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Massive backfire in therapy - don't know what to do

beaneeboo

MyPTSD Pro
Went to T tonight. During the week, I sent him an email (which I'm not supposed to do) with info in it from another professional who writes/ does educational videos on dissociative disorders. (This person has a clinic which specialises in dissociative disorders and is well regarded). I told him about what I have found interesting about this information and that I think, as the videos suggest, that I should start trying to communicate with my parts.

I also wrote how I'm feeling stuck in therapy because so much happens during the week which i can't bring to the therapy room. Because I can't remember it, or, if I've made a log of different feelings / thoughts / states I experience, I then can't relate to what I've written and it feels too big to discuss in a 50 min session. So then I don't bring it. And the gap between therapy and what happens between sessions gets wider. I need more structure and options to manage this and him to help with this - didn't say that last bit. I hoped the videos would give us suggestions. Including working on my increasingly failing memory.

When I went in the room he was welcoming and asked me to tell him about it all which i felt relieved about because I thought I'd done something wrong by emailing. But he then quickly started questioning the material that I'd brought, in an consistent negative way. Didn't agree with alot of it. I felt he was gently challenging me on the other guy's view points. T's body language and eyes told me he wasn't interested in really hearing why I felt these videos struck a cord. He was waiting to prove they weren't as useful as I thought.

It then got more heated and he started saying he felt to blame (I think because I'd said I felt stuck in therapy?) and that we'd spent 9 months building trust and that I was now bringing this to session, and he didn't know what to do because he's not trained in those therapy approaches... and doesn't have access to this material (which is incorrect - all the videos are free on line)... I think he felt threatened that I was saying someone else knows how to do therapy and you don't. But that's not at all what I was saying.

At this point I dissociated really badly. For the whole session. A protector and young part came out (first time that's happened) and I couldn't speak hardly at all, move or say much during the whole session. I lost time. Couldn't make sense of my body.

I felt he was telling me that the trust was broken because of what I'd brought. I felt threatened and that he was angry and felt I'd done something really wrong. He told me I hadn't and he was my ally and that all my reactions were hard for me but really useful to share more with him so he can understand more about what happens and what triggers me/ how I react....I simultaneously felt gas lit because he said those things to me and pointed a finger which triggered that reaction, then the session was about me and my reaction - not how he had triggered it. He did say he realised he needs to be more careful and handle these things with more care. I don't think he said sorry but I felt he should have done.

We went over the session by 20 minutes because he made sure I was back in the room... and feeling OK enough to leave...

I don't know what to think now. I'm very confused. This is someone I've spent 10 months building a relationship with who I've told the most amount I have to anyone. And in 1 session I now don't know who he is to me, or whether I can trust him.

Do I go back? Or do I walk away from what feels like it was a breach of power and trust? Very confused and upset right now.
 
So sorry that happened.

If it were me, I'd need a week or so to process, and maybe time to bring it up in another therapy session to make sure I interpreted what happened correctly.

For example, it's not technically impossible that the therapist MEANT to say that he wasn't sure if he was the right fit anymore, or if the therapy in the video was going to be generally therapeutic to you. Maybe he didn't mean to be attacking you, and meant to try to get your feedback.

You are allowed to fire any therapist at any time if you don't feel safe, though. You can just stop seeing him if you feel that's the right, safest step for you.

I'm just saying, knowing me, I'd need more clarification before I ditched. Miscommunications are common. I would just make sure before I, personally, acted, unless it was not safe to return at all.

I do find it distressing that the therapist didn't seem to react to you being able to reach out to him with information. That does take a certain level of vulnerability, and it means a lot that this reaction left you dissociated and upset. And to seemingly have the therapist appear frustrated that you've been working together for so long and "only just" brought this up, or having him be clearly uncertain of how to react to trauma therapy? If I have it right?

I would be confused also. Give yourself a lot of self care today, and give yourself a pat on the back for at least trying to be vulnerable
 
It sounds like it was a very distressing session, but from the outside looking in, it doesn’t read like there’s any broken trust. Just…it was really friggin difficult.

Therapists do specialise. And asking a therapist who does Specialty A, “have you considered specialty B because I think that would be helpful to me” isn’t a wrong or bad thing to do. But it is asking them to do something that they don’t do, and don’t have the training to offer.

It should never (ever) be the case that a therapist watches a series of YouTube videos and then proceeds to start practicing an entirely different therapy modality to the one they’re trained and qualified in. Not ever.

I have DID, and (unfortunately) that means I need a T that specialises in DID treatment. I can’t find a trauma therapist, and direct them to some online info sources about DID, and ask them to do DID as well. If they did? It would be incredibly unprofessional.

At times, this has meant going to 3 different therapists at a time. Because they each offered different modalities. Which is expensive, and immensely stressful.
 
Oh @beaneeboo . I hear you. Haven been through ruptures with T like this, they are so so so painful and horrible and confusing. Sitting with you.

