A letter to my counsellor .. exploring the therapeutic relationship….

At the moment I wake at about 5:30am, which if I’m honest, I don’t really mind about. It should be sleeping time as I probably don’t get enough sleep, I didn’t get to bed until midnight. However, even though this paragraph may be setting the scene, it’s actually irrelevant.

This morning, as I dozed,  I lay there worrying about today’s session with you. Something has happened and even though I’ve reflected a great deal about this over the last few months I appear to still be struggling.

Our relationship is quite mature now, I’ve been coming to see you for a while. We have discussed me flying the nest and though a very different person than I was 3 years ago, I didn’t believe I needed to change anything. I got upset, I felt child like and perhaps you were the parent. You reassured me at the time that you were going nowhere and had no plans to retire yet. But that conversation stayed with me and may have changed our relationship. Guided by you, I went off and researched the therapeutic relationship – I needed to understand this if I was to be a counsellor myself.

As the therapist, a subsequent distancing may have been under your control.. Or was I controlling it? I will never know, because I suspect you won’t ever tell me. Perhaps I was too attached and you attempted to widen the gap, because I wasn’t going to.

Was I attached? Am I attached? Is this an unhealthy attachment?

I’m not sure to be fair. What I do know is this:

– I have always enjoyed coming to see you, the drive there, the time out..

– My time alone with my thoughts and feelings, which included not only the session but my driving time before and after.

– I have had some deeply rooted thoughts, feelings and experiences that were brought to the surface and discussed during our time together.

– With your help I sorted the chaos in my head, I felt more grounded.

– I recall, up until recently, thinking about you between sessions – dealing with scenarios with you in mind…questions I asked myself, as if you were sat on my shoulder, guiding me throughout my day.

how would I discuss this with you….?

Or

what would we explore as a result …. ? 

– I remember feeling sad/worried/hurt about life and stuff and being reassured by the fact that I would be seeing you within a week.

– Did you encourage reliance? No I don’t think you did. This was a developing relationship and as I started Counselling training it changed and developed further.

– Did you encourage autonomy? Yes I believe you did…

– Between sessions I ALWAYS pondered our interactions, the pebbles you had thrown and the ripples it caused.

Six months ago I shared an issue I had about my son, you self disclosed that this had happened to you too. You shared what you felt was relevant and I felt calmer. You explained your reasons for the self disclosure, you reminded me that as an experienced counsellor that this had been done for a reason. Did something change for me after that self disclosure? I have never had this confirmed, but it felt different. I have tried to attach meaning to it, there has never really been any concrete understanding.

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

Over the summer I felt there might be a block between us. I looked at this in depth alone (with a trigger from a friend who asked the right question). I felt I had to acknowledge the one thing we had never discussed. Something that I had shared with no one, perhaps the one thing that had taken me to therapy in the first place? I wondered whether this secret was preventing me from moving forward.  It was time for me to share it.

Once I had offloaded, I felt a sense of not only relief, but also the guilt and shame associated with it could be parked. I reflected on it a great deal, acknowledging the associations that linked it to the memories that silently haunted me. I didn’t feel judged or any discomfort once I had said those 7 words out loud. With the subsequent discussion, I felt peace, and I continue to feel peace about it now.

Was my secret a block to our relationship? No, I don’t think it was. I don’t even know if there is a block, it maybe that it is time to fly this bloody nest  and  I am reticent to let go. For fear of loss.

This takes me to a more recent conversation between us …you said:

 I am not sure what you want from me…. 

I was taken aback by this statement. What did I want from you? You weren’t going to give me affirmation, or praise when everything was going well. This could have been what I sought. I was now visiting you because I wanted to, rather than because I needed to. Was this a reliance or a habit?

This relationship is important to me… but does it actually have purpose if I have nothing to offload?

I am a teacher, mainly of one2ones with adults. I too have a client who I’m not sure where I’m going with. He kept coming, every fortnight, I felt I was getting nowhere, I struggled to plan the lesson because I sensed that he wanted something that was unachievable. He did very little between sessions and I felt like I was taking his money, but not earning it. I was bored – the fire in my belly was merely a smouldering layer of embers.

I wonder if  you feel like this about our sessions? I feel sad about that. Perhaps our relationship has come to an end? A natural ending, because it is time for me to fly this nest. I think I am ready. I just don’t want to go.

My sense of loss is linked with the past, not the present. Memories of getting stronger when I felt low and my head finally clearing of the chaos. Feeling listened to and understood. You did a good job, you earned your money.

Do I need you now? No I don’t think so. You have instilled in me autonomy, you have re- enabled me. I have reconnected with the world. I am someone who, most of the time, accepts who I am and what I must do to survive in this world. I have reached the stage in therapy where I can fly this proverbial nest.

Why don’t I feel proud of myself ? Why don’t I feel an achievement? Why do I feel sick? Because I do. This feels very very stressful. It feels like I need a counsellor to discuss my relationship with my counsellor!

Perhaps the time has come to let go …. I am an adult after all. I am not a child. I want to be a child, I want to lie curled up on your sofa and discuss my life. But perhaps you don’t want that, you need purpose too. You need me to bring my thoughts and feelings and my chaos. That’s your job. If there is no chaos I am merely someone visiting who discusses my life.

Why is there no chaos? I think because I deal with my stuff as it happens, I dwell less and reflect a great deal. My pen is my therapist, writing clears my busy head, once my troubles are written down I am able to consolidate.

Until now that is ….

 

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6 thoughts on “A letter to my counsellor .. exploring the therapeutic relationship….”

  1. I just just finished reading your blog post and wanted to say thank you for sharing and that I found your thoughts and words about your experiences moving. I felt a strong sense of peace shining through your words too.

    Reply
    • Thank you … that’s interesting what you say about peace.. when I discussed this all yesterday with my therapist the one thing that came up was a peacefulness that I felt and she witnessed. When I started (3 years ago) I said that was what I wanted from therapy, to feel peace. That peace is not there 100% of the time, but it’s there enough to remind me how I can feel and what I strive for… x

      Reply
  2. It’s sad to have to leave a therapist who you have come to think of as a friend, or at least a confidante. That day is coming for me soon too (her choice, not mine, though she says she prefers to think of it as me leaving her instead of the other way around). Writing is very theraputic, but there is something to be said for the feedback you get from an actual person. Good luck.

    Reply
    • Thanks so much for your comment … writing this gave me clarity and when I discussed everything with her yesterday it came out clearly and I felt articulate … which was good cos when stressed Finding the right words can be hard. Good luck with your own therapy and flying the nest … we know it makes sense, no matter how hard x

      Reply
  3. I applaud your honesty.so much courage to dive deep into issues.
    there is nothing worse than feeling misunderstood.
    It has been my experience personally that people do come into our lives for a reason and leave for a reason and therapy is no exception.
    Therapy needs to have limits and declared boundaries otherwise midunderstandings happen easily.
    it is difficult to say goodbye,i need a break for a month,a few months,forever..transitions are made easy by ceremonies.
    you can research a culture you like or plan your own.
    I witnessed buddhists in thailand placing floats of flowers with candles in the water.

    Reply
    • Thank you … yes, you are right it’s about making choices and the right choices at that. Deciding on what we need and what we want. I was very lucky to find a therapist that I connected with and was able to share my growth with. I am internally grateful for that. Xx

      Reply

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