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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 12-28-2020, 07:28 AM Thread Starter
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Feel trapped in therapy


Hey guys, so I'm not feeling that great and therapy and though I might post because I don't know much how to deal with it.

I've been seeing a therapist for some time now, originally for PTSD but we've moved onto other things since. Thing is, even though we started of great for PTSD since we started focusing on other things (e.g. my social anxiety and the likes) I feel like things have totally taken a downward turn. The worst thing is I feel like things just keep getting worse, everytime I sit opposite of her I feel so bad and ashamed and anxious but somehow I can't help but just blurt out everything that goes on in my head (including like deep personal stuff) which I do NOT feel comfortable sharing and it just keeps getting worse. She seems fine just asking more questions which makes me just say even more and just feel worse and worse but somehow I can't stop myself and I just feel totally wrecked after each session.

Can anyone identify? I thought about just like severing ties but I feel like I've already said so much I just wanna turn this around somehow and just STOP saying things which I somehow have just way too much trouble with lol.
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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 12-28-2020, 04:25 PM
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I think you need to tell this to the therapist.

If the therapy isn't helping you, and is making your life worse, its a waste of money and time. But you should bring this up with the therapist, initially.

Compassion focused therapy audio, guided meditations:

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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 12-29-2020, 03:25 AM
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I agree with @SplendidBob so far as bringing it up with your therapist goes, since you should be able to talk to her about anything (that's the goal), but I think this is actually a normal part of the process for any kind of depth therapy.

If you are troubled about something, you will try to avoid talking about it. You will talk about other things instead and try to make those things the things that are bugging you when they're really not the things that are bugging you. But the more you ramble on in therapy, the more you let slip, the more you reveal about your real problems, and the more anxious you are going to get. Because you are actually getting in touch with your real emotions instead of hiding them. It feels terrible to admit those things, but your therapist has probably heard all of it before. I doubt she sees you as some kind of freak or monster.

I have been getting progressively more anxious in my own therapy (I've been in therapy about a year now) but I know it's because we're getting to the real stuff instead of all the superficial stuff I told her about at first. I'm afraid of the real stuff (deathly afraid) but I'm finding it harder and harder to avoid it, so I'm feeling more and more anxious. This kind of experience is completely atypical for something like standard CBT, which is primarily about modifying real-time behavior, but it's very typical for psychoanalytic therapy.

If you have PTSD (my problems started when my therapist started me on EMDR for PTSD) then you're probably doing some kind of depth therapy. So, yes, I can relate. I am actually afraid of my therapy sessions. It is very difficult to admit to another person what you really think about yourself and your problems and let other people into your life. You wouldn't be in therapy if that weren't true. Very few people are ever honest about this, even when they think they're being honest. Probably most of what people complain about here on SAS isn't even what's really bothering them. Not the real, deep, serious stuff. Talking about it is a way of avoiding the real stuff. (Because the real stuff almost always makes you feel like a ****ty excuse for a human being.)

The caveat, ofc, is that you have to be able to trust your therapist. If the reason why you feel worse is because you feel like your therapist doesn't like you or isn't listening to you or is trying to manipulate you into agreeing with things you don't agree with, then you should probably try a new therapist. You must feel like your therapist is your ally. If the problem is that your emotions are too strong for you that's different. In that case, your therapist will probably want to try to establish some more effective stress management techniques. You may need to go through something at the end of the session like I do after EMDR. EMDR completely wrecks me. I have literally curled up in a ball and cried (over the phone, fortunately). But my therapist walks me back after something like that through a centering and relaxation process and then I'm supposed to use that process regularly when I get stressed. And it does actually help. If your anxiety is getting out of control, she needs to know that so that she can slow things down and help you get settled.

My two cents.

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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 12-29-2020, 12:05 PM
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I agree with @SplendidBob so far as bringing it up with your therapist goes, since you should be able to talk to her about anything (that's the goal), but I think this is actually a normal part of the process for any kind of depth therapy.

