Reasons You Shouldn’t Fuck Kids


Reason #193: Shopping for a therapist

So I’ve been shopping for a therapist lately.  As my regular readers already know, I already have a marital therapist, and we determined that my fucked-upness is fucking up my marriage and possibility of having another baby, and so it would be best for me to find my own therapist.  As most of you probably know, finding a therapist that you like can be difficult.  I once read a study that said that no matter what else happens in therapy, when people like their therapist, their chances of healing are much greater than those who didn’t like their therapist.  So, even if you have fucking Carl Jung himself as your therapist, if you don’t like him, you’re not going to get any better.

So, I called some therapists and left some messages.  I have seen so many therapists in my life already, and 95% of them have been total crap.  But I had two really great ones, and I am seeing a really great marital counselor now.  So there’s hope.

Anyway, one of them calls me back, and this is how the conversation went.

Doc: “Hi, this is Dr. ThinkI’mGreatButReallyISuck.  You left me a message.  I need to let you know that I am not accepting new patients until November.”

Me: Oh. Well, I guess that will be okay, it’s only 2 months away.

Doc:  I see.  What are you looking for exactly?

Me: I need someone who has some expertise in the area of child sexual abuse.

Doc: I see.  Is that because you are a survivor yourself, or is your child a survivor, or is it someone you know-

Me: (cutting her off) It’s me.

Doc: I see.  Have you ever been in therapy before?

Me: Yes.

Doc: I see.  And how long ago was this?

Me: (Starting to feel weird – do I have to tell her about my past therapists?  I don’t know her at all, and I already had to tell her I am a survivor, and I feel vulnerable.)  Uh, look, this is getting kind of weird.  You’ve been asking a lot of questions, and I haven’t gotten to ask you any.  I feel like I am telling you my life story, and I am trying to ascertain if you are even someone I should be seeing or not, and it seems like you are interviewing me before I have even made the decision to see you.

Doc: (defensive)  Well, I am just trying to see if you need someone earlier than November, and you said you were-

Me: (cutting her off): I don’t think this is going to work.  I’m sorry.

Doc: (pause) Okay.  (click)

Now I guess I have to call some more possible therapists.  But honestly, I already just saw one a few weeks ago who turned out to be an idiot (because she couldn’t keep up with the conversation, and I tend to go quick), and now with this last phone call, I don’t feel like it.

My marital therapist has offered to be my personal therapist.  It gives me a weird feeling, and I am not sure what to do.  On the one hand, she seems to really understand me.  On the other hand, there’s the weird gut feeling I have every time I think of seeing her as my personal therapist.

There was a spider in my room last night.  I think the Universe is trying to tell me something.


4 Comments so far
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Oh man, I do not envy you. I am so, so sorry you have to go through this process again.

I decided on the following “steps” for myself when I last attempted a search:

1. I call the therapists and *I* get to ask a big freaking list of questions that are important to me. Uncomfortable with that? You don’t get to move on to the next step.

2. If you handled the phone well enough, you get an introductory appointment (possibly two). You should be validating, gentle, kind, and NOT PUSHY. You also should not enforce ridiculous rules like insisting that I call you “Doctor” So-and-So when, for Christ’s sake, I am telling you about all the times someone raped me or who knows what else. If that’s the kind of shit I’m telling you, I get to call you Bob or Steve or Mary or whatever. Also, if you kick me out mid-sentence when “the time is up,” we are done. I am reasonable, but sometimes you need another three minutes to pull yourself together. (There are tons more that cater to my own personal needs, but you get the point.) If, within two sessions, you fail to impress me, we are done.

3. WIN!

I sort of had to put myself in that sarcastic headspace and pretend it was like a reality show elimination thing wherein I was the judge and the therapists were the contestants. Made it a LOT easier when I could get myself into it.

But no matter how you go about it, there are still the 95% of shitty therapists to wade through, just like you said. And so it’s never a fun process and, again, I am really sorry you have to repeat it.

Comment by blackswan30

Hmm… I’ve had pretty good luck with therapists. This is my strategy for picking them. You’ve been at this for awhile too, so probably have your strategy worked out, but for what it’s worth, here’s what I do.

