Therapy problems- T misunderstanding or I'm lying to myself (long)

Muttly

MyPTSD Pro
As I am having troubles really letting this go, I am going to make a post. I will try not to make it be too long. So background, I have been seeing my T for over 6 or 7 years now. And up until this year it has been good. Starting November of last year my life got hard. I was having significant financial issues which ended in my home. I managed to work it so I found a place to live with my pets so it ends well but it was rough. And I lost a lot. Oh well. And my dog died. I loved her more than I've ever loved anyone, human or animal. Around the same time my T was dealing with health issues and for a while had no hot water and her life was super stressful. And then covid hit and life got even crazier. My insurance will not reimburse me for anything right now for my T because she's out of network and they don't cover telehealth out of network. So T is giving me a super discounted rate. Virtually free. I totally appreciate this. And feel bad. I know it's her choice but I definitely don't want to take advantage.

She was a bit inconsistent in her availability for scheduling and communication but she had a lot going on. I got it. It wasn't too bad so I just moved on. And this summer it felt like I'd made a lot of progress and was doing the best I had in years (decades?). We went to once a month. And then things started to fall apart for me. I crashed. And she was still a bit inconsistent in her communication and availability. And there was a point where she'd said we could talk and asked my schedule and said in worst case we could briefly touch base over the weekend. And then she didn't respond to my email about my availability and talking and diidn't follow up and nothing happened. So a protector came out and said she'd been a little flaky.

T will insist that didn't upset her and she's been very honest with us, but this is one point where we don't believe her. Partially because at one point she did say the comment was a bit triggering. Partially because of her tone of voice. And I feel really bad. What we said, we didn't mean as the criticism it came out as. We have flaky friends. We are flaky. We are comfortable with flaky. Anyway, T and us talked a lot about this and it seemed like we worked things out. It was a hard process. One of the comments she made, that we tried to let go of but obviously stuck is how much money she could have been making if I was a full paying client. She said that in the context of making us understand that if this isn't working for us, then it doesn't make sense to continue? (something like that). And to show how dedicated she is to us. And we know that. We know she's been super helpful and giving and we deeply appreciate that.

But problems with scheduling have persisted. And maybe we haven't been as pushy about that as possible because we are the client who is basically not paying. We have brought it up multiple times and asked to be put on a cancel list. And she has been less responsive to emails. But she had another surgery so that's understandable. So we've been maybe holding back some. And maybe we haven't been communicating what we should have done. So we sent her an email when we were super melty.

The reply we got back and it's thrown us for a loop. She told us she can't help us. Said that several times. She said we have shown no resolve in us to separate the past from the present. That we don't care about our insiders. That similar to someone who is drinking or doing drugs, we are doing stuff that is harmful and makes therapy ineffective. Etc. And .... either her current perception of us is way off or our perception of us is way off.

I mean, it wasn't like nothing she said is true. We haven't stopped feeling the impact of anniversaries. It;s gotten better though. We do still sometimes talk about past stuff (I thought that's what therapy was for?). We were engaging in unhealthy bdsm behavior that was replaying old stuff. We stopped that and have been transitioning to a healthier kink life-style. And we've expressed questions and concerns about that, because it has been only unhealthy for us in the past. But we've also shared progress and healing experiences with T. And it seemed like T was supportive of that. We had slipped into not eating enough again. That's true. In the last session though, we had agreed to work on that and have. She mentioned us intentionally not sleeping or resting and I don't even know where the f*ck she's gotten that except we've been talking about issues with fatigue for months now. We also mentioned multiple times setting up an appointment with the psych nurse to try meds again.She never once responded to that. We did finally do it (next week is the appointment). And that's one of the steps we are trying to take to see if the fatigue is depression or something else. Taking care of the body is one of the biggest ways we have changed. I guess T hasn't realized that. And the comment about the insiders hurt the most. Because the last session was all about the insiders. And we spent time creating a hiding space for everyone. That's what T wanted and we did it. Some in session and more later. We sent her an email after that about how it helped and we were working on making hiding spaces for everyone. So to get that comment from her really hurt. Like what we worked on didn't matter.

So we sent an email back to her going into the things we do to take care of the body. How we've been talking about fatigue for ages and that we had gone to the doctor to rule out continued sinus infection issues and had scheduled a psych nurse appointment. Pointed out that much of the time in our emails to her and in session, we been talking about current stuff- work, our dog, covid, and the bdsm. That the present is a huge part of our life. Said how we talk to her about the struggles because we thought that's what therapy was for. Asked if she wanted us to talk about the good stuff. Asked her to clarify why she thinks we've shown no resolve in leaving the past in the past. Also said we would not send her anymore emails when we melty. Her reply was "good". And then that she looked forward to talking more and wasn't mad at us. (Someone asked that). And that she would like to hear more about the positive stuff. She didn't answer or acknowledge our question about why she thinks we not trying to leave the past in the past.

