On learning how to navigate therapy.

I went out for dinner last night with three inspiring, awesome, well accomplished women that I know through the work that we all do. We’re all a bit intense so we get right to the point and go deep. We listen and ask questions and learn from one another. I wouldn’t say we’re close, but we have refreshingly honest conversations about aspirations, career, health, love and happiness. 

So I learned something new about therapy last night. I mentioned to my dinner party that I’ve now had three therapy sessions with this lady. I think she is good. But I don’t love the rapport. When I first came to her I said that I probably need to talk about my parents and my childhood, but it’s not easy for me. Last week I went in and she asked how I was doing and the truth was that I had experienced a really up and down week and some dark episodes and I really wanted to talk about that. So I began talking about just that. I thought it was clear.  

She didn’t engage me very long in my dark episodes or my up and down week. Instead, she kind of derailed the conversation and said “I know in our initial session you said that you probably should talk about your family in therapy.” She didn’t skillfully transition the conversation to this- she kind of cut me off and just presented this as a statement. I don’t think she even asked me a question about this. So as a result we spent the first 40 minutes talking in circles and jumping all over the place because my mind was so jumbled and I had come in not prepared to talk about my family and I couldn’t just jump into it because it’s quite overwhelming for me. In fact in the last therapy session I gained deeper insight into my mother’s anger and I cried the whole time. So, it’s pretty difficult. 

But my friends last night asked “Did you tell her you didn’t want to talk about your family?” “Did you tell her what you wanted to talk about?” And I responded “No. I thought it was clear by me talking about my week and then being quite silent when she asked me about my family.” … They looked at each other and then me. “I know, that’s being really passive aggressive,” I said sheepishly. My friends smiled knowingly and reminded me that the therapist is not a mind reader. They said, encouragingly, “You have to tell her.” 

“Well, I didn’t know that- I thought she knew what she was doing,” I thought to myself. And then with a smile and in lamenting tone I said: “Isn’t it ironic that I can’t even state my needs to my therapist?” The reactions around the table were mixed- apologetic laughter, smiles, and “At least you can find humour in that.” 

Isn’t it ironic though? I’m fucking 30 years old. I’m paying this woman over $100 an hour to work for me and I can’t even tell her what I want to and not want to do in a session that’s costing me so bloody much. 

Boy, do I have a lot of work to do. 


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