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!