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Is there a ‘right’ way to do therapy?

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Right, so hear me out (and sorry for the waffle!!) on the surface the answer is ‘no, whatever works for you’, but is that actually the answer?

On the surface, I’m probably doing better. I’m a stable sort of unstable, I’m drinking a lot less, a flashback doesn’t derail me for weeks at a time. I feel shit, but I’m a functional sort of feeling shit. There are a lot of things that still trigger the crap out of me, I nearly cracked someone round the head off instinct for coming up behind me when I had headphones in. Is this as good as it gets?

My way of doing therapy seems to be unconventional on here. I’m not interested in having any sort of relationship or connection with my therapist. I don’t want her kindness or validation or anything like that. I pick someone based on their education, whether they can handle my shit, whether they seem sufficiently skilled to help me & convenience.
In essence, I pay for her time and her knowledge, and in return I get skills. I want cold hard business exchange, nothing more or less.

If I come with a specific problem, and am given a specific solution, I’ll leave after 20 mins. I like regular breaks, I’d be delighted to go a couple weeks between sessions.
My therapist has said she wants a higher level of connection, and I nearly threw up. Yuck. Eew. No. That disgusts me, get away from me.


But is all this the reason I’m maybe not progressing? Is the work in the relationship, even though my relationships outside of therapy are stable and long lasting? Am I not doing therapy the ‘right’ way to get the benefit? Is my short sessions and wanting breaks often avoiding having to ever properly delve into anything, or just my own way of processing and working?
 
my relationships outside of therapy are stable and long lasting
This is huge! It’s kind of a big deal—I think many many people go to therapy to try to get here. If you already have this? Makes sense that you wouldn’t need to get too attached to your T. And maybe her sayings that is just because she’s used to that?

At the same time her suggestion clearly touched a nerve in you.
nearly threw up. Yuck. Eew. No. That disgusts me,
Which… if you were so content with relating to people it’s hard to imagine having such a visceral reaction. Sounds like she said the right thing, in the sense that she is finding the stuff you don’t want to face.

Even if you don’t want to be close with her, can you talk about that with her? I mean, something that makes you feel like you want to throw up does sound like a specific problem. Might be nice to just have a casual, nonplussed reaction rather than a visceral, fearful one? How might that fear play out in other ways in your day-to-day life?

You aren’t doing it wrong, you’ve just come up against an issue. How you face it? *Is* the work.
 
The therapists I saw eye to eye with were much like the fishing guides I have hired, they knew the waters, sized me up for my skills, and showed me what I needed to learn and how to apply it so I could be successful, that day and any times I returned to those waters.
The ones I tolerated up to a point were the ones that came off as experts waiting for the proper homage to their superiority to be shown so their criteria for imparting the good stuff had been met.
The former were there to satisfy my needs, the latter came off as being in it only for their own success, like a bad college professor that had long ago gotten the employee/employer relationship backwards and never rethought it.
The ways to get this right are many and widespread, but it seems to me that the one main way to get it wrong is to tolerate an employed therapist that has forgotten that the money is supposed to be being earned.
 
The therapists I saw eye to eye with were much like the fishing guides I have hired, they knew the waters, sized me up for my skills, and showed me what I needed to learn and how to apply it so I could be successful, that day and any times I returned to those waters.
Love that analogy. It fits my view too. My T is my guide to self discovery and helps me "fix" my problems.

Doing therapy right? Is selling out to the process, following your guide and doing the work between sessions so, if possible, we can move forward in the next session, or at least have something to work on.
 
But is all this the reason I’m maybe not progressing? Is the work in the relationship, even though my relationships outside of therapy are stable and long lasting? Am I not doing therapy the ‘right’ way to get the benefit? Is my short sessions and wanting breaks often avoiding having to ever properly delve into anything, or just my own way of processing and working?
I also have relationships that are stable and long lasting and I feel rich with the love I have from my partner and friends. However, I am deeply attached to my therapist. It's a connection that is far more primal?

What does progressing look like for you?
What does your T say about it?
And what's stopping you from wanting or seeking that connection?
 
But is all this the reason I’m maybe not progressing?
Missed talking about this...... Sometimes progress is slow. But its progress. In my history - took 3 months for the first trauma, and 3 years for the second to come out. But between there - when I thought at times we were not making progress (sorry for the we - my T and I are a team, its how I saw it almost from the beginning) we were. Now we found number 2 - I realize we had a lot to do to get there and having it come out earlier would have hurt far more than it did.

