Counting down to the end of therapy

August 21, 2008 at 9:33 pm 33 comments

I only have four more sessions of therapy to go. So on Wednesday, my therapist asked how I’d feel about therapy coming to an end. It’s something I hadn’t really thought about very much. But I’ve been thinking about it since and I realised that I won’t miss the therapy, but I’ll miss my therapist.

I’ve been wondering if it’s appropriate to tell my therapist that I’ll miss her. It’s easier to say that I’ll miss the therapy, but it’s not true and though it’s easy to get them mixed up, she isn’t the therapy. So I’ve also been thinking about the therapeutic relationship. It’s not a friendship – I know next to nothing about her and we’ve seen each other exclusively in this very structured and artificial context. And, of course, she’s getting paid. But a lot of the feelings involved are similar and so it feels, in a way, that I’ll be losing a friend.

In many ways the therapeutic relationship is really weird. It’s a mix of closeness and distance. I can totally understand how some people get mixed up and find it difficult to stay within its boundaries. My therapist is about my age and rather attractive. It’s something I’ve noticed but I haven’t really focused on it because a) nothing could possibly happen and b) sexual/romantic feelings towards my therapist would just get in the way of the therapy.

So maybe it would be better to look at it this way – we’ve been working together closely on a project together (ie. me and my feelings), have worked pretty well together and seem to have enjoyed the experience. So it’s a bit like losing a close colleague, someone who you like, trust and respect. But this happens all the time. And people who work together like this often don’t see each other outside of a work context and (like the relationship I have with my therapist) wouldn’t have any idea how to act around each other if that work context wasn’t there. So it’s a bit like people moving on from wherever they work. You miss them and wish them the best for the future and that’s that. Other people and projects come along and fill in the gap.

I think this is the explanation I’m going to go with. It pretty much sums up how I feel. And it’s totally appropriate to miss a colleague you’ve worked closely with for months.


Entry filed under: Docs and Shrinks. Tags: , .

Therapy, glasses, charity, news Half Hamster

33 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Joel Overbeck  |  August 21, 2008 at 9:44 pm

    I’m going to quit therapy after a year and a half and I won’t miss therapy nor my therapist. So at least you made some progress.

  • 2. thestranger  |  August 21, 2008 at 10:07 pm

    Done with therapy? Congratulations. I’ve never even started, so it sounds like quite an accomplishment. Its interesting to learn how the dynamic works.

  • 3. Gabriel...  |  August 22, 2008 at 1:47 am

    So… the UK governments recovery program only allows for a certain number of sessions?

  • 4. experimental chimp  |  August 22, 2008 at 3:56 am

    Pretty much. CAT is limited to a specific number of sessions. There’s some flexibility (I was originally down for 16 sessions, but this got extended to 24 sessions). I think if it was necessary someone could be referred back to the service, but they’d go back on the waiting list.

    Unfortunately demand for therapy is much greater than the current supply of therapists. It kind of makes sense, since CAT is very goal-based, so even if you have problems remaining, hopefully you’re more capable of coping with them after the therapy.

    It’s also worth noting that therapists aren’t there to ensure continuity of care, so if I needed regular contact with the mental health services, I’d probably end up seeing a CPN (community psychiatric nurse) every so often.

  • 5. borderpatrol  |  August 23, 2008 at 10:53 am

    I think that’s a good way to look at it. Man, if you can influence your feelings by means of rational thought like you sound you can… I admire you and it seems that you’ve gotten a lot further in terms of recovery or getting better than I could ever hope to be.

    And I do get mixed up easily in patient-therapist relationships. Since I was 15, I have worn out three therapists, all female. At first I would start with enthusiasm and good resolutions, but in time I would grow more interested in my therapist than in myself. And it seems I’ve got a talent for manipulating people and subtly influencing the course of conversations. And so, step by step, I would become the one asking questions and they became the ones talking about themselves. It was not only a way to avoid things too sensitive or things I didn’t feel like talking about –

    She: “So, why do you think you cheated on your girlfriend?”
    Me: “Ehmmm… Well – Being with her made me feel horrible. How was your vacation?”
    She: “Oh, I just love London. I once lived there for a few years.”
    Me: “Really? That awesome. Tell me more about it.”
    She: “Oh, I’m sorry I totally lost track of time; but we’ve got to stop for today.”

