How to do purposeful work in therapy after minor rupture

barefoot

Sponsor
I posted here recently about a miscommunication/upset with my therapist.

I totally get that we’re all human. And I’m ok with her making a mistake. I think the thing I find particularly challenging is inconsistency. And, along with that, people not being straightforward and transparent.

If my T has consistently been a certain way/has said certain things over the years…and then she does or says something completely different (without communicating anything about it) I find it very unsettling and anxiety-making. Because I find it quite headf*cky. And that is then heightened further when she expresses surprise at my surprise!

So, when this kind of inconsistency shows up - and especially at times when she doesn’t really own it - I find that it’s hard to see her as trustworthy. And she/sessions feel unsafe. Or, at least, I don’t feel fully safe.

We’ve worked together for several years. I like her. We get on. I believe she’s a good person. I believe that she thinks well of me and wants to help and that she doesn’t ever intend to cause upset. We have done some good work together. So, intellectually, I know that things are/she is ok.

Nevertheless, it’s difficult to shake the current feeling of her not being safe/trustworthy. And the thought of being vulnerable with her and talking about difficult things is just…like, I’m just not feeling it. It doesn’t feel possible right now.

We have had various ruptures along the way, which I always find upsetting and stressful. But we talk about it and - sometimes quickly, sometimes it takes a few sessions - we always seem to emerge with a stronger therapeutic alliance. And then it sort of refocuses the work and then we crack on.

I think the difference with this blip is that, before it happened, we were in the middle of working on some important stuff. Stuff that I haven’t really been able to ‘go there‘ with until now. So, it feels like it’s happened at a really vulnerable time. Sessions have felt difficult, but I have also felt really pleased that we’re getting stuck in and starting to explore stuff that I guess I have been avoiding for years.

I want to pick it back up and continue to build momentum around it, as we had been doing. But the thought of talking about such difficult, triggery, traumatic material…how do I do that?!

How do any of you do that when you’ve had a bit of a rupture with your therapist and don’t feel 100% safe? (Even though, intellectually, you know you are!)
I really don’t want to waste loads of time and money doing ‘light’ sessions about nothing very important because I don’t feel ok to dive back into the difficult, painful stuff.

Is the simple answer that I just have to put on my big girl pants and say something about the hard topic and make myself do it? In other words, do I just need to force it and ignore the unsafe feelings?
 

Survivor3

MyPTSD Pro
Hiya @barefoot, I think that you've answered your own question in the last paragraph. You know your still safe to talk about the hard stuff because you respect her and trust her even though there's been blips which have taken you off track for a couple of sessions.

In my honest opinion I think that you should "grab the bull by the horns" and say "right, I'm going to talk about this"!! Be assertive about it!! Forget the insecurities about your relationship because your paying for those sessions and it's upto you what you need and want to talk about. 😀
 

barefoot

Sponsor
Thanks @Survivor3

Yeah, I get where you’re coming from. And when I emailed her, I did say that I wanted to get back to the other stuff next time, so I have set that intention with her.

When I don’t feel safe, I tend to shutdown and my voice gets hijacked. Just like my voice box gets totally frozen and I can’t speak, even though I may have words that I really want to get out.

So, perhaps a better question for me to ask, is how to overcome that. Intellectually, I know she’s ok. Intellectually, I’ve told her I want to get back to the other stuff. But, if there is still this feeling somewhere, which is a powerful feeling, and which I guess then prompts some kind of freeeze…how are you able to overcome that in the moment?
 

Survivor3

MyPTSD Pro
Thanks @Survivor3

Yeah, I get where you’re coming from. And when I emailed her, I did say that I wanted to get back to the other stuff next time, so I have set that intention with her.

When I don’t feel safe, I tend to shutdown and my voice gets hijacked. Just like my voice box gets totally frozen and I can’t speak, even though I may have words that I really want to get out.