But he then quickly started questioning the material that I'd brought, in a consistent negative way. Didn't agree with alot of it. I felt he was gently challenging me on the other guy's view points. T's body language and eyes told me he wasn't interested in really hearing why I felt these videos struck a cord. He was waiting to prove they weren't as useful as I thought
When T’s quickly express their views like this, I think it is them bringing in their own stuff and it’s a mistake and not in tune moment from them. That hits hard. It sounds like your T misjudged how he should respond to this.
It then got more heated and he started saying he felt to blame (I think because I'd said I felt stuck in therapy?) and that we'd spent 9 months building trust and that I was now bringing this to session, and he didn't know what to do because he's not trained in those therapy approaches... and doesn't have access to this material (which is incorrect - all the videos are free on line)..
I wonder if this was him saying, in a clumsy and misjudged way, that he doesn’t have access to the materials from a trained therapist perspective as opposed to someone viewing the videos.
I think also, maybe he was trying to take responsibility for how you feel stuck, as it’s his job to help you progress. I think him using the word ‘blame’ might also be a mistake. You both do create the space together, but he is responsible for helping you. There is no blame.
think he felt threatened that I was saying someone else knows how to do therapy and you don't. But that's not at all what I was saying.
when I think my T is feeling something (particularly in a rupture like this) it usually turns out I am wrong. Even though it feels so right in the moment. Perhaps there is another message he was trying to say(but getting it wrong)?
At this point I dissociated really badly. For the whole session. A protector and young part came out (first time that's happened) and I couldn't speak hardly at all, move or say much during the whole session. I lost time. Couldn't make sense of my body.
I’m not surprised. Ruptures like this are very triggering.
I felt he was telling me that the trust was broken because of what I'd brought. I felt threatened and that he was angry and felt I'd done something really wrong
i wonder if how he was has reminded you of something a long time ago? Usually in these ruptures we end up regressing and reenacting from the past. And T’s can then get pulled into the projection, by bringing in their stuff, and it ends in a shit show of a session, with you feeling horrendous and confused about what has happened. And it’s hard work getting out of it and repairing the relationship.
He told me I hadn't and he was my ally and that all my reactions were hard for me but really useful to share more with him so he can understand more about what happens and what triggers me/ how I react
I’m glad he said that. And he is right That this is useful stuff and helpful for him to learn more about you and help you progress. Now might not be the time to be able to digest it, but once these feelings abide a bit, then it might be.
react....I simultaneously felt gas lit because he said those things to me and pointed a finger which triggered that reaction, then the session was about me and my reaction - not how he had triggered it.
Yeah. It feels shit. 100%.
He did say he realised he needs to be more careful and handle these things with more care
good. This is him reflecting and taking responsibility. It’s also him showing you he cares.
don't think he said sorry but I felt he should have done
Yep. He still can say sorry.
We went over the session by 20 minutes because he made sure I was back in the room... and feeling OK enough to leave
This is him showing you care. making sure you’re ok enough to get home.
I don't know what to think now. I'm very confused. This is someone I've spent 10 months building a relationship with who I've told the most amount I have to anyone. And in 1 session I now don't know who he is to me, or whether I can trust him.
The trust is broken in this session. But it really really can be rebuilt.
Do I go back? Or do I walk away from what feels like it was a breach of power and trust?
If you can, I 1000000% would recommend working this through. As awful as it is now, it can be worked through. I’ve done it. One really really painful rupture with my T: it took several sessions to work through and it was only when she apologised about three sessions after that I was able to let go the hurt i felt she caused. That was 2 years ago (nearly to the day). It really can be worked through.

unfortunately, these ruptures are all part of the therapy process. Like I always say, someone needs to invent a far less painful way to heal. These ruptures, and the repair that comes, are meant to be healing. So they say…..

sitting with you in the meantime.
 
It sounds like it was a very distressing session, but from the outside looking in, it doesn’t read like there’s any broken trust. Just…it was really friggin difficult.

Therapists do specialise. And asking a therapist who does Specialty A, “have you considered specialty B because I think that would be helpful to me” isn’t a wrong or bad thing to do. But it is asking them to do something that they don’t do, and don’t have the training to offer.
Honestly, in my opinion the therapist did a bad job. He should've said: it is not my specialty and I disagree with what's said in the video. This means it is up to you to decide whether you'd like to seek a new therapist or continue our work because you know yourself best. Instead he went on a rampage. He clearly was triggered and didn't know how to deal with his countertransference.

It should never (ever) be the case that a therapist watches a series of YouTube videos and then proceeds to start practicing an entirely different therapy modality to the one they’re trained and qualified in. Not ever.

I have DID, and (unfortunately) that means I need a T that specialises in DID treatment. I can’t find a trauma therapist, and direct them to some online info sources about DID, and ask them to do DID as well. If they did? It would be incredibly unprofessional.

At times, this has meant going to 3 different therapists at a time. Because they each offered different modalities. Which is expensive, and immensely stressful.
From what I know you're totally right: finding therapists specialized in DID is hard (to find good ones).
 
and he didn't know what to do because he's not trained in those therapy approaches... and doesn't have access to this material (which is incorrect - all the videos are free on line)...
That like telling my GP he can so perform my shoulder surgery, all the videos are available on line. (Which they are.) Whole durn books have been written on the subject. (Which they have been.)