If you are troubled about something, you will try to avoid talking about it. You will talk about other things instead and try to make those things the things that are bugging you when they're really not the things that are bugging you. But the more you ramble on in therapy, the more you let slip, the more you reveal about your real problems, and the more anxious you are going to get. Because you are actually getting in touch with your real emotions instead of hiding them. It feels terrible to admit those things, but your therapist has probably heard all of it before. I doubt she sees you as some kind of freak or monster.
Very much so, I think. Mind is sneaky like that. I actually know if I am avoiding (in a more general life sense) something, because I feel depressed or anxious. I see the subconscious as a clumsy barking dog. It doesn't have the vocabulary to tell me what's up, it seems to just generate anxiety and depression. I think *gasp* Jordan Peterson might have used that analogy (hah), but it seems to apply well enough to me.

But point is, yes, it's taken me a very long time in therapy to even be able to admit what I want from life, because I avoided even thinking about them, in case I couldn't get them, so I didn't need to try. If I am moving towards those goals, my mood improves, my anxiety improves, the barking dog quietens down.. so for me it's like depression / anxiety are early warning mechanisms. You can try whatever you like to avoid what's really bothering you, but the barking dog won't stop barking until you do, in my experience. Also matches up with CFT, and having the courage to face suffering and act to alleviate it. The biggest suffering is that stuff we pretend aren't the most important things in the world to us, but we are avoiding, and it also takes the most courage to look at.

FWIW I recently had to bring up that I was struggling with therapy since I restarted with my therapist, similar almost to the OP. And I squirmed and squirmed about bring it up with her. I am glad I did though, bringing these difficult things up are a huge valuable part of therapy, because there's a reason we might be anxious to bring them up, and in doing so, with someone who can be trusted to react well, we learn that we can bring them up. Its a massive opportunity to be assertive about our needs, in a relationship where it's perfectly safe to do so. Doing this, has obvious positive carryover to social anxiety, where difficulty asserting is part of the problem.

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I have been getting progressively more anxious in my own therapy (I've been in therapy about a year now) but I know it's because we're getting to the real stuff instead of all the superficial stuff I told her about at first. I'm afraid of the real stuff (deathly afraid) but I'm finding it harder and harder to avoid it, so I'm feeling more and more anxious. This kind of experience is completely atypical for something like standard CBT, which is primarily about modifying real-time behavior, but it's very typical for psychoanalytic therapy.
Good luck, I am sure it will be challenging, but rewarding, and you will get there when you feel its the right time.

Impressed as always with your understanding and ability to honestly self reflect.

Compassion focused therapy audio, guided meditations:

https://balancedminds.com/audio/
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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 12-29-2020, 04:44 PM
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Mind is sneaky like that. I actually know if I am avoiding (in a more general life sense) something, because I feel depressed or anxious. I see the subconscious as a clumsy barking dog. It doesn't have the vocabulary to tell me what's up, it seems to just generate anxiety and depression ... The biggest suffering is that stuff we pretend aren't the most important things in the world to us, but we are avoiding, and it also takes the most courage to look at.
I agree. I think the most painful things we have to deal with are also often the most banal things. We simply do not want to admit that we're childish, petty, selfish, greedy, etc. Or that we want things that we feel we should look down on ourselves for wanting. We don't want to face what we "know to be true" about ourselves when what we "know to be true" is that we're conniving little liars and attention seekers (or other very ignoble things), trying to make ourselves look bigger and badder than we really are. I put "know to be true" in scare quotes because it's what we believe to be true, but isn't necessarily fair or accurate (the overly critical self-awareness being the source of most of our problems).

Because we believe we are really very insignificant and useless and stupid and unlikable but don't want to admit it, we present some other problem. We say the problem is that we're depressed or anxious or that people are being mean to us or that we have this undiagnosed physical problem or whatever because it's easier to admit these things than what we really believe about ourselves. What we really believe about ourselves, the stuff that is really painful, is always something that we refuse to admit.

