The Difficulty in Trusting Your Therapist


My session this week reminded me of something that castorgirl wrote about not too long ago: learning to trust your therapist, or more specifically, trusting in their abilities or experience.

In one of my recent posts, I talked about cancelling therapy for a while because I felt like I was stuck in a cycle of compulsive behavior while still having no answers about my past. I did actually email my therapist and cancel but she wrote me back and told me that when these feelings come, it’s even more important to come in. The session would probably be classified as rough or deep if I could actually connect with it. I can’t. I’m not sure that I can even remember all of it because I pushed it away as soon as I walked out of her office.

One of my biggest complaints/issues is that after beginning to talk about my uncle last year, I have no other memories to explain my behavior. Now, if you’ve been reading this blog since last year, you’ll know that I have, at various times, mentioned imagery or feelings that I’ve had, and that at one point it seemed as if I’d concluded that other abuse occurred. To prevent any confusion, let me say that I don’t remember those connections and therefore I don’t understand what I wrote or why. That means that for me, “the kiss”, is all that happened.

So, in explaining to my therapist why I wanted to cancel and why I was feeling so ambivalent about continuing, I brought this up.

She reminded me that she has two clients who have been in therapy for over 10 years and with one of them, only now is she starting to get “real” memories back (you know what I mean by real. More like regular memories). In other words, there is no time limit on how long this takes. Wonderful.

We talked about the eating too. I told her that I’d felt a lot of pressure to be responsible for my own healing when she’d said that whatever I was hiding from wouldn’t come forward until my eating was under control.

She proceeded to clarify what she’d said, and she told me that she didn’t mean it was impossible, she meant that it would be easier.

She found it very interesting that I felt sad each time I put the fork to my mouth when trying to eat. She wanted to understand that sadness, so she did this thing she does where she imagines what my life was like when I was little and connects it to my behavior or feelings today. It drives me crazy because it hurts when she talks about me being little and I have to smile and laugh it off to handle it.

She said that it must have been very lonely for me when I was little and I was taken away from my grandmother, only to realize that I had to deal with my mother’s abuse on my own. She said that kind if responsibility would have been terrible and that she could see that it would make me sad to feel that kind of responsibility now. It would good to clear up that therapy can continue while I work on eating.

I read the aforementioned blog post to my therapist so she could see where I was coming from. I especially wanted her to hear the last part, about what it says about me if my uncle really did do only one thing to me. I told her about the interview Oprah did with those pedophiles, and how one of them said that he acted spontaneously with one of his victims. I said that we don’t know that my uncle didn’t do the same with me that day.

Now, my therapist puts a lot of stock in certain things to draw conclusions:

  • My personality: the fact that I’m not a liar or an attention-seeker
  • My symptoms: the fact that I couldn’t open my legs the first time I went to a gynecologist. The fact that when I was first intimate with my husband, I had a flash of my uncle in my mind and started crying. The fact that I had vaginismus for years. My knee-jerk reactions to certain sexual situations. What she calls my “feeling memories”.
  • The existence of DID and other Dissociative Disorders.
  • The boldness of my uncle in doing what he did, in my grandmother’s house, with other people (including his wife) around.
  • Her experience with other abuse victims.
  • Her knowledge of the patterns pedophiles follow.
  • Her instinct.

While I can acknowledge that I experienced the above issues, my problem comes in accepting those last three bullet points. Those last three require me to trust my therapist and to trust her training and experience. How do I do that?

This is where castorgirl’s post comes in. Basically, she talked about a person who is not an expert in a certain area, thinking that they know what they need and the realization that they need to yield to the expert, who because of training and experience, knows better.

It can be easy to do this in regular life. If I go a gardening center and I know nothing about plants, it would be logical and beneficial for me to listen to the people who have studied plants and gardening. Easy.

When it comes to this? It’s a whole different world.

Why is that?

Why is it so hard for me to yield to the experience and training of my therapist? Why is it that when she tells me that all of the evidence points to other abuse, I can’t accept it?

….?

 

 

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About CimmarianInk

Abuse Survivor Diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder PTSD and Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) also known as Multiple Personalities
This entry was posted in Child Abuse, Child Molestation, DID, dissociative identity disorder, Incest, PTSD, Rape, Sexual Abuse, Trauma and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to The Difficulty in Trusting Your Therapist

  1. daylily2011 says:

    I am new to your blog so I don’t know your whole story. But, this post hit me on a personal level because I understand how difficult it is to trust a therapist. You sound like you’ve got a great therapist and you are making progress with learning to trust her. I felt glad for you when I read your post. I wrote a post last week about my appointment with my new therapist. You might be able to relate to some of it.
    http://mydepressionchronicles.wordpress.com/2012/02/01/building-a-safe-relationship-with-my-therapist/
    –Daylily

    • CimmarianInk says:

      Hi daylily,

      I read your post as well. It seems to me that the issue of trust can come up again and again and we have to tackle it when it arises. We may be cool for a while and then need to re-establish that trust. It’s complicated sometimes.

      Thanks for commenting and good luck with your therapy 🙂

  2. castorgirl says:

    Hi CI,

    I’m going to share a bit of a story with you, it might help, I don’t know… Four years ago, my marriage ended with a final assault by (now) ex-husband. I have family accounts, as well as medical and police records to support that this event took place. But I have no explicit memory of it. All I have are my PTSD reactions… and those make almost no sense, as I only have the police report to go on.