    (OK, it didn’t work that bluntly, but I think you get the idea)

    I did it because I wanted to make friends with them, because they all were witty and intelligent and sensitive and beautiful women, in one way or another. I actually developed kind of a crush on one of them in particular. I’m not sure she knew, but I like to imagine that she did.
    Sadly, it always ended in the same way. Talking to my therapists, regardless of the subject, did make me feel better for a while. But overall, I still felt my life and my mind were going to hell and in or another moment of all consuming negativity, I left messages on their answering machines at two in the morning, saying I didn’t want to see them anymore.
    What always really caused me despair was the fact that not one of them ever called back thereafter to ask for a reason or anything. It was as if we’d never met. Not that I wanted them to – I would have had trouble explaining. But in case of shrink#2, the one I had asked out for dinner in my imagination so many times, it actually made me feel as if I had been duped by a lover and caused me a short period of what I would describe as “heartache” – absolutely silly of course, all the more because I was the one who quit.

    But in the end, you could say it was all self-sabotage. How sick must I be that even in times when people actually reached out to me and tried to help me get better, I still manage to turn everything into a crushed and burning mess, which in turn makes me feel even worse.

  • 6. manupmen  |  August 24, 2008 at 9:25 pm

    It is always breathtaking to end a relationship on purpose, or at least knowing about it in advance. On the upside, one could argue that there is only one kind of improvement–self improvement. Sure it helps to have professional guidance, but chances are good that you’ve got the hang of it.

    The most exciting revelation of my life was when I realized that the thoughts I was choosing were holding me back.

  • 7. experimental chimp  |  August 24, 2008 at 9:39 pm

    Ah, manupmen! So I assume you saw the comment in which I described you as a wanker and suggested that the people you’ve been harassing should simply delete all your comments without further notice?

    So why would you think that I’d welcome this transparent attempt to engage me in a pointless debate about whether depression is biological or psychological in origin (false dichotomy there)?

    Then again I have lots of free time and this might be amusing, so here’s what my response would look like if I thought you were reasonable and worth talking to:

    Sure. Therapy, CBT and its cousins in particular, is all about changing the patterns of behaviour that hold us back. It’s definitely given me the tools I need to understand how my actions interact with my bipolar disorder and given me the tools I need to cope with the disease.

  • 8. manupmen  |  August 24, 2008 at 9:42 pm

    Reframe your therapy. You didn’t waste time, and dodge your issues by talking about the therapist. You demonstrated superior people skills, showed that you can choose what you focus on when you want to, and picked up some great fantasies. Good job.

    You already know how to choose what you think, so it may just be a matter of deciding how much pain you want in your life.

  • 9. manupmen  |  August 24, 2008 at 9:44 pm

    Our responses are crossing. I am thinking that if you cannot alter your moods with thoughts, then there is no point to therapy.

  • 10. experimental chimp  |  August 24, 2008 at 9:50 pm

    Uh, that wasn’t me – that was borderpatrol. I didn’t have any interesting fantasies about my therapist. I might, but not until I’ve had my last session of therapy. Like I said – it wouldn’t be helpful.

    I can’t choose what I think, but I can choose what I do about it. I know that I can’t think my way out of depression because I spent at least a decade trying to do exactly that. In Prometheus Rising Robert Anton Wilson comes up with the maxim “What the thinker thinks, the prover proves.” And yes, this is true to an extent and we fulfil our own expectations. But there is an objective reality and the depression was not something in my control. I couldn’t think my way out of depression, because my thoughts came out of the feelings, not the other way round. No matter how positive my thoughts, I’d still want to die.

    The medication has helped, and the therapy has taught me how to choose my responses to my feelings. It’s about how I cope, not how I think.

  • 11. manupmen  |  August 24, 2008 at 9:53 pm

    There is not a single person who has ever had a feeling before having a thought.

  • 12. experimental chimp  |  August 24, 2008 at 10:04 pm

    By “thought” I mean “conscious thought”

    And your statement is just plain wrong. Reflex actions happen faster than thought can take place. So when I pull my hand away from a hot stove, I do so because the feeling of pain has prompted action before my brain has had time to translate the feeling into sensation (ie.the thought about pain comes after the action, which was prompted by the sensation.)

    Or consider the feelings evoked by certain smells. It often takes time to work out the memory that the smell evokes, and yet the feeling is there before the thought about the memory takes place.