[This gets pretty meta, so bear with me:] We can even use our own "littleness and worthlessness" as a cover for our true littleness and worthlessness. We can complain to our therapist that the problem is that we feel like worthless, pathetic human beings but at the same time secretly consider ourselves superior to others for being so "honest" and for having "so much insight". This actually displaces our feelings and protects us from really admitting to ourselves how badly we feel about ourselves. As long as I can think about how smart I am for having such great self-insight, and how courageous I am for being able to admit it, and how clever I am for being able to pull one over on my stupid therapist (who isn't half as smart and insightful as I am), I can avoid really facing my true feeling of inadequacy head-on. I give my therapist a simulacrum of worthlessness without ever letting them or myself see what I'm doing. For example, I may consciously feel that I am inferior to other people, and tell my therapist that I feel inferior, and that this feeling of inferiority is the problem, but all the while the real problem might be that I actually feel very superior and feel contempt for other people; but this feeling of superiority and contempt is so ego-dystonic, so contrary to my own values, I'm afraid of admitting it to myself. This is the feeling I repress, not my feeling of inferiority. I don't want to be an arrogant, ungrateful SOB, and I hate myself for being that way, so it's much easier and less painful to feel inferior. And the same can obviously go in the other direction; we can use our conscious feeling of superiority as a disguise for our true feeling of inferiority. I'd rather admit that I'm a narcissist than that I feel powerless and alone. The really painful stuff is not the stuff we can openly acknowledge that is negative (the stuff you bring to the therapist as the presenting problem) but the stuff that you cannot accept. The stuff you reject with the full force of your being. If you could accept it, you probably wouldn't need therapy. And until you do, it will mess you up.

We always try to protect ourselves from the full force of our condemnation, and there is really no end to how sneaky the mind can be about avoiding it. To really see it, and to really accept it, is very hard. It can be worse than death. Which is why many people would rather commit suicide than face it. "If I have to be that kind of person, I'd rather not be here at all." We fear we are the very kind of person that we hate (the kind we really hate, not the kind we pretend to hate), so we pretend to be something else. We'll know we have seen our true self, and accepted it, when we feel true compassion for ourselves. As long as we feel contempt for our own littleness and worthlessness, we are still in the grip of the harsh, critical censor that is creating all of our problems. Mental health IS, imo, the feeling of compassion for oneself.

And thanks. Good luck to you, as well.

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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 12-29-2020, 06:04 PM
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@truant I absolutely understand the arrogance that comes from feeling you are more awakened, or insightful, or whatever. Absolutely its a mask. In my case, I have a tendency to do this in order to generate self-esteem for myself, and it's done in a way that looks down on other people, and also justifies my fear of them (they are dangerous, or weak, either means i shouldn't mix with them).

But it also provides a wall for making progress, because if that sense of superiority is propping me up, then its something that has to go in order for me to get back down with the unawoke masses and actually socially integrate (which is what I want all along). But I have built this web of self-esteem, bitterness, and self-delusion all to prop myself up in order to avoid doing the thing I really want to do.

What I want to do, incidentally, is have a fairly regular life. I want companionship, the ability to survive comfortably, and work, and have friendships and connection.

The fabricated maladaptive coping mechanisms prevent that, by seeing others as either inferior, or dangerous.

Is this narcissism? Maybe. /puke., I can certainly empathise with how narcissism develops. I'm not sure it is any more now I can see it and admit it in myself. But yes, very uncomfortable to actually turn towards those aspects of yourself you despise.

It's also necessary, but for me, there is a point where I have to be careful of the critical voice, yes, I have these coping mechanisms, but I am doing my best to unravel them and move forwards.

I may not have fully followed all of your post, though, but I can certainly relate in some way to some of it.

