Seeing two therapists at the same time?

barefoot

MyPTSD Pro
I’m in a dilemma and it would be useful to get some views here...

I’ve heard that it’s generally not best practice to see two therapists at the same time. Because it could get too overwhelming or the two may conflict/get confusing somehow. That said:

I now find myself in a position where I have been seeing a private therapist for almost six years (jeez..where did that time go?!) We have been through some ups and downs (usually due to me suddenly freaking out about our relationship!) I like her. I (mostly!) trust her. I still toggle through stages where I either want to talk to her all the time because we feel close and she feels important to me and that feels comforting and safe...and times when I want to run for the hills and fantasise about falling out with her/firing her! I probably still need to work on attachment stuff...!

We’ve done good work together and I’ve made lots of progress. Sometimes it feels like we’ve got a bit....comfortable, maybe? But I am still finding it useful seeing her. In particular, I think it’s good for me to have a person/space/time that feels safe to think and talk about how I feel as I find that hard and probably wouldn’t really do it with anyone else!

I have now been offered EMDR through the NHS. I’m quite intrigued to try it.

I’ve had three information gathering online session appointments with the NHS therapist and like her well enough at this point, I think. I don’t feel any need/want to focus too much on us building our relationship as that’s the part I often feel uncomfortable with about my private therapist and I don’t need to now create that with someone else. So long as I like and trust the NHS woman enough to tell her some stuff and do some useful work, I think that’ll do.

NHS EMDR would be trauma focused.

With my private therapist, we talk about all sorts...Historical trauma stuff, here and now stresses, my family’s gloopy dynamics, my challenges with the therapeutic relationship, we do quite a lot of stuff around work/building my business...so there can be very different flavours to our sessions depending on the topic and, of course, whatever the topic, she also knows the historical therapeutic contexts that frame everything.

I was initially told that it would likely be a two year waiting list before the NHS treatment but it is suddenly potentially starting next month! (Though first phase would be prep - not launching straight into processing sessions)

I did flag to my private therapist in the new year that I’d got a GP referral to the NHS service but, at that point, I had only had an initial assessment phone call and it was going to be a really long wait so it wasn’t really massively relevant at that point to talk practicalities around how that would work. I was actually pretty sure that I wouldn’t ultimately want the NHS offering. I haven’t told my private therapist that I have now had three info gathering appointments with the NHS and that I’ve now been offered EMDR...she still thinks I’ve got a couple of years to wait.

I had told the NHS service that I’ve had private therapy and, until today, no one had really asked about it. She asked today when I stopped seeing my private therapist...and the question sort of threw me because, obviously, I haven’t stopped seeing her. In the moment, I sort of panicked and blurted out that I stopped seeing her sometime last year. I now feel bad for lying about it but also assume that, if I had been honest, they would have said I’d need to stop.

I don’t feel that I want to stop seeing my private therapist right now. We’re in the middle of some useful family dynamics stuff that I want to crack on with. Plus, I feel too attached to her (ugh!) to just stop suddenly. I also feel that this time of global crisis isn’t the best start to suddenly lose my consistent support person. And I think, if there is negative fallout from EMDR processing sessions, I could pick that up each week with my private therapist, which could be useful.

I’m wondering if I can keep the work with each person quite separate whether it could work quite well to have two resources?

But then, I don’t know...would I have to ‘come clean’ to both? The fact that I already lied today and said when I stopped seeing my private T feels very uncomfortable....but I also don’t really know how I come clean now without looking like a liar!

Sorry, long ramble...I think I would particularly like some input around these areas:

- Anyone have any experiences of working successfully with two therapists with different modalities at the same time?
- Any tips on how to make it work most effectively?
- Interested in any experiences where it didn’t work out as well.
- Any advice on whether to let them both know about the other? I am naturally someone who tends towards transparency...I doesn’t feel good to me to fib or mislead...And the most natural thing to me would just to be open and honest about what I’m doing...but I suspect that coming clean in this context will end up meaning that I’ll have to lose one of the supports...either my long term therapist who (rightly or wrongly!) I’m pretty emotionally invested in or giving up the option of trying a new modality for now.

