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I finally told my not-so-new therapist... that I think of him as a stranger,

Thread starter #1
This is rambling... It's not exactly a question, just a situation I am trying to think through, and this format is helping me.

I met this guy in person twice, in March, he's licensed, takes my insurance, I liked him well enough in person. He came highly recommended from a trusted source. I know that doesn't prove anything, but I went in and I liked what he had to say and our treatment plan seemed to sync up. But then COVID happened and so we've been talking on the phone every week or 2 since March. And he has ALL my records from my psychiatrist. But I feel really frustrated and I feel that I can't express myself well to someone new.

So now I feel like I am stuck with him ... am having a hard time figuring out what is "normal" in therapy, and what is not. I know it's not really true that he is a stranger. But it feels true to me. So I told him this has been on my mind. But then I worried he would feel insulted.
I was so embarrassed and apologized over and over. I know it drives him nuts but that's something I have almost no control over. I said it after I said "Bye". "Bye T, I'm so sorry again, okay, bye." Like a total idiot.

Part of the problem is, I felt forced to do this in a hurry. I was planning to find someone new, but in sort of a vague way like "maybe in a year or so." (Consider I've been with my old T for 15 years.) Circumstances changed it into a rush job. I didn't even know why my old T wasn't showing up starting in January; his "flu" seemed to go on a long time. Despite the rush, I did go with my plans - to deliberately choose to go to someone who would push me. I did choose to find someone trained in trauma (and not someone who I might inspire to study trauma). But! I did not want to choose anyone when I was in a rush. I chose him when my old guy had been sick with COVID for months and I didn't know if he would ever practice again. I'd been thinking about finding a trauma therapist for a few months, but ideally this process would not have been quickened just because my therapist got the flu in January and was down with pneumonia and COVID. (Ideally a lot of things would be different!)

Talking to him is difficult. As he pushes me more than any therapist has done, I forget things so much when he asks hard or unexpected questions. I'm always saying, "I don't REALLY sound like this, in real life, just over the phone" or I say "just since COVID" or I say "Because it's getting too close to Sept. 11th again."
I told him I think I will feel more comfortable after sessions in person. He said he doubts it will make as much of a difference as I think. I said "You're probably right" because for some reason I keep telling this guy he's right all the time. ??? Anyone else having trouble with new T's, just in general? (For context, I've seen the same person basically weekly since 2006.) But he will be seeing patients in his socially-distanced office. He doesn't think it will make a difference. I guess we will wait and see. He said he's considering socially-distanced 6-feet apart sessions and I am jumping at the opportunity as soon as he makes it possible.

This is stressful. But maybe that is a good thing. I need to make a better life for myself even if it is just more time I can concentrate enough to enjoy outside of me and be entertained - and not bored and thinking of bad stuff and intrusive thoughts. Then the step is helping others or doing something that feels productive to me. I feel kind of useless right now.

There's a lot in there that makes me feel uneasy and unsure if I am doing the right thing.
I knew therapy with someone else would be different but I didn't know that I would hate it. I dread talking to this new guy. Problem is, I think I'd dread talking to ANYONE new. (And again, yeah, but 2005 to 2019 is WAY different from Feb of 2020 to August 2020 so I do think I have unrealistic expectations. I don't know how to talk about my life between the ages of 25 and 35. I literally spent several years watching Law and Order:SVU and my parents were just happy I was at their house and not alone in a city with horrible people due to my PTSD and bipolar. I'm a little more with it the last 5 years but a lot has happened and I have no narrative for these in-between years that I've been disabled and isolated. I don't know how to explain that to the new therapist. He's just like "How do you cope?" And I say "I stay in my safe place in my house." and that's not good enough.

I don't know what I'm supposed to do. He pushes a lot. My other therapist, I feel like he waited for me, like he was willing to get to know me before delving into the most triggering memories. New guy wants me to tell him about my flashbacks on the phone. I'm not comfortable. And he said WHY? I don't know how to answer that question.
 
#2
New guy wants me to tell him about my flashbacks on the phone. I'm not comfortable. And he said WHY? I don't know how to answer that question.
Maybe you could say the truth? Idk why, I'm trying to give you an answer for that, or figure it out and IDK. Can you help me figure it out?

(Could be partly because you can't see feedback to gauge the trustworthiness or content of the response, or just not established trust you feel you require to feel comfortable enough to say.)
 
Thread starter #3
Maybe you could say the truth? Idk why, I'm trying to give you an answer for that, or figure it out and IDK. Can you help me figure it out?

(Could be partly because you can't see feedback to gauge the trustworthiness or content of the response, or just not established trust you feel you require to feel comfortable enough to say.)
Thanks for pulling something out of that mishmash!
Yes it's an issue of trust. He's just, I feel like, being too pushy or quick. "WHY don't you trust." Then "What will make you trust." Hmm. It's like he has a script and when I try to go my way, he re-directs. We ARE strangers in a way. He doesn't know anything that I've been unable to convey on the phone. I think I just have to keep waiting to see in person. Thanks!
 