Compassion focused therapy audio, guided meditations:

https://balancedminds.com/audio/
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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-03-2021, 05:45 AM Thread Starter
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Yeah, I feel I've already told my therapist a lot, also that I feel really bad during and after session, in hindsight it might just not've been the right place. I got assigned this therapy due to PTSD and the need for immediate treatment (it was laying heavily on me back then), but after that part was done I thought we'd maybe tackle my anxiety issues, but I guess it just really wasn't the place because then she's admitted since then that this isn't her specialty at all. I feel kinda foolish for wanting to try and solve my problems with her, in hindsight I think it might've never been the place. So I'm cutting it short, I just feel bad because everything I shared with her just seemed to make things worse and make her more stand-offish and anxious and distance herself from me (which I can kinda understand, I can be I think "intense" when I'm like that and just pouring myself all over the place though I never wanna do that I can't help myself). So I do feel terrible about that experience, wish it'd work out in a different way, but I guess this is a good way to end it
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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-04-2021, 02:09 AM
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Yeah, I feel I've already told my therapist a lot, also that I feel really bad during and after session, in hindsight it might just not've been the right place. I got assigned this therapy due to PTSD and the need for immediate treatment (it was laying heavily on me back then), but after that part was done I thought we'd maybe tackle my anxiety issues, but I guess it just really wasn't the place because then she's admitted since then that this isn't her specialty at all. I feel kinda foolish for wanting to try and solve my problems with her, in hindsight I think it might've never been the place. So I'm cutting it short, I just feel bad because everything I shared with her just seemed to make things worse and make her more stand-offish and anxious and distance herself from me (which I can kinda understand, I can be I think "intense" when I'm like that and just pouring myself all over the place though I never wanna do that I can't help myself). So I do feel terrible about that experience, wish it'd work out in a different way, but I guess this is a good way to end it
Nothing you say should be too "intense" for a properly trained therapist. They literally get paid to create a safe space for people to say the craziest things that come to mind. You should NOT be worrying about whether or not you're too annoying or whiney or whatever it is you're afraid of. That fear of honest self-expression--and fear of judgment--is what therapists are trying to help you overcome. One might be forgiven for wondering if you're not becoming avoidant toward therapy for precisely the reason you feel you need therapy (social anxiety).

It sounds like the problem is that she's dealt with the PTSD, which she was assigned to deal with, and that now you're moving onto stuff that falls outside the scope of her assignment. You may want to ask her if she can recommend someone who deals with the kinds of problems you're bringing up.

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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-06-2021, 08:41 AM
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@truant I really relate to the wall between true vulnerability. Not so much as a way to feel better about myself or above others, but kind of a true barrier to allowing myself to be open with others and put myself in a position where I can be hurt by pple again. It's hard to be vulnerable when you weren't taught it was safe or precipitates deeper positive connection. It's hard to say I'm hurt, I'm sad, I'm embarrassed, etc. It's easier for me to say I'm ok, it's fine. No big deal. It's easier for me to pretend happy or show progress on my easier superficial stuff (or stuff I've already learned to handle) in therapy than to dig down deep and show the new layer of secret pain I struggle with.

In my upbringing there were so many things that were a secret, so many things I couldn't speak, so many feelings I had to ignore and hide from myself to survive. Or to not be a burden or criticized or whatever else. This secrecy became a plague in my life til I felt I couldn't share anything except a little online. But recently I've reached a new level of honesty with myself, and to a lesser extent with others, where I can truly express I'm sad, I'm hurt, I'm embarrassed, I regret xyz. I humiliated myself. I don't know what I'm doing. I sense when I'm holding back and challenge myself to share. A large part of that is the safety within therapy (a secure attachment,) that's developed into a newfound safety within myself. I can and will be ok no matter what feelings I face. I can handle them all and contain them all. They won't destroy or overwhelm me. I guess it's the whole finally being consistently able to ground and regulate myself.

I just wrote abt this, but I think my upbringing made me feel I had to be something more than human. Perfect, have it all together, fine, ok not allowed to really express, put on a successful, intelligent person veneer. But now I've learned to be human is to struggle. And to share our vulnerability. And in sharing our vulnerability we open the door to real connection.