And maybe it's just a massive misunderstanding. Or maybe we are lying to ourselves at such a deep level that none of us have a clue. Either way, it sort of makes therapy with her feel pointless. If it's a massive understanding... I mean... after all this time I guess she doesn't know us anymore. (And why did she make assumptions without asking questions - regarding the body/fatigue?). Or we aren't even trying and she can't help us. And, maybe we are being an asshole, but after that massive email from her, the short reply to us wasn't good enough. Not when there's been so much misunderstanding. My next session is 12/24. I'm tempted to cancel that, and go the first January session and just end things. I am trying not to be reactive and I've been with her so long, I don't want to just throw things away. At the same time. Right now my trust for her is at an all time low. And then that sneaking voice comes wondering if we've lost our mind and our completely deceiving ourselves.
 

Teamwork

MyPTSD Pro
Your in the tough place of thinking money could help resolve it. Which is how I feel given I’m pro-bono after paying for 4 years then money ran out and he said he would keep going. About 6 months later he said every two weeks wasn’t sustainable and he could do every 4 weeks. We’ve never had a rupture like you are describing but we just don’t send the nasty emails anymore. He ignored them anyway or would just say a face to face was better to help with the understanding. I always think about money now as the fix and I feel like your saying the same thing. Think about as many ways as possible to be respectful of this person whom you do value and encourage anyone who lashes out to also be respectful because respecting someone who is helping is never about money.
 

Justmehere

Moderator
Around the same time my T was dealing with health issues and for a while had no hot water and her life was super stressful.

And then things started to fall apart for me. I crashed. And she was still a bit inconsistent in her communication and availability.

Partially because at one point she did say the comment was a bit triggering.

And then she didn't respond to my email about my availability and talking and diidn't follow up and nothing happened. So a protector came out and said she'd been a little flaky.

She told us she can't help us. Said that several times.
There are a lot of things going on for her personally that give me a lot of pause.

Her words: It's really inappropriate for her to be expressing to you that she is triggered by what is going on for you, she is very stressed, she doesn't have heat, etc, etc.

Her actions: She has been inconsistent and brining a lot of her stuff into the session.

These are signs of a therapist who is struggling to maintain her own stuff and help you recover.

I don't know if you should continue or not. Perhaps it's not so much a question of for sure continuing with this therapist or completely quitting, but rather that it is time to look for other supports, maybe a consult with a different therapist and consider different options. It may be time to begin to think about graduating on to the next chapter of the journey.
 

Muttly

MyPTSD Pro
@Teamwork I don't think money would solve this. I'm not sure what can solve this. I do wonder it it's part of what created the problem. If her keeping me on at the sliding scale is really too much for her and yet she feels obligated to keep me on because she's a caring person.

Think about as many ways as possible to be respectful of this person whom you do value and encourage anyone who lashes out to also be respectful because respecting someone who is helping is never about money.

I guess I don't really understand what you mean here? I don't equate money and respect. Respect is just how I feel people should be treated. Or are you saying that we should just accept what we get from T?

@Justmehere Your post reminded me of what brought the protector out, when he sent T the email. It was two things. First it was her saying we'd talk, if nothing else over the weekend and that falling through. But that was the second thing. The first thing happened in the previous session. The session started and T was just sort of all over the place. Looking for her pen, needing water, fixing her computer. And she made some comment about, "only being like this" with me. And that freaked the protector out. And after his email, when we talked, protector did bring that up. And T did talk about how that was inappropriate but she'd been squeezing us in between paying customers. But... T did shift after that.
 

TruthSeeker

MyPTSD Pro
@Teamwork I don't think money would solve this. I'm not sure what can solve this. I do wonder it it's part of what created the problem. If her keeping me on at the sliding scale is really too much for her and yet she feels obligated to keep me on because she's a caring person.



I guess I don't really understand what you mean here? I don't equate money and respect. Respect is just how I feel people should be treated. Or are you saying that we should just accept what we get from T?

@Justmehere Your post reminded me of what brought the protector out, when he sent T the email. It was two things. First it was her saying we'd talk, if nothing else over the weekend and that falling through. But that was the second thing. The first thing happened in the previous session. The session started and T was just sort of all over the place. Looking for her pen, needing water, fixing her computer. And she made some comment about, "only being like this" with me. And that freaked the protector out. And after his email, when we talked, protector did bring that up. And T did talk about how that was inappropriate but she'd been squeezing us in between paying customers. But... T did shift after that.
The situation sounds like you all don't have good boundaries: a) too much personal info from her and b) unclear expectations about your communication, and c) her specifics about how she is handling you pro bono...the details of how she manages her own financial issues is not your issue if she agreed to it....(professionalism on her part is an issue) and I can see why you feel the way you do.

You say you've been with her a long time.....maybe it is time to look around at other options like some have said. Trust is essential for therapy to be of benefit.
 

grit

MyPTSD Pro
Sounds the boundaries of therapist and client have been reversed. IMHO, this is very much when people can be re-traumatized and therapist are considered dangerous and harmful. A client MUST not come to know how hard the life of therapist is FROM THE THERAPIST'S MOUTH. I am really sorry you are in this predicament and though you probably had a lot of help from here...as any relationship not respecting boundaries (especially professional boundaries), this therapist sounds she is failing you not making you feel safe.
 