Because its buried in what Bessel van der Kolk called the "shattered memories" within literally minutes of the first, it's been hugely difficult to deal with in many many ways. It made getting to it in memory hard, and because a lot of it was bits and pieces of memory putting it together was really had until a few pieces came together.

So really - when progress seems slow, think of it as preparing for whats coming......and how much easier that will be because of preparation....
 
It all depends on what it is you're looking for out of therapy. I would say there is a "right way" to do therapy for every problem, and every person, but that one-size fits all is not the "right way" to consider it.

If my therapist pushed for us to develop an interpersonal connection beyond the business-like prior to doing the establishment work first I would very likely have a similar response to you. But we have over a year of establishment now, so I am more open to the prospect of viewing our relationship as something beyond merely transactional. (It also helps that she sees me pro bono.)

But it's worth noting that a big part of my issue is literally an attachment disorder. So, is there a reason that this causes you such distress that you're physically ill at the prospect? Do you want to address that? Or is this boundary an important part of your therapeutic process right now? There's nothing wrong if that is true, and with time you might be more open to an alternative view point, if that's something necessary to your healing.
 
Thanks all, a lot to consider and very grateful for all the responses!

Which… if you were so content with relating to people it’s hard to imagine having such a visceral reaction. Sounds like she said the right thing, in the sense that she is finding the stuff you don’t want to face.
Hmmm, I can talk about connection/care/relating to people like friends or family members until I’m blue in the face, no reaction, perfectly happy doing it. But you are right, she’s obviously said something that bothered me and that level of reaction needs looking into for sure!

Doing therapy right? Is selling out to the process, following your guide and doing the work between sessions so, if possible, we can move forward in the next session, or at least have something to work on.
I do trust what she says, even if I’m not sure it’ll work I give it a crack. But then often if I have something to work on, I’ll not see the point in being there for maybe a few weeks until I’ve thoroughly worked on it & got feedback, be it positive or back to the drawing board.

What does progressing look like for you?
What does your T say about it?
And what's stopping you from wanting or seeking that connection?
All super good questions - I honestly don’t know what progression would be from here. I don’t know if I have unrealistic expectations of what is actually possible for me.
I don’t know what’s stopping me from wanting connection with her, I think I see it as unnecessary, I connect with friends/family, why would I want a connection with a therapist when I see it as a business relationship, same as I would with another medical professional? Hmm.

But we have over a year of establishment now, so I am more open to the prospect of viewing our relationship as something beyond merely transactional.
Do you want to address that? Or is this boundary an important part of your therapeutic process right now? There's nothing wrong if that is true, and with time you might be more open to an alternative view point, if that's something necessary to your healing.
I’m over a year in with her, I have no attachment to her as a person at all, only that it would be a royal pain in the ass and inconvenience to find someone as knowledgable within an easy travel distance.
My immediate reaction is absolutely I do not want to address it, as why on earth would I want any sort of attachment or connection with a therapist? I can do those things perfectly well & clearly stable-y with friends, so it’s obviously something I can be capable of if I so choose. But this is the question, do I *need* that sort of relationship with her, to progress? Because if so, I’ll have to address it, ick.
 
Have you explored this with your T? Maybe that's the thing to explore: the wonder about whether you need it or not.
We’ve touched on it, she mentioned that she’d like more connection, but dropped it after my reaction. She’s also said she’d like me to go once a week, which is not my preference.
But if I don’t want to do those things ie, no connection and less frequent sessions, does that mean I’m doing therapy wrong? Are those things absolutely necessary for therapy, or is it we just prefer to work in different ways?
 
But this is the question, do I *need* that sort of relationship with her, to progress? Because if so, I’ll have to address it, ick.

I would say no, based on my own personal experience. I've had plenty of progress in therapy without a deep, meaningful attachment to her as a human being. Like you say, it would be a regrettable loss because of her competence and her familiarity with my case, but that is professional, not personal. And I think there is merit to affording enough meaning to a professional attachment in that regard - that is, we should operate under a very high standard of care when it comes to therapy, that it should all be considered professional work no matter what.
 
Also having this problem of feeling like I'm doing things wrong and also wondering if I'm trying to process something that's already been processed, since I've felt no emotions relating to the trauma after the first emdr session I did by myself.
 
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