(Btw, I'm not talking abt going into like trauma history every time you open your mouth, though it may seem like that cause that's what I choose to share on here. It's as simple as being honest if someone I believe is safe asks me what's wrong. Saying ugh I really humiliated myself 6 yrs ago and I'm suddenly worried pple are talking abt it. Then telling the humiliating thing that happened. It's me challenging the lie that I have to hide everything from everyone. I don't have to keep all my 'insignificant' worries and troubles to myself and just deal with it on my own like I learned to over the course of 3 decades. A trouble shared is a trouble halved. In sharing I allow pple to see my vulnerability and be there for me..and it feels good to learn pple can and are willing to be there for me. Ugh anyways, done rambling. I just come here to preach to myself lol.)
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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-06-2021, 11:17 AM Thread Starter
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Nothing you say should be too "intense" for a properly trained therapist. They literally get paid to create a safe space for people to say the craziest things that come to mind. You should NOT be worrying about whether or not you're too annoying or whiney or whatever it is you're afraid of. That fear of honest self-expression--and fear of judgment--is what therapists are trying to help you overcome. One might be forgiven for wondering if you're not becoming avoidant toward therapy for precisely the reason you feel you need therapy (social anxiety).

It sounds like the problem is that she's dealt with the PTSD, which she was assigned to deal with, and that now you're moving onto stuff that falls outside the scope of her assignment. You may want to ask her if she can recommend someone who deals with the kinds of problems you're bringing up.
Thanks, I feel that sums it up pretty well. I'd sever ties but I feel the therapy is already getting to me a lot so I'm debating trying to talk about it with her and try to figure it out, though going by our history it'd probably only escalate things so not sure if that'll help lol. I'll keep you guys posted for anyone who cares about how this whole thing will reach its end.
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post #11 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-09-2021, 04:57 AM
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Keep us posted, @buggy .

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post #12 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-09-2021, 05:19 AM
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@SparklingWater The way you learn to think and feel about yourself as a child can be really difficult to uproot. I don't think it's impossible, but it takes time and help. And unfortunately most people get too little of either.

The environment I grew up in was probably quite a bit different from yours. There were many secrets in my family, too. Many things that you weren't allowed to talk about (and still aren't). My parents always tried to present a respectable front to other people. But there wasn't much emphasis on being perfect inside the family. There was a lot of chaos, a lot of commotion, a lot of uncertainty. I grew up in a big family, and in a family where most people have some kind of mental illness, so the way I dealt with it was by never being home if I didn't have to be. But I was away so often (at a friend's, or just wandering around the countryside by myself) that I ended up feeling irrelevant/invisible in my own family. I don't think my parents noticed whether I was there or not most of the time. There were too many people to pay attention to. So I ended up being very independent, mentally, but also very adrift. I learned that there would be no support. That nobody cared. That nobody would help me. So I've always tried to do everything on my own. "If you want to do something right, you have to do it yourself." I've taken this to the point of teaching myself psychotherapy.

To this day I can't have a serious conversation with my parents. It just doesn't feel appropriate to share feelings in our family. Which is why half of us don't communicate at all. Even when we are forced to see each other, we just sit around in silence, watching TV. And even in therapy I find it hard to believe that my therapist cares or will actually help me. I feel like it's better to assume nobody does and nobody can. The only person you can count on is yourself. So I always end up holding back in relationships, too. I find it easy to cut ties with people because I never let myself get dependent on them. ("Easy come, easy go.") In a way, this is good, because I also don't care what people think about me. People can talk about me behind my back all they want. I won't lose any sleep over it. But it's a problem because you can't actually do everything yourself. Everyone needs some kind of support.

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post #13 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-02-2021, 03:14 PM Thread Starter
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@SparklingWater The way you learn to think and feel about yourself as a child can be really difficult to uproot. I don't think it's impossible, but it takes time and help. And unfortunately most people get too little of either.

