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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5804
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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Kate McCoy: Hey Kate, its me .... Have you had any more

Customer Question

Kate McCoy:

Hey Kate, it's me ....

Have you had any more thoughts on staying with/leaving L?

Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 5 years ago.

Hey Shay!


I wanted to wait and see what her response was to your letter to see if their was any possible way to work this out. That will also depend on your feeling after you talk with her, if you choose to do so.



Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Yeah .. I assumed ... I just thought I needed to actually ask a question. :)


I didn't call her today to let her know I wouldn't be bringing a letter by. I kind of forgot, then I didn't feel like it. My luck, I wouldn't get her VM. Our office is closed for Good Friday, which is kind of nice, but I feel like I'll get even further behind. But I think it's important to close in observance of Good Friday, so .... guess I'll be working from home ... or in the office alone. :)


I'm going to try to start my letter tonight. I'm getting nervous about the whole thing. I will run it by you before I give it to her on Monday (?) I feel kind of like I'm mad/upset at her, but don't remember why, exactly. When i think of what it was that upset e, it now seems kind of trivial. But I feel upset, all the same.


Glad I got the subscription thing figured out. :)



Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 5 years ago.

I understand. Maybe reading through some of our old posts might help you write the letter.


Let me know how it goes. I will help anyway I can.


Good night,


Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Good night. If I don't talk to you before then, have a happy Easter!
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 5 years ago.
You too!
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Dont worry about responding tobot even reading this this weekend. It's Easter weekend after all - you should be spending fun time with your family! I hope your travels were safe!

I worked on my letter to Linda today. I'm not sure I I want to give her a letter at all. It just makes me discouraged. I know thing are going to be awkward. Maybe I can just go and things will work themselves out? Do you think I'm close to done with therapy anyway or no? I felt fine today. I had a nightmare early this morning, but that's the first real one I've had since I started the new meds, I think.

I just want to be done and be totally well and happy, and I don't want to have to deal with this stuff with Linda. I shouldn't be adding other issues. Oh well.

Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 5 years ago.
Hey Shay! I missed talking with you yesterday. I hope your holiday weekend is going well.

We got here safely yesterday, thank God. The traffic was crazy busy but we made good time.

I understand that it is overwhelming to write the letter to Linda. And it is completely up to you whether or not you do it. Writing a letter like that is hard because it is about a very difficult situation and the feelings that it brings out. Plus your last letter to her did not get the results you were looking for so repeating that is not very appealing.

This is a tough choice. Staying with Linda and seeing if she can help you is a possibility. But it means that you will have to accept whatever goes on in therapy. And if you feel hurt or wronged, those feelings are going to imped your progress, especially if you do not feel safe working them out with Linda.

It might help to know the qualities of a good therapist:

Positive and empathetic- understands your needs and works with you and for you to help you reach your goals.

Professional- does not bring in outside influences, talk about themselves if it does not relate to helping you, and always be respectful of your time and needs.

Knows his/her limits and refers you out if unable to help

The therapist should challenge your beliefs and be able to guide you to healthier behavior.

These are the qualities you are looking for so you can get the best help for your issues.

You are done with therapy when you no longer are able to bring up any issues at all. Your conversations will be about general things going on in your life and when your therapists asks if you are having any issues, you cannot think of any.

I understand that you want this to be done. And with the additional problems you are having with Linda, you are probably feeling very discouraged. It's ok to write your thoughts out, get opinions, and take time to think this through. If you want to post again, I can check in again tonight and respond.

TherapistMarryAnn and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Hey Kate! Happy almost-Easter!


My weekend has not been too exciting, but that's just fine with me! Yesterday I rearranged my bedroom and took out Millie's crate (my dog, obviously). She's a really big dog, and loves her crate. I don't close the door or anything - she just hangs out in there a lot and sleeps in there. But it's huge. It's 3 feet by 4 feet, and 3 feet tall, and it just takes up a lot of room in a bedroom. So I took it out, collapsed it, and put it in the garage. I laid a blanket on the floor for her last night, and she slept there, but the poor thing has been looking for it all day. She keeps walking to the corner where she thinks it should be and just standing there. She has been giving me the most pathetic looks. I feel terrible. She is not the brightest animal in the world, so I am hoping she'll forget in a few days. ??

We're going to have P's whole family over after church for an Easter meal tomorrow. I think it's hard for her - she is now the matriarch of the family. She was the one who did everything like this anyway, but it always surrounded what her parents wanted to do. Plus - just having Easter without both of them. This morning when I was out for my banjo lesson, I picked up some tulips for her, because that's what she used to always give to her mom to have on the table at Easter. She started balling, which was not my intention. It's just so hard for her. I feel bad.