1) I only go to therapists who are feminists, period. Any woman not willing to refer to herself as a feminist, is probaby going to have annoying attitudes about child sexual abuse and women. I find this out from their websites or whatever if I can before calling, or when I ask about their ‘therapeutic approach’, which often tells me which way they lean.

2) I find out what her therapeutic approach is. It’s a good safe question to ask if you don’t want to get into your stuff over the phone, too. If it’s Freudian or psychoanalytic / psychodynamic, I say no way. Freud had a lot of stupid ideas about child sexual assault (mostly that we were all making it up because we really wanted into our father’s pants) and that permeates the whole approach so deeply (it’s why he made up half his theories, to get that lie to work) that it can’t help but pollute it, in my opinion. Even the less stupid modern adaptations have this taint to them of not openly calling him on his crap. I’m in favour of evidence based therapies. Good approach fits with survivors that I’m aware of are: Rogerian, Narrative, Feminist Psychotherapy, Adlerian, EMDR, Logotherapy. MOst therapists who’ve been working for awhile will draw from a mixture of approaches. Cognitive behavioural therapy might be good when you’re trying to fix a specific effect of being a survivor. Some people like Jungian therapy, but it seems like it takes a long time and isn’t as focussed on the abuse as I think survivors need.
3) I read what they write on their brochure or website about how they work. If they write words like ’empowering’ and ’empowerment’ and seem like they want to help me figure out how to heal myself rather than seeing me as a patient to be fixed, they get full marks.
3) I pay attention to my gut after the first (and all) sessions. If I feel shamed or embarassed, it’s their fault and I fire them immediately. I’ve only had to do this once and I don’t regret it.

4) I take responsibility for my own healing and ask for what I want. A safe way to find out what their attitude about survivors is, is to ask them how much specific experience they have had working with child sexual abuse survivors. It discloses without feeling so vulnerable. One of the things I want is for the therapist not to be freaked out to hear about graphic things, and experience speaks to that. In the first session I tell her pretty specifically what I need when I’m dissociated or in a child / memory state. My last therapist I asked her what her level of experience was in working with survivors of child sexual abuse. She took this question seriously and gave a credible answer. I think I even told her I needed to be with someone who would not be freaked out to hear about my experiences, even if they were heavy, and she got it and provided me specific information rather than just reassurances.

5) I pay attention to how they react when I tell them something about the abuse. If they’re freaked out or uncomfortable at all, their body language shows it and that indicates they have an issue with it. I don’t want to be looking after my therapist, so if she isn’t completely comfortable with talking about the abuse, she’s no good.

6) As a lesbian, I only see therapists now who are lesbians. I’ve had good therapists who weren’t but they weren’t 100% ‘on’ about the details of the relationship stuff and sometimes the details matter. You’d be surprized about how people’s assumptions about the way things work are different if you’re gay or straight. I suspect this principle transfers over for other cultural groups sometimes if you’re kind of fringe in some way. Also, since my spirituality is a big part of my healing, she absolutely needs to be open minded about religion and have no agenda to convert me to their way of thinking. I fired a therapist because she kept talking about G-d. If I’m going to be vulnerable with someone and look to her for nurturing and validation, she needs not to have an agenda that goes against my best interests, and trying to convert me to another religion is a violation of the trust that I plan to place in her.

I get you on not wanting to see your couple’s therapist individually. I have never felt comfortable with that iether. At some point you’re going to need to talk about your husband, and it becomes awkward to do that with your couple’s therapist, who is supposed to be impartial.

May you find someone really helpful and competent, who inspires and coaches you be calm and grounded and resourceful in your own healing.

SDW

Comment by sworddancewarrior

Hi Warrior & Swan – These lists are so validating. It’s so good to hear that other people have these types of experiences as well, and that we all seem to create ‘safety rules’ for ourselves. Thank you!!!

Comment by butterflysblog

Hi Butterfly,

I can relate so much, unfortunately, with your phone conversation, been there, done that. And it would wipe me out for days and further eroded my fragile gossamer ability to trust. I think you did a great job. I’m so happy that you get how it is all about you, it is a job interview, you are the person offering the job, not the other way around. Sounds like you got some great comments already on how they each approach this topic, truly great. You can trust your intutive response to having the marital therapist as your one on one person. Can she recommend someone who gets it?

Thinking of you. Good and healing thoughts to you.

Kate

Comment by kate1975




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