Getting trained, supervised, and certified in therapeutic modalities? Isn’t as simple as watching a video, or reading a book.

They take months and years and tens of thousands of dollars, and “practice-clients” with easy-peasy simple issues, that they work with first, before working their way up to clients with full blown disorders, and big complicated issues, before they go to work solo (without supervision of a therapist not only trained in the modality, but also trained to teach/supervise that modality), where most therapists then restart the easy-client to challenging-client path, as they feel more proficient/able.

Therapists DO spend that time and money in the specialties they practice/are interested in. But even if yours decides he wants to take his practice that way? (And a lot, who already specialize in dissociative disorders absolutely do NOT, for very good reasons. There are some fantastic symposiums -with experts from every position/opinion- and articles published in ethics journals… if you’re interested.

So even if he was thrilled to take on a new modality, and take his practice in that direction? He wouldn’t be using it with you. Because getting trained and proficient? Takes time.

I don't know what to think now. I'm very confused. This is someone I've spent 10 months building a relationship with who I've told the most amount I have to anyone. And in 1 session I now don't know who he is to me, or whether I can trust him.

Do I go back? Or do I walk away from what feels like it was a breach of power and trust? Very confused and upset right now.
I don’t personally see him saying he’s not trained or able (or agrees with the school of thought) to do this with you as a breech of power & trust.

Disappointing? CERTAINLY!

But it would be a farside cartoon (correspondence course : Home Surgery For Pets, book 1 of 6) level of WTF?!? For him to just wing it, and use you as a Guinea Pig, rather than be up front with you that this isn’t something he does. (That WOULD be an abuse of power and trust.)

Which gives you a couple of options;

- Continue on with him, knowing you won’t be using this modality.
- Find a therapist who IS trained, certified, experienced in this modality, and work with them.
- Both of the above.
 
I've had this happen a couple of times in therapy... It's sooo frustrating. A lot of T's are good when they're in their "expert helper" role and totally freaking useless when anything happens to challenge that... Honestly, the average person on the street has more ability to deal with criticism or being challenged. Sigh...

Most recently, I had to take a break when this happened in therapy... After that break, we managed to heal the breach and find common ground again and are now doing successful work, but omg... T's can be suuuch freaking snowflakes about stuff...
 
I’ve definitely read it differently. There was quite a bit of mind-reading going on in the initial post - is it possible that he was having a detailed conversation with you about the material you emailed him, and not ‘freaking out’?

Certainly there wasn’t anything in the post that read as though he was going ‘on a rampage’…?
 
He clearly was triggered and didn't know how to deal with his countertransference.
How did you determine that a man you’ve never met, and have no access to his medical/psych records…

A) Has a disorder that includes being triggered as part of its constellation of symptoms?

B) Was triggered (by what & how?)?

C) Is experiencing countertransferance?
 
When I went in the room he was welcoming and asked me to tell him about it all which i felt relieved about because I thought I'd done something wrong by emailing. But he then quickly started questioning the material that I'd brought, in an consistent negative way. Didn't agree with alot of it. I felt he was gently challenging me on the other guy's view points. T's body language and eyes told me he wasn't interested in really hearing why I felt these videos struck a cord. He was waiting to prove they weren't as useful as I thought.

It then got more heated and he started saying he felt to blame (I think because I'd said I felt stuck in therapy?) and that we'd spent 9 months building trust and that I was now bringing this to session, and he didn't know what to do because he's not trained in those therapy approaches... and doesn't have access to this material (which is incorrect - all the videos are free on line)... I think he felt threatened that I was saying someone else knows how to do therapy and you don't. But that's not at all what I was saying.

At this point I dissociated really badly. For the whole session. A protector and young part came out (first time that's happened) and I couldn't speak hardly at all, move or say much during the whole session. I lost time. Couldn't make sense of my body.

I felt he was telling me that the trust was broken because of what I'd brought. I felt threatened and that he was angry and felt I'd done something really wrong. He told me I hadn't and he was my ally and that all my reactions were hard for me but really useful to share more with him so he can understand more about what happens and what triggers me/ how I react....I simultaneously felt gas lit because he said those things to me and pointed a finger which triggered that reaction, then the session was about me and my reaction - not how he had triggered it. He did say he realised he needs to be more careful and handle these things with more care. I don't think he said sorry but I felt he should have done..

How did you determine that a man you’ve never met, and have no access to his medical/psych records…

A) Has a disorder that includes being triggered as part of its constellation of symptoms?

B) Was triggered (by what & how?)?

C) Is experiencing countertransferance?
Giving what op wrote (see quote above), it's clear that the therapist:

A) may have trauma himself

B) got triggered by op's attempt at sharing what might work for her (therapist read this as a dangerous challenge to his status as a therapist)

C) was experiencing countertransference and probably realized it afterwards, hence saying "he should handle these cases better"

Pretty obvious to me!
 
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