I seem to be disillusioned with therapy


Yesterday I had a session with J that left me feeling confusingly angry with her and unable to sleep last night. I didn’t feel angry at the time I was with her, and I can’t figure out what it was she said or did that has prompted this reaction. Maybe it’s just some anger displaced from elsewhere, or perhaps I want to ‘test’ her – that isn’t unheard of for me.

One thing that came up during the session really bothered me. J asked what it is that stops me from speaking freely. My inability or unwillingness to verbalise my thoughts has been a recurring obstacle throughout my years of therapy. It always comes down to the same thing; I am afraid of speaking without censorship. I have a deeply ingrained fear of humiliating myself, or damaging relationships by saying the wrong thing, something that makes the other person think less of me.

I guess my occupation as a writer probably exacerbates that, because I spend all my working hours being careful with words, overthinking and crafting my communications. So the idea of just blurting out a stream of consciousness feels really threatening to me. I know J wouldn’t have meant to make me feel inadequate, but a part of me took this on board as criticism. When things like this come up, I end up feeling as though she thinks I am not trying hard enough.

None of that felt particularly significant during the session, but throughout the evening afterwards I felt myself getting increasingly angry. I spent several hours mulling over the pros and cons of just quitting therapy, without even being sure why I wanted to. Then I thought I should just take a break for a few weeks. But again, I can’t put my finger on why I want that suddenly now.

Lying awake last night, I started to feel like J has let me down. I started asking myself whether J is the right therapist for me, because surely if I can’t talk openly with her after three years of multiple sessions per week, something isn’t right between us. Perhaps I am trying to avoid taking responsibility for the problem, but I can’t help but wonder whether J is as responsible as me. Despite all our work together, I still worry about her rejecting or abandoning me if I say the wrong thing, and although I want to blame myself entirely for that, I’m not sure whether she has a part in it too.

It’s scary for me to have what seems like a crisis of confidence in J. I haven’t worried before that she wasn’t up to the job, and this feels really unsettling. I’m aware of the idolising we can do when it comes to therapists, and I know I’ve been guilty of that in the past. But I suppose I need to feel as though I am in safe hands. I don’t see J as a perfect, infallible human being, but for the most part I have felt very sure of her competence. That’s been necessary, because I’ve been fragile as we have done this work.

The problem is, I’m starting to wonder whether I’ve been kidding myself all this time. I actually find a lot of things about my relationship with J distressing, and have pretty much since we began therapy. I hate my dependence on her. I constantly worry about her abandoning me. I get angry because she can’t be everything I want her to be. I can’t stand it when she takes time off, even sometimes at the weekends, because it feels like that undermines her frequent reassurances that we are ‘in this together’. It hurts that I need her so much and get so much comfort from being with her, yet when I am feeling utterly wretched and it isn’t during a therapy session it isn’t appropriate for me to reach out to her.

It doesn’t help that J recently mentioned that our Thursday sessions might become more difficult, as she is going to do more supervision. She told me she isn’t seeing any other clients on a Thursday anymore, and I felt as though she wanted me to know I am being an inconvenience.

Not all of me felt that, because at the same time I know she gives me a pro bono session every week that she wouldn’t offer if she hated working with me. But the conversation about Thursdays triggered my insecurities and also again left me feeling a bit let down. We’ve been doing these sessions at the same time every week for so long, it isn’t a minor thing when a change like this occurs. The fact that I’m not sure I will have Thursday sessions or what time they’ll take place is unsettling for me. It makes me feel like therapy is less stable and I am less held.

The money is also having an impact. Our finances are not in great shape and we need to move to a more affordable house. It’s hard not to resent paying out so much money for therapy when we are struggling to pay our bills, and I don’t feel as though I am getting any better. Yes, I know things are changing and I am changing, but I don’t know if I can keep justifying this expense.

I’m writing this out now, because I know the sensible thing to do is to talk to J about it during my session this afternoon. That frightens me, but in the past taking the risk has been worthwhile. And if it goes really badly, I suppose I can still take a break for a while.



7 Comments Add yours

  1. Are you actually inside my head?! Honestly, not sure what to say other than you are not alone in these therapy struggles and what you say here is all too familiar my end as well. Take care x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Laura says:

      Yeah I think the weirdness of the relationship is a struggle for a lot of people. I think I’d just hoped that over time it would get easier, and I’m realising now that it really doesn’t! x


  2. I just wanted to say that the reasons you write here about your doubts are all totally normal. I think everyone in therapy (at some stage) feels those exact things. Honestly I have and do!! Talking to your therapist about your doubts is HARRRDDD!!! I recently told my T very similar things but much more aggressively.. I told her I thought she was controlling and manipulating me! 😮😮😮😮 it was total transference for me.

    Anyway, talking is so hard so what about showing her your blog? Or writing her a note or email and making her read it in session so you don’t have to say the words?

    Attachment and abandonment wounds are horrific. I know that too well. Xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Laura says:

      Well I think I did say most of those words, but I’d be scared to tell her what I wrote tonight. I’d rather just not see her again than share that. Right now, I’m feeling like backing off because this is just too hard and too much to deal with. I did follow your experience on your blog and I was super impressed you managed to tell your T that. I know how impossibly hard it feels and I think you’re extremely brave x


  3. DV says:

    I’m not sure that the fear of talking freely to your therapist ever goes away completely. I’ve been seeing my current therapist on and off for 15 years now and I still find it really difficult. There are many different elements to that fear for me – fear of looking stupid, fear of being criticised or punished, fear of hurting him. And I think it can be really difficult to tell if the relationship you have with your therapist is healthy or not in terms of dependence. It’s so complex. No answers from me, but lots of sympathy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Laura says:

      I wish I were able to tell whether it’s good for me the way I relate to J. I guess it’s difficult because I get extremely good stuff from it, and really horrible stuff at the same time. And probably that’s just part of the process. Sometimes I think it would be better to work with someone I don’t really care about, someone more clinical, but then I’m not sure that would work either as I would be too intimidated. So hard to know what to do for the best.

      Liked by 1 person

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