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Author Topic: I just fired my new EPA therapist after the first session  (Read 197 times)
bethanny
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« on: September 14, 2020, 04:38:34 AM »

I had a phone session with my new EPA therapist and I tried to convince myself to trust her and reject my own intuition and emotional needs.

I am being threatened at the work place by a long-time malicious manager who seems to be becoming more and more strident that I am too slow and not skillful enough to do a job I feel I have been doing exceptionally well at this firm for over a decade.  I feel I am being gaslighted by her more and more frequently.

I had a brief conversation with the new therapist to set up our first appointment.  She seemed to lack any curiosity over what my crisis was. I asked for a different therapist after our five minute conversation and was told I couldn't replace a therapist until after the first session.

I was relieved at our first session that she let me talk for a good long time.  I talked about how with my history growing up with a uBPD mother and a narcissistic alcoholic father that I suffered from what I believe is complex PTSD, fighting the despair that I had no hope of ever fully enjoying a free and entitled adult life. Aware of my pity for my parents, trying to deny my fear of them.

 Survivor guilt of the PTSD package makes one stop reaching for joy.  Ambushes of irrational malice from others can send us into a child-vulnerable tailspin no matter what age we are.  Psychic numbing seems preferable to risk taking and feeling positive feelings, preferable to being disappointed by others or the nightmare of feeling one has disappointed others and one will immediately be abandoned or rejected.

And the hypervigilance of trying to avoid any more "annihilating anger" in one's life can be an exhausting and sometimes futile effort.

I said I believed the malice of this manager was triggering for me so much pain I had endured from my uBPD mother whose malice at times I tried to justify by blaming and shaming myself or blaming my father's alcoholism for making her have such personality extremes from kind to monstrous.

Anyway, I told my story to this new therapist.  I have been grateful to have this website to lean on, believe me.  It helped loosen my tongue with the new therapist.

She ultimately and rather quickly seemed to minimize my historical past and my current situation. 

I didn't connect those dots immediately. I was trying to be open and self-reflective.  And I let her covertly shame me. At my ripe age.

She told me I sounded like an independent woman and having talked about all my baggage, I should get rid of it now.  In the next four sessions she wanted me to take action steps and not talk about my history and not get so caught up in feelings about the manager. To focus on getting ready for my retirement from this company since that was coming up in the near future. Yes, that is a plan, but this woman I felt was throwing the baby out with the bathwater in terms of helping me. The purpose of my seeking therapy. Forbidding me to talk about what I feel drawn to talk about.

She said if I were younger perhaps she would handle my therapy differently.  That smacked of ageism to me.

There was some flattery and manipulation going on I was partially falling for, but I have been around the block enough to know that in therapy one needs to not minimize what is going on in one's heart and head.  I felt this therapist was rejecting my need to lean, to share, to process, to ask for empathy, understanding and wisdom.  I don't want to minimize my feelings of vulnerability when they come up. I don't want to have to hide them from my therapist and from myself.  WTF????

I feel like she didn't want to hear about feelings and painful histories and current scenarios. 

I have had therapists like that in my past.  This one seemed particularly reluctant to hear or talk about childhood pain.

WTF is she a therapist for?

She kept tossing positive attributions at me when she doesn't know anything about me.  It felt like gaslighting me into feeling a sense of shame for acting at all vulnerable.  It was giving an anonymous person a pep talk without wanting to do any deep diving with that person into her reality.

I know in the rooms people would talk about "acting as if." And for a few days after her session I tried to focus on the comfort of leaving this malicious woman's orbit for retirement. I thought about just not feeling distress like she advised me.  She gave me her pep talk after giving short shrift to my hardwon consciousness of why I have the ferocious issues I have been contending with all of my life.

I don't want to be triggered by this manager. Talking about the situation with supportive people will help me. But not when they simply act like i can simply stop being afraid.  Stop having strong feelings and need for support. 

