Have I destroyed the therapeutic relationship?

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Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
So far I seem to do something wrong every time I pluck up the courage and say what I didn't like. But this time the situation doesn't even seem welcoming enough for me to open up in any way. That's the silly circle and I'm just wondering how am I supposed to be honest again.
I think telling T this ^^ is a good way in. Because it sounds as though there as things to unlock here. Like @onestepatatime said, you didn't do anything wrong. You have feelings and interpretations from his response, which need looking at to explore where these come from and what they mean to you. It is great you plucked up the courage. And he wants to explore that with you, in therapy. You haven't done anything wrong.


Rambling now. 22 hours to the session and I have no plan other than showing up and trying not to get a panic attack. Being able to speak would be great, but not even sure about that. Arghhhh.
That sounds like a plan! A good one.
It'll come out.

Let us know how you get on. I hope it goes well for you.
 

grit

MyPTSD Pro
First I am sorry you are going through the burnt of therapy. This is like no pain no gain. It is often extremely unlikely we re-experience what we experience as children (if this is trauma from childhood) and sort of re-experience and go wtf ..and ask how the hell did we survive it as a child? We did because we did not know better...we were children. But now we are in a shock to see how damaging that experience was. So in therapy, often, triggers all those feelings and we use our adult resources to figure it out with another person who most likely representing others in our lives. It is difficult to get fully triggered relationally alone without going into breakdown. This is ridiculously simplified way of putting it but I am trying not to blahh too long.

I, too have been going through this exactly painful sessions for about a month now....and now seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and it is beautiful. but this therapist is not my first one!

What I will add to the amazing responses you get so far (if I miss something) is this: Therapists are humans. They make errors a lot. Many may be more humbler than others and also repair. Many are not due to millions of factors - main one being they are human and another one being they did not work on their own things hard enough or lack skills or knowledge/experience - again human!

It is good to challenge (this challenging the situation is your adulthood wondering what is going on while mostly likely or not the feelings are from the past as transferences or triggering etc)...it is good to be able to challenge the therapist in respectful and professional manner. I think writing emails is good and lowers hostility and cools any fears, threatening that would be too scary in person.

One thing I learned leaving therapists (that wrongly or rightly) I had to leave is this: (please note this is my experience and I do not have anything else to back up). As soon as I left, the pain that was unbearable translated to exactly the core issue I was struggling with but could not work through with that particular therapist. I can go on what this means but staying on course here. I actually benefitted from leaving therapists that were extremely triggering without minimal or none repair. And was shocked when I started to see the light - the hurt of this experience is very similar to the trauma itself.

Most childhood trauma (not abuse ones) are totally based often on the repair part. Rupture is natural occurrence between two humans but without a repair, it becomes abuse and deep traumatic injury for a child.

I am only sharing this with you so please take what may resonate with you and consider the rest my own shadow. You are not alone. Therapy is difficult journey and I am happy the way I took it...sometimes IMHO, it takes a village to heal us. So good luck in your recovery.
 
D

Deleted member 50877

Well, the session didn‘t quite go as expected. I have offended him immensely with the email, he looked very angry at the beginning. End of story: he told me we would terminate because - based on my email - he thinks he is doing harm. I tried to change his mind for the rest of the session, explaining as much as I could about the context and how what he tought I meant with the email or generally about our progress was not what I meant. At the end of the session he looked like there was a tiny ambivalence. He said that now, knowing the context better he will think of it and seek professional guidance and we will discuss it further.

I feel devastated, shocked and anxious. I thought this T was a great fit and we had done so much work and I achieved so much progress (I told him that). The thought that we end this is devastating but at the same time there is not much that I could change. He said it was not about what I wrote, about how I am or I did, that we are two of us in this and that he has responsibility if he thinks he can‘t help me, we need to stop.

This is a super shortened version of that all, but that’s what happened.
 