I read your list of attributes of a good therapist, and applied it to Linda.

  • 1. She is positive and empathetic. Very much so. And she usually is trying to help me work towards my goals. I think she usually recognizes my needs, too, except in the past few weeks. (or could it be that I am just now able to recognize my own needs?)


  • 2. She is respectful of my time - she tries to schedule at times I don't have to leave work in the middle of the day and would have to return to work) If anything, I worry about being respectful of her time. I'm usually the last appointment of the day. My insurance allows unlimited extended sessions (like an hour and 15 minutes or something). But it seems like we're never done on time. Her chair faces the clock. I feel bad because I should pay attention and wind things up.


At first, she said very little about herself, except that she was a Christian. Then she told me that her daughter had been drugged at a party by a guy and raped when she was 14. That was helpful for me to know. Now I know a whole lot about her. A lot is because I ask, and I appreciate that she's honest with me, but sometimes it is unsolicited. I tend to ask a lot of questions about her when I am trying to avoid doing or talking about something I don't want to.


  • 3. I'm not sure if she knows her limits or not. On a number of occasions, she has consulted with other therapists or her director, and she even consulted with her EMDR supervisor after my experience with it. And she says "I don't know" when she doesn't know, which I appreciate.

There have been things here and there, but no major issue until the past few weeks. I just don't know. But she did offer months ago for her to refer me to someone else for EMDR, but I said no, because I didn't want to have to retell anything or experience stuff with a complete stranger. In my opinion, I feel like it wasn't that she didn't know how to do it - but she cut corners. I think she should have had her supervisor there the first time, and should have done a bit wore research on the possible reactions.

  • 4. About challenging my beliefs, I think she does --- especially as to the self-blame issues and trust issues, but she would get frustrated and say things like "is there any chance you can just believe me on this one thing - just change your mind about it?" I know she was tired of arguing with me, but that kind of thing obviously was not going to work.


I think, too, that I might be a bit of a challenging client - not because my issues are particularly bad or that I have some kind of mental illness - but because I argue a lot. Not in a mean way, but if Linda says something to me, I need to challenge every angle of it before I can believe her, and I am very suspicious that she is saying things just to make me feel better, because that'd her job. (I'm sure you haven't noticed that I do any of these things :] ) So I think that is likely frustrating.


I will shortly type out the letter I wrote to Linda. The reason it has been so difficult is because I don't want to hurt her feelings or be unduly harsh. I like her and she has done a lot for me. I feel bad cutting on her.


It is interesting, however, how I pretty much instantly stopped seeing her as a mother figure - or anything at all, except a therapist. Hmmn.


I'll post with the letter soon...




PS - from what you said, I guess I'm NOT almost done with therapy :[

Customer: replied 5 years ago.

okay -- I'm not going to type out my letter to linda right now. I just got hit with a headache. I took some pills, but assuming they work, I will shortly be very tired and a little loopy. I'll either do it late tonight or tomorrow or Monday.



Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 5 years ago.

Hi Shay! Happy almost Easter to you too! I hope you enjoy your dinner tomorrow. It's always nice to spend time with the special people in your life.


Poor Millie! I'm sure she just needs time to adjust. Most dogs do. Mine like routine a lot and trying to change it usually throws them off for a while.


It sounds like Linda has a lot of attributes for a good therapist. That is good. The ones she does have are some very important ones. It is a little concerning that she shares more about herself than you need to know (even if you are curious!) because that can alter your therapy and makes it more on the level of friends rather than a professional relationship, making it harder to give you what you need.


Not knowing her limits with the EMDR is a bit rougher. That probably either should not have been attempted or like you said, a supervisor should have been present. Since you declined having another person do the EMDR, it would have been up to Linda to decide if she thought, based on her experience, that she was qualified to do it.


The arguing is an issue. And by that I do not mean that you are to blame. The arguing is a symptom. It is about your trust issues and your fear. A therapist needs to be able to see underneath what is going on in therapy to help you see the basic issue. If that is not happening, then something is missing for you.


It's ok that you hold off writing the letter today or even the next few days. Your concern that you do not want to hurt her feelings is fine. She has done a lot to be there for you and help you. Just keep in mind that this is about you. You need to take care of yourself first. Not that you have to hurt Linda to do it, but worded right it can work. You may want to consider taking some more time to think this through if you are still feeling undecided. There is no rush with this.


Good night, Shay. I will be heading home tomorrow and will check in when I can.



TherapistMarryAnn and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.


Here is the draft of the letter I wrote to Linda. I would appreciate your thoughts/suggestions.

