Thursday, November 27, 2008

faux therapy

Well, last night was interesting. I went to the clinic hoping to feel better, and that’s actually what happened, but not the way I expected. I have met with a few therapists, but I don’t think I’ve ever met one like this one.

Her name was Jennifer, and when she came out to get me I thought maybe she was just an office person. She didn’t have the presence of a professional. Her appearance was…frumpy. That’s the best word I can think of to describe her. She spoke without really opening her mouth, and her expression was like she was half asleep. It was like talking to someone who was tired and wishing they were in bed. She was overweight, but just around the middle. Her appendages were normal size. And she did not really have any sense of style about the way she dressed. I tried not to be put off by her appearance, but it was hard not to be. She was just a strange-looking creature.

There was really no structure about the visit. I expected her to ask questions, but there was a lot of silence. She would ask very vague questions, like she was expecting I was a talker, but I am not, and I don’t just talk to listen to myself. I talk if someone is interested. And she did not seem genuinely interested. She probably would have rather been at home with the seven year-old boy she mentioned a couple of times.

I kept wondering why I was there. What had I paid for? Did this person actually possess the skills to help me, or was she the one who needed help? We got through a little of my background, but I also heard a lot about hers. She grew up with an alcoholic father. She had some knowledge about Borderline and other personality disorders, and she explained a lot about their behavior, which was not really enlightening for me. I’m the one who has lived with them all of my life. I know how they are. She told me about her day job, working with convicts in the justice system, trying to help those who do not want to be helped. I kept wondering when we were going to get to the purpose of my visit. After an hour, when my patience could stand no more, I had to say something. “So what are we going to do?” I said. “To raise my self-esteem?”

And then she gave me an assignment. But by then I had already decided I was not going to return and pay another $70 to feel like I had accomplished nothing. I accepted the assignment, but I wanted to just get up and leave. I did finally have to end things after 90 minutes. She would have let me sit folding paper airplanes for another half hour otherwise. I finally just stood up and thanked her for her time and let myself out.

It was so weird. It was the strangest counseling session I’ve ever experienced. Walking out to my car I was relieved and reassured that there is just not that much wrong with me that I can’t work on myself. I have prayer, I have scriptures, I have good friends who listen and care about what I have to say. There are people with more complex problems than I have. I’m in pretty good shape.

I still feel like there are some things I need to change and behaviors I need to work on, but after that session with that strange woman I feel much more capable of finding my own solutions.


  1. that's really interesting. Apparently you and that therapist were not a good match. I don't know. The one therapist I've seen a few times in the last few years - she's terrific (for me, at least). And it was so neat how I found her. Well not really 'how' I guess. I just *knew* where to look.. so we tried there first. And I first met with some other person (who I think I talked to only twice, if that. maybe it was only once.) But she didn't seem to be on the same page that I was (on the things I wanted to discuss/needed help with). Another therapist friend I talked to (informally, on the phone) said "don't waste your time/money if you don't feel it's a match." So I went with my gut/instinct and scheduled with the person I felt was right for me. And she turned out to be very very helpful. ;-)

  2. I have a LOT of feelings about therapists. And, very recently, I begna creating bumper stickers to voice my feelings:

    1. My therapist's heart is more calloused than my hands,

    2. My goldfish is smarter than a therapist,

    3. A dead skink has a better sense of humor than a therapist,

    4. My horse has more compassion than a therapist's ass. (Sorry for the bad language)

    and, on and on... I was venting... I do not hate therapists. Just dislike the ones who abandon their patients...


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