So, perhaps a better question for me to ask, is how to overcome that. Intellectually, I know she’s ok. Intellectually, I’ve told her I want to get back to the other stuff. But, if there is still this feeling somewhere, which is a powerful feeling, and which I guess then prompts some kind of freeeze…how are you able to overcome that in the moment?
I would say that by telling her that, that's how you feel when that happens. And that miscommunication makes you shutdown and its bad for you. I really think you need to tell her that.

When I had a minor "rupture" with my counselor I went back the next week (slightly nervous) but adamant that I was going to address it. I said "I don't mind you challenging me sometimes and I really respect you but I felt invalidated" or something like that!! Their the person you need to speak to about it. Anyway it went really well and there was no problem.

When you feel like your shutting down and freezing then say to yourself "I need to be assertive about this" and say it!!
 

barefoot

Sponsor
I really think you need to tell her that.

Sorry, I wasn’t clear about this in my OP - we talked about what had happened and the fact that it’s had this impact on me in session this week. So, we have addressed the rupture and I now want to draw a line and get back to other stuff. But, there is still this powerful (triggered, I suppose?) feeling/response of lack of trust/safety.

We’ve talked about freezing/voice getting hijacked before (in retrospect, because I just really cannot make any words come out when I’m in the middle of it happening.

When you feel like your shutting down and freezing then say to yourself "I need to be assertive about this" and say it!!

I’m not trying to be funny and I really hope this doesn’t come across the wrong way, because I appreciate your replies in this thread and I’m genuinely curious as this is a bit mine-blowing to me! So…does this, what you’ve said above, actually work for you??
I’ve sat for hours in a triggered frozen state, so many thoughts and so many words I’m trying to get out and I’m really trying to force them out because I want to get it out…but there’s just nothing. It’s like I’m not in control of my ability to speak at all.
So, if you can just tell yourself to speak and you can speak…yeah, I’m just quite wowed by that! In awe, actually.
 

Survivor3

MyPTSD Pro
Sorry, I wasn’t clear about this in my OP - we talked about what had happened and the fact that it’s had this impact on me in session this week. So, we have addressed the rupture and I now want to draw a line and get back to other stuff. But, there is still this powerful (triggered, I suppose?) feeling/response of lack of trust/safety.

We’ve talked about freezing/voice getting hijacked before (in retrospect, because I just really cannot make any words come out when I’m in the middle of it happening.



I’m not trying to be funny and I really hope this doesn’t come across the wrong way, because I appreciate your replies in this thread and I’m genuinely curious as this is a bit mine-blowing to me! So…does this, what you’ve said above, actually work for you??
I’ve sat for hours in a triggered frozen state, so many thoughts and so many words I’m trying to get out and I’m really trying to force them out because I want to get it out…but there’s just nothing. It’s like I’m not in control of my ability to speak at all.
So, if you can just tell yourself to speak and you can speak…yeah, I’m just quite wowed by that! In awe, actually.
Yes it does work for me but it's an attribute that I've only acquired over the past few years because I myself was in a "frozen dissociative state" most of the time so I'm very empathetic to your cause.

I would say that when you "freeze" with therapist then simply say "I'm scared" and see how your therapist reacts.
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
So, we have addressed the rupture
Sometimes things take more than one conversation? And maybe it is resolved on one level, but on another level there is that wariness that needs attention/resolution?

My big rupture (one of them) with my T also happened after going to a new topic (new trauma). Also felt horrible timing. Took 3 sessions to get past it. Not that I/we couldn't work on things during those sessions. But I was holding onto something and what I needed was an apology and acknowledgement that what she did hurt me. She didn't apologise the first time we spoke about it. She didn't apologise the second session, when I asked about why she didn't apologise. But she did apologise the 3rd time when I said what she did hurt me.
So maybe sometimes they don't realise the impact of their behaviour because of their own stuff?

I know you don't want to go over old ground, but if you find that you are losing your voice or freezing because this bit of the rupture remains unresolved, one way to get past that is to say that to her.

