This afternoon at work, I spontaneously decided it was time to get in touch with Anna. I’ve had the email drafted for a week, but it’s been sitting unsent. I think I was waiting until it felt less important.
The next few days are going to be hard while I wait for a reply. I’ll keep myself distracted, but it’ll be in the back of my mind, and I’ll check my emails more frequently than usual, feeling a little sick with nerves each time I do. When I see a reply, my stomach will drop and my whole body will go cold. I’m terrified she’s going to tell me to find a new psychologist, and I’m terrified that she won’t and I’ll have to go back and sit in that office and talk about this stuff.
I’m not sure which is worse.
Before I bring up last week, I would ask that you reflect on the things I’ve already given you feedback on and consider whether you’ve made an active effort to work with them:
- Showing me how the windows open
- Sitting on the floor
- If I’m angry/frustrated about something, suggesting I take a break on my phone for a few minutes and then trying to discuss the issue
- Asking me to share something each week
- Starting to introduce an activity like colouring or cards so that we may be able to use it when I’m activated
In terms of supporting me – you’re getting in your own way. When I reached out to you because I was dreading the end of DBT, the session became about your guilt around your limitations. Last week when I was self-harming and struggling to function, the session became about your anxieties around your own struggles with my therapy. I so appreciate how much you care, but you’re not leaving a lot of space for me.
The message I got from you on Wednesday was: ‘I don’t know what to do – you go figure it out and tell me how to fix it’. I’ve figured things out on my own my whole life. If we’re going to work together, we have to work together – you can’t hand responsibility over to me like that. You especially can’t hand responsibility over to me like that when I’m overwhelmed and barely managing to cope with the responsibilities I already have. Probably you’re right that I needed some time to think about what’s going to work best, but this was obviously a planned conversation on your part, and I would expect somebody in your position to approach it in one of the following ways (or similar):
“I’m worried that working with me hasn’t been all that helpful so far, and I was wondering if maybe we could talk about some of the things we’ve tried so far and why they didn’t work, to see if we can figure out how to do things better.”
“I’ve been thinking about how I can support you, and there are a few options I was hoping we could discuss to see what works best for you.”
Both of those would have left scope to start the conversation and give me some specific options to consider and formulate some thoughts around before we met again the next week. One option is for us to pick a specific focus (like self harm, or my relationship with my family, or a particular goal or belief system) and build sessions around that; another is for us to have ad hoc sessions where we discuss whatever’s happening in life at the moment and whatever issues/memories are coming up; another is a mixture of the two, whether structured (e.g. alternating sessions, 10 mins at the start of each session on current issues and the rest on our focus area) or just alternating as required. Given that you have more experience with therapy than I do, I imagine you can also think of other options.
I would ask that you think seriously about whether we should keep working together. That’s a frightening thing to write, because the idea of having to start over and look for another psychologist again is pretty devastating. I very, very much don’t want to do that. But I also have to be adult enough to accept that I can’t keep seeing you just because you’re nice and you let me bring my cat to sessions if you can’t actually help me. I don’t really see myself getting better, but I might as well at least try.
My preference would be that you let me know via email if you think it’s best for me to start looking for another psychologist. If you think one of the options I mentioned above (or another option) is workable for us, then let me know and we can discuss at a session.
Thank you for all the support you’ve offered me.
P.S. Everest is Queen of the Park now.