    This happened to me four years ago, and you’re beating yourself up over things that happened over 20 years ago… Memory is a weird and wonderful thing. It’s unpredictable, and I’ve found that something that I can be totally in touch with in one moment, is gone the next. It can feel like a cruel joke. Please go gently on yourself…

    Trust is a big thing… I may have made it sound simple in my post, but it isn’t. As a generalisation, survivors find trust difficult, as it’s been betrayed in so many ways in the past… in addition, we often try to control things… That makes the leap to trusting the skills of someone else, who has direct impact on us, feel overwhelming. It’s a gradual process…

    With regard to the last three bullet points… can you be open to the possibility that what your therapist is talking about is just as valid as the talk of one paedophile who was being interviewed for a television program? Based on what I’ve read (from research and personal accounts from both sides of the abusive situation), the usual modus operandi for a paedophile is to groom their victim before taking anything further.

    This being open to possibilities is one step along the way to trusting someone… yup, hold back what you need to in order to feel safe; but also try out being open to possibilities. You don’t have to believe them… they are just possibilities, after all 🙂

    Take care,
    CG

    • castorgirl says:

      I forgot to add… regardless of how many memories there are, or what caused them… isn’t the main thing about finding ways to make the present day more bearable?

      • CimmarianInk says:

        Actually you hit on a large problem. As long as I have no other memories, there is no reasonable explanation for my current issues. Therefore, I look at myself and my behavior and have only myself to blame. That leads to self-hatred which my therapist rebuts and tries to explain away with other abuse that can’t be proved because of my lack of memory.

        You see? It’s like a circular trap. I can’t accept her theory of other abuse, and because of that I blame myself for my problems which prevents me from being able to put her advice to use because I hate myself for causing my own problems.

        Whew! That took a lot of circular typing 😉

      • castorgirl says:

        So, what of you remove abuse from the equation, and go into therapy saying “I need help with finding ways to cope with my dissociation (or any problem/symptom that is currently troubling you)”… If you look at the current issue, does that ease the burden of trying to remember? Is remembering becoming another distraction, or way to punish yourself?

        Take care,
        CG

      • CimmarianInk says:

        That’s a good question CG. I honestly don’t know. It feels like remembering is of the utmost importance but…who knows?

    • CimmarianInk says:

      I wonder CG, does having the police report and medical records as supporting evidence make it easier for you to accept that your ass of an ex attacked you?

      You have evidence. Real, physical documentation that proves something happened. I don’t have that. I’ve got reactions and feelings. I also have images that could be real or imagined. No proof.

      However, your point about the possibility of what my therapist says being as valid as the predator on the program? I can accept that.

      I think it’s difficult because I always come back at her with a “How can you be sure?” and she’s always sure because of those bullet points. That doesn’t make me sure though. And so, there’s that trust again.

      • castorgirl says:

        Hi CI,

        Having that proof creates a different confusion to the childhood incidents, as I look at the reports and wonder why I don’t remember. That is the point I was trying to make… that even with proof, my mind blocks out the memories.

        Take care,
        CG

      • CimmarianInk says:

        Ah, I see. Proof doesn’t equal memories? I guess I figure that if I had proof, I would be forced to accept that something else happened and then I could work from there.

      • castorgirl says:

        You can get validation and acceptance through external proof… You can also get validation and acceptance through others believing you – like your therapist is does. It might take hearing the words of support over and over before they sink in.

  3. Pandora says:

    Paul told me something the other day (that I keep thinking I should have known, but meh). He said that because traumatised kids’ brains are so overwhelmed by abuse, they rarely have linear memories of the abusive period(s). They remember bits – such as the kiss – and sort of fill in the blanks thereafter. The point being that one or two seemingly “minor” (and this isn’t minor at all, by the way) incidents are all the person can be certain of, but that the reality truly is much bigger. If that makes any sense at all. I intend to blog about it in the next few days, so will try to explain it better then!

    Re: trusting your therapist…gah. Honestly, I think a lot of it is sheer luck. Your personalities need to ‘click’, like they would with potential new friends. Beyond that – well, as your therapist herself has said, it just takes bloody time 😦 And that’s the real pisser with therapy; even if you have all the time in the world (and unless you’re seeing a private therapist, that rarely happens here in the UK), that’s more time in which you’re suffering rather than living.

    But on the bright side, ultimately I do think the process works, and I so fervently hope that that will be the case for you sooner than later.

    Take care, and *hugs*

    Pan xxx

    • CimmarianInk says:

      Thanks Pan. 🙂

      I hope the process works too. It’s hard to trust in something that I’ve never experienced before. I look forward to seeing your blog post.

      *hugs back to you as well*

  4. I’m a newcomer to your blog and stumbled upon this conversation but I wanted to say a little something. I think the situation you are in right now about not knowing if the abuse is really there or not is why many therapists prefer to work on skills building before moving on to trauma memory work over the course of treatment. You aren’t going to have full access to any of those memories because (I’m assuming) you don’t have full cooperation between all of your parts. I am also dissociative and even though I’ve been in therapy for a while now it’s still hard to believe that the memories i have glimpsed are true, real facts. I guess it’s just a matter of taking the time to let things sit, see how it all fits together. Just my two cents.

    I find your blog intriguing and will keep coming back to check it out.

    ppp

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