Thank you!
 

Teamwork

MyPTSD Pro
That’s quite the dilemma. Wondering if you should be honest with private t as a whole lot can get unearthed but potentially resolved with emdr and your support from private t can and should look different during this time. Is there in telling private t the truth a chance she would have to close your file?
 

barefoot

MyPTSD Pro
It is @Teamwork ! Thanks for reading my long ramble!

I'm not sure what my private T's take on it will be. When I first said to her about my GP referring me to the NHS trauma service, she seemed very baffled by it and wanted to know what I was seeking/hoping to get from it. I think she was probably trying to see if I was saying I wasn't getting what I needed from her or trying to see whether she could do something different. And she was fine about it but I felt awkward...but then, anyway, I downplayed it a lot by saying that I wouldn't get access for another year or two anyway so we didn't need to think about it now... And I said I didn't even know if I would want to do it at that point anyway as I didn't just want generic CBT.

So, we haven't talked about it since.

I guess I could raise it by saying they've now offered me EMDR and I'm tempted to try and then see what she says? My initial feeling is that she wouldn't say I'd have to take a break from her while I did that. But I don't know...perhaps that's me wishful thinking! I don't think she would see it as ideal that we pause our work together a) so suddenly and b) during a major global crisis – especially as this wouldn't be me consciously and positively deciding I want to pause but rather someone else telling me I have to stop. But I really don't know...she may have a very hard line 'no' on parallel therapy...
 

grit

MyPTSD Pro
Hey Barefoot, first and foremost congrats for getting EMDR that you waited for so long! and second: Easy on you...I think you are a bit hard on yourself and this is in reference to
I had told the NHS service that I’ve had private therapy and, until today, no one had really asked about it. She asked today when I stopped seeing my private therapist...and the question sort of threw me because, obviously, I haven’t stopped seeing her. In the moment, I sort of panicked and blurted out that I stopped seeing her sometime last year. I now feel bad for lying about it but also assume that, if I had been honest, they would have said I’d need to stop.


I think your struggle is quite natural and if I may go one step below (without knowing you fully) I think your struggle is more about guilt feelings that perhaps you lied to one person or two. I think you have the right to health privacy and even though it is good practice to tell everything to your therapist, EVERY ADULT has the right to mental thoughts privacy and parts of themselves that they do not share with anyone. We are all individuals so you do not need to tell everything but yet you choose what to tell. It is empowering to be able to say therapist, I have not stopped seeing my private therapist and I did not know I suppose to ...and if the conversation keeps going to say I have had her for a long time so if I have to choose one, I need enough time for termination...and usually termination can be as long as a year! You have to decide that with your therapist (only you two and especially you know the length needed).

All that said, if you are paying both therapist or one from out of pocket, IMHO, you can keep them both - after all it is your money. If they are covered, that may be legally and morally questionable and your best bet is to get the right information about keeping them - are you allowed or for how long? This should be easy answer to find.

I want to add a quick comment, if your private therapist is good and worth her money, she will be very supportive for you to get EMDR and will support you - they are not the same modality so they should not conflict to a point.

Now again with all that said, I do not know the reason why having two therapist is frowned upon usually. I personally never understood but I also know that one can have therapist and group therapist so that is allowed or in couple - one can have individual therapist. I could be wrong and there are many people on here who have much advanced experience in this area than me but I think one reason most therapist do not prefer two therapists simultaneously is something called triangulation which can have both negative and positive affects in relationship and maybe this is one reason - triad is not recommended.

At the end, I personally do not see what you are doing as wrong and you are not lying as much as you maybe were flustered and felt your boundary crossed and/or vulnerable but you have the right to privacy of decisions and answers (edited).
 
Hey, I had two therapists for awhile - one specifically for EMDR, the other for talk therapy. I would say as long as you keep each other abreast of anything major going on, it can work.

I know other people here who do the same thing. If EMDR isn't in your private therapist's skillset and she thinks EMDR for you would be a good idea, it's worth trying.

I don't know how therapy supports work over in the UK but you should definitely research whether accepting EMDR from an NHS therapist means whether you would have to quit your private therapist. You should do that ASAP.
 

