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Page Contents: When forced termination of treatment forces you to find a new psychotherapist.                    

 

I am 36, female, seeing a male psychotherapist who I am guessing is a few years older maybe, but close to my age. He is a cognitive psychotherapist. I was loathe to enter psychotherapy but I was in such an emotional crisis that I knew I would implode if I need not seek help. In that way he had a special opportunity to circumvent my usual defenses. (Knowing I create these defenses has not at all prevented me from doing so.)
 
I was desperate for empathy to the disaster that was my life at the time. I am in an abusive relationship and firmly stuck in the patterns associated with it. His gentleness was very disarming and his warmth and empathy really touched the pain in me. I became very quickly and deeply attached. I do not feel in “love” with him but I can see why people sometimes feel that way. It is an intense fixation and desire to have him like me. (Yes, I said desire.)
 
Ok, here comes the part which prompted me to ask you this question...
 
His services to me were through an agency through which I qualified for free help. The problem became that these sessions were finite. I became very focussed on the fear of getting into the middle of things but then having to walk away. I became terrified of the feelings of abandonment. His help has been a life-ring, but it has not helped me pull myself from the ocean, if that makes sense. I also felt as though his willingness to “reach” me lessened, and I think he honestly wanted to help me but prevent me from becoming too attached. Too late. It left me very frustrated and has had me reliving the limited love from my abusive spouse. The more he withdrew the stronger my attachment.. and please don’t think I don’t see the pattern in that.
 
I have reached the cap on the sessions and now must switch to someone new whom I have to pay myself. So, I am caught in a double whammy... intense transference and termination terror. I don’t know what to do. I can’t very well explore the transference feelings with the former therapist in the final goodbye session.. never mind the complications regarding that due to the school of thought to which he belongs.
 
I don’t know the new psychotherapist well enough to discuss this with him; there isn’t a trust yet. I still may have to see someone else if he isn’t right for me. In the meantime I feel like I am being eviscerated emotionally.
 
What do I do? Do you have any advice for someone caught in both powerful transference and termination issues? What happens when therapy abruptly must end when transference has already become so intense?

 
What you need to do, in the practical sense, is very simple. Yes, in the emotional sense it can be terrifying, but in the practical sense all you need to do is find another psychotherapist and start talking to him about how you feel right now about those powerful issues of transference and termination that have affected you.

Keep in mind that you don’t have to “trust” a psychotherapist in order to speak honestly about your inner experiences. Within the general context of confidentiality—which is a special kind of trust intrinsic to the psychotherapeutic relationship—you speak only to hear your own words. You don’t speak to make your psychotherapist understand you, approve of you, or like you. Your psychotherapist’s job is listen carefully to what you are not saying, and to interpret it for you, so as to help you get past the obstacle of your own psychological blindness as you speak.

Real trust for the psychotherapist depends on how well the interpretations help you to grow in honesty. So, even in the very first session, your job is simply to speak as honestly as you can in the moment. How well your psychotherapist does his job will determine whether you trust his manner and expertise enough to return for another session.

Moreover, even if you don’t feel comfortable with those initial sessions and decide to find someone else, this is all a living aspect of your emotional life, and continuing to speak about everything, even as it develops with a new psychotherapist, becomes a part of the treatment for the original issue that brought you into treatment in the first place.

Abusive relationships draw their sustenance from things not said that provoke hurt feelings that incite feelings of revenge. Putting an end to hatred and abuse, therefore, requires making a beginning of speaking with honesty about what is really happening, consciously and unconsciously, in the moment. You learn this honesty from psychotherapy not in spite of but because of every difficult obstacle that occurs during the treatment.

 


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