My new therapist shaming me into not being triggered by this manager is not going to cause me not to be triggered by her. 

It's as if the therapist wants me to repress the reality of my feelings and thoughts.  To deny this manager's sudden bouts of annihilating anger against me triggers me and shatters my serenity. 

I want to fortify myself.  I can and will. But not by magically being told by a therapist to stop it.

I think the new therapist had a point, me making goals for retirement and after.  But she seemed downright allergic to talking about issues from dysfunctional history that can impact our lives painfully no matter how old we get. 

We do get stronger, but there is still the potential for profound pain.  That is what drove me to seek help at the EPA service clinic.  And I get assigned a therapist who doesn't want me to talk about my "baggage."  I think that is a rather contemptuous word especially coming from a therapist the first session telling me to dump it after I had just shared with her some of the most poignantly painful highlights of my life.  Lowlights a better word, I guess.

Anyway, i just contacted the EPA liaison woman via email.  She told me they would give me another therapist after the first session if I were not satisfied. I emailed her I was not satisfied.  At first I emailed her right after the session that all was okay. But as a couple days have passed, I started to replay the session.  Not a good idea.  If she can't help me, I don't want her in my way.

I feel like the therapist and i are temperamental opposites.

We shall see what the next therapeutic experience will be like.

Thanks for listening.

Best,
Bethanny
 With affection (click to insert in post)

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Methuen
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« Reply #1 on: September 14, 2020, 08:08:30 AM »

Hi Bethanny,
I am saddened you got paired with an incompatible therapist through your EPA plan.  She sounds like she let you talk, but didn’t really listen.  I have been told by people from the inside that half of therapists are drawn to the field because they have their own issues, and if they don’t deal with their own stuff first, they can’t really help others.  

My EPA plan once paired me with someone that frustrated me badly after the first visit too.  I knew instantly.  Like you, I switched T’s.

At least our EPA’s give us that much choice. Doing the right thing (click to insert in post).

Let us know how the next consult goes.
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bethanny
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« Reply #2 on: September 14, 2020, 10:44:09 AM »

Methuen,

Thanks so much. 

Lots of cognitive dissonance I felt while listening to her give the ground rules of our therapeutic sessions which sounded like me not being allowed to share what was in my mind and heart, and also not permitted to "respond" in a safe place to all upcoming emotional challenges blow by blow. 

My initial negative reaction to her now feels right.  But my compliant self kind of got hypnotized at first.  Trying to be open to her agenda.

Fortunately, my "inner child" is less stifled at this age and eventually was within me "banging on the pipes" over this latest scenario. 

I haven't heard back from the liaison lady at the EPA.  Her intake interview with me was 1000X more satisfying than my first session with the therapist.

Yes, she did let me talk at the beginning which I thought was an excellent sign.  But she never referred to a damn thing I had said except to dismiss it as "baggage" she wanted me to immediately discard.

The prospect of spending four more sessions with her felt interminable, since I seemed to have been forbidden from freely sharing anything I needed or wanted to.

Shaking my darn head for the zillionth time in this often upside down, challenging world.

Best,
Bethanny
 With affection (click to insert in post)
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madeline7
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« Reply #3 on: September 14, 2020, 09:48:20 PM »

I tried 3 T's before I found one that understood the dynamics of BPD's and DBT. Lots of therapists are not trained in DBT and don't fully understand the issues surrounding borderlines. Keep trying and hopefully you will find a T that is a good fit for you. I am also not a youngster and found that this process of healing is taking longer than I imagined it would, feels like a "life sentence" much of the time. But slowly, I do feel that all the work i am doing is creating new ways of reacting )and not reacting) to my uBPDm's manipulations.
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WTL
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« Reply #4 on: September 14, 2020, 10:08:34 PM »

If it doesn’t feel right, it doesn’t feel right. I say good for you for making a solid decision. I believe that politics have even gotten into a service as intimate as therapy. I don’t know what to think about that. You know, I’ve seen book titles on the bookshelves in their office. I won’t say the titles, but they weren’t friendly towards men. I couldn’t receive proper therapy there.