Ronin

MyPTSD Pro
When I do therapy, as in at all?

Yeah, I found it better to have multiple therapists.

XXX (Longer answer / personal preferences)

In part because I easier process everything, trauma included, if I can multitask & switch gears fluidly.

And partly for how I compartmentalize trauma even naturally. My neat boxes well catalogued & closed, meaning I cope, vs the boxes in the attic packed with badly stored explosives.

Might grab a therapist for the usual stuff & other one for the volatile hot pieces until I grab my own cope & hold my ground solid.

So vote for extra resources = useful & do it.

Just because it may not be usual does not mean much...

And, might depend who's asking. My former crew all had two therapists minimum. Some more. Because the lives we led required more than buddy support & keeping an eye out on each other.

Useful as f*ck for learning where to get out of network / alternative & familiar networks, too.

XXX

And no, you don't have to disclose seeing an additional therapist if not insurance & legal issue where you are.

Even then, I'm seeing an additional therapist. - may do the trick.

As in the rest is private.
If any of the Ts think it would be better - in your treatment best interest - to keep in touch or cooperate, those possibilities and comfort with them can be discussed at a later time.
 
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whiteraven

MyPTSD Pro
Any advice on whether to let them both know about the other? I

This wouldn't even be a question for me. I mean, would you go to a GP and a specialist and not share the meds one puts you on with the other? They both NEED to know what you're processing, in order to be effective in their treatment.

When I first said to her about my GP referring me to the NHS trauma service, she seemed very baffled by it and wanted to know what I was seeking/hoping to get from it. I think she was probably trying to see if I was saying I wasn't getting what I needed from her or trying to see whether she could do something different. And she was fine about it but I felt awkward.

Yeah, she was likely just unsure then about whether you thought she was helping. You say she was fine with it but YOU felt awkward. Thinking this is more about your worry and maybe a concern she will drop you.

I guess I could raise it by saying they've now offered me EMDR and I'm tempted to try and then see what she says?

This sounds good. And hey...it might be helpful for you to decide ahead of time what you will do if she is not on board with it. If I were in the same situation, I would probably not be willing to give up my current therapist. And it would help you to understand where you stand on that.
 

Mach123

MyPTSD Pro
Yes I did. It was fine. I might have had three at once lol. We did an intervention on our family that ended up being about me and we had therapists coming to the house twice a week and I started regular therapy and I don’t remember it all sequentially.

But there were issues that I created mostly by talking too much. I would tell one what the other said, but I was trying to figure out what was going on. Then I was seeing a therapist for a long time and I got a trauma therapist. So I saw both for awhile. I was too insecure to leave him.

It’s funny thinking back on it, I was not in good shape.

But eventually I cut the cords and got off meds and down to one therapist. I did EMDR concurrent with therapy also. It really all runs together those few years.

I would say get all the therapy you can. If you can go twice a week it’ll probably benefit you. I don’t think you can do too much, me personally. : ). I hope you do it and it helps a lot.
 

Survivor3

MyPTSD Pro
I’m in a dilemma and it would be useful to get some views here...

I’ve heard that it’s generally not best practice to see two therapists at the same time. Because it could get too overwhelming or the two may conflict/get confusing somehow. That said:

I now find myself in a position where I have been seeing a private therapist for almost six years (jeez..where did that time go?!) We have been through some ups and downs (usually due to me suddenly freaking out about our relationship!) I like her. I (mostly!) trust her. I still toggle through stages where I either want to talk to her all the time because we feel close and she feels important to me and that feels comforting and safe...and times when I want to run for the hills and fantasise about falling out with her/firing her! I probably still need to work on attachment stuff...!

We’ve done good work together and I’ve made lots of progress. Sometimes it feels like we’ve got a bit....comfortable, maybe? But I am still finding it useful seeing her. In particular, I think it’s good for me to have a person/space/time that feels safe to think and talk about how I feel as I find that hard and probably wouldn’t really do it with anyone else!

I have now been offered EMDR through the NHS. I’m quite intrigued to try it.