Also - as to your last post - the arguing wasn't mean or even irritated - it was more verbal sparring, and she would usually refuse to engage me. She would say things and I would pick them apart. She would try to explain why I was wrong, and I would do the same. I think I may have done the same thing with you, and you kind of put a stop to that. :] Linda stopped engaging me on those issues, too, but it took a while.

The whole EMDR thing is troubling to me. But everyone makes mistakes - even therapists, right? Shouldn't I give her another chance, or at least try?

The information thing - I don't know if it's too much or not. Probably. But we like each other. She invited me to her husband's concert thing (which was really good) because she knows I appreciate music and he's a good song writer. She keeps saying she wants to come hear me sing and play drums. That's fine, and it might be good for her to actually know who I'm speaking of (C, Jamie, etc. - she's already met P.). But I could see an issue if she formed her own opinions of them. There are things I wish I didn't know - but I asked. On the other hand, I think it's good that she shared some things- so I don't put her on some kind of pedestal, which would be easy to do.

Okay, so here it is:


This is difficult to write, but I think there are some things I need to say and you need to know. I feel like over the past few weeks, there have been a few things that have happened that have really hurt me and, I am realizing, have threatened/jeopardized our therapeutic relationship. I just don't feel as safe as I did, or as trusting. That might not be fair, but it's how I feel. Things have been compounding since we tried the EMDR.

You probably have little clue what I'm talking about. Let me try to explain.

First, as you know, the EMDR went terribly. There was no way you could have known how it would go - it was worth a try. As you also know, my reaction scared the crap out of me. I understand that you didn't know what was going on. And that was fine. I knew I had my hands over my ears - they were still there when I "came back" (for lack of a better description). But then you mentioned in our next session that I had been rocking. After I thought about that later, it really bothered me that you didn't know I was having some serious problems - or at least that something more was going on than me crying hard. I mean, to my knowledge, I have never held my ears and rocked - or at least while I was not having a nightmare. That's certainly never happened during any of our sessions. Why didn't you know?

You promised me a while back, when we were going through some difficult memories, that you would never leave me deep in a bad memory, and you would always bring me out of it. I know you would have if you had known what was going on, but I feel upset that you didn't catch it, like you don't know me or read me as well as I thought you did, after all these sessions. And regardless of the reason, or even if there is no reason, you didn't or couldn't do what you said you would.

Then, last Monday, you mentioned something about the "safe place" thing. I had totally forgotten all about that. We went through it a few months ago, when we were planning to do the EMDR, but you haven't mentioned it since, and we didn't talk about it or practice it before we did the EMDR. When you were reading the "instructions" back then, didn't you say that it was important to make sure to be able to go to the "safe place" easily before even starting EMDR? I know I wasn't able to do that really well when we tried it before, but I think we were supposed to practice it before doing the EMDR? Why didn't we do that? I don't know that it would have made a difference, because things seem to have fallen apart very shortly into it, but I don't understand why that precaution wasn't taken. Also, I didn't feel you warned me enough about the possible negative consequences of the EMDR. I had read a lot about EMDR on the internet, and I think I even told you that I had read where people said that it had had some bad effects and that it was sometimes rough, even if it was working great, for a few weeks. You said that it would probably be tiring and would stir some things up.

When I met with Dr. Krakow (sleep doctor) the first time, he asked if I had gone through any PTSD treatments. I told him what we had done so far, and told him that we planned to do EMDR. He saked me if I understood what I was "getting into." I said yes, because I thought I did, although I thought his wording was strange. It makes more sense now.

Since that happened when we tried the EMDR, I have looked up a bunch more stuff, and there see,s to be story after story of people who are thrown into bad flashbacks and sometimes even experience them over and over for weeks.

I guess I just didn't realize that it could end up so badly. I figure that if you thought that was a possibility, you would have warned me, and I'm not saying you withheld anything. But why didn't you know what might happen?

I was also a little taken aback last Friday before our session, when you said we didn't have to do EMDR that day if I didn't want to. It surprised me that after what happened, you would think there was any chance I would want to do EMDR again that week - or any time in the near future. In fact, I was surprised that it was even an option - that you would allow me to try it again so soon, after what happened.

After our last session, I was upset and hurt. Not so much at first, but more and more that night when I thought about our discussion and your response to my letter (that was the 2nd letter).

I had told you in my letter that I saw you as a "mother figure" - what I considered to be the "ideal," and that I expected you to mother me/take care of me sometimes. I told you this (even though I was not proud of it) for two reasons: (1) because I thought you should know (if you already hadn't figured it out), because I know it is a result of/plays into my childhood parent issues we have discussed; and (2) I wanted to explain why I may have been overly upset when you didn't "rescue" me from what was happening from the EMDR.