This community has been leaps and bounds over any therapist that I’ve ever sat down with.

It’s all about finding what works for you. That doesn’t mean that you should feel obligated to take a traditional course. Listen to your gut.
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bethanny
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« Reply #5 on: September 15, 2020, 12:25:42 PM »

Thanks so much madeline7 and WTL. 

It does feel like a 'life sentence", M7, recovering from this ptsd generated by tragically disordered parents and/or significant others. 

I always hoped an intellectual understanding of what happened to make me so pathologically shame-based and vulnerable (my zipper worn on the outside not self-possessingly on the inside) would "fix" me.

It does enormously help, finding out the puzzle pieces year after year, but when we were confused and demoralized by the non-nurturing quicksand of "conditional love" only, and terrorized into blaming ourselves for irrational anger ambushing us over and over again throughout our childhoods and into adulthood the negative conditioning is profound. Especially when fighting back with our own authentic sensibility often brought us even more punishment, pain and confusion.

They say psychopaths get away with a lot of with people because they are so extreme in their narcissism people reject acknowledging their extreme inappropriateness because their poor minds and hearts are unwilling to fathom it all, the horror of that degree, so they deny or minimize it.  Rationalize it.  It seems easier to do that than to conceive of how people can exist without an even minimally working conscience and the damage they willfully will cause.

When I was "experiencing" this woman on our phone session, I was making assumptions based on hope and good will, and trying to defy my own intuition and good sense. Especially when I was appreciative of her letting me confide about the salient points of my upbringing with an unrecovered Borderline Personality Mother and a narcissistic and at times physically terrifying alcoholic father at the beginning of our session.  Also sharing about having a boss threatening me as a seriously below par worker, especially when I consider myself the extreme opposite of that. Having a history of unstable authority figures throughout childhood exacerbated my distress at the current situation.  Connecting the basic dots. It ain't rocket science.

Then suddenly I am hearing a rather patronizing voice telling me to trust her and not myself and telling me dismissively to "get rid" of the baggage I was talking about and that it would not be addressed during the rest of our therapy sessions.  Did she even register any empathy at all?  And what kind of therapist instructs you not to share about your emotional history?  Is that some new kind of surreal therapy I have not been introduced to?

And then she tells me to get over the stress I am dealing with with this malicious manager and focus on what she is apparently comfortable dealing with, my retirement issues.  Yes, they are concerning and I let her convince me that she has the inside track on my real needs and not me. Fortunately my "gut" dread of our next session.... which seemed a vacuum-like abyss in that I could not discuss my history or my present, but doing my retirement homework, which I recognize is important and formidable for me ... made me really put that first session in context. Why must I jettison the first two issues and prioritize the third?  Whose needs was she really trying to take care of there?

It felt like this woman and she did not sound young, either, had offered to blindfold me and tie one hand behind my back as a "help" in contending with my current stressful life situation and sad history.  All with such a pleasant affect.

With therapists like that, who needs enemies?

WTL, thank God my gut caught up with me in time to reject this person who instead of offering help to me in my time of need would only provide more ambushing invalidation.  She had been gaslighting me already with shaming in the guise of positive attributions that were so lazily conceived.  She said some flattering things about me that she could not possibly know which were confusing. Wanting me to cooperate so I could maybe focus on "impression management" with her rather than deal with my current stress-causing reality.

"WAFM"!  Fortunately I had a "wait a f-ing minute" epiphany.  An "if you can't help me, then please get out of my way" reality wakeup moment.

Years ago when I leaned on this website I had experienced an abusive coworker physically threaten me and i reported him.  I then experienced the horror of the firm and most of my coworkers rejecting my unfortunate reality and side with this highly troubled human being. I was made to continue to work alone with him and he was all the more verbally abusive to me, but at least my risktaking report had reduced the physical threat. 