I’ve had three information gathering online session appointments with the NHS therapist and like her well enough at this point, I think. I don’t feel any need/want to focus too much on us building our relationship as that’s the part I often feel uncomfortable with about my private therapist and I don’t need to now create that with someone else. So long as I like and trust the NHS woman enough to tell her some stuff and do some useful work, I think that’ll do.

NHS EMDR would be trauma focused.

With my private therapist, we talk about all sorts...Historical trauma stuff, here and now stresses, my family’s gloopy dynamics, my challenges with the therapeutic relationship, we do quite a lot of stuff around work/building my business...so there can be very different flavours to our sessions depending on the topic and, of course, whatever the topic, she also knows the historical therapeutic contexts that frame everything.

I was initially told that it would likely be a two year waiting list before the NHS treatment but it is suddenly potentially starting next month! (Though first phase would be prep - not launching straight into processing sessions)

I did flag to my private therapist in the new year that I’d got a GP referral to the NHS service but, at that point, I had only had an initial assessment phone call and it was going to be a really long wait so it wasn’t really massively relevant at that point to talk practicalities around how that would work. I was actually pretty sure that I wouldn’t ultimately want the NHS offering. I haven’t told my private therapist that I have now had three info gathering appointments with the NHS and that I’ve now been offered EMDR...she still thinks I’ve got a couple of years to wait.

I had told the NHS service that I’ve had private therapy and, until today, no one had really asked about it. She asked today when I stopped seeing my private therapist...and the question sort of threw me because, obviously, I haven’t stopped seeing her. In the moment, I sort of panicked and blurted out that I stopped seeing her sometime last year. I now feel bad for lying about it but also assume that, if I had been honest, they would have said I’d need to stop.

I don’t feel that I want to stop seeing my private therapist right now. We’re in the middle of some useful family dynamics stuff that I want to crack on with. Plus, I feel too attached to her (ugh!) to just stop suddenly. I also feel that this time of global crisis isn’t the best start to suddenly lose my consistent support person. And I think, if there is negative fallout from EMDR processing sessions, I could pick that up each week with my private therapist, which could be useful.

I’m wondering if I can keep the work with each person quite separate whether it could work quite well to have two resources?

But then, I don’t know...would I have to ‘come clean’ to both? The fact that I already lied today and said when I stopped seeing my private T feels very uncomfortable....but I also don’t really know how I come clean now without looking like a liar!

Sorry, long ramble...I think I would particularly like some input around these areas:

- Anyone have any experiences of working successfully with two therapists with different modalities at the same time?
- Any tips on how to make it work most effectively?
- Interested in any experiences where it didn’t work out as well.
- Any advice on whether to let them both know about the other? I am naturally someone who tends towards transparency...I doesn’t feel good to me to fib or mislead...And the most natural thing to me would just to be open and honest about what I’m doing...but I suspect that coming clean in this context will end up meaning that I’ll have to lose one of the supports...either my long term therapist who (rightly or wrongly!) I’m pretty emotionally invested in or giving up the option of trying a new modality for now.

Thank you!
hiya @barefoot , I m in the UK also. And I have to say that lying about your therapy with each therapist is probably a bad idea. It's like setting yourself up in a bad way. Choose which one you want to do and then start again. Refer yourself back. If I remember correctly, when I started counselling my counsellor asked me and said that he wouldn't see me if I was seeing someone else. They say that for a reason. Because otherwise it can f*ck with your head. Good luck and all the best to you. S3.
 

whiteraven

MyPTSD Pro
Refer yourself back. If I remember correctly, when I started counselling my counsellor asked me and said that he wouldn't see me if I was seeing someone else. They say that for a reason. Because otherwise it can f*ck with your head.

Well...I think that depends. If you are seeing one for something like EMDR and another to focus on other things (or, in my case, a psychiatrist for meds who also does some minimal talk therapy and a regular therapist), it can be useful.
 

Ronin

MyPTSD Pro
Can I ask what's up with this non-ethically wise?

Because for a time my both therapists were British. True, both private practice. Though it hasn't been mentioned having more than one is an issue.

So is this a public health care legislative issue, administration, or something else?
 
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