Survivor3

MyPTSD Pro
It sounds like you still need to be in therapy one way or another so I guess you have to make a decision to either keep going with your present therapist or like someone else mentioned, close that chapter of your life and move on to a new therapist. You need to be with someone who is professional and makes you feel safe.
 

TruthSeeker

MyPTSD Pro
Of course now I want to defend her and say how much she's helped us. How she can be really good and insightful and focused
I had a therapist who didn't respect boundaries.....and who would say things that would make me feel like I wasn't empathizing enough with her issues......and later, going to another therapist, it made trusting someone new so much more challenging. At the same time, I wanted to defend her. As a therapist, she was trained to keep professional boundaries, so not to put you in an awkward position, or cause more harm. Go with your gut.
 

Muttly

MyPTSD Pro
Maybe I haven't given a fair representation of her side though? And I know I'm all over the place right now on this. I just... she helped so much in the past. And she really is very kind. I don't get how things could have changed.

I guess I have another question. she'd sent us an email with a link to an article and asked us to email us our thoughts. we sent her an email back saying we'd wanted to respond but were holding back because our next appointment wasn't for another 3 weeks and it was hard to go there. She'd replied if a spot opened up sooner she'd get us in. the next day we sent her a stupid email where we were melty and said " k, maybe you shouldn't worry about us. maybe we should just stop being stupid and be fine. you give us basically free therapy. should just be happy with what we get. we just being stupid and whiny anyway. maybe we aren't a nice person anymore. maybe we just gonna screw everything up anyway." we followed that up the next day with an email apologizing and saying we'd been in a bad head space and gave her reasons why. It was in response to that, that she sent her email. I guess the question is, if she was going to say things like she couldn't really help us and we haven't shown the resolve to change and all that, shouldn't she have waited until the appointment we had scheduled?

Anyway, I'm sending her this email

"Hi,

I am stuck on the fact you said, several times, in your last email that you can't help me. If that's the case, there really is no point in seeing you. I don't need to see you to help me feel less alone. I'm also confused and unsettled by how completely out of step with each other we seem to be right now. Clearly we (you and I) have stuff to figure out. Our next appointment was scheduled to be on the 24th, but I don't really feel like thrashing this out on Christmas eve so I am canceling that appointment, which means we will see you on January 8th."
 

Justmehere

Moderator
Maybe I haven't given a fair representation of her side though? And I know I'm all over the place right now on this. I just... she helped so much in the past. And she really is very kind. I don't get how things could have changed.
Sometimes helping is knowing when one can't help. It is not inconsistent with her character to mention you may be dealing with things she doesn't have the right tools to address right now. That doesn't make her unkind or uncaring. It doesn't eliminate the very good work of the past. Recovery can be like training for a sport - sometimes different coaches and training techniques are needed at different times.

it's also very possible that circumstances and abilities in her life can change over time too. It sounds like she has a lot of personal stuff going on on her life. She can truly care and want to help and it's just simply not within what she's able to do right now.

It doesn't make it less confusing to experience inside of it happening though.

So many therapeutic relationships fall apart over email battles that may not have happened if the client and therapist had been able to talk face to face. It was wise of you to hold off on diving into the article. It is wise to put off a hard conversation

I think you have a good path forward to talk to her in person about what happened on email.

Do you know what you would like to gain from therapy?
 

Skywatcher

MyPTSD Pro
Maybe I haven't given a fair representation of her side though? And I know I'm all over the place right now on this. I just... she helped so much in the past. And she really is very kind. I don't get how things could have changed.

I guess I have another question. she'd sent us an email with a link to an article and asked us to email us our thoughts. we sent her an email back saying we'd wanted to respond but were holding back because our next appointment wasn't for another 3 weeks and it was hard to go there. She'd replied if a spot opened up sooner she'd get us in. the next day we sent her a stupid email where we were melty and said " k, maybe you shouldn't worry about us. maybe we should just stop being stupid and be fine. you give us basically free therapy. should just be happy with what we get. we just being stupid and whiny anyway. maybe we aren't a nice person anymore. maybe we just gonna screw everything up anyway." we followed that up the next day with an email apologizing and saying we'd been in a bad head space and gave her reasons why. It was in response to that, that she sent her email. I guess the question is, if she was going to say things like she couldn't really help us and we haven't shown the resolve to change and all that, shouldn't she have waited until the appointment we had scheduled?

Anyway, I'm sending her this email

"Hi,

I am stuck on the fact you said, several times, in your last email that you can't help me. If that's the case, there really is no point in seeing you. I don't need to see you to help me feel less alone. I'm also confused and unsettled by how completely out of step with each other we seem to be right now. Clearly we (you and I) have stuff to figure out. Our next appointment was scheduled to be on the 24th, but I don't really feel like thrashing this out on Christmas eve so I am canceling that appointment, which means we will see you on January 8th."
This is an example of why my T and I no longer communicate via email. It caused Too many misunderstandings and frequently triggered me. Actually, I write and she reads. That system works best for us. Does she have time to do a phone call? That might really help you.
 
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