The Therapeutic Relationship

Most of last weeks session with my psychologist was spent discussing our relationship. I had started the session by telling her that I didn’t want to be there. She wanted to talk more about that. I got angry at her after a while, and felt a lot of agitation and impatience. I wanted to tell her to just stop. I felt there were other things I wanted to talk about instead. Things I thought were more important.

She told me that this relationship is important, so if I feel a disconnection with her, it’s really important for us to discuss it. That if I ever feel that something she did or said hurt me, I must tell her. She doesn’t want things to be left unsaid. I told her I would, but told her that I want her to do the same thing. Because one of my biggest fears is that she feels negatively about our relationship, but keeps it to herself.

I care about what she thinks of me and how the connection feels to her. I really do. Perhaps a little too much.

Since that session I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about all of this. I came to the conclusion that she’s right. It is important to discuss the relationship. A month ago, I would have loved to have spent an entire session talking about our connection. But I’ve become uncomfortable discussing it lately. Uncomfortable feeling this attachment. More and more I’m feeling this need to pull away from her. To keep her at a distance. To withdraw.

Because now it feels very real. Before, I loved the connection we shared. But lately, while I still love it, and need it, it’s become more solid. More real to me. And that scares me. I’ve never had this level of connection with anyone before. I’m terrified. The potential for getting hurt is huge. I know she’ll still unintentionally hurt me. She’s only human after all. But it’s not just that. It also comes down to my own shame. I feel embarrassed for wanting her, for needing her. At feeling this bond. There’s a lot of shame attached to it, and I don’t fully understand it yet. I long to reach out sometimes, but it also stirs up those feelings of shame. Reaching out feels wrong. A pattern from my childhood, where reaching out was met with negativity. Now it feels like a boundary violation, not just a boundary crossing. I feel like I don’t deserve the attention. That I’m not deserving of her time. That I’m not worthy.

I always thought I allowed certain people relatively close to me. But looking back this past week, I was sad to discover that that wasn’t the case. I kept everyone at some distance. Never allowing them too close. And now it’s coming out in my therapeutic relationship. Even the most important relationship in my life, that with my grandmother, reveals that pattern. I just wanted to spend time with her, be with her. But never talking about my deeper feelings or fears. Never connecting on a deeper level.

On Tuesday I sent my therapist an email with a one of the rare pictures I have of me when I was a little girl, the only one I have of me and my mom together. I also attached a ‘personality’ profile I have taken when I was 19 and in college. Feeling the need to push her away, I decided to use a DBT skill instead, that of opposite action. So I sent her that email to pull her close again. It was important for me to reach out.

I’m grateful now that she pushed me to talk about it. There are a few things I want to discuss with her in our session on Monday. And I don’t care if we spend the entire session working through these things. It has to be done. It is important.

But I’m scared.

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22 thoughts on “The Therapeutic Relationship

  1. It is scary – and I think you described the bond so well. It gets stronger and feels ‘wrong’ to us… secure attachment has never been normal – so why would it feel right now?

    I identify with your fear. I’m so mad at A right now for no good reason… I have a right to be frustrated, but not as mad as I am. And I know I have to talk to her about it. It is scary – but your T sounds like a good one. It will be okay, I’m confident in that. Xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Secure attachment. I like the sound of that. Sometimes I wonder whether I’ll ever get to that place. But I think I’m on that road with my therapist. At least I hope so.

      One of the reasons I’m nervous to talk to her about this, is because I’m afraid that it will ruin our connection. What if it breaks it? That’s always my fear in all of my relationships. So I’ve just kept so much to myself. It’s really hard to break this habit, but I know I have to. I’m sorry you’re feeling angry with A. I hope you get to a good place with her again. 🙂

      Thanks for your lovely comment.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I don’t know if I ever will – I imagine a wound healing over but still being a bit raw inside.

        Every time I am nervous about my connection being ruptured with A and bring it up she always challenges it by saying “but haven’t I hurt you already?” And the answer is yes – there has been hurt, and then she goes “and I’m still here. And I will be here every time unless we decide it has to end.”

        It is so hard to break the habit. And you’re welcome xx

        Liked by 1 person

        1. “I imagine a wound healing over but still being a bit raw inside.” I totally get this. And I love what A says to you. Even though we know sometimes that they’ll stay, it’s still nice to actually hear it from time to time. xx

          Liked by 1 person

  2. This is the real work of therapy. Getting to a place where you feel secure and can be open and comfortable with your therapist sets the stage for it to happen with other people as well. It’s scary, of course, but the fact that your therapist is pushing you to talk about it, means she understands what needs to happen. I hope your session goes well!

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  3. I relate a lot to what you write. I have not allowed someone as close to me as my therapist, either. It is a very vulnerable place, to let them close. And to talk about the relationship. And those vulnerable conversations always end up strengthening our bond, even when I think it will ruin it. You’re doing really well with all of this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s always a relief to hear that other’s can relate, and know what I’m talking about. I also find that talking about these things strengthens our bond, and I wonder why I felt so afraid in the first place. But it seems I don’t learn, because I just repeat the pattern. Thank you for saying that I’m doing well. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Rayne, I can fully identify with this. I blogged about my own feelings on my therapeutic relationship with my T, you definitely aren’t alone in your struggle. I felt like I was (still am sometimes) pushing and pulling with my T and feeling confused about all my feelings towards her. I was finally able to talk to T about it all and it did help. But, with me, it is an ongoing discussion because I can need to go over things several times to process it all. Also if T upsets me I am trying hard to tell her straight away and not allow feelings to fester between sessions. It’s very hard, but in the long run the therapeutic relationship needs to be addressed especially the negative feelings that can cause so much hurt and distressed if not solved.
    Thinking of you xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s most definitely a struggle. I read your post and could also relate. Most “normal” people don’t get how we can feel this way about our therapists. But at least we understand. 🙂 I’m also relatively slow in processing things. Most of the time it’s only after a session that I seem able to collect my thoughts and realize that I didn’t really say what I wanted to say, answer in the most accurate way, etc. I’m better when communicating by writing, haha! Sometimes I don’t even know how I felt with regards to something my therapist said or suggested, and it weighs on me until our next session. In the past I would have sent her an email, but I don’t do that anymore… Well, MOST of the time I succeed in not doing that. Thanks for your comment. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, and to know that just because I feel a disconnection, doesn’t mean that I can’t trust her. Strangely, I don’t feel a disconnection, the way I did last week. I feel connected (although not as strongly as I do other times), but it’s damn scary.

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  5. I so identified with this. I really understand the impulse to pull back just as you start to get close and all the old patterns are triggered. Its so scary to trust and for some of us, to admit that we need to be close and would love to be able to connect and depend for a time is almost impossible. I get confused at times between the adult who needs to take care of herself and the inner child that at times feels vulnerable and longs to connect. It seems to be an ongoing dance for me.
    It sounds like you are with a very good therapist, though. I am sure you are going to find the courage to keep moving forward. Thanks so much for sharing what you are going through.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “I get confused at times between the adult who needs to take care of herself and the inner child that at times feels vulnerable and longs to connect.” Yes! This is it exactly.

      You know, the more I read about some people’s bad experiences with therapists (continuing negative experiences), the more convinced I am that I got really lucky when I found my therapist. I really have a great one.

      You’re welcome and thank YOU so much for reading and for your comments. We will continue moving forward. 🙂 xx

      Liked by 1 person

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