So! My mom has actually been gentler to me than my own therapist lately. The disconnect I felt when I first began seeing my therapist, now seems to be widening and now it just hurts more because I want it to work because I've invested so much time, and I want to like him as a therapist, but we still dont seem to "get" each other. But upon ranting to my husband about my therapist's recent comments to me about my work in personal therapy and in group, he said that maybe I should think about a second opinion. Why? Well, because when I've become so frustrated that I don't even feel I can tell MY therapist(who I'm paying $160 an hour) half the things that are concerning me, and that half my current frustrations are arising out of my sessions with him, then maybe it's not the best match.
I've been following the ACT therapy method for months now and last week he presented the most pinnacle/key aspect of the therapy — language causes pain. Well, yeah! But then he proceeded to drill into me that teenage suicides are on the rise and happening to younger and younger children; even as young as six years old! While this is depressing and heart breaking, and I really feel for these poor children, I wasn't going to dwell on it and stew in it. Even though I was interacting and thought I was involved in the discussion, I was cracking a couple jokes to help me relate to some of the concepts. This really upset my therapist and he told me that I was being rather "flippant" about the subject and decided to call me out by saying that I was obviously "in a different place/mood today, and maybe we should stop here for the day." Which made me cry and felt like I was being chastized, when I thought I really was being involved in the conversation. I admittedly was not taking it in with the amount of gravity that he expected. So, I apologized and said maybe it was because I was just hanging out with my mom, which requires a emotional self-preservation mode; including taking everything lightly, brushing off all compliments, and being the "strong" one. On top of that, I was in a pretty damn good mood until I got to therapy! And now he expected me to just switch gears to somber without really giving me a chance to wind down for a couple minutes. I'm thinking about suggesting that in the future we start with a 2-3 min quiet time when I get to therapy to clear my mind and breathe.
Ultimately, we ironed out the confusion, and I thought we were good, until after group this week. I had my appointment the day after group and, admittedly, I was super LATE because I lost track of time while Christmas shopping. I hurried over, and he called me to remind me of my appointment, and I assured him I was on my way. When I arrived I was greeted with a semi-stern face and "We don't have much time to work today." Which I was perfectly aware of, it's my own damn fault, but I did put on my sorry face and apologize. Then he decided it was important to talk about some concerns he had about my interaction in group last night. He has constantly told me how much he believes that I have a very important role in group, that I'm doing impressively well, and that members of the group have even approached him and told him how much they appreciate my contributions.
Today he told me all the good stuff AFTER making the following points: he was concerned that the night before I had interrupted two people who he felt were having a very productive exchange(which I felt bad about anyway), that my wording to the person working on one subject wasn't completely correct(what did he expect if he didn't lead the group or hardly contribute unless prompted?), and that my jokes were innapropriately timed and that they could get in the way of other people's work and my own. He also made a point to say that he didn't know me well enough to say, but strongly believed my humor was a way of coping(ie. defense mechanism). I understood the first two points completely, but it was the third and fourth point he made that really set me off. I have sat through several group meetings being very quiet, contemplative and serious. I can't be that person all the time. I am a person who makes jokes…it's how I interact, get to know, bouy up, and charm the pants off everyone I meet. It's deeply ingrained in who I am. When I was faced with the idea that part of who I am could be detrimental to other people's work I just wanted to die! It has been one aspect of my personality that I considered a strength and actually pride myself on timing and helping people open up to me with it. And I really thought I had cracked most of them towards the end of group, when we were already WAY over time and I perceived we were wrapping up. He said it was not the case, and then also felt it necessary to bring up last week's session when I had irreverently been joking here and there about certain items he was drawing on the white board…it really hurt me because I thought we were past that misunderstanding, and consider myself to be super aware of what I joke about. I actually have a lot of anxiety based on my interactions with EVERYONE and am hyper aware of what I say to people. This is part of my whole PROBLEM! I told him that perhaps my personality type wasn't a good fit for the group, or that maybe I wasn't quite ready to be in a group therapy setting. But he instantly tried to reassure me that I was extremely important in the group, and that I had "great potential". Well, those comments may have fallen on semi-deaf ears, because I suck at internalizing compliments…
So, I told him that it's how I get to know people and how I was using it to feel out the unspoken rules/culture of this little group of new people–through humor. And how was I supposed to TRUST perfect strangers with my personal feelings, and help them when I didn't know anything about them. It started to seem a bit ludicris to my mind. I really need some sense of comradery with people to open up to people. And he retorted that it's not a "social group" and I'm not supposed to "get to know" these people, and he said it was in the contract I signed upon joining the group. Which told him that it IS NOT. The only thing it says in the contract is to not form sexual/intimate relationships with people in the group. I even pointed out that a few of the people had hung out a couple times together outside of the group, and had offered to help each other out with other things outside the therapy work (ie. gardening, walking, cooking…whatever), so his point was super lost on me. AND when he said that there weren't unspoken rules in the group, I had enough balls to firmly say, "Yes, there are!" Because like I said, it's a little community of about 8 people, some of which have been meeting for 20 years! So, there are little social in and outs that have developed. I'm the new kid on the block here and just trying to fit in…so he just said I should present my concerns about the "rules" of the group to the group. Which I thought was a very good idea. So, I'm going to.
Once I had cried the whole way home, and was halfway through a rum and coke and eating some lunch(finally, at 3pm) I texted him that he had some valid points, he presented them gently, and that I was sorry for getting so upset…..but this morning, I still feel so angry about the whole situation. He did text me back this morning, "I thought about u quite a bit. Your response was normal. U r an awesome person and have much to contribute. So hang in there." Now after venting about it it's just sad that I can't talk to my therapist, I'm feeling disgruntled about the whole process, I feel resposible for the people in my group(which I think is not healthy), and this far into it I'm still considering a second opinion.