Friday, June 6, 2008

Shrink to Fit

Mr. Signs and I both see shrinks though we see different people and decided to go for different reasons. He is training to be a T.A. psychotherapist and has to do this as part of his training, and I have – you know – issues. For him it’s turning out to be a rich adventure. For me, it is a strange journey over uneven terrain and the landscape always changes. I see a psychoanalytic therapist and they work differently to T.A. people. For starters, there is no such thing as a “contract”, for mains he doesn’t talk that much and to boot he is into the idea of making it up as we go along. This probably sounds like a very expensive bad idea but, having seen more shrinks than you’ve had hot dinners in the past six months, I feel I have landed somewhere or other and reckon he is the real thing – for me, at any rate. I know one is supposed to fall in love with one’s therapist but I want to make it absolutely clear that I have no intention of doing that. No, all I want is for him to be perfect, like god. I’ve told him this and he nodded so that’s settled.

Meanwhile, I am waiting to hear from a certain magazine that I have won first prize in their annual poetry competition. This will be a big help in paying the shrink fees which, although I’m getting sessions at a knock-down price, are not inconsiderable, especially as I’m to start going more than just once a week. And then there’s the petrol money, all the way to Brighton and back, and the fact that now I’m doing this there is even less possibility of my doing any Proper Work for the foreseeable future, apart from a spot in the summer and an ongoing thing for which I shouldn’t really be paid, but hey ho. I have decided to turn the novel-that-is-no-more into a prize-winning short story; and I have begun on something completely different that doesn’t yet know what it is but it is a trickle that may become a rushing river, or it is a cave that may be filled with gold and silver, I don’t know. I’m making it up as I go along.


Zhoen said...

Ain't we all.

Reading the Signs said...

Hi Zhoen - ain't we all what?

Kahless said...

You have to go with your gut feel and if your current shrink works for you then he works. So do you spend the whole session just talking about what is on your mind? Do you get feedback. If I talk with no input I just tie myself in spiralling knots!!

Suggest to Mr Signs to go to my sidebar and get the link and go to Graffiti's. He is an accomplished TA bod as is some of his readers. Half of his posts are TA in nature, so he may like them.

Good luck with the writing, not that you need it.

Reading the Signs said...

Kahless, I'm not trying to be coy but find it hard to say quite what we spend the whole session doing. There's quite a lot of in the moment, what's going on right now kind of talk - which often then refers to other stuff from the past. Most of the action really happens between sessions when I process everything. It isn't a "soothing" kind of therapy and certainly wouldn't be right for everyone, Mr. S included, as he prefers something with more structure. I'll refer him to the link you mentioned - thanks.

Anna MR said...

Hei Signs - I had psychoanalytic therapy for three-four years, three-four sessions a week (NB I'm not a millionaire - in those days you could get funding from the national health if you could show you needed it (both the funding and the therapy) enough), and spent most of the time trying not to talk to her at all, for various reasons (one being I harboured a grievance against her because I'd allowed someone I shouldn't have allowed anywhere near me to influence my choice of therapist - I could have had this older dude who had Olde Europe written all over him (like being analysed by F himself - I was in love with him from the initial meeting onwards) but then I allowed this person to lecture me on how women should have female analysts. How fucking stupid is that, I ask you? But it wasn't the therapist's fault, really), yet I think I did get quite a lot out of it, albeit in ways I didn't really expect. And I recognise the things you say about most of it happening between sessions and it not being "soothing".

To tell you the truth, I think a lot of it is still happening, for me. I have sometimes, in the very recent past (and please note I finished going when the money finally ran out for me, seven years ago), played a game of how I'd talk to her now. Your post activated this thought process in me now... in fact it'd possibly be quite a nice thing to write, "Imagined Conversations with my Ex-Therapist".