You seemed to pull out the physical comfort part of my desire for a maternal figure. That was not at all the point. I tried to tell you that. You started talking about your being trained more on the medical side of things, where touch is not used, and I told you that was probably, actually, a good policy - but that wasn't the point. The point I was trying to make was how I saw you. I was not asking you to be physically affectionate/comforting with me. Maybe my letter was unclear, but I was trying to clarify it with you. But you seemed to ignore that, and continue. You were kind of jumping around a lot, but you were saying that you didn't grow up in a family that did that, that you could do that with your daughters, your mother, and your mother-in-law. You talked about how you were allowed, but generally, didn't touch clients, and then you were saying something about how we should be, as Christians. Then you said that there have been a few times when I was struggling, when you thought about sitting next to me and patting me on the back or something, but didn't.

At the time, I was just a little frustrated and a little embarrassed, because I felt like you felt I was asking you to be all touchy-feely with me or complaining because you weren't. That wasn't the point. Yes, as we have discussed, I lacked physical affection as a child and need to fulfill it, but I can do that elsewhere (Pat, for instance), or can learn to provide it for myself. I didn't expect you to provide it. In fact, I always assumed there are rules about that. But I couldn't get that across. That night, though, thinking about our conversation, it really upset me. You didn't even have to explain any of that, but in doing so (I'm not sure you realize(d) it), you said that, from my childhood, "of course" I needed physical contact 0 that I simply needed it, you were allowed to do that in the therapy setting, but you choose not to with me. This is the exact kind of message I got from my parents - you were directly reinforcing their message that I was not entitled to physical contact (although others were) - and I thought you had said that this was not a good message for me to have gotten when I was younger. That really hurt my feelings - and it was unnecessary, considering that wasn't even the point I was trying to make. It became an issue when you said that stuff, though. It wasn't the issue of physical contact, it is the issue of what you said and how you said it, and it made me feel unworthy and small. I know you did not mean to hurt me and that you would never hurt me on purpose. And I know it had to be difficult to read my letter in front of me and respond right away. But knowing my issues, I would have thought you would have been careful about saying something that is so sensitive to me, especially coming from you, who I had just said was a mother figure. Again, I know you didn't mean to hurt my feelings, but I ended up hurt.

Also, I feel like you don't have a whole lot of desire to keep trying to help me, since the EMDR didn't work. I was surprised that you seemed to have no plan or thoughts about how to proceed, and it was pretty clear there's no urgency now. It's fine that you aren't sure where we are going from here, exactly. I imagine you need some time to think about it. But I felt, in how you were saying things, that you weren't really interested or motivated, since we weren't going to be doing EMDR. Maybe it was just my impression, and I do understand I had been upset since what happened the week before). I don't know. But I feel like you didn't really care so much anymore, and had been counting on the EMDR to take care of things.

Also, at some point, I had said, joking, "I bet you didn't think this would take this long" or something like that. You said that you knew, when you got my intake report, that it would take a long time, and that you knew it was a more difficult case, and that's why you thought they pushed it up to you. Why would my "case" be any more difficult than others? It's not like I have a mental disease or disorder. I would imagine that trauma is a fairly common issue in therapy. What makes my situation more difficult?

I feel like what happened when the EMDR really damaged me and set me back. It was so upsetting and my feelings of shame became so much more powerful. And the voices and the dissociation or whatever it was and getting stuck in the intense flashback were really scary and left me feeling different (not in a good way), and I still feel that was. And the fact that I felt like you left me to fend for myself and didn't help me makes me feel that I was totally without a net and I fell. I felt before that you would protect me no matter what we were doing in therapy, but now I don't feel that way. And the fact that you basically reinforced one of the very painful messages from my parents hurt me. I know you didn't mean it, but it still hurt me - it didn't protect me.

I just don't feel totally safe anymore, and I don't totally trust that you will keep me safe when we're trying to work through things in therapy.

I used to have total confidence and trust - I felt like even if it was difficult, I could know it would be okay. But now I don't feel that way. I feel like my trust has been fractured in some way.

I don't know how to repair that.

I feel alone.

I am torn. I really like you, as you know, and felt comfortable with you almost from the start. I have trusted you since early on. It is really rare for me to feel so comfortable and trusting, and to be able to share everything as I have. And I feel like you have helped me so much. And I have grown very dependent on you, which you know.

