them and letting them know that she, like them, is working toward self-autonomy for you. That was my interpretation. Mine tended to do it when there was about 15 minutes left as a way to begin to signal the need to return into my body so I could leave, drive home, deal with my kids, etc. Even if I didn’t do it I heard her voice and it stayed in my mind as a helper.
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
my T also asks if I can look at her. because I am so compliant and so conditioned I try my hardest to comply. Usually it means looking up a bit but still unable to look her in the eye.
when she asks me to breathe. Depending on how gone I am depends on whether this freaks me out more. Connecting with my body when I am trying to escape it…..
so that internal no is very loud then.

but I do think that being connected with another does help to bring me out of it, but connecting with myself helps more. A combination of both.

I’m sorry to hear it’s been hard.
 

No More

Learning
Im sorry you’ve been having a difficult few days.
Mine T has a few tricks depending on the level of foggy I am currently displaying.
If they catch it in time, the absolute best thing we can do is go for a short walk. Something about moving, being outside, noticing the weather etc nearly always gets me grounded, this method meets the least yuk from me, I am quite happy to go along with it!

Then the sort of basic, gets me to look at them, says my name quite loudly, gets me to put both feet on the floor and push down, Yes/No questions only (anything long and my mind just goes). I think anything too long and complicated gets resistance from me simply due to the fact my brain has turned into a toffee swamp and trying to shove anything through it is stupidly hard work.

I don’t do the whole 5 things either, because if I’m totally gone? I either am incapable or I’ve forgotten the first by the time I get to the 3rd 🤣 this one I am super resistant to, internally there is a real ‘no’, it doesn’t feel safe, it’s too much. Instead, there’s certain objects in the room I prefer to look at, think about, anchor myself with. T also has lots of quite interesting stuff in the room, so I find their descriptions of one/what it is/what it was used for/where it came from quite grounding because it feels super safe conversation, and I can think about the wood/metal, processes etc which is easy without being overwhelming.
 

barefoot

Sponsor
Thanks everyone. It makes me feel a little better knowing I’m not the only person who doesn’t follow all these suggestions. I was wondering if I was being bloody minded and should try harder!

If he gets no rise out of me then he knows the question I want him to ask is do I want to end the session
Yeah…about halfway through the session I almost said shall we just leave it here today. Because we didn’t seem to be getting anywhere. I was finding it difficult to think of anything to say and she was finding it hard to think too. I should have followed my instinct but thought it would feel unsatisfactory to waste half a session…but then ended up checking out then having a flashback (I think), so finishing half an hour early was probably the better option in retrospect.

Like T is checking in with them and letting them know that she, like them, is working toward self-autonomy for you
I’d never thought of it like that. I quite like that idea, thanks.

Even if I didn’t do it I heard her voice and it stayed in my mind as a helper.
Yes, I know what you mean with this.

Connecting with my body when I am trying to escape it…..
so that internal no is very loud then
This is a good reminder of why the no comes up so strongly at times like this. Maybe helps me to not beat myself up so much about it. Because, yeah…if I’m trying to get out my body and she’s trying to suggest some things to get me back in it, feeling it, I suppose it makes total sense that there would be resistance to that. Thanks.

T also has lots of quite interesting stuff in the room, so I find their descriptions of one/what it is/what it was used for/where it came from quite grounding because it feels super safe conversation, and I can think about the wood/metal, processes etc which is easy without being overwhelming.

Ah, this sounds nice. T talking and me listening sounds much easier/calmer than her asking me to do things.
 
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