  • 13. manupmen  |  August 24, 2008 at 10:07 pm

    Reflex actions are not emotions. “Feelings” as you used it indicated emotions.

    I think what you have said in a nutshell is that you are not as conscious of your thoughts as you would like to be.

  • 14. experimental chimp  |  August 24, 2008 at 10:10 pm

    Emotions and other feelings are both forms of qualia. They’re the same kind of thing. I was making an analogy.

    We obviously disagree on our definitions of thought. I recognise that there are processes that occur in the brain that I am not conscious of. Semantic arguments are dull. Can we move on?

  • 15. manupmen  |  August 24, 2008 at 10:13 pm

    I shall attempt to move us on. I manage my moods by choosing my thoughts. I recognize my sacred and inviolable right to choose what I focus on.

    Example: a blogger warned me that I would be unhappy if I read her comments about me. I informed her that I would be happy whether she commented about me or not.

  • 16. experimental chimp  |  August 24, 2008 at 10:26 pm

    Why do you assume your experience of this is universal?

  • 17. manupmen  |  August 24, 2008 at 10:28 pm

    Excellent question. I do not “assume” it is universal. It is like gravity, it is a scientific law that is true beyond the local apple tree. Each person has the ability to choose what they think about.

  • 18. experimental chimp  |  August 24, 2008 at 10:29 pm

    Cite, please.

  • 20. manupmen  |  August 24, 2008 at 10:41 pm

    did you get my response?

  • 21. manupmen  |  August 24, 2008 at 10:42 pm

    this link will get you started (above).

  • 22. experimental chimp  |  August 24, 2008 at 10:52 pm

    Sorry, Akismet picked them up as spam.

    You said: “I do not “assume” it is universal. It is like gravity, it is a scientific law that is true beyond the local apple tree.”

    If it’s a scientific law, I have to question why your chosen citations point to a company that sells inspirational seminars and a short essay by someone who wrote a book called “The Divinity of the Mind: Writings for Inspiration and Empowerment”. Neither of these links seem to include any references to scientific papers of any kind, let alone anything supporting your argument.

    I assumed when you claimed that this was a scientific law, like the law of gravity, that you’d, y’know, have some kind of science to back that up with. Perhaps a paper published in a psychology journal. Maybe something from a neuroscience journal. Something with a connection to science. But obviously not. Perhaps you didn’t really mean to say that it was a “scientific law”?

  • 23. manupmen  |  August 24, 2008 at 10:57 pm

    Yes it is a scientific law. The secondary sources I gave you contain the primary sources. However, since you are an authoritarian, I give you this:

    Excerpt: The results indicated that selective attention to negative self-related information led to biases in social judgments and recollections and that post-event processing contributed to the recall of negative self-related information.

  • 24. experimental chimp  |  August 24, 2008 at 11:08 pm

    An authoritarian? And here I am thinking that you were the one invoking scientific authority.

    So the finding of this paper was that people with social anxiety evaluate social interactions as worse if they’ve been worrying about it? I would not argue that thoughts can influence mood. That’s pretty obvious and it’s well known that rumination contributes to depression.

    But that’s not what we’re discussing. Your ‘scientific law’ was that “Each person has the ability to choose what they think about.” The paper you cite doesn’t address the ability of people – not even of the 116 people it evaluated – to “choose what they think about”. It evaluated the impact of the thoughts they did have. In other words, it’s a complete non-sequitur and says nothing whatsoever about your argument.

    You seem to be reaching. Surely you must recognise how weak the evidence you’re presenting is, especially given the rather extreme nature of your claim?

  • 25. manupmen  |  August 24, 2008 at 11:11 pm

    The evidence as you pointed out is “pretty obvious.” This paper and several of the others used control groups that were given other thought patterns to focus on. They chose different thoughts.
    Extensive stuff. I even included one article that was not completely positive about the results, just for balance. I am hardly reaching. You are entrenched.

  • 26. experimental chimp  |  August 24, 2008 at 11:33 pm

    You seem to not understand the difference between being able to choose your thoughts and being able think about things. The latter is so obvious it hardly bears examination. People direct their attention constantly. Your argument (and why I have to explain your own argument to you is somewhat of a puzzle to me) is that people’s attention is completely within their control.

