I have not had much time to edit photos or write blog posts, but I would like to pop in and get some opinions from readers about something that, unfortunately, I am going to be rather vague about here. So, feel free to give me vague opinions if you are so inclined to say anything at all.

Last week I decided to try seeing a counselor about one specific issue that I would like to work on. I’m not going to mention the issue because, well, I don’t want to. So there. Anyway, I made an appointment to speak with a psychologist; this is a new person for me, because my last “real” counselor was quite a distance from where I live and work and I’ve decided I don’t want to make the long drive anymore to work on this. So, this was our first meeting. We met Saturday, she was very nice and even though she was a bit younger than my previous counselors and perhaps has not been in practice as long as they have, she seemed to know what she was doing. So that was all fine.

But. She asked me a load of questions about my past and my childhood and my home life growing up, etc. and made many observations about the dysfunction and even some of the abuse that occurred. It was obvious to me that in moving forward she intends to work on these past issues and integrate them, somehow, into this current situation I want to improve. There were also times when I was talking about things going on in my life currently and she “corrected’ me in a way – or rather, she pointed out ways in which I was behaving or thinking that she clearly felt were not the most productive or even – I don’t know – strong? I was left with the feeling that she sees some real flaws with the way I conduct myself around others, ways in which I have major defenses up and at the same time might be really passive in a manner that, according to her at least, does not serve me well.

I left feeling pretty down and in a fog, as if my life choices had been judged and found wanting. I don’t mean that she was negative or rude, but I did get the impression that she perceived my life as having serious problems, when really I just wanted to focus on one thing. For example, she kept repeating these little mantras to me while we talked, one of which was “we teach people how to treat us,” and I mean, yeah, I know that already, you know? And also, is there some way people are treating me that is so bad I should be concerned? Because I really didn’t think that until I walked out her door after our session. Ever since then I’ve felt out of sorts and bothered, questioning my relationships and interactions with others as if seeing them through this woman’s eyes – wow, am I really being mistreated by others because I haven’t “taught” them how to treat me properly?

I’ve done counseling many times in my life, which I know I’ve mentioned here before, but I can honestly say I’ve never felt flat-out depressed after leaving a session, and certainly not my first one with somebody (I’ve had two others). I’ve always left feeling better about my situation after talking about things. But I left this time feeling like shit, quite honestly. Of course, at the same time, all the literature says things usually get worse before they get better when someone enters counseling, so just because I’ve never experienced this before doesn’t mean I won’t go through that this time. Perhaps my low mood is just that idea put into action? Maybe I’m supposed to feel this way, and question my relationships in this manner?

Also, counseling is expensive, quite honestly, and this woman wants to see me once a week at $115 a pop (she doesn’t take insurance, which is more and more common nowadays than it was when I first started going back in the 90’s). I mean, dang, that’s a lot of scratch each month just to feel crappier than I did before I started. I did make two appointments with two different therapists, with the idea that if I liked the first one I’d cancel the other, and the other one isn’t until this coming Monday – maybe I should hold off on going back to this woman and see how the other one does? Or maybe I should just blow the whole counseling thing off and go buy some books and work through the issue myself. As I’ve said many times in relation to my recent depression, I’ve talked about my childhood and my dysfunctional family in counselors’ offices enough over the years, and part of me does think that if all that talking was going to work it would have done so already, and at this age I am truly not interesting in dredging it all up again.

But here’s where I’m asking you for your opinion (and I realize this may be too difficult to answer without knowing my specific issue, but I’m going to try anyway): is the only way to fix a current problem digging back into the past and opening up old wounds? I know there are counseling philosophies that would say no, and that’s more of what I was hoping to find this time. But what do you think? And also, if you went to a counselor for an initial consultation and left feeling as depressed and “wrong” as I felt when I met with this woman, would you say that’s a sign the person isn’t the right counselor for me, or is she the right one and she just managed to hone in on some real problems I really need to fix?

I realize those are huge questions I’m asking you without much information for you to go on, but please weigh in if you can. I know some of you can’t ever get your comments to post here so feel free to email or message me wherever we keep in touch. Thanks!

