is very complex. Approximately a year and a half ago, I began psychotherapy
to discuss some underlying issues regarding some weight gain. I was approaching
forty, my 15+ year marriage was failing, my husband traveled frequently,
and I was a stay-at-home mom of young children. There was also childhood
issues which had never been addressed (molestation by employee of my Dads,
some physical and verbal abuse by parents, stalked in high school by former
friend, and death threats in college by a male neighbor in my apartment
community). For me, psychotherapy was a place to open up to my past and my
pain. I initially found it to be very intimidating but my psychotherapist
made me feel both comfortable and safe. I continued psychotherapy successfully
for several months, lost a significant amount of weight, and slowly developed
feelings of transference for my psychotherapist. Once I realized this, I
asked him if we could discuss [this]. Although clearly uncomfortable with
this topic, my psychotherapist assured me this was very normal and the session
was handled both professionally and respectfully by both of us. Because this
was normal, I was a little surprised the following session when
he informed me he had consulted with a colleague regarding my case and whether
he should continue as my psychotherapist. I felt a little chastised by him
and some guilt and shame for having, what I now deemed, as
to my transference issues and because of my husbands intense dislike
of my participation in psychotherapy, I left psychotherapy a short time later.
Six weeks later, I returned after the death of a young child I had babysat
as an infant.
growth and healing occurred over the next several months in the psychotherapy
room. Although the feelings still existed, they were never again verbally
discussed. In retrospect, they seemed to seep into our sessions in other
ways: body language, expressions, and possibly even dialogue. For instance,
once he was giving me an example of how to ask for some intimate time with
my spouse and inadvertently, said his name instead of my husbands.
I was unsure if he was experiencing countertransference of if I was somehow
projecting my unspoken desires onto him.
my husband and I disagreed on my need of psychotherapy. He felt threatened
by my growth. He was extremely jealous and angry about why I would not confide
in him. He would ask, upon my return from an appointment, how my
boyfriend or my boy was that day? He had always been
very controlling, rigid, and somewhat demeaning but this only intensified
as psychotherapy continued. I desired to discuss this with my psychotherapist
but felt like I needed to protect him (psychotherapist), I also feared telling
him the truth would result in me being terminated.
I began to notice my psychotherapist becoming more inaccessible which HE
later described himself as coming across as a cold, aloof bastard. More
vacations, time off, appointments could only be made every two weeks instead
of weekly, etc. I finally had enough and sent him an email after his last
hiatus terminating psychotherapy. He quickly responded that evening via email
saying it was difficult to hear of how disappointed I had become with him
and psychotherapy and that, naturally, he wanted the opportunity to work
through many of the issues and experiences I had mentioned in my
of my feelings of attachment to him, I agreed to meet and discuss in an
appointment the following day. His email the night before, created a sense
of betrayal the following day when HE terminated the relationship immediately.
At that very moment in time, I flashed back to an incident where my parents
left me at home alone which later resulted in my being sexually abused. It
was an incident I had been desiring to discuss in psychotherapy for several
weeks but was unable because of appointment schedules. I asked him, What
just happened here? I was dazed, confused and in shock. He said I created
feelings of ambivalence in him and the conflicting responses were a result
abandoned, alone, rejected, betrayed, hurt, etc.. like I was being punished
for being honest. I suddenly became a problem bigger than he could
handlein other words I felt unfixable. At that moment,
psychotherapy seemed very conditional. (Gives a lot of insight into my
indicated that I should stay in psychotherapy. He only mentioned he knew
of someone who could take over where he left off and was willing to give
me her name if I desired. I left without her name because, at that moment,
I hated psychotherapy and I hated him. Aside from the ambivalence I created
in him , the other reason he gave for terminating our relationship, was the
effect it was having on my marriage. He said it would be egregious of him
to stay. In my mind, he had put my husbands desires and needs before
my own. Before leaving, I told him I was hurt, angry and confused. I had
an emotional breakdown and shortly thereafter, my marriage fell
days later, I emailed him and requested the name of another psychotherapist.
I began psychotherapy with a female psychotherapist shortly thereafter. For
a very long time, I hid the depth of my feelings from both her and myself.
I blamed myself because I did not want to jeopardize the idealized parts
of him. My new psychotherapist recommended I meet with him to discuss the
way my termination was handled. Five months later, we met and it was difficult
for both of us. He expressed regret, I expressed extreme sadness and anger.
Two weeks later, I learned from my new psychotherapist that she had been
consulting with him for the past few months about my case. I attempted to
cancel my appointment, but at her request, kept my appointment and explored
that I felt betrayed againthis time by BOTH of them.
with him again to discuss the affects of my termination and the latest
development. He acknowledged the resistance and said it was him protecting
himself. His decision to terminate me without input, left me feeling voiceless.
