Attachment and reliance on a therapist

I’ve mentioned previously that I exhibit avoidance behaviours – this is especially true of my relationship with therapists.  We respect Liz and her abilities, but we don’t particularly like her and some of us actively hate her.  So any notion of becoming attached to her in any way, feels alien and odd.  Up until now, I’ve been dubious as to whether any sort of attachment or reliance is necessary – surely we can learn and heal without these silly emotional concepts getting in the way…  Well, apparently not.  Apparently, at some stage you have to trust your therapists strength to carry some of the burden.  We’ve reached that point and it’s terrifying beyond words…  What if Liz can’t cope?  What if she isn’t there like we need her to be?  What if she looks at the problems we’re bringing, and says it’s too much… that we’re too damaged?

I have an emergency session with Liz this afternoon to try and work on a safety plan.  I didn’t cope well with the ex-husband’s birthday and I need help.  My heart sinks as I write those words.  I don’t want to need help.  I don’t want to appear less than perfect.  I sure don’t want to rely on anyone else for that help.  People have a habit of being human and making mistakes or not following through on the things they say… What if Liz turns out to be very normal in her mistake making abilities and lets us down when we really need someone, how are we meant to work through that?  Carol is the last therapist who let us down when we needed her.  She had us sectioned under the Mental Health Act because of a misunderstanding.  This one mistake nearly destroyed Sophie and changed the system significantly.  We can’t risk something like that again.

So, I’m going into this session on tenterhooks.  I know I need help, but I’m not sure what help I need.  I do know that we hate needing to ask.


11 thoughts on “Attachment and reliance on a therapist

  1. I’m so sorry that you are experiencing so much anxiety! It really sucks. I’ve found that trusting a therapist is like hanging a banner. You can hang your side but you have to trust that the other person will hang hers. If you can avoid expecting perfection, you will be okay. My T has let me down in a couple of major ways, but he jumped right back in there and helped me work thru it. A good T will do that. Mr.S reminds me every now and again that he isn’t perfect and he does make mistakes, but not because he doesn’t care or isn’t trying. I have to give him that.

    • In some respects Ivory, I expect Liz to fail miserably. I don’t expect perfection, instead I’m going to be waiting for her to fail, which I know she will at some stage because of the human error factor. I’m just not sure I can cope with the errors that are going to occur. I’m not sure the system can cope with trusting another person who will fail us at some point. But I also know we can’t go on as we are… So I have to decide which is worse.

  2. Oh CG, I’m so sorry you are struggling. Learning to trust again when our trust has been so heinously broken is one of the hardest parts of healing, but also one of the most important.

    I will never forget the day my therapist said, “Stop carrying this sh*t around with you all the time. Leave it with me for awhile.” At the time I didn’t understand why she’d want to do that, or if she could stand the ugliness. I also thought she would think I was too hideous and throw me away. But she didn’t. She could hold the ugly. She continues to hold the ugly with me. That is so very powerful, and so very healing.

    Can you talk to Liz about your fears, and what Carol did? Would that help to ease the way? I suggest small steps – try a little bit, then if that’s ok, a little bit more.

    As for needing help, I know. It’s weak and pathetic, right? Wrong. A very dear friend said to me only recently that we shouldn’t be afraid to reach out, others are there for us and will help us. I am here for you, just as you are for me. ;P I’m proud of you for reaching out to Liz when you need to!

    Please take care, let me know how it goes with Liz.

    (((CG))) Safe ones, of course.

  3. Oh, this sounds so familiar. It’s terrifying to learn to trust again. When I hit this point with my therapist, what finally got me past the sticking point was the realization that trust is given moment to moment, and can always be withdrawn. But yeah, that first moment is a doozy.

    Good luck.

  4. Right there with you, darling — I have no clue how in the world to develop an attachment to my excellent therapist, though I think she is in fact trustworthy.

    When I told her this, one of the first things she encouraged me to do was to tell her how other therapists had let me down, so we could discuss in what ways my experience with her might be different, or similar. It did help me to gain a sense of where her weaknesses and boundaries are, and her honesty was useful in helping me to see her as trustworthy.

  5. It’s the parts of you who actively hate her who are in the most need of healing. They only hate her so much because they know that she threatens their normal coping. Liz has many strengths. I think she is committed to helping you. I know trust for you is hard. I agree with David that it’s important to let Liz know how you’ve been treated in therapy in the past.

    • I agree that the hatred is because Liz threatens their status quo. She is aware of the hatred, although hasn’t actually experienced it.

      While I agree with you and David about telling of my past experiences with therapists, it also feels like I’m telling tales. It’s also a very skewed view, as my distortions in thinking and perception mean that I don’t see the whole picture in a therapy situation. So these poor therapists might be brilliant and doing everything right, I’m just the arch-typical “bad client”. I’ve mentioned little bits, but I will need to go over some of it in more detail.

      Thank you and take care,

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