The environment I grew up in was probably quite a bit different from yours. There were many secrets in my family, too. Many things that you weren't allowed to talk about (and still aren't). My parents always tried to present a respectable front to other people. But there wasn't much emphasis on being perfect inside the family. There was a lot of chaos, a lot of commotion, a lot of uncertainty. I grew up in a big family, and in a family where most people have some kind of mental illness, so the way I dealt with it was by never being home if I didn't have to be. But I was away so often (at a friend's, or just wandering around the countryside by myself) that I ended up feeling irrelevant/invisible in my own family. I don't think my parents noticed whether I was there or not most of the time. There were too many people to pay attention to. So I ended up being very independent, mentally, but also very adrift. I learned that there would be no support. That nobody cared. That nobody would help me. So I've always tried to do everything on my own. "If you want to do something right, you have to do it yourself." I've taken this to the point of teaching myself psychotherapy.

To this day I can't have a serious conversation with my parents. It just doesn't feel appropriate to share feelings in our family. Which is why half of us don't communicate at all. Even when we are forced to see each other, we just sit around in silence, watching TV. And even in therapy I find it hard to believe that my therapist cares or will actually help me. I feel like it's better to assume nobody does and nobody can. The only person you can count on is yourself. So I always end up holding back in relationships, too. I find it easy to cut ties with people because I never let myself get dependent on them. ("Easy come, easy go.") In a way, this is good, because I also don't care what people think about me. People can talk about me behind my back all they want. I won't lose any sleep over it. But it's a problem because you can't actually do everything yourself. Everyone needs some kind of support.
I definitely agree that upbringing affects how we look at life as adults for a large part. It is not the only definitive factor, but it is a seed in some ways that may be amended but like you say requires heaps heaps of effort to do so.

About my fribbles in therapy: I'm still very much on the fence about a number of things, but my current way forward is to try and tell the therapist how I feel and see what happens from there. I feel my trust is really diminished as a results of a couple of things, but at the same time when we started we had a good foundation and a friendly working relationship, so I'm going to give it a try and see if it works out. Hope it doesn't lead to any more messes, but if it does then I'll have to sadly cut it off and maybe go someplace else. But I'm secretly hopeful maybe it'll also could lead to a good direction. Either way I'll post an update to anyone still interested in this whole thing.
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post #14 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-03-2021, 04:45 PM
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my current way forward is to try and tell the therapist how I feel and see what happens from there. I feel my trust is really diminished as a results of a couple of things, but at the same time when we started we had a good foundation and a friendly working relationship, so I'm going to give it a try and see if it works out. Hope it doesn't lead to any more messes, but if it does then I'll have to sadly cut it off and maybe go someplace else. But I'm secretly hopeful maybe it'll also could lead to a good direction. Either way I'll post an update to anyone still interested in this whole thing.
I think being honest about how you're feeling about it is a good way to go. The whole point of therapy is to be able to express yourself honestly with other people without being crushed by their response. Either the therapy will get back on track, or you'll have to find a new therapist, which you would have done anyway if you hadn't tried being honest. Regardless of how the therapist responds, the important thing is that you told the truth. If she's a good therapist, she'll respect that.

Hope it works out for you.

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post #15 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-20-2021, 05:05 PM Thread Starter
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Well, as a (presumeably) final follow-up to this whole affair: I reached out to my therapist, we talked over some of the issues I was walking around with but ultimately, I don't feel like we could really get on board with an approach that worked out. I feel really sad, but there's too much that happened and also, considering her background (trained as a psychosis therapist, no specific experience in attachment) I don't think it would work well going forward. Again, I feel really sad about this, especially because our starting point was pretty good, but the relationship just can't be easily amended, also considering context factors at play. We're having a final "farewell talk" coming tueseday, after which I'll probably feel crushed, and I guess it is forward going from there and finding a new therapisy for EMDR. I would like to thank all of you for chiming in, really helped to have people reading in trying to figure my best way forward. So thanks for that.
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post #16 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-21-2021, 07:40 AM
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When I was in therapy I felt better after some sessions and really terrible after others, so it was sort of a mixed bag.

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