#4
It's like he has a script
Maybe he does. Or kind of does. When you do the same thing day in and day out, I think it's natural to settle into "the way I usually do things". That could certainly come off sounding like a script.
I know it drives him nuts but that's something I have almost no control over.
Do you KNOW it drives him, nuts, or do you THINK it does? If you know it does, how do you know? It really SHOULDN'T be driving him nuts. It's something you're doing. That should be "information" from his perspective. It would make sense for him to wonder what leads you to feel you need to apologize, but it wouldn't make sense for him to be judging you for it. At least I don't think it would.

And, it makes sense to me that he'd seem like a stranger, because he practically IS. How much would you trust anyone else you'd met twice in person and talked to a few times on the phone? I'm not saying you shouldn't trust him. He might be the perfect T for your situation. But I don't know that it's reasonable to expect a solid, trusting relationship to develop that fast, especially over the phone.
I don't know what I'm supposed to do.
I've wondered that a lot. These days, I'm kind of thinking there IS no "supposed to". If you want to work with the guy, be honest. "I have no idea how to answer that question" is an answer. (I've used it.) See what happens next. If he can't handle an honest answer, he's probably not someone you want to work with.

Establishing a trusting relationship over the phone, with a new T sounds like something that would be really, really hard!
 

grit

MyPTSD Pro
#5
I feel I can relate to your experience to certain level. I also experience the stronger thing especially after a vacation absences. I felt or feel often when this happens I am regressing to like age 1yr or something when a child learns mom VS stranger. It is extremely disturbing feeling and happens more often than I like to admit.
I think you are brave an courageous to do this hard work. It sounds like you are standing up for yourself and I honestly feel I do not know is fine.
 
Thread starter #6
Oh GAWD I deleted my own message! It was really good and really responsive to you @scout86 - thank you for your answer! I have to log off the computer now, I'll try again tomorrow. I'm really working.
Establishing a trusting relationship over the phone, with a new T sounds like something that would be really, really hard!
Thank you, I needed to hear this.
 

Mee

MyPTSD Pro
#8
I guess what I would say is that you are rightly focused on getting better.

How we respond to people differs. If someone pushes me it makes me feel unsafe, and want to close up. Not to open. My therapist is good for me because she reminds me I can have boundaries with her but will ask me what a facia expression belies..... ‘do you know? Can you name it? ‘ She reads me well. She asks doesn’t push .

If I were with a T who I get pushed by i believe it would have a negative impact on my healing. That’s me.

you are you. You know you- how ever distanced trauma has made us from ourselves we remain the expert on our emotions and reactions. I would say you are right - this guy is a stranger . He might find it not different in the office - you might or might not.

Trauma survivors frequently read body language cues subconsciousy to gain sense of safety or lack there of . You are allowed to feel and think differently to him on sow matters . I would even suggest that’s healthy
 
Thread starter #10
Trauma survivors frequently read body language cues subconsciousy to gain sense of safety or lack there of . You are allowed to feel and think differently to him on sow matters . I would even suggest that’s healthy
This feels right to me. The reading body language. I have always been an observer, and I see how trauma could lead to that behavior. Needing to be on alert. Or wondering if someone is going to suddenly jump up and do something unexpected, which terrifies me (unconsciously). You're right, a lot of cues are missing. I'm putting a lot on the idea of meeting in person.

It's just tremendously unfortunate that there is no sense of when that might be. Maybe in a month, maybe in a year.
I suppose to some degree go with your gut?
Yep. I think I'm accepting that it sucks for now but it's not quite time to quit. One thing that scares me is how will I know when it IS time to quit - but that's the point of this post I guess, isn't it?

There *have* been moments, like you guys have all said, where I think "This is too far, too fast." I'm encouraged by all the responses. I'm capable of repeating "I don't know." Or even "I can't do this now." Or something. I know I can set up a boundary where I will not tell him certain things. I'm halfway-afraid if I don't respond or cooperate promptly, he'll dump me - but I am also aware that's an idiotic fear. He took me on and we laid no timetables. The fact that I crashed is just... coincidence? Circumstances have changed since those 2 in person meetings where I said I wanted to dive into my PAST trauma! This is just sticky all around. I do not want to be judged by my behavior over these past 6 months. He's a good clinician in that he is kind, and he definitely shows more interest than frustration at my negatively-skewed declarations of confusion.

Just keep on keepin' on. For now.
(Yay for free unlimited teletherapy in the middle of a pandemic? I guess.)
 
#11
I'm halfway-afraid if I don't respond or cooperate promptly, he'll dump me - but I am also aware that's an idiotic fear.
I wouldn't call it idiotic. It actually seems to be pretty common around here. My way of dealing with it (now, not always) is to consider that if I got fired as a client for a reason like that, it probably spared me more problems to come. That's just not a valid reason to fire a client. Having trouble with trust and talking about stuff is part of the package. If a therapist has a problem with that, it seems like there's a lot they don't get and they shouldn't be doing trauma therapy until they DO get it.
 
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