I don't want to give up on therapy, especially now - because in the whole "it-will-get-worse-before-it-gets-better" process, I feel like I am still stuck in the "worse" period. And I don't really want to go to someone else, because it is extremely doubtful that I would feel comfortable with someone else and I also don't want to start over. I know if we stio now, I won't go back to therapy.

But I feel really vulnerable. I don't know what to so.

I share these things with you, not because I want to complain or make you feel bad or anything negative. I just am unsure how to continue, and the alternative to telling you how I am feeling about all this is me just going into each session not saying much and just going through the motions, andeventually just not going anymore.

I don't know that I really want to discuss any of this. And I'm not sure how to rebuild the trust/confidence/feeling of safety or if it id possible.

I need to think this through more, of course, and it might feel differently once the fear and some of the aftermath subsides.

I think that meanwhile, we need to take things slowly, and I think I would like to come only every other week for a while.

Also, on a separate note, would it be possible for me to look at my file and your notes? I don't need a copy of them, and you can be there (I probably can't understand a lot of it :] ).

I don't want you to be upset or feel bad or anything. I just needed to let you know what is going on in my mind and what I'm feeling.


Well, it's already Easter in the Eastern time zone, so happy Easter! Do you hide eggs for your son? I am looking forward to dinner with P's family, which is basically my family here. Plus- P's niece os the office manager at my old firm still, and she is so excites I'm coming back. We are good friends and always have a lot to talk about, but it will be fun doing some planning! Plus- P's aunt and uncle (not too much older than P) will be here. They also go to our church. I love them. They are so awesome and her aunt, especially, says exactly what she's thinking, and she's treated me like family for a really long time. In fact, I call them aunt and uncle, and they tell people I'm their niece. Some girl at church was complaining a few years ago about how she should be doing a solo, but C picked me, and he always picks me and I'm his favorite, etc. and was complaining about me. P's aunt was standing in the group to whom she was speaking, and she said, "you don't know who I am, do you?" and this girl said "yeah, you're Gxxxxx." And G said "I'm Shay's aunt." The girl just got silent. I'm sure she was confused because everyone knows I have no family here. But it made me feel really good. And she acts like I am her niece. It's really nice.

Well, better get to bed. It's officially Easter here, too!

I better get some sleep or I'm not going to make it to the sunrise service :]

Have a safe trip!



Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 5 years ago.



Your letter is good. I think that Linda can respond to it in two ways. One, she will withdrawal even more from the therapeutic relationship, which is not the best way to go but it's possible, or two, she will use the letter to address some of these issues, which need to be addressed before you can keep working.


Some other impressions:


The EMDR was a pivotal part of your therapeutic experience. It brought up a lot of emotional trauma for you which you counted on Linda responding to. You feel she dropped the ball and went the other way in her response. This is a crack in the trust you put in her.


You are concerned with Linda's investment in your situation and in you. Because of this, the dynamics of the relationship have changed, a lot.


You are hurt and possibly fearful of getting hurt worse. That is the underlying message in your letter. And there is some disappointment too, but that is connected with the hurt.


You may want to leave the file request until later. There is a lot in your letter and it will take a while to process. I know you want to find out more about what is going on, but it may be too much right now and could further affect your therapy and relationship with Linda. This issue needs repaired first.


Keep in mind that trust can be rebuilt, even if it's not with Linda. What happened with her is painful and may slow your progress in recovery, it does not mean you cannot continue with someone else. If Linda is unable to respond well to your feelings, you may need to consider other alternatives in the future, once you recover from this experience.


Happy Easter to you too! I hope your dinner is going well. I did do Easter Baskets with the kids but no eggs this year. It was too hard with the traveling to have time.


Enjoy your day with your family!



TherapistMarryAnn and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Hey Kate.

Do you think the letter is too harsh? Should I just take some notes and tell her on person on Thursday? I really don't want to hurt her. Do you think I will be able to stay with her? I'm scared of leaving and scared of staying. I don't think I have it in me right now to search for and start with someone new.

Uggg. Now panicking.
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 5 years ago.

I know you feel torn by this decision. Seeing Linda is what you are used to. You have made a connection with her. Going to someone else is risky; it is the unknown.


Being open and honest with your feelings is the best way to get what you need. That does not mean you have to be mean to do it, but your letter is not mean. It is confrontive at times, but not in a bad way. You say many times that you want this to work out and that you don't mean to hurt her feelings. But therapy is ultimately about you. You are paying Linda to give you what you need, just like you pay your doctor to do the same or anyone else you deal with. Therapy is different because there is an emotional element to it but there also needs to be boundaries so if something like this happens, you can make a decision to move on. There were some boundary crossings in your therapy, which might be making this harder.


