Trust, Part II

Remember that one time when I saw a therapist? Seeing a therapist is a good idea, I think, especially for people who are desperately unhappy and trapped, or those who might be hurtling through one transition after another while things or people around them grow and change and they are reinventing their own lives with little resembling a blueprint, or especially for people who have a lifelong policy of never, ever telling anyone how they feel or what they need. Yes, those folks clearly ought to be in therapy. Not that I would know anything about that.

Anyway, I saw a therapist once, and we had a nice chat. You can only get so far in a single therapy session, but I tried to be truthful. She thought I was depressed and anxious and she thought I might need feel-better drugs and she definitely thought I should see a therapist. So I made another appointment.

The next week I arrived at the appointed time, but my brand new therapist was seeing somebody else. So I left.

I called later and left a slightly irate phone message, though not nearly as irate as I felt. People who need a therapist don’t need a therapist who stands them up, for eff’s sake. Don’t I already have trust issues, lady? Could anything more clearly say, “there’s no reason for you to be taking up space on this planet” than your own therapist blowing you off? FFS.

She called and left me an extremely apologetic message. She failed to write our appointment down. She double booked herself. She was so very sorry. It would never happen again. Etc.

I never called back.

That was a few months ago. Screw it, I thought. I’ll be fine.

But it turns out your psychological issues don’t go away when you ignore them and in fact it takes very little to bring them roaring back to the top of your consciousness, even if your life is progressing in a generally positive direction.

How do you find a therapist you can trust when even therapists have proven that they can’t be trusted and you already had trust issues, FFS? How?

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16 thoughts on “Trust, Part II

  1. Well, this is a very very difficult thing to do, find a therapist. I found one. What I did was: I ignored everything negative about her and decided I was just going to trust her and use her as a therapist, because after all, her usefulness to me as a therapist really had nothing to do with her personal qualities (like organization, i.e., not overbooking herself, or like punctuality, tendency to say smarmy spiritual things that irritated me, or her tendency to leak out clues about her own moral code), but instead had to do with her capacity for: 1) listening; 2) sending me to helpful resources like books and articles; 3) encouraging me to do things I already knew I needed to do. Incidentally, and not that it matters, but my therapist also thought I was depressed and anxious and could use some feel-good drugs and more therapy. So, eh, either you and I are a LOT alike, or all therapists are the same. In any event, I changed my life quite a lot during the time I was seeing my therapist. For example: I dropped out of the PTA, I confronted my spouse about several longstanding, troublesome issues, I dropped out of two social organizations that were bringing me down, I attended four writer’s workshops, I began an MFA program. I still have several of the problems I had BEFORE I started seeing my therapist, but I came to realize it was only because I am currently unwilling to solve them or change anything, but at least now I can see how they COULD be changed, and thus now they are not so much problems as rational choices. I encourage you to choose a therapist with as little overthinking as possible, not the way you’d choose a spouse, by carefully considering EVERY aspect of his/her personality, goals, values, etcetera and making sure they square with your own, but instead based on whether you find him/her pleasant enough to chat with on a regular basis, whether he/she has qualities you can respect enough that you can glean some reflected self-confidence from his/her apparent endorsement of your decisions, and whether he/she can listen to you and hold your hand through this transition. /end long-ass comment.

    • I think we *are* a lot alike, OBL, and also probably all therapists are the same. Or maybe everyone seeking therapy is the same. Why would you be there if you *weren’t* depressed and anxious? I get that I can’t expect a Mary Poppins Practically Perfect therapist (and don’t worry, I will never be choosing a spouse again), but that bit of imperfection happened at exactly the wrong moment. That couldn’t happen again, could it?

      • uh, yeah. Well, not THAT. It would be weird if that exact same thing happened again. But something else could happen, like what happened to me for example, when my therapist started yawning while I was talking.

          • hahahaha…admittedly it’s not as straightforward and logical as, say, hiring a plumber. Expectations and results are vague. Degree of helpfulness is unclear. These are things I don’t really like. I prefer a logical correlation between money and time I’m spending and positive results in my life, and I prefer variables to be limited to a few and manageable number. However. With therapy, it seems one can only jump in and hope for the best. Maybe I’m not the best person to ask, now that I think about it. Ha.

  2. Close your eyes and move your finger over the page (there’s always a page, right?) and stop when it feels right. You could try choosing with darts, but I don’t have any darts and you might not have any darts, either. And if it doesn’t feel right, definitely get the F out of there.

    My therapist tells me many therapists are terrible pieces of ****. And to hold her accountable. So…should I send her to you?

  3. I don’t have much firsthand experience w/ therapists, but I have known many a wacky psych major. Double booking in that field seems really, really unfortunate. !! I hope you find the right person to listen and provide some support.

  4. Oh, TR, this story has been rattling around my brain since I read it. What an absolutely unfortunate series of events. And she should have kept calling you until you rebooked. I have been thinking about you and the divorce and the girls and wishing I could give you a hug. I am so sorry for this painful time in your life – be brave and try another therapist! My grief counselor made a world of difference for me after my youngest sister died. And my younger sister made such huge progress with her therapist during her recent divorce – she went from miserable to her old happy and confident self again. Not being married to her negative husband helped a lot too, but her therapist gave her some concrete things to work for, which was useful. And neither of those therapists told me or my sister we were depressed and anxious and needed medicine, so maybe it’s not universal? Although I once went to a dermatologist who I heard go down a line or patient rooms telling everyone they had psoriasis and then came into my room and diagnosed me with psoriasis too… All I can think for you is Don’t Give Up!!! Forgive the profession of therapists and schedule a new appointment. Love and hugs to you in a hard time.

  5. Finding a therapist is sort of an adventure. I had to find one a few months back, and I relied mostly on internet reviews since I don’t really know anyone in the area (let alone someone who’s seen a therapist). I struck out once or twice – one time I e-mailed an office saying I had called them and their number hadn’t worked, and the lead therapist e-mailed me back saying I should call instead of e-mail… yeah… right – but I’m decently satisfied with the guy I have now. I don’t know if there’s truly such a thing as a fantastic therapist, but you should be able to reasonably expect to find a decently satisfactory one.

  6. There’s a surprising amount of globalizing language in this post. You generalized at least twice (in the post and in a comment) from single experiences to all therapists, and you don’t seem to allow a therapist to be a normal human. It sounds like you’re looking for any excuse not to see a therapist.

    Which I can understand.

    I saw some very responsible therapists when I was going through counseling, but there was little impact on my life, and I’d be very hesitant to see one now unless there was some reason to believe that the person was particularly insightful. In my case, I associate counseling with the extreme frustration I experienced in my first marriage and the extremely insecure person I was back then. I’m sure I’d get much more out of counseling now (assuming I could find one with insight) because I’ve changed so much, but I don’t even want to go there.

    I have a friend I call when I’m really frustrated. Talking with him usually helps me. I watched him go through huge changes some years ago, and then he led a group of us through the same process, meeting weekly at his house. It was amazing to see guys come into the group very angry and frustrated, and within weeks move to a place of peace and hope and a very different view of themselves.

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