18 thoughts on “Thoughts

  1. I can’t give you an informed answer but since you can’t change anything from the past if this person can help you to come to terms with it and move on to what you want next it may be worth it. I always find you open, warm and thoughtful and have always valued your posts and messages 😊.

  2. She did seem to think he was a part of the problem. She even criticized him when I pointed out some exchanges we’d had that I personally didn’t see as negative! The more I think of it, the weirder it gets.

  3. First let me say that I am totally unqualified to offer you any advice. I can however offer an observation of your new therapist.
    It seems odd that she would jump into your childhood immediately before even knowing the depth and scope of your current problems. Granted, most therapists will agree that we all have “Problems” that stem from our upbringing. We also have good traits and positive personality gifts that came from our upbringing. After all we do learn from our parents. Unfortunately, what we learn may not always be beneficial…or, maybe was interpreted incorrectly by us at an early age.
    Sure, if we as a children were mentally or physically abused, that will have an impact on our adult life, but how can a new therapist in an hour or hour and a half make these determinations.
    You and I have never met, but I have conversed with you for two years now in emails and comments on Flickr and our blog sites. Do I know you? Do I know what you are like socially or in your married life? Hell no. I do however know that from a “Social media” standpoint you are very adept at conversing with others. Does that carry through to your personal life? (I guess that’s a question, rather than a statement)
    Anyway, as I said at the start, “I am not qualified to offer advice” but it would seem that this therapist may be trying to build a profitable practice. (Need to see you once a week) Did she say that was for the first month or so? If that’s the case, maybe four sessions would bring her up to speed. (Your speed)
    Personally, if I went to a therapist and felt worse when I left than when I arrived after the first visit, I would not be happy or confident about returning.
    I feel that it was good move to make two appointments with two different people. I’d stall her off until you see number two, then make a decision.
    But what do I know.

    • That’s what my husband suggested too – that perhaps this person was trying to make money off of me. At first I was a little offended at that, but I think he picked up on how weird I felt after the session. I agree that she just pushed too hard and dug way too deep for an initial consultation. It was rather intense when my issue I wanted to work on was pretty specific and had nothing to do with my childhood. Also when she started to “go there” I mentioned that I’d already spent time analyzing all that and wasn’t interested in doing it again, and she ignored me. In the end yes, I agreed with him that this woman was on the wrong path with me and wasn’t very intuitive with mne; a more astute counselor would have picked up on my level of discomfort and backed off. Plus she was a but condescending, talking to me like I was a child almost. It was a trip! Thank for your comments – I appreciate them as always!

  4. Ditto Beth. I’d add she (the therapist) sounds like she’s taking a “test” herself for credit in her studies. A rank amateur . Being an “amateur” myself , I would recommend you wrestle within
    yourself for answers. You’re as “smart” as any of the shrinks, and your answers, I bet will be better and more personally rewarding. Like your other challenges , you’ll come out on top here as you usually do.
    Good luck.

  5. Finally reading this post, I meant to read it when I saw it. Anywho I would of told her where to go. You were there to talk about one thing not crap thy happened years ago. I’ve seen my fair share of shrinks. I’ve seen decent ones an ones I told where to go. Really you could save your money and talk to a close friend by first saying don’t judge and then express what you need to. I find talk therapy with friends almost more beneficial or even writing then seeing some shrink who may or may not be able to help. The last shrink I had was an idiot for so many reasons. I would be surprised if he ever helped anyone really because he did next to nothing for me. And if anything I hated him and I don’t hate many people. And I saw him for over ten years.

    I would not go back to that woman and maybe try out the other one. Hopefully that season g

      • I would save your cash and see if you can share it with a friend you trust and value their thoughts if you want feed back on the topic at hand, that way you save your money. At the end of the day you know your self.

  6. I just found your blog (because I’ve been considering buying a wig) and wanted to write a quick reply to this thoughtful post. Having been to therapists for years — too many different therapists to count — I finally found something that helped me that had nothing to do with delving into the past or even the present, really. I suffered from PTSD for almost 30 years and while I was better, I wasn’t what I would call “well.” Then I found an amazing book called The Inside Out Revolution, by Michael Neill. After I read it, I threw all my other self-help books away and stopped looking for advice (in all the wrong places).

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