D

Deleted member 50877

I have to add that I really like my T and they have been great and helpful and I know he really cares. I guess that’s the devastating thing for them - caring and thinking he is doing damage. I don’t want to lose them. I feel like such a failure for offending him.. I apologized and explained what I meant and didn’t mean but rereading the thing now I totally get how that was too much. I manage to push away everyone, even an amazing T who was the first one and only one who really made a difference so far and who was the only one I felt I could tell everything. This is awful 😢 I still hope we can fix it. At the end he said we would not terminate directly, but go on and he gets guidance in the mean time. I was crying so hard. I never cry in the sessions and if I do, I’m so embarrassed that I can’t even look at him. But today I cried so much, I couldn’t even talk. All the time.. and said that I didn’t want to quit. I regret every bit of what my responsibility is in this but I have to say that this is to a huge part my responsibility.
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
Oh gosh. I'm so sorry that happened. That's such a distressing thing to go through.

Was he able to expand on what he meant that he thinks he is causing harm?

I know this is so easy to say, but I hope you can let go some of the self blame here. This is a very intense thing to go through, and now you have to wait for his response which must be excruciating.

I'm so sorry.
 
D

Deleted member 50877

Oh gosh. I'm so sorry that happened. That's such a distressing thing to go through.

Was he able to expand on what he meant that he thinks he is causing harm?
Thank you. I am trying to keep the hope.

He understood the email wrongly - pretty much everything I was referring to he thought I was referring to other things. Twice I said something that sounded condescending to him while I used it because he used those words in the past as well and thought he would recognize that I'm referring to past situations. But most importantly, he took it as if I was constantly putting him into an adversary position (this was very true at the beginning of our work) and as I was generally finding our work painful and humiliating. What I was criticising was purely that one session and I thought I clearly appreciated that it was not his intention. I also thought I made it clear how much I appreciated our work.. but those didn't come across at all. So his train of thought was "the first ethical rule of therapy is do no harm but I'm really doing a damage here." I said in the email that the session was humiliating and painful for me from the start until the end and he was alarmed by not picking up on that. So that was the reason. And he was super angry about the email first, and at one point I started to yell at him and he yelled back asking me not to yell at him. I never yelled before and he never was so.. angry looking and strict looking before. It was me who said we need to stop because he interrupted me and you know, the atmosphere was so heavy, there was such a wall, this super angry T because I was offensive and condescending in my email (I didn't pick up on this and was shocked and it wasn't my intention but that's what he read and now I can see how that came). So I just wanted to leave the room because it looked like there is no way how this person can become compassionate and like it's just lost and I was so scared and shocked by seeing him so angry. So I said we need to stop and he started to talk about referrals and it was like from one second to another, no discussion, no negotiation, just me saying stopping and him grabbing that immediately.. and from there I understood he is absolutely serious (I was more like 80% decided, but actually not wanting to leave, but sort it out, but how can you if T is so angry..) and started to cry, beg, ask, explain.

I'm trying not to blame myself, thank you. But at the same time I want to realistically take responsibility for my behavior, because I did write an angry email, that's what I did. And I mentioned quitting and I said it in the session too. I am not taking the full responsibility though because his reaction played a role as well, so we are both involved. If we get back to our work, I definitely learned that things can be misunderstood and that it's good to be mindful about my tone. Will probably be the next goal in therapy if this goes any further.
 
D

Deleted member 50877

The thing that makes it the worst is this: I have been dropped by two therapists after the first session before I started with my current T. and that made our start very difficult. I was so terrified he would drop me, it took more than a year after I finally appreciated that he won't drop me. Because I was so anxious about this and I told him that even when he tells me that he won't drop me, I still believe that one day he will because I crossed the line. A kind of - not until now, but after this time for sure. And he was reassuring me all the time that this won't happen. Always telling I was the one to say when we were done. I even asked him whether I could work with him long term, like once we are done, if I need something, asking for a session again and he said sure.

