• Quote of the Day
    "Too bad the only people who know how to run the country are busy driving cabs and cutting hair."
    George Burns, posted by David Baxter

pocono

Member
Joined
Oct 8, 2006
Messages
115
Points
16
It has been quite a while since I last posted. I have been doing well and therapy has progressed without so many major ups and downs. All of that has been good.

My summer schedule and that of my therapist are kind of out of sync this summer, so we have a lot of disruption in our time together....weeks off. This has had me somewhat nervous, and I simply decided to back off talking about really traumatic stuff during the summer.

That has made space for my curiosity. I started to ask my therapist more questions about himself. He never volunteers personal information, but during our nearly 3 years together I have pieced together a few facts.

This week, I finally worked up the courage to ask him about a few things, and he answered my questions directly and honestly. In this interchange I discovered his father died when he was 18 and his sister took her own life about 20 years ago. ( This second fact I just learned today).

I'm still kind of in shock after the visit. This is the same man who walked with me through deep depression and serious suicidal feelings. He was calm; he was reassuring; he was even hopeful. How did he do that? Was it real? Can I trust him to do that again if it comes to that?

Should he have told me what he did? I asked him direct questions, and he answered honestly, with great care, I believe, for how the answers were affecting me. He wants to spend the next session talking about how I feel about his answers. He reassured me that I don't need to take care of him or worry about him.

Still, I feel majorly off balance. Like I don't know what to do now. Has anyone had experience with this kind of think in therapy?
 

David Baxter

Administrator
Joined
Mar 26, 2004
Messages
37,769
Points
113
I don't there's any reason to feel off balance. You asked your therapist some questions and he answered honestly. If you think about it, would you want anything other than honesty from him?

I don't make a habit of self-disclosure because, frankly, therapy sessions are not about me but about the client. On the other hand, there are times, albeit infrequently, when I will disclose something, maybe to reassure the client or maybe to emphasize a point or maybe just to normalize something the client is worried or stressed about.

On the other hand, like your therapist, if I am asked a direct question, I will answer honestly. Within the limits of the client's capabilities, I encourage clients to be honest. I think it would be extremely hypocritical of me not to extend them the same courtesy.
 

pocono

Member
Joined
Oct 8, 2006
Messages
115
Points
16
That all makes sense. Of course I want him to be honest.

However, if there is no reason for me to feel off balance, why do I?

I feel afraid, though I'm not sure why.
 

David Baxter

Administrator
Joined
Mar 26, 2004
Messages
37,769
Points
113
Perhaps because he has become humanized in your eyes and therefore less perfect or omniscient?

Remember: Your therapist has almost certainly struggled with his own crises, anxieties, fears, tragedies, and challenges. This doesn't make him less capable as a therapist. On the contrary, it probably makes him more capable. He is giving you the benefit not only of his education and training but of his life experience.
 

Halo

Member
Joined
Jul 19, 2005
Messages
7,475
Points
36
Maybe you feel afraid because now that he has disclosed to you that his sister committed suicide that when you are experiencing these thoughts and feelings you may hesitate or hold back from telling him out of fear of bringing up old memories or triggers for him and therefore you will be alone with these thoughts and/or feelings. Just a thought?
 

pocono

Member
Joined
Oct 8, 2006
Messages
115
Points
16
David and Halo, I think what both of you wrote is true. It comes down to trust (a constant theme for me, of course).

I'm sure that's why I wanted to ask him the things I did....to continue to build the relationship, to consolidate my trust in him.

I need to answer for myself if I can still trust him knowing these things about him. I also need to decide what to do about my own desire/curiosity to ask him more personal questions. Maybe I should just check that for a while.
 

Halo

Member
Joined
Jul 19, 2005
Messages
7,475
Points
36
One thing I think about first before you ask anymore questions of him is do you think that it is going to help or hinder your therapeutic relationship with him? Do you think that you may pull away from him because you feel you need to protect him because of his answers that he may give you or do you think that by getting to know him better it will help you to become more honest and open with him thereby helping you in your journey.

Anyway just some thoughts.
 

ThatLady

Member
Joined
Nov 4, 2004
Messages
4,104
Points
36
Well, I don't have any experience with that sort of thing in relation to my time in therapy; however, I do deal with people who are severely depressed quite often even though I, myself, was once a victim of depression. I also deal with people who have lost loved ones and have lost loved ones myself.

I don't think you have to worry about the therapist, pocono. I'm sure he's had the opportunity, time, and help to work through his feelings with regard to his sister's suicide and his father's death. He's been able to process his grief and move on with his life. Once you've done this, you're able to deal effectively with connected issues without suffering undue effects.

I think it will probably be interesting and informative for you to discuss your feelings regarding the therapist's revelations during your next session. You can learn a lot by discussing these things; not only about how the therapist dealt with his grief, but about yourself, as well. It sounds like a wonderful opportunity for you.
 

pocono

Member
Joined
Oct 8, 2006
Messages
115
Points
16
I put a call into my therapist and asked if we could touch base by phone today. He is going to call around 11:30. I haven't needed to speak by phone in between sessions in a while, so this feels like a bit of a set-back. Still, I know that a phone call may help settle me until we meet next week.

I can't shake the feeling like I've done something wrong and irrepairable. Like I stepped over a line. I can feel myself getting a little frantic and a little catastrophic (which again hasn't happened in a while).

I'm unclear to me what is actually going on.
 

