Red flags of bad therapy1-5 (part 1, A bad fit!)

Ever go to buy a certain style of shirt and you really want it to look great on you but in just doesn’t work?

The shoulders might droop, the waist doesn’t fall where yours does and the sleeves are just too short, and it sneaks up on your back when you bend over. You try the next size …and it’s even worse! So it is with your therapist and you! Comfort level and style are important.

Let’s face it… not every shirt style fits everyone, and we’re not going to be best buds with everybody we encounter. To become close with a few others is a good goal! So what makes us think that when choosing a therapist that the chances we’re going to hit it off is any different. Oh yeah…this is a professional we’re choosing…aren’t they all wonderful,qualified, and welcome us warmly into their psychic space? Aren’t they all kind and loving, and haven’t they done their own work so that they don’t have issues that would get in the way of our own healing?

I naively thought so!

I’d just pick one out that could be the perfect parent I never had. He/she would be wise, caring, loving,concerned and want to help me figure out what I wanted out of life. Help me learn to make wise choices without inserting his/her own unmet needs and dreams into the equation. It finally was going to be all about what I wanted and needed!

Wrong…another bad choice made!

I chose this therapist (LCSW) from my provider directory and an online blurb about a “workshop” he ran.
I should have hung up the phone when I first called for an appointment, and before he even said hello, asked a very paranoid sounding “How did you get my number?”.
Red flag #1….questionable demeanor on the first phone contact

Yet I was feeling so desperate and confused , if he had an opening in his schedule I was going grab it. So when he said can you come in tomorrow ….I said yes….it never occurred to me that his schedule sounded way “too open”!

Red flag #2 you want to be seen ASAP, but when offered a few prime time spots…it’s not a good sign

So I arrived at the office for the first appointment….mmmm…no waiting room other than under the large oak trees on the property….gonna be cold in the winter!

red flag # 3….no waiting area to calmly and peacefully gather your thoughts…only a driveway where you can wait in your car

I enter the office and it’s small and dark. We do a brief intro of names while standing and I then sit on a small couch that fills the space wall to wall….small office! , the therapist sits in a desk chair about 5 feet away….I move back as far as I can on the couch! (and thought about crawling under the cushions!) Above me and to the sides are bookshelves slightly warped from the weight of volumes of heavy psychiatric material, and books on how to have great relationships with someone you can’t stand to be with! There are piles of magazines and papers all around the room, and the desk…well it’s there under the paperwork…somewhere!
Red Flag #4… no feeling of clear space in the office…and the therapist thinks clients feel as “at home” and “cozy” as he does…it is his home!

I put off my discomfort to being nervous ….not listening to what my body’s discomfort was telling me….and then we started to talk. He asks what I am there for and I rattled off a litany of problems …that I wanted to divorce my husband but was still holding onto “false hopes”, that I wanted to change careers and felt stuck in a job that “wasn’t me”, and that I wanted to work on some unresolved childhood issues that were preventing me from moving forward. My father was also terminally ill, and I needed emotional support regarding “end of life” and grief issues. He sat there, glum looking, scribbling a note a couple times, and saying a few things back of his own experience in life…I guess this was supposed to help me feel like he was empathetic to my issues, but while he spoke these things, it didn’t feel like he really heard me, it was as if he was just overlaying my stories with his own. There was this weird “meshing” intensity that didn’t feel good! I didn’t feel cared for, I felt like an experiment in a petri dish…some”thing” to be studied under a microscope and observed for “changes” and reactions

Red Flag number 5 …not feeling well…feeling tension ( vs. relief)…feeling watched (vs. feeling seen)….not feeling heard….not feeling safe

end of part 1

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