If you could ask your therapist anything, what would it be?

J challenged me in therapy today. She started with the eating thing again (Tuesday’s session explained here). She asked me when I will stop starving myself. She said she was worried about ‘where this is heading’. She went into her ‘duty of care’ spiel and talked about our ‘contract’ (a vague verbal agreement about our work together). Unnecessarily, she pointed out that under-eating is bad for me and reminded me that if I get sick because of it I won’t be well enough to do therapy anymore.

It was all a bit much. I felt bombarded by all of this. My eating issues have been in the background for probably six months now, so I am perplexed as to why this has suddenly become a priority. For some reason, I’ve just been put on the spot, and I am expected to have something to say about it.

I don’t have a plan. I am not under-eating with the ambition of losing weight. I’m not consciously attempting to starve myself to death. I think I am in control enough that if my eating habits started making me sick, I would have the incentive to change them. But I guess that’s what all addicts say. I remember thinking I could just stop drinking if I really wanted to. The trouble was, I never wanted to badly enough.

Pretty much the whole session went like this. J pushing and challenging and asking me questions she knew I wouldn’t have a reasonable answer for. It was one of those sessions where I leave with the impression that therapy is all about proving me wrong. I say something, it gets disputed, I have to look for evidence and prove why I think that thing, and in the end I am proved wrong but still feel the same way. I still have whatever feeling or worry we discuss, it’s just that after the conversation I feel irrational and stupid for having it.

Somehow we ended up talking about our relationship, which is literally the topic I hate most in therapy. I can’t even begin to explain why, because I don’t understand it myself. All I know is that I love J and feel heavily dependent on her and at the same time I don’t fully trust that she won’t reject or abandon me. Thrown in with that are all the emotions. I mean ALL of them. So you can see why it is complex.

J pointed out that I find it hard to tell her when she has said or done something I’ve found upsetting in some way. I am aware of this. And I avoid it because I am scared of somehow breaking a relationship that is very precious to me. She said I need to learn to take things, to ask for things, to say when something isn’t good enough. I know all of this, but I lack the courage it requires. I rarely even ask her for simple things, like a glass of water or to adjust the heating. It always feels like something I shouldn’t do.

This got me thinking tonight, about what I would ask her if I could ask any question at all and she would have to give me an honest response. Would I want to find out something about her ‘real’ life? Would I ask what her long term plans are for her practice? Or why she decided to become a therapist?

But really, if I were brave enough to ask her any question, I think I would want to know what she thinks about me. I’d want to know for sure that she doesn’t dread her sessions with me, that she does really believe I can recover and move forward. I’d like to know whether she really thinks I’m a lost cause, but keeps working with me out of some academic interest, or because she’s put in too much effort to want to quit now.

I’m interested to know; if you could ask your therapist anything at all, what would you go for?

 

Image: Beatnik Photos: Creative Commons

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19 Comments Add yours

  1. As I was reading through your post I asked myself the question … and when I got to your answer I smiled because it was so similar to what I would want to know. “Do you really like me, do you really care about me, do you think about me any time other than our sessions, or is it just a job?” But I’m not sure I’d like the answer.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Laura says:

      I guess it’s similar because these are things that within the confines of the therapeutic relationship are very difficult for us to know for sure. For me, when J says something along these lines, I can quickly discount it because I tell myself it is part of her job to say those nice reassuring things. But you’re right, it’s probably best not to know the real answer!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Kira says:

    I actually can’t think of anything I’d want to ask my therapist about but would be afraid to ask. My therapist is very open with me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Laura says:

      That’s nice to hear.

      Like

  3. Alexis Rose says:

    Good question. Hmmmm, maybe, what he shares with his colleagues over beers. But, I wouldn’t want to know the answer.

    Like

    1. Laura says:

      Haha yes sometimes it’s good to be able to fill in these blanks from our imaginations. I know I’d have a particular problem if I somehow discovered my therapist had really opposing political views to me or something. It is definitely best I don’t know what she talks about when socialising!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Kat says:

    Probably exactly the same as you! Xx

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Jami Carder says:

    I would love to know what she really thinks of me…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Laura says:

      I suppose when we think about it, we’d like to know what everyone in our lives really thinks of us. But I can imagine that in the long run it wouldn’t be a good thing!

      Like

  6. plf1990 says:

    I would want to have a really open discussion around how she as a person feels about me…whether she feels the same sense of boundary blurring that I do…i would love to ask her about times when she knows she’s responding as a therapist and times when she knows it’s her responding as a human to me. I’d be fascinated.

    I’d also love to know, honestly, what she shares with others. I trust that she wouldn’t ever share any details or name me or whatever…. I trust her on that entirely, but I wonder whether she ever talks about me in vague ways? Especially to her kids. I’d love to know if anyone in her life knows that I exist at all – not by name, but in the vague ways she mentions me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Laura says:

      Yeah that would be fascinating, you’re right. I have also wondered what my T shares about me with people in her life, and whether she does. I know she probably talks to her supervisor about me, but sometimes after a difficult session, I wonder if she says to her husband or a friend that work was tough or that she’s had a heavy day or a particularly difficult client.

      Like

      1. plf1990 says:

        Yeah im exactly the same in my thoughts! I know she’d never say oh god plf was really difficult today because she was telling me all about…….. but i do wonder how much she says under the cover of ‘my client’ etc

        Liked by 1 person

  7. La Quemada says:

    I don’t think I would feel secure enough to ask what she really feels about me. I do trust that she cares, but I also imagine that I frustrate her and aggravate her at times (not on purpose). I think that having this impression confirmed would make me feel bad about myself and send me spinning into an episode of self-loathing. I am probably better off just taking her at her word, that she cares a lot and is invested in my well-being.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Laura says:

      I definitely wouldn’t be able to ask her that. And if I did, I probably wouldn’t believe her when she replied. Some days I can take her at her word, and some days it’s really easy to shrug off her care for me and tell myself it’s just part of her job.

      Like

  8. manyofus1980 says:

    I think I would ask her why she decided to go from being a nurse to being a psychotherapist. she was a psychiatric nurse for 27 years. I’m interested to know why she changed careers. xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Laura says:

      I’ve often wondered the same about my T, who also was a nurse before. It always feels off limits to ask her questions about herself.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. manyofus1980 says:

        Mine doesn’t give a lot away about herself, she will answer small things but she’s not given a lot of information and I hesitate to ask her

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Laura says:

        Yes, it kinda feels like the information is only supposed to flow one way – which I guess is true. It’s hard sometimes to deal with not knowing though!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. manyofus1980 says:

        Yes it is, I agreed

        Liked by 1 person

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