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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5824
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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Kate: I didn't think about it until you just brought it up

Customer Question

Kate: I didn't think about it until you just brought it up -- but no - I didn't really talk about my feelings with Linda. We just spoke pretty matter-of-factly about everything. I guess when we were talking about the bottle thing, I kind of started to feel something, but then I snapped out of it, and she wanted me to tell her what I was thinking, and I said "nothing."
I uess, looking back on it, she was trying to get me to say more, but I didn't. Like when she asked me how things had been since our last appointment, I told her the same. She said "how so?" I said "as in similar, unchanged." And she said that wasn't good and she could tell I was down.
But yeah -- I didn't talk about any feelings and didn't really have any.
I don't know why things feel stagnant -- they just are - symtom-wise and threapy-wise. But we haven't done any deep stuff in therapy since I was upset with her (although the file review was more emotional than I expected). I don't know. Maybe I need to tell her everything that happened. I wrote it down and she read it. Then she had me make a list of the parts that bothered me most and rank them, and we talked about those. But that was months ago. And I never sat down and told her everything (because she knew from reading it). I don't know. I don't want to do it if it won't help, but i was thinking about that - maybe I should ask her about that.
All of the reasons for stagnation you listed seem possible. Because I'm pretty sure I'm not all better.
I had a question -- I didn't understand what you meant by "...a sign that either you have some resistance to therapy (a good sign!) or that you have some unresolved feelings about something in therapy." What do those things mean, in this context, and why would resistance to therapy be a good thing?
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 5 years ago.


It sounds like you may have reached a point that you have shut down and possible have become resistant to therapy. That can be good because it means that therapy was working until now and you have reached a point where you are pulling away from your feelings, a sure sign that there are significant feelings there.

When Linda asked you what you were thinking and you said nothing, that was a sign that you have moved from your feelings to your intellect. You are highly intelligent and while that is impressive, it can also stand in your way of accessing your feelings. You can intellectualize anything and create a thick wall of defense against experiencing any feelings that you don't want to let in.

A better question for you is "What are you feeling?". People who intellectualize want to avoid feelings so by asking yourself or having someone else like Linda as you what you feel, it is harder to block it by using your defenses. This question works even if you are depressed. Feeling depressed often shuts down all your other feelings so by concentrating on how you feel, you can bring up whatever is underneath the depression.

Your idea of telling Linda everything is excellent. Reading it is one thing, but talking about it can bring out a lot more. And there is emotion attached to talking about it. It may be time to get it all out there and work with it.


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Customer: replied 5 years ago.


I called Linda to run it by her. She thought it was a good idea, and said she had it on her "list" of things to do when I was ready. She said she hadn't been sure I was ready yet, considering the EMDR thing, but if I thought of it and I think I am ready, she thinks I probably am. She said we would need to take it slow and set some ground rules first - like making sure I stop when I want to stop, setting up a plan for her to try to know if I start to dissociate or go into a flashback, practicing going to my safe place, making sure I feel safe and comfortable, etc.

She said that when I wrote it down, and even when we went over the various worst parts of it, I described what happened, maybe what I was thinking in parts of it, and maybe described how it felt physically or certain sensations (like it being cold, the taste of blood, etc.), but that we need to examine my feelings all through it. She said it would take a number of sessions to get through it.

You know, I said it aloud to C, but I was not too specific in parts. I included everything that happened, but didn't describe it in detail, and didn't actually "say" some stuff, because he could figure it out and it was awkward. And I didn't repeat the things the guys said or I said, exactly - I just said "they told me to do certain things and I did." But I didn't feel anything but flushed and awkward when I told him. I stared at the floor the whole time and just said it. I think I was totally separated from any feelings - more than when I wrote it out.

And just to be clear -- I didn't read it to Linda -- I just had her read it.

I guess the point is that it just dawned on me after talking to Linda that this might be a big ordeal. Do you think I'm ready?

Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 5 years ago.