So my worst fears ever are coming true right now. He is aware of that but it looked like he really thought this was in my best interest. Again, there is still hope, but this is such a nightmarish situation.
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
Hmmmmm. It's hard to understand why he was so angry and why he yelled back at you. That isn't appropriate therapist behaviour. A therapist should be able to withstand an angry email (if that is what you sent). It shouldn't result in him being angry at you. Clearly it's triggered something for him and this is now about him, rather than about you?
 

Friday

Moderator
- Would you like to learn how not to come undone when someone answers a question you have?

- How much of a pattern is lashing out and running away from things that scare you, or make you emotional?

((If it’s a dominant pattern in you life, then it probably served you well at some point, &/or is still serving you. Lashing out is a phenom stress-relief, but hell on relationships, although that’s an upside if you’re trying to push someone away; lashing out AND running away is an even better way to blow off stress, and end relationships; although often hell on one’s life // If it’s NOT a dominant pattern in your life that highlights whole new things.))
I manage to push away everyone, even an amazing T who was the first one and only one who really made a difference so far and who was the only one I felt I could tell everything. This is awful 😢 I still hope we can fix i
Been there... done that.

Worst case? You find a new T, with different goals to work on -and understanding- from day 1.

Best (maybe?) case? You get to continue working with someone you’re already comfortable with and who has been helpful for you.

That maybe??? Yep. Sometimes fresh eyes & new blood is a damn good thing. IE he got you this far, which is phenom, and now it’s time to learn new things with a new person. Yea, unfortunately, that will reinforce any lash&run patterns as being a good thing. But one’s favorite teacher in elementary school would also be a lousy university professor not your fave 99/100. He MAY have been exactly what you needed at the time, to get you to where you are now. Whether he’s the best person moving forward? Isn’t guaranteed. He may be. He may not be. But either way? YOUR life is still moving forward.
 
Well, my opinion is that, as bad as you feel now and as much as you feel like you've done good work with this T, his dropping you is going to be the best thing for all concerned. It sounds like he's taken you as far as his abilities are going to take you, because his behavior towards you based on you sending him an email sounds abysmal.

I'm sorry you had this experience. Simply writing an email should never provoke such an emotional reaction in a therapist. His feelings and behaviors are not your fault.
 
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whiteraven

MyPTSD Pro
I'm so sorry you are having to deal with this.

But at the same time I want to realistically take responsibility for my behavior, because I did write an angry email, that's what I did.
I write angry (at him) emails all the time and he NEVER gets mad. That your therapist responded with anger at all is not on you. It's on him.

It sounds like there was a lot of misunderstanding on his part in the email - that's not really unusual; sometimes things aren't as easily communicated in a limited email. Based on what he *thought* you were saying, it makes sense that he would worry about damage and recommend the two of you terminating.

It's hard to understand why he was so angry and why he yelled back at you. That isn't appropriate therapist behaviour. A therapist should be able to withstand an angry email (if that is what you sent). It shouldn't result in him being angry at you. Clearly it's triggered something for him and this is now about him, rather than about you?
This.

A couple of therapists ago, one of my insiders (I have DID) wrote a very angry letter to my then-therapist. He reacted with intense angry and actually threw the letter at me at our next session. I terminated immediately, right then and there, because a therapist is supposed to be able to manage their own feelings and have an understanding of where they are coming from, and it is never ok for anyone to react in a way that feels threatening.
 

Skywatcher

MyPTSD Pro
We always read that we can tell therapists anything. Unfortunately, therapists aren’t always on their A game and let their reactive human out. This isn’t your fault. You hired him to help you and trusted that you could share your angry feelings. I’m glad he said that he would seek council because it is a sign that he recognizes his error. (Also, what he was doing could be considered Therapist abandonment.) When I share angry feelings with mine and she becomes non-reactive I see angry parents staring back. Therapists are taught to become “flat” when clients are angry. For my child parts, that is scary and actually makes the situation worse. We don’t email conversations anymore because I misunderstood and became triggered by things that she would say. Please take good care of yourself tonight.
 
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