Your letter is fine and it is not mean. You have questions that need answered. And Linda needs to be responsible for her own feelings about it. That is the job of every therapist so the person they are working with does not need to worry and can focus on getting better.



TherapistMarryAnn and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
What kind of boundaries were crossed? Just because she told me stuff about her that I asked? It's not total ER fault - I asked. Plus, I am just one of those people (at least in person) that people tend to share problems, etc. with.

Also, I have a question about something you said before: you said that the arguing was an issue. It's not like she argued a whole lot with me. She couldn't. I am a better arguer. She couldn't win and couldn't convince me of anything that way. It was almost always about the fault/blame issue. Then when it came up and I would start to pick apart what she said, she woul say, "I know, I know. I'm not getting into this with you. Can you please just believe what I am saying?". How should she have handled it?

I do worry about hurting her feelings. I like her and she is a very rare person with whom I feel comfortable and trusted. I know you say it I my choice, but it might be taken out of my hands. She could push back, which I think is a normal human reaction. Or she could say "obviously I'm not doing a good job, you should find someone else.". Or,
she could react positively and try to fix things, but be so worried about screwing up that she doesn't feel confident employing what she thinks would help me.

You think I should give her the letter (without the stuff about my file in it), as opposed to just taking a list with me and talking to her about it?

I KNEW something was going to happen and I would get stuck in the middle o this, when things aren't good. Now I REALLY wish I hadn't rocked the boat. I so want to go back to just having nightmares sometimes.

Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 5 years ago.



Therapeutic boundaries are crossed when a therapist discusses more about themselves than needs to be said in therapy. A therapist shares only what is helpful to the person they are working with, and no more. To share more opens up the chance that the wrong kind of transference occurs, which can harm therapy. Does it happen that therapists share more than they are supposed to? Of course. But therapists usually do it by mistake, recognize it and try not to do it again.


It is the therapists job to handle any potential boundary crossing. Just because a client asks does not mean the therapist should answer. That is like saying just because a patient asks for percocet the doctor should give it to them. Therapists have an ethical responsibility to know boundaries and control them so therapy benefits the person. Otherwise, the progress of therapy can come to a halt or slowed considerably.


The therapist is also responsible for knowing when a person tries to cross boundaries and finding out why. There are many reasons a person wants to know more personal information about their therapist and they need explored to help the person grow and gain more insight about themselves.


Arguing with your therapist can also be a sign of an issue. It can be personality, trust, anger or other reasons. The therapist can explore it and find out why so he/she can help the person they are working with. It is not always about responding to the argument, but why the arguing is going on.


You could also make a list and talk to Linda about it. The point is to get your feelings out there and to talk this through. However you feel comfortable doing that is fine. My concern is that you are dealing with this rather than your original issues, which are what you are in therapy for.


You are not rocking the boat, Shay. You are taking care of yourself. And consider the progress you have made so far. It has only been a short time and you have gained a lot of insight and you are very motivated. Emotions can be messy, I agree. But they are a necessary part of your life. You have had little practice dealing with emotions because of how you grew up. And you are in the middle of learning how to cope. So the issue with Linda is not coming at a good time. It's ok to be overwhelmed and frustrated. But this will pass and you will be able to move on, back to what you want to be working on.




TherapistMarryAnn and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

So - a client's trying to cross boundaries is like when I asked if Kate was your real name, right? You didn't answer, but rather asked why that was important to me to know, which I guess it really wasn't. But I knew you were just refusing to tell me in a nonconfrontational way. It could have been taken, however, as you being evasive. It didn't bother me after we discussed it a bit. Maybe it made more sense to me because saying something about yourself online is a totally different thing and can be really dangerous.

If I felt like Linda was being evasive with me - about anything - I would react negatively, and trust her less. But if she just said, "I don't talk about myself with my clients," I would be fine with that. But, too, I'm telling you - I'm the kind of person that people feel like sharing personal things with. Even my primary and my neurologist (my old one - I've only seen my new one once), tell me personal things. I've only actually met with Dr. M. twice - the rest has been on the phone. I have the impression that she is pretty good at maintaining boundaries. But in our first meeting, she said "I don't usually ever talk about myself, but ...." Now ,what she told me didn't matter, it was about her daughter playing basketball for UNM (quite impressive, actually), and only because I was talking about playing basketball. But we had a nice conversation about how much different it would be playing Division I basketball (I played Division III), and I don't think it harmed a thing. But it also wasn't necessary to my therapy, and even Dr. M, who seems to maintain strict boundaries, felt okay talking to me about her family, to some extent. So a lot of it is my fault and the way I am (or the way people think I am).