Both psychotherapists have made some conflicting comments. I recognize much
of what I am experiencing are questions I desire to ask my own parents but
I have issues of betrayal and trust in psychotherapy. If I was protecting
him, and he was protecting him, who was protecting me? Should I feel betrayed
by her desire to share my current psychotherapy with my former
the detailed facts of this case, my new psychotherapist sees me as a victim.
She recently asked me why I blamed myselfHes a doctor for
goodness sakes. He is trained on how to respond. It must be my fault because
he knows what he is doing. For me, psychotherapy was like wrapping
a gift. It was among other things, the gift of trust. For almost one year,
with his help I picked out the perfect wrapping paper and bow to wrap my
special gift. In less than one hour, he unwrapped my gift to myself and now
all I see is crumpled paper and a used bow. I am mad that I came to psychotherapy
to heal wounds, not create more wounds to heal. I feel like I came to work
on letting my guard down, only to realize why I always leave it up. I am
sad because I was willing to take a risk I had never taken beforeshow
someone my deepest hurts, wounds, and fears. I trusted this person and I
feel completely betrayed.
angry because I have always been able to function normally. Now I cannot
seem to keep it together. I have started an anti-depressant to help me cope
through these painful moments. Can anyone ever be trusted?
Yes, your situation is complex, and for that reason I have
not edited your question to shorten it.
Now, the essence
of the matter can be found in one phrase (my new psychotherapist sees
me as a victim) and, more specifically, in one word in that phrase:
The truth is,
you have been victimized in the past. You have been sexually molested, verbally
abused, stalked, and threatened with death. Moreover, you have been victimized
by your husbands
You have also
been victimized by your first psychotherapist. It appears from the way you
describe it that you dont seem to see it, but your first
psychotherapists consulting with the psychotherapist to whom he referred
you is a grave breach of
unless you specifically gave your written permission to allow him to discuss
your case with anyone. You could sue him for breaking confidentiality, and
he could lose his
license. In this
sense, you have been betrayed.
have also been victimized by your second psychotherapist. A psychotherapist
can seek consultation for a case only if the consultant does not know the
client being discussed. By speaking with your first psychotherapist, your
second psychotherapist has herself breached confidentiality. In this sense,
you have been betrayed again.
So far, however,
there is nothing complex about all this victimization. So lets see
where the complexity begins.
begins, in the technical sense, with
That is, in being victimized, you can feel so helpless that your pain remains
unspoken, and your anger gets pushed into the
unconscious. As a
result, with all of this unconscious pain and anger festering in your heart,
you can develop a psychological attitude to life that prevents you from being
with anyone while at the same time you feel resentment that you are being
the whole point of psychotherapy is to remedy this tendency to keep your
thoughts and feelings hidden. Sadly, many psychotherapy clients make the
mistake of continuing to hide their thoughts and feelings in the psychotherapy
just as they hide them everywhere else. Much of the work of psychotherapy
therefore hinges on the psychotherapist not allowing these mistakes to go
unnoticed and unspoken.
You have made
several of these mistakes, and your long description of the case provides
Due to my
transference issues and because of my husbands intense dislike of my
participation in psychotherapy, I left psychotherapy a short time later.
That is, instead of discussing these issues openly in the
[transference] feelings still existed, they were never again verbally
discussed. That is, you chose to ignore something that was
right under your nose.
to discuss this [my husbands feelings about my psychotherapy]
with my psychotherapist but felt like I needed to protect him (psychotherapist),
I also feared telling him the truth would result in me being
terminated. That is, you failed to speak to your psychotherapist
about your husbands opposition to the psychotherapy and the emotional
problems it was causing you.
had enough and sent him an email after his last hiatus terminating
psychotherapy. That is, instead of speaking personally, in the
psychotherapy, you hid yourself behind an e-mail. (When psychotherapy consists
of regular face-to-face meetings, letters and e-mails are always an emotional
I left without
her name because, at that moment, I hated psychotherapy and I hated him.
That is, you bolted, again.
For a very
long time, I hid the depth of my feelings from both her and myself.
That is, you started hiding yourself, again.
I have started
an anti-depressant to help me cope through these painful moments. Can anyone
ever be trusted? That is, you are back to where you started: trying
to hide your pain by punishing yourself and throwing it back into the face
of the world.
Now, even though
these mistakes are all your own, your psychotherapist is professionally
responsible to notice them and bring them into the open. As it happened,
you seem to have stumbled onto two incompetent psychotherapists.
So what can you
do? Well, find another psychotherapist on your own. And learn from your mistakes:
work as hard as possible from now on not to hide your thoughts and feelings
in psychotherapy. Speak about everything, dont hide yourself behind
e-mails and letters, and resist the temptation to
bolt when things
get tough. Your psychotherapeutic task is to overcome your victim anger,
and you can accomplish this only with absolute honesty.
advertisingno sponsorjust the simple truth . . .