How does your therapist react to criticism?

Huxley

New Here
i am wondering if it’s just me or if others have this experience.

I have had a year-plus therapy relationship go sour. Partly because online therapy is not the same as in person, but mostly because of what she terms “failures of empathy“ on her part. The puzzling part to me is she refuses to discuss the failures. She has said “I’m Sorry” and states that no further discussion is needed.

I am bad at stories but i can give you any details you want. It’s mainly to do with meditation being uber-destabilizing for me, yet it happening at the start of each of the new process group sessions she suggested I attend. I would express my concerns at our next individual session, which wasn’t always before another group, and I walked away thinking she understood.

but then nothing would change at the next group, I would become destabilized and I had no polite or even functional tools to use to manage the situation during that group zoom session (first time in a group, totally didn’t know what to expect from it, and I am under the impression she and I were on the same page about how distressing his was for me.) i brought it back up, we talked, thought she got it, and then nothing changed and I again must begin this new group thing session already struggling to even stay present. It keeps happening. No matter how I express my needs and desires for help, she doesn’t seem to get it.

There were other issues too, normal therapy stuff, covid scheduling problems, her own health causing missed appointments, groups members bailing and demanding changes, and the group eventually disintegrated and she kinda reassured me about it by saying that had never happened to her before, was due to her doing it a new way, and making exceptions for new folks who came in later who weren’t her individual clients as well, which she had assured me before group was the way she did groups.

It reached the point at the end where my frustration and confusion over her lack of understanding erupt in more forceful complaints which made her defensive. She says via email she wants to repair it, but in todays session she was borderline spiteful and cruel, both about it being my fault, and at one point even said “group therapy won’t ever be modified for you”. I had asked her to reread something I send her before, which she did, aloud, in definitely not compassionate tone. Then kinda mocked me, but I was upset so I may be exaggeratin.

She has known from our first session how I felt about meditation, she did not tell me beforehand it would be part of group or else I would have worked it out then or declined to join, and although I brought it up as an issue no real action was done over the six months of group, and then today she gets ugly with me about it.

Did I do something wrong, or just draw the short straw, or what?
 

Friday

Moderator
Did I do something wrong, or just draw the short straw, or what?
Short straw, for sure.

Meditation is known to be extremely destabilizing for a huge percentage of trauma peeps. So much so that there’s not only trauma-focused mediation groups, with vastly different “rules” & expectations, but many people (last I heard, roughly half) can’t handle “even” that... and are strongly cautioned to avoid any/all forms of meditation until/unless they’re far more stable. And quite possibly? Forever.

That she appears to not only not know that, but is lashing out / blaming you for something both common & expected for people dealing with trauma? Is short-straw territory bordering on idiot-land & the kingdom of WTF-did-she-get-her-licence-from-a-crackerjack-box???
 

Huxley

New Here
Part of it is undoubtedly my frustration not being expressed exactly the way she thinks it should be, and it’s more than she can contain. Rather than adddress my emotional reponse, she‘s getting offended by my tone and responds emotionally, which is just fuel to the fire. It’s like someone criticizing your spelling instead of trying to understand the story, it’s infuriating.
 
It’s like someone criticizing your spelling instead of trying to understand the story, it’s infuriating.
Yep, I understand this part really well.

The most recent time I criticized my T, it was because she complimented me on my insight. In polite society, the right answer is probably, "thank you." What did I say? "Thanks, yes, I know it was a good insight. That's why I brought it up." Therapist just smiled warmly and said, "ok, fair point. What I was really thinking was..." and then we had an actual, meaningful discussion.

So, my therapist listens to criticism and either (1) accepts it or (2) asks if I could say more about it, and listens carefully to what I say next.
 

Recovery4Me

MyPTSD Pro
Much can depend on the therapist’s expertise, licensing, credentials as well as personal foundation. I have had blow-outs (with termination) to the other extreme of an enlightening experience on healthy exchange where I then changed my mind, moved forward then retracted the original criticism with an apology offered.

However, nonacceptance of group therapy interactions are of a different nature for me. If the T. in charge is not a good group leader (by one’s personal standards) then it does not seem to benefit to address the T’s modality. Often I have found, if I respected the goal set and was in a somewhat stable place (with my own personal T) then the T leader of the group was just there to officiate a collective goal.

If I found the collective (as well as myself ) was suffering because of the Group Leader T- I then left. It is true, group therapy does not often pander or change for one member of the whole. Perhaps reschedule with the next group session to start under a different leader. It made a difference for me.
 

Huxley

New Here
An update. My T formally apologized for her actions. I’m not planning on continuing with her as she is obviously not a fit, but it is nice to have her admit she was wrong in how she handled it. Maybe the next trauma patient she has will benefit from her failure with me.
 
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Mach123

MyPTSD Pro
How did I miss this one? How does she react to me. I’m like a polar opposite to her in almost everything.

It proves something though, like the lion and the mouse in the fable. Did you ever think how laughable that is. But the mouse saved the lions life.

I think she’s helped me more than any other person in my life ever. I didn’t say who‘s the lion. I think it switches.

Sometimes she gets mad and sometimes she apologizes. I’m always telling her about her failures.
 

Huxley

New Here
Much can depend on the therapist’s expertise, licensing, credentials as well as personal foundation. I have had blow-outs (with termination) to the other extreme of an enlightening experience on healthy exchange where I then changed my mind, moved forward then retracted the original criticism with an apology offered.

However, nonacceptance of group therapy interactions are of a different nature for me. If the T. in charge is not a good group leader (by one’s personal standards) then it does not seem to benefit to address the T’s modality. Often I have found, if I respected the goal set and was in a somewhat stable place (with my own personal T) then the T leader of the group was just there to officiate a collective goal.

If I found the collective (as well as myself ) was suffering because of the Group Leader T- I then left. It is true, group therapy does not often pander or change for one member of the whole. Perhaps reschedule with the next group session to start under a different leader. It made a difference for me.
I get that, and I agree that I should have known to bail much sooner. But it was my first group, and group was never my idea in the first place. I was making good progress in individual and she began talking about having me join one of her groups when space became available, how she loved group, etc. It was probably four months before she formed one that I could join.

I was probably naively relying too much on her understanding how wrong meditation was for me. Expecting her to believe me just because I said so wasn’t actually reasonable, I guess. It had come up almost on day one with her, and a few times after. If she had warned me it was part of group I would have made sure we had a process to exclude me from that part. But I didn’t know. And then she wouldn’t help. I began to feel like Alice.

Confusion has always been a significant aspect/symptom for me, lol.
 

Recovery4Me

MyPTSD Pro
get that, and I agree that I should have known to bail much sooner.

The reason I quoted this close to your post is to offer this - sometimes in a new environment it is also a sign (to me) that you used perseverance within this situation- ergo no fault finding by me. OK? Just so you know.

Often words such as should of, would of, could of - become faulty traps for Black and White Thinking. I am sure that your group experience while communicating with your T, has or will serve down the road for greater understanding of how to use your strong voice as well as reasonable expectations when extending your need set (or criticism within therapy)! After all is said and done...without patients what might a T do? Lol Safe journey and stay strong.
 
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