As for "rocking the boat," I don't agree. I mean, my wording may not totally fit, but the fact is that I would feel better right now if I had never started this last summer. I know it will be worth it down the road, but this road is getting longer and longer.

I know I'm spending more time on this issue with Linda right now and not dealing with my original issues. But that's just how it is right now. I can't really just go back in there and everything be fine and work on my original issues. Or can I? Can I just ignore this? Treat it as an anomaly? Let the trust rebuild itself or not? It's not like I have a whole lot more I need to tell her. She already knows pretty much everything, so it's not like I need to trust her right now to tell her anything.

You're right - this came at a bad time, and I am really pissed about it. I don't have the energy to deal with that on top of my other issues, and trying to learn to deal with emotions, and dealing with all the different meds I'm on again and off again, and the headaches and the sleep stuff.

I need to think all of this through.

Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 5 years ago.



Asking about my name is XXXXX XXXXX it is my job to find out why it is important to you. Is it about trust? Or is it because you are curious? Either way, my job is to find out if there is a reason behind your asking. If it is a symptom of something, like trust issues, then I can help you work on it.


This is not about being evasive as it is about finding out why you feel you need to know. Trust is an issue since you and I have discussed it. Therapists are there to recognize that you might have a trust issue and help you deal with it. That is why it is important to have ethics and keep the boundaries strict. You can see what is the client's issues and help them work through them.


Boundaries are important so you can focus on you in therapy. Therapy is not about the therapist but about the person in therapy. Nothing else is important. Even if you are good at getting others to talk about themselves, therapists are supposed to be trained to cope with that as part of therapy. It is not up to the person in therapy to figure out what is appropriate or not. It is the therapist's job.


The point here is whether or not you are being harmed and your progress deterred by what is going on in your therapy. And so far, that seems to be affecting your therapy. This is adding stress to your situation. Your therapist's job is to sort this out and guide you through it. But if your therapist is causing the situation by her actions, then your recovery is going to be affected.


You have a choice about whether or not to continue with Linda. Since this is a difficult decision, you may want to get more information before you decide. Seeing her on Thursday will help.





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Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Yeah. It doesn't really matter. It will sort out one way or the other.
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 5 years ago.

It does matter that you are being hurt. And it does matter that your reasons for being in therapy are being put by the wayside to deal with this issue. That is the important part of what is happening. And the stress you are experiencing because of it. Nightmares would seem more appealing after all this.



Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Well, as I said, it will sort out, one way or another. Maybe it matters in the therapy sense, but it doesnt matter to me right now. I don't want to play anymore.
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 5 years ago.
I understand.
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 5 years ago.

Hi Shay,


I wanted to check in and see how you are doing. You seemed down yesterday and I know you have been feeling overwhelmed by the situation with therapy.


I hope you are alright,


Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Not great.
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 5 years ago.
Do you want to talk about it?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I don't know what else there is to talk about. I feel let down and I feel like very little about this whole therapy process is real/genuine. I so regret getting into this all.
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 5 years ago.

It's easy to understand why you feel so discouraged. There are going to be ups and downs. Right now, you have hit a pretty tough down. But overall, you have been doing very well. You have a lot of insight, which has helped you deal with what happened to you with the attack and during your childhood. You see things much more differently than you did before.


What do you feel is the biggest obstacle for you continuing therapy?

Customer: replied 5 years ago.

I'm tired of feeling bad. I miss being a happy, "up" person most of the time. I want to get to the point, again, where I don't feel like crying most days.


Right now, my choices are: (1) stay with Linda, don't mention any of the issues you and I have discussed over the last week or 2, and hope that eventually I will regain confidence and trust in her [in which case, that will likely take a while, if it works at all, and will delay my resolving the real issues and feeling better]; (2) I discuss the recent issues and my partial loss of trust/confidence with Linda and hope that not only does she respond well, but that we can work it out [again,that will likely take a while, if it works at all, and will delay my resolving the real issues and feeling better]; (3) I look for a new therapist [in which case, it will take me a while to find one I think I can feel comfortable with, then will take time to become comfortable and to trust [assuming that is what happens]. This will not only seriously delay my feeling better, but will require me to go through the whole thing again with a new person, and maybe even go through several people, having to at least tell them he gist of why I am there; or (4) quit therapy altogether, and restart (or not) later. This option has the potential of making me feel better more quickly, as I rebuild my walls and re-repress my emotions, but also means I either will haveto deal with this again in the future, totally starting from scratch, or that I will never resolve it and will never totally feel as better as I could.



Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Oh - and also ---- I am disillusioned with the whole process. In reading through our posts back and forth over the past week, as you explain what therapy should be like, the goal of it, boundaries, how a therapist should be, etc. --- it seems like a game, where nothing is the truth --- it's just supposed to be ways to get the client (me) to feel certain ways. That bothers me.
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 5 years ago.
It can be very trying to work through issues in therapy (and otherwise). It can make you feel that your issues have become your life and you don't have any other emotions except for those related to your trauma and therapy.

But when you consider the alternative, which is remaining happy and "up", it means that you have to never deal with your nightmares, never work through the trauma and continue to stay out of touch with your feelings. You would have to ignore anything related to having a range of emotions and addressing your nightmares. It may have felt better, but it was an illusion that you created by following your parents prescription of "ignore your feelings and all will be ok". You can see how that worked out for them. You may have ended up in the same boat.

Going through therapy involves pain. Just like your clients feel when they have to go through a trial, in order to get what you want and feel resolved, it takes some uncertainty, pain and investment. And sometimes the bad parts outweigh the good. But as much as you are experiencing a bad part, you have also experienced the good. You have a significant break through, you have gained considerable insight into repressing your feelings and the harm done to you (and your siblings) by your parents (which allowed you to be there for your nephew when your father hurt him) and you have strengthened your bonds with those around you. You have worked through a lot of your feelings about the attack and have put a lot of the trauma in perspective. You and I have covered so much ground together. You really have forged ahead bravely and never backed down from a challenge.

There are really no good options with the situation with Linda. You may have to look at it from another point of view. If you chose to leave therapy without addressing these issues, how would you feel about it down the road? Would you regret it or not? And if you do address this with Linda and she reacts badly, would you regret talking to her about it? If so, why? And if you ignore the issues and continue with Linda, you feel that your progress would be delayed if not stopped. That tells you that ignoring the issues may not be the best option for you.

Regardless of what you decide, I will be here for you. It may not be like face to face therapy, but you and I can talk so your progress does not come to a stand still.

Therapy may seem hard to understand but it is like any other profession. All of them require you to invest time and some of yourself to get what you need. Therapy is all about what you put into it. Progress is made based on motivation and insight. So even this issue with Linda will not stop you from getting better if you want to get better. But you always have a choice. You can stop therapy and continue as you are now. It's not like a medical condition that you must address. You may not feel your issues are resolved, but as long as you feel you can live with it, it's an option.

TherapistMarryAnn and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

I know.


I'm just tired and cranky and feel really bad.


What will Linda do, do you think, if we start discussing these things and I get ramped up and upset and it is directed at her? Also, if I walk out if I get to the boiling point?, is she going to call me and bug me and want to "make up"? Or will she leave me be until I am ready to discuss it with her sometime in the future, if at all?

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
And thanks for being willing to remain here for me.
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 5 years ago.
I am happy to be here for you. You are always in my thoughts.

Hopefully, if you get upset with Linda she will see it for what it is and help talk you through it. Therapists are supposed to be prepared for any reaction from someone they are working with. You cannot expect to help someone dig through their deepest feelings and not have them experience the total range of emotions including anger. And sometimes that is directed right at you, as the therapist because there is no one else around to express it to. Linda needs to consider that these are your feelings and you have a right to them. She may be taken back a bit, but hopefully she will be able to respond in a way that lets you feel cared for and heard.

If you need to walk out, consider taking a break. Tell Linda that you need a moment, then go. Get a drink of water or go to another room to calm yourself. If you can't calm down, it's perfectly fine to leave. Tell Linda you can't stay because of how you feel. You could always tell her that you will contact her when you are ready. That may not stop her from reaching out to you, but it may convince her to give you some time to sort your feelings out.

It depends on Linda's view of therapy, experience and training as to how she responds to your concerns. Since she feels more comfortable sharing personal information with you, her personal feelings may come into play. It's not ideal, but it happens. Hopefully, though, she may be able to see your concerns and feelings objectively, which would allow her to address your needs without adding any of her own.

I know you are concerned about this. Try to take it slow. There is no rule that says you have to read the whole letter to her or that you have to tell her everything during your appointment. You can bring up one concern and see how it goes. Make it easier on yourself however you choose to do it.

TherapistMarryAnn and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I don't imagine you'll be online again tonight. If you happen to be on here, could you let me know? If not, I'll talk to you tomorrow!
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 5 years ago.

Hey Shay,


I'm here. What's going on?

Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 5 years ago.

I must have missed you. I will be heading to bed soon so I'll check in first thing tomorrow.


Good night, Shay!



Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Night. Talk to you tomorrow. :)
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 5 years ago.

I hope you are doing ok. I'll be here off and on this morning then my usual schedule this afternoon.


Talk to you soon,


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