The initial trauma from him was compounded by the unexpected trauma of not getting support or even the benefit of the doubt from people I had trusted.  This website community and my primary family offered me support and got me through a crazymaking time.  I still grieve that experience.  This is the same lawfirm.  Though some of the agents of my crazymaking experience are now gone, thank goodness, including the perpetrator.  But it made me wary, especially of official departments that are supposed to deal with conflict resolution. It seemed it was only about litigation prevention on their part. As for friendly acquaintances, the lies of a skillful narcissist against me swayed them quickly and successfully.  Heartbreakingly.

If I had been younger and jobs more accessible I would have walked away.  But I had to stay and endure.  A financial mandate.  Probably held valuable experiential courage-building and -exercising value for me.  But also made me less trusting and optimistic about justice so easily attained or even acknowledged in this world.

Part of our upbringing was that "our willingness to be wrong" was abused by the narcissism of others.  The game people play, "Let me take care of your little brain."  I was feeling very vulnerable and went to the trouble of reaching out to hopefully people with a minimum of expertise of offering psychological support and guidance.

To have one of these representatives totally dump the hardwon consciousness raising about my issues I had done about myself all my life was gobsmackingly confusing at first.  Fight, flight or freeze mode?  I guess I went into freeze mode as we ended the conversation on her confusing terms. Minimizing my old issues and my new one. But as days began to go by I realized I had been gaslighted. 

See what happens next.

What "AFGE" to come, as a program friend used to call it. "Another F-ing Growth Experience"!

Hah.

Thanks again for listening and commenting.

Best,
Bethanny
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WTL
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« Reply #6 on: September 16, 2020, 12:17:07 AM »

It’s really hard to know about being stuck in a situation like that. It’s even harder when no one can hear it. Sometimes, I wish that I didn’t know about this stuff. Blissfully ignorant. It’s very prevalent. I notice it a lot in the grocery store of all places. Some people are simply awful to other people. It can be disheartening, but what do we do? Social constructs have been formed and they are in place. Sorry. Bit of a rant.
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bethanny
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« Reply #7 on: September 16, 2020, 01:42:35 PM »

As Gandhi said, "we must be the change we want to see in the world." 

Open people get hurt, but they must try to stay open.

I too wish people "exercised" their consciences.  They seem to dry up otherwise.

Media and celebrities and politicians have been for the most part amoral role models for society.  Personality over character.  Money accumulation over decency and cooperation.

We need a societal paradigm shift from patriarchy of violence, competition, win/lose, violence, might makes right, greed to humanism of cooperation, partnership, empathy, win/win, justice.

Hang in there.

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Cromwell
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« Reply #8 on: September 23, 2020, 11:03:46 AM »

if only we could fire our managers as easily?

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bethanny
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« Reply #9 on: September 23, 2020, 11:14:24 PM »

You got that right.

I spoke to a newly assigned counselor with whom I have my first session on Thursday afternoon of this week and she sounded great!  I am really looking forward to speaking with her again, unlike with the other therapist.  This one seems patient and willing to listen. The other one was contradicting me when I was telling her details about my life.  I told her I sometimes stayed late at work because my coworkers were swamped and were trying to make deadlines.  She told me I stayed work because I was getting overtime money.  Sometimes that was true but it was not my incentive.  So why would she snap back with that sharp retort?  WTF?

She asked me my sign.  The first one. 

As I said, she told me I was done talking about my historical baggage.  She was not going to address it with me.  Nor my issues with the manager.  I was to focus on retirement.  I know that is an important focus but to stifle me from talking about history and present.  WTF I ask again!

I need to spend a bit of time collecting my thoughts and maybe making some notes for myself before the session. 

I will report back. I appreciate having this website available. 

Best,
Bethanny
 With affection (click to insert in post)
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