Because I Said So

After a brief but rather tense argument with someone very close to me, I set about trying to figure out *why* said argument angered me so much.  I’m not, by nature, one to get miffed easily, but this conversation really set me off.

The nature of the conversation was basically patient versus therapist (and in this case one of us *is* a patient and one a therapist.)  I’m logical to a fault, and admittedly, my logic sometimes gets in the way of therapy.  In my humble opinion, some therapeutic exercises are just silly.  If they work for someone, they work.  No argument there, and no problem there.  I’m truly happy to hear of therapy helping anyone, regardless of method.  However, I have a bit of trouble getting around things like talking to an empty chair about the anger I feel towards my father.  As I said to my therapist, I’m not angry with the chair.  Why should I yell at it?  Admittedly, once again, that is not the response she was looking for and was not helpful to either of us.

I realise the function of my analysing therapeutic methods is frequently to avoid looking at the issues that are being brought up.  Still, I think therapists need to be quite aware that simply suggesting an exercise or giving their perspective, while very helpful, does not immediately assure the patient that that particular method is exactly the right thing to do.  The mere fact that my therapist is trained in her field does not keep me from questioning her methods sometimes.  Wrong or right, that’s just a fact.  Being well aware that I have no training at all in therapy aside from having done some volunteer work at a women’s shelter, I’m willing and have worked through certain exercises with her.  But I still hold to my right to question things.

My problem, then, with the heated conversation is that I frequently feel people expect clients to do anything and everything the therapist asks simply because he or she is the therapist and they are the clients.  It’s safe to say that I rank among the least trusting people in the world– there are two people I can say I truly trust– but I’m guessing this idea won’t be foreign to most people.  Especially in terms of something as important as my mental health, I should have a say.  If a therapeutic exercise strikes me as a bit on the silly side, I should at least get the chance to talk about *those* feelings with the therapist.  Maybe there’s a compromise and we can adapt the exercise.  Maybe I’ll see that it really *can* help and will work through it in spite of myself.   Maybe those of us who are logical to a fault need to discuss thought patterns out right and work through them that way.  I can’t pretend to know, and that’s not a method I frequently hear heralded by the mental health community.  I just think allowing me some explanation of the method behind an exercise is a reasonable request.

In any event, my anger dissipated as did the anger of my counterpart in the argument, and life goes on peacefully.  I just wanted to put this out there as a bit of an issue that therapists and patients might face.  All I can give is the patient perspective, but as the topic caused a bit of a tiff between me and someone I rarely argue with, I’m guessing we’re not the only two who have debated it.  Therapy is messy, even among clients and therapists who are not actually working together in a professional relationship.

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2 thoughts on “Because I Said So

  1. I agree that agitation can sometimes be caused by a desire to skirt the issue (whether or not the participants are skirted).

    As for feeling one way or the other about a certain therapeutic exercise, I can’t see a single reason why the client cannot stop and discuss their feelings with the therapist. If nothing else, it would be empowering.

    At the same time, it might not hurt the client to do it anyway, so both parties can judge its effectiveness.

    Someone whose name shall not be mentioned (but might happen to be married to me) described abject terror at this very exercise. I suspect in her case, it wasn’t time to do it. This does not reflect at all on your situation.. just mentioning it.

    Sometimes we have to let go and just be a patient. It’s tough, I know 🙂

  2. Hello to all you readers in Blogland. (Yes it’s bad, but it has to be written!)

    I am the said individual with whom the argument was had and one of the best friends about whom the Blog author writes. I went to the concert Justin Curry, concert with her. He does put on a good show.

    Reading this post, I have become more aware of my perspective and how that could lead to faulty…well anything.

    First off, I want to apologize for the argument. At times, I can be really bullheaded. I have this tendency to think that I’m always right. If only it were really true. Anyway, I am glad that things cool off as the night progressed.

    Often, while listening to stories of therapy, as a therapist in training, I tend to view the stories with a therapist’s perspective. That’s what got me into trouble here. I wasn’t looking at anything from the patient’s perspective. Automatic assumptions filled my thoughts, which also discolored my view.

    I have this odd dichotomy with therapy. 1 – when conducting it, my confidence is low. Enough said about that. However, 2 – if I do suggest something, and the patient’s not loving the idea…I get a little pouty. I hate to admit it. Maybe it’s the therapist looking for validation, but we won’t get into that, will we? HA HA!

    All-in-all, I really didn’t see this from a client’s view, and really he or she is the star of the show. Being able to be comfortable as a client is important in the process. If it doesn’t feel right, it doesn’t feel right.

    Doing my stream-of-consciousness writing here, I’ve come across a thought. (Really? No!)

    Yes dear sarcastic, non existent commentator…a thought.

    I love my best friend and I hate to see her or her internal crew, in pain. I just got frustrated at that situation and used it as an overgeneralization. I was thinking…”Just try it…or why avoid?” My concern came out as frustration, for that again, I apologize. I am not the best at discussing concern.

    This argument really did put me in my place as a wouldbe therapist and best friend. I should really stop listening as a therapist, but as her friend. I really can’t fix it. I wish I could. (Very good psychology-boy.)

    It’s psychology-man, thank you very much.

    I apologize too for the unclarity of this post. Organization is NOT my best skill. Therefore, why should my writing be organized?

    Thank you B. Mad, B. Smash. (Inside joke) Or Internally joke really. I hope this helps to explain my side of things. Or that you were right and I was being boneheaded. That works too.

    Anyway, Happy posting!

    One last thing

    USF! USF! USF! USF! : – )

    Don’t you love the email address?

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