The Ongoing Journey for the “Right Fit” in Therapy

After the events of last week my goal this week was clear.

Switch therapists.

I have been seeing the current one for just under a year and while we’ve had several communication issues I’ve tried hard to come back at the next appointment, try to talk things out, and move on.

She is a nice woman and she is very easy to talk to when she is receptive. Unfortunately sometimes she just… isn’t? Her availability has not been stellar, so when I actually have a chance to see her it has been a real bummer when she isn’t listening.

Despite the obvious issues I told myself that (realistically) some of the feelings I was having about her not listening to me could be an emotional reaction, out of line, and that maybe I wasn’t communicating properly on my end. However after several of these situations I found myself sitting in front of her last week talking about this very subject. She seemed to listen, she had a sad emotional reaction in her face, and I was prepared to move past it. Again.

But then… she asked if looking up [a specific topic] as homework might help me. I replied I felt more comfortable saving the topic for later down the road because I didn’t want to be confused after getting different information from difference sources (once I get into the DBT group). In seconds she said,

“ok,” pulled out a sticky note, wrote a few words down, and gave it to me. “That way you will remember to look this up when you get home.”

For a second I honestly thought she might be screwing with me… hadn’t I just said no? Hadn’t I just said that I was terribly afraid she wasn’t listening to me?

I took the note and left.

When I told this story to my new psychiatrist later last week she implored me to call the director of the program to switch to someone else. It can be so hard to know when to cut ties with a therapist, and I have a hard time not giving someone having a hard time with their job another chance to do better. After all, it is what I would want if I needed another chance… the difference is that this pattern I fall into is no longer therapeutic for me. Sure, it might be therapeutic for my therapist that I be forgiving when something comes up, but when does that gesture dissolve the positives I might be getting out of therapy in the first place? I need to be working to resolve issues in therapy, not causing new ones.

At any rate, this is the first time I have made a big move to switch therapists. Normally they’ve just quit or left before I had a chance, so I feel proud of myself for addressing this before it went too far. I’ve already spoken to the program director and have already been assigned someone new, I just have to wait for them to call to set up our first appointment now.

I feel a little conflicted about not reaching this point with my therapist in person (I generally do enjoy her as a human being), but every time I tried to suggest we split in the last year she would reel me back in. Again with the not-listening. At any rate, I think I’ve devised a method to help me potentially predict big upcoming episodes with more accuracy (more on that in my next post) and it seems pretty clear that I am heading into one of those large depressive states I can find myself in. Finding a support system that is… well, supportive before the ball drops will be crucial, so any guilt I am feeling is largely overshadowed by a sense of self-preservation.

7 responses to “The Ongoing Journey for the “Right Fit” in Therapy

  1. I never did find a therapist able to force me not to waste our time together. There are many tools to address mental health issues. We each need to find the tools that serve our needs. Not easy!

  2. I am soooo sorry to hear this! I hope the next one is more beneficial for you. It is sooooooooooooooo important for us to have the right kind of support and help and tools we need to live stable productive lives. Just like a doctor who cares for the physical body, the therapists we see need to understand that they are caring for our minds and if they are not capable of understanding and fulfilling their positions wholeheartedly then maybe that is not the right profession for them. Just my opinion as a future therapist 🙂

  3. Princess Marksalot

    Often I feel my therapist speaks over my head but I believe that she cares deeply for ME. It doesn’t sound like you trust her enough to let her love you! Let her go & maybe consider approaching the next one like dating?

  4. I had to drop my therapist of six years. We just reached the end. Your gut tells you when you are no longer getting the therapy you need. Sounds like you made the right choice.

  5. It is so important to have a therapist who values you and genuinely wants you to succeed and do well. Unfortunately, many are not like this. It is great that you are off to find somebody who is.

  6. My therapist liked me because I made her laugh. I was a respite from her super intense mental health dept day. And she was just who I needed in the beginning. She also backed me up with Social Security disability claim which was life saving. But, over 3 years, the more I felt like I couldn’t talk about seemingly mundane issues that concerned me, the more I talked in a monotone and had a depressed critical view of others such as the receptionist who could not do her job and flubbed up appts and such. I’ve realized when I feel like I’m getting dissed I turn into the state I just described. The more dreary I got the more the therapist rushed me through, changed the subject and faked interest. She also started to show impatience. I’m thinking, why does she even want to keep me on? When I brought up about going separate ways she seemed to be saying that she wanted me to stay on. However, it became obvious that she wasn’t into our sessions. She’d “forget” my appointments and give big apologies (I’m always suspicious of the BIG apology. Especially when it’s not how they usually communicate). Meanwhile we were only seeing each other once a month, but with a missed appt. she’d want to skip the rest of the month and wait for another so I was going 2 months between appts. Luckily I wasn’t in crisis and mainly in therapeutic maintenance. Finally I said to myself, screw it, and asked for another practitioner. A fresh take on things from this person and I can talk about the stage I’m in and progress in a different way. I don’t hold bad feelings toward her, but I’m glad I moved on for both our sakes. It happens and it’s okay. I can relate to accommodating others having a life, but, really, the bottom line is we have to maintain our mental health with effective therapy.

  7. And, yes!, having the support before the ball drops. That’s my m.o. too.

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