What is it you need from her to get be able to feel secure with her again?
 

barefoot

Sponsor
Sorry it's taken me a while to come back to this - it has been a full-on week, work-wise, and my brain feels a bit frazzled!

@Movingforward10 - thanks. Yeah, in the past we have sometimes needed more than one session. But that was for bigger upsets really, and often when she had responded defensively initially, so then we had another discussion when she wasn’t!

She did say that she was sorry it (the invoice for the cancelled session) had had such an impact on me. And, when I asked whether she understood why it did, she said that, yes, she did understand. And that she understood why I had described it as head f*cky. So, there was acknowledgement.

What is it you need from her to get be able to feel secure with her again?

Good question! I don’t think I have a clear, actionable answer…

I suppose I want her to be consistent. It really matters to me. But I can’t make her be consistent!

She’s off sick at the moment, so I have another week before my next appointment anyway. I had hoped a bit of time between sessions might have helped things to settle sk I could then start back again with it not feeling like an issue anymore. It really doesn’t feel like a big issue anymore. I’m not caught up in that previous impact. But, as a bit of time has passed, I think she feels very distant (very, somewhere over there in the distance) and I just feel quite disengaged.
 

barefoot

Sponsor
^^^ I don’t mean I think she is being distant. I just feel that there’s a bit of a gulf between us. And I’m not feeling in any hurry to narrow it and get closer.
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
I get it. It's that connection, feeling and being connected. So whilst she has said the right stuff: said sorry, acknowledged what it meant for you. It's feeling that connection again.
Sorry you have longer to wait for the next session. And I hope you get that connection again when you see her again.

This rupture/repair process sucks so badly. But they all say there is so much healing in it. I don't know how I feel about it because the pain of it all doesn't seem worth the learning that come sout the other side! Maybe that's just me.
But I hope this process gives you valuable things they say there is to be had.
 

Friday

Moderator
How perfect does a person have to be for you?

I GET that allowing XYZ (in abuse land) can create a pendulum swing in the opposite direction. What I’m curious about it how much leeway you’re ready/willing to give a person, vs what you would have to stretch for, to not see them as EVIL! ABUSIVE! VILE! etc.? IE where you’re able to see someone in the shade of grey of “I don’t like this” but it’s also not EVIL! ABUSIVE! VILE!

In some areas of my life? A person has to be Olympic Gold PERFECT, to even rate admittance into my life. In most? Pfft. Not even medaling, hell, not even placing in nationals, or regionals. They’re amazing, and valued, for who they are & what they do. But once someone roses to ‘practically perfect, in every way?’ They’re a little f*cked. Becuase anything less than perfection is shoot them in the head and leave them to rot in the f*cking gutter. Emotional logic. Bit of a shite, that.
 
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barefoot

Sponsor
How perfect does a person have to be for you?
I don't expect anyone or anything to be perfect.

Consistency doesn't mean perfection. Or that someone can't have an off day or make a mistake.


What I’m curious about it how much leeway you’re ready/willing to give a person, vs what you would have to stretch for, to not see them as EVIL! ABUSIVE! VILE! etc.? IE where you’re able to see someone in the shade of grey of “I don’t like this” but it’s also not EVIL! ABUSIVE! VILE!

I don't have to stretch for it at all. I in no way see her – or anyone else in my life – as evil, abusive and vile. Even at the height of our biggest ruptures, I have never thought about her in these terms. Nowhere close.

I'm not sure what the purpose is of you going to these extreme points? A relationship – including a therapeutic one – can be thrown off by all sorts of things, which can dent the trust and lead to the relationship being on shaky ground and needing to get back on track (or making a decision to leave it, I guess) But it doesn't need anyone to define the other as evil, abusive and vile for that to happen. Nor for either to demand perfection from the other. So, I'm not really sure what you're getting at here?

I certainly value her. At no point looking to – metaphorically or literally – 'shoot her in the head and leave her to rot in the f*cking gutter.' Bit bemused by that, to be honest...
 
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