That was a good idea, Shay. By checking in with Linda today it gives you time to work on what you want to say.

I think setting the ground rules first is a great way to start. You need to be sure you are safe this time and don't feel you could be in danger, like with the EMDR situation. Not feeling safe could cause you to hold some things back by trying to protect yourself.

You may have talked about your attack before, with Linda and C, but never really dealt with the deepest feelings you have about it. Telling your story can be a very intellectual activity if you don't recognize how it affects you emotionally. I can tell you anything, but if I don't add how I feel about it, it will be just a story with some facts in it, like an information exchange. But going through it step by step and relating it to how you feel about it, you can make a big difference in how you process what happened to you. You will be able to work it through and actually deal with the feelings associated with it, taking the power out of what happened to you. This will help you put it in the past and move on.

I think you are ready for this. But at the same time, like Linda said, take it slow. And stop when you need to. There is no pressure to get through this in a certain period of time. And you and I can talk about anything you feel that stands out and you need more focus on.


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Customer: replied 5 years ago.

I wanted to check with her so that I knew what we were going to do Monday, and so she didn't make other plans for our session. I didn't want to get all worked up and then have her say that's not what we're going to do. I am going to try not to plan out what I will say, because that's what I do for Court and frequently in life, and I know I will be likely to spit it out as though I rehearsed it - which is handy in some situations, but from what you and Linda both said, would perhaps defeat the purpose here.

But it will be weird telling Linda things she already knows.

Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 5 years ago.

Very good point. You don't want to give yourself a chance to move away from your feelings by planning out what you want to say. Staying with your feelings as much as you can until Monday would help you more.

Linda will see what you say in a different light because she will be focused on helping you with your feelings rather than focusing on what you are saying. Though that is important, your feelings in this case are more important.


Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Okay. It still seems weird, though. most people in real life don't want you to keep telling the same stories (except when I volunteered at the alzheimers care center during law school -- I could tell the same stories every time I went and visited with folks and they didn't mind at all).
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 5 years ago.

It will seem strange in a way. But you are telling it again for a different reason. And from a therapist's perspective, you can't tell the story enough for us if you haven't worked through it yet :)

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Doesn't that get really boring?? I hate when my clients tell me te same things over an over again. I'm like "I know already ... Do you realize how much you're paying me an hour to keep whining to me?". I don't think I'd make a very good therapist. :). I told one client a long time ago that I was going to start charging him an additional $50/hour to listen to him whine. But the thing is, when my clients insist on dwelling or focus on their emotions, it HURTS my ability to help them and their ability to help themselves. I guess it's just a totally different kind of thing.
I have moved forward on my one assignment from therapy yesterday ... I'm going to have a massage this evening after work. I'm psyched. I really need some relaxation. :). Have a good weekend!
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 5 years ago.

No, it doesn't get boring. It's not the same as the stories you deal with. Therapists look for the hidden meaning in what they are hearing. When I listen to your story, I look for emotions you are expressing, how you are telling the story, and what might be influencing what you are saying and feeling. Therapy is about layers and the therapist is not just sitting there listening to the same story and hearing just the surface of it. That is part of the reason we talk about therapy being work. The therapist figures out the layers then works with the person to take apart those layers and work through them.

I understand that you are fearful that telling your story again will be boring to Linda. But Linda wants to help you and knows to look for the emotions you have attached to your story. Hearing you tell it will help her pick it apart. Because Linda will be working to through this in detail, it may take several sessions. It not just another boring story to her. It holds a lot of meaning.

Enjoy your massage! Massages can be very relaxing. You may end up falling asleep :)

Talk to you soon,

TherapistMarryAnn and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Okay. But I just want to point out that when we talked about MY looking for hidden meaning or motivations in what people say, it is viewed as a "trust issue". :)
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 5 years ago.
It sounds like you feel that was unfair- is that accurate?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
No. Not at all. I was just joking. :) ( hard to get tone across on these ). :D
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 5 years ago.
I know what you mean!