    Again, your evidence for this ‘scientific law’ so far consists of two links to people selling inspirational products and one study that consisted of 116 people. It’s laughable that you consider this “extensive stuff”. You’d think that a scientific law would have more to go on. You’d expect it to be mentioned in respected psychology text-books, much like the laws of thermodynamics, relativity, etc. are in every introductory college-level physics textbook.

    Perhaps you could quote the part of Cognitive processes in social anxiety: the effects of self-focus, rumination and anticipatory processing that states that the control group was “given other thought patterns to focus on”? Because you seem to be having trouble understanding what it says.

    You’re welcome to back out of this bizarre line of argument. I’m not vindictive. We can pretend you never said it if you want.

  • 27. manupmen  |  August 24, 2008 at 11:36 pm

    I have sent you a year’s worth of scholarly reading. You are trying to save face on semantics. Directing your attention is the entire crux of the matter. You can direct your attention where you want. Thanks for making my case. Your dismissal of such a huge body of research in support of my contention is simply stubborn. The verdict is in.

    By the way, there are two book-length sources in there. Please don’t try to sound like you’ve reviewed the research so quickly.

    Point we agree on: You can direct your attention.

  • 28. manupmen  |  August 24, 2008 at 11:41 pm

    I am going now. Good luck with your therapy. (Why go to therapy if you are not learning to think in new ways?)

    Perhaps your gang of whiners will be less taxing. Good bye.

  • 29. experimental chimp  |  August 24, 2008 at 11:44 pm

    Where is this “year’s worth of scholarly reading”? Are you referring to the Tony Robbins link? Because, please… If you are, then it would be helpful if you could point to any one scientific source that supports your argument. Because you really seem to be dodging this issue.

    Look. If I state that relativity is a scientific law, I can point you to this wikipedia page and the original papers. So your inability to do something similar speaks volumes about your credibility.

    It’s completely trivial to state that people can direct their attention. We wouldn’t be able to have an argument about this if we weren’t able to direct our attention upon it. Duh. Again, your argument isn’t that trivial. Your argument is that people are able to do this completely. And I’m still puzzled about why I have to explain your own argument to you. I feel like I’m having to do all the work,

  • 30. experimental chimp  |  August 24, 2008 at 11:49 pm

    Ah, you’ve run away from the argument. Well, I did say you were welcome to back out.

    Next time try to confuse the person you’re trolling by switching your argument mid-stream. Never allow someone to pin you down on providing actual evidence. Read back over the argument and you’ll see you were completely fucked from the point where I said “Cite, please.”

    So I’d rate you a 3/10 on the interesting troll scale. Introducing some kind of sock-puppet into the proceedings would definitely score you at least one additional point – two if you could do it from different IP addresses.

    Bye bye manupmen.

  • 31. Gabriel...  |  August 25, 2008 at 12:05 am

    Even a three is beating the lot I’m getting… I had one a few days ago who compared prescription medications to a “2 grammes of amphetamine a day…” habit.

    I had a gentle one, which I thought was interesting, from someone named “Jane” who is a total Believer in the horrors of psychiatry and prescription meds. She’s a huge believer in meditation as a depression cure-all by way of building up the brains grey matter in specific regions, but she went away after I laid out some links proving juggling and Lithium had the same effects…

    Careful with the “cite, please” thing though, I’ve seen some anti-shrink people drop fifty links at a time. None as interesting as Tony Robbins however…

  • 32. eccedentesiast  |  August 25, 2008 at 12:08 am

    So he’s here too? Get’s around doesn’t he.

    I think we all know who won this round even if I am one of your “gang of whiners”.

    He’s such an arse. Have you read the nonsense on his own blog?

  • 33. Madeline  |  October 12, 2013 at 2:05 am

    Hey there are using WordPress for your site platform? I’m new to the blog world but I’m trying to get started and set up my own. Do you need any coding knowledge to make your own blog? Any help would be greatly appreciated!

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Hi, I'm James. I'm a 26 year old guy from England with bipolar disorder (currently well controlled). I also have a circadian rhythm sleep disorder (not so well controlled). This blog has charted my journey from mental illness, through diagnosis and, recently, into recovery. It's not always easy, but then, what is?


Self-righteous note about smoking

As of 12th September 2008 it has been forty five weeks since I quit smoking. So in another seven weeks it'll have been a whole year.

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