ThatLady

Member
Joined
Nov 4, 2004
Messages
4,104
Points
36
It sounds like you've got a very caring therapist, pocono. It's great he's going to call so you can talk these feelings out. Instead of calling it a set-back, I think I'd call it a step forward. :)
 

pocono

Member
Joined
Oct 8, 2006
Messages
115
Points
16
My phone call went pretty well.

I somehow got myself convinced that I must have done something wrong in asking the questions I did. I asked my therapist how many siblings he had. He told me he had one brother and a sister who had died. I asked him how and when she died.....that is what prompted his disclosure.

He told me yesterday that once I said I had to ask how and when she had died, he knew he needed to tell me honestly. I somehow took that to mean that he felt like he had no choice, like I had backed him in a corner or something. I was worried that I had done something bad, trapped him somehow.

He reassured me that he was not and did not feel trapped by me. He didn't mean that he literally, had to tell me, but that his judgement was that he would -- in the service of honesty and potentially deepening our relationship.

He also reassured me that he is feeling ok -- which I asked him. He said "something like that never leaves you, but I am ok."

Hearing that helped to. I'm still amazed by the power of this relationship and how dependent I am on him. I got very little work done this morning for worrying about what yesterday meant. Hopefully, I can calm down a bit over the weekend before our next appointment on Mon.
 
Joined
Jun 11, 2006
Messages
5,390
Points
36
it sounds like you got some of the feelings or worries you were having resolved. i am glad you were able to talk to him. :)
 

pocono

Member
Joined
Oct 8, 2006
Messages
115
Points
16
It has been a strange weekend. I can't stop thinking about my therapist's disclosure that he had a sister who committed suicide. I think this just brings out in bold relief what an unusual relationship therapy really is.

I've know this man now for 2 years. We spoken for 1 hour 2x week for nearly the entire time. It is arguably the most intimate relationship I have ever had outside of the physical intimacy of marriage. And yet two things about it remain true:

1. it will end
2. it isn't mutual -- the way a friendship or loving relationship would be

I understand the importance of these boundaries. I really don't want my therapist to become my friend or lover. That would destroy the very nature of the relationship and leave me without the kind of help and support I have needed and need.

And yet, I suspect -- no I know -- that also within me is a deep yearning for this relationship to be more than it can or will be. I am filled with curiosity about this man who has helped me so much. How did he become who he is given his experiences? What other experiences did he have? Who supported him through his pain? How does he cope with the pain even now?

And here is the real crunch question -- how does or can our relationship help him too? Does he need me? Could I be there for him the way he has been there for me? I would like to do that. I would like to be a help and support to him the way he has been for me. That kind of mutuality would help ensure the relationship doesn't end. I could keep what I've found; hold on to it forever. I want to give to him, so he can keep giving to me.

It makes me sad to face the truth that these fantasies can't come true. Really sad.

And yet I am so grateful for having him as my therapist (rather than friend or lover). No doubt his own experiences with suffering and loss have, in fact, made him a more compassionate and insightful therapist. I am lucky, not deprived -- although the feelings conflict deeply.

And so I'm left.....still unsettled. Disappointed, sad.....but also more realistic about the limits of the relationship. I don't quite know what to do with my curiosity at this point -- given that I know this relationship will remain asymetrical no matter what I come to know about him.

I wonder if anyone has any thoughts about these conflicting thoughts and emotions?
 

ThatLady

Member
Joined
Nov 4, 2004
Messages
4,104
Points
36
The feelings you're having are quite normal, pocono. There's even a name for it. It's called "transference". Psychologists and psychiatrists are well aware of this phenomenon, so it doesn't come as a shock to them when they find out that such a thing has developed.

The best thing to do is to discuss your feelings with your therapist, openly and honestly. Your therapist can help you work through the feelings. Just remember - your feelings are a normal occurance with therapy. There's nothing wrong with you, and nothing wrong with what you're feeling. :hug:
 

pocono

Member
Joined
Oct 8, 2006
Messages
115
Points
16
Thanks ThatLady. Good advice, which I began taking in my session today.

I didn't think what I was experiencing was actually transference per sea. It isn't like I'm relating to him as if he were someone from my past, transferring feelings from another relationship onto him.

It is more like after 3 years of intimate conversation, I simply have the desire for the relationship to progress into a more mutual exchange....at the same time I know that is neither desirable nor realistic.

Is that actually transference? It is kind of a confusing concept.
 

Peanut

Member
Joined
Aug 1, 2005
Messages
1,084
Points
36
This is a very interesting experience to read about Pocono. When I have been to therapy I have highly valued the self disclosure from the therapist because it is a nice reminder that I am talking to another human being that also has problems, so I find it easier to, I guess, see that he can relate to some of mine.

Anyway, I was just wondering, with this being labeled as transference. Is transference a lot more common than counter transference? If so, how much more common would you say? How often do therapists yearn for a deeper relationship too?
 

ThatLady

Member
Joined
Nov 4, 2004
Messages
4,104
Points
36
As I see it, pocono, the feelings you're describing fit perfectly into the transferrence phenomenon. If your therapist knows this is happening, he'll know what to do to assist you in dealing with these feelings and putting them into proper perspective.

Arose, I don't think counter-transferrence is as common as transferrence. It does, however, happen. As to the ratio between the two, I haven't a clue, I'm afraid. Perhaps, David will know.
 

Top Bottom