Sorry about coming to your thread, sweet sis, and talking about myself (but then what's new, eh). It's just that your posts provoke thoughts in me. And the word ver is tfuhq, which is funny in an infantile and immature id way. There'd be a lot more to talk about (your novel-that-is-no-more and its new fate, the poetry competition (the prize is surely yours), to mention but two, but it's late and I'd better be going. Be seeing you soon, though.

Mwah and hugs.

Kahless said...

Oh, btw, I don't do the falling in love with therapist one either. Mr (w*nker) T implied at times I had a "dont be close" injunction. Other times a thing about men.

Not true.
Cool that you said it upfront.
I like you Signs.
I like the way you see life.

Reading the Signs said...

Ouch, Anna - instant empathy about the cool dude Olde Europe therapist. Because, in spite of my brave words (Kahless darlin, I'm such a bloody fake), I do think it can be quite helpful/important/significant if one is able to fall in love with a T. Or, to put it another way, to connect at some deep level. But I also understand how you got other things out of it. I too saw a lady T many years ago, for about a year, and spent most of the time being furious and telling her how useless she was. It is only now, looking back, that I appreciate what a cool dudesse she actually was and how exceedingly well she held the space.

The 'imagined conversations with my ex-therapist' is a must, Anna, yes, do it. I wonder, would it add a particular something if you were to omit the letter 'e'?

Oh btw, you are forbidden also, dear Princeling Sees, ever to apologise for anything here, so now we are both bound by this rule. I mean, what tfuhq - you know? Mwah!

Reading the Signs said...

Kahless, just to clarify a bit: I was being a bit disingenuous, I suppose, because I'm well aware that in psychoanalytic therapy the whole business of transference and projection is central to the whole work. The thing is , for that to happen as it should, in a way that allows you to emerge whole and strong, the T needs to be a grade A professional from the top of the head to the tip of the toes. And your T was not that. And many are not that, and it makes me sick to think of how many totally unsuitable Ts there are at loose. I think if you did in that situation have a 'don't be close' injunction it was entirely appropriate. But what I hope is that you might one day find the right kind of T where it's possible to explore that, if necessary, in safety.

Anna MR said...

Raver Signs, you and your e fixations. Our adventures in the fairy-tale land of no e truly left my mind in an altered state, and (shhh) the thing most likely to happen as a continuation of all that e-less revelry is the thing for which I blame NMJ - the piece of writing with e as the only vowel allowed. The limitations this imposes on the feckless writer are such that the result has to be called poetry (or shite, but hey), and there is a distinct possibility that sooner or later these said results will go up in that place (shhhhh, again). (They are not there now, okay, so no point looking. But this is a horror scenario that I'm warning you may become a reality in the future). It is worth noting that when the afore-mentioned strict limitations combine with allowed words such as need, greed, seed, knee, deep cetra, the results are not necessarily PG (and I don't mean Tips).

I also fear I will indeed have to write the imagined conversations thing - or start writing, as it may become something that walks alongside me for the rest of my days. Cheaper than actually sitting (or, as it used to be, lying down) all cranky and schtum for hours on end at 60€/hour (and suddenly, I'm uncertain whether our sessions used to be 45 mins, an hour, an hour and a half. The thing about memory is it is - bendable. Or something).

Mwah schwesterchen, sweet sees. It's good to be here, as always. And thank you.

Reading the Signs said...

It is very interesting, fellow analysand, that you have chosen that particular list of words. Very revealing indeed, har! But ask me no questions, for in truth I do not know. What is PG though, for the love of Freud? Clearly this is something I should know.

You lay on the couch? I have not yet done this, though it is there, with moroccan cover and attractive scatter cushions. Face to face feels a bit more as if I'm, you know, in control. And I can make sure he doesn't go to sleep while I witter on.

Anna MR said...

I did lay on the couch, yes. And sometimes it was me nearly going to sleep (remember, I was trying not to talk to her). She had a glass-doored book cabinet placed so that I could keep an eye on the time, via the clock on the wall behind her, reflected on the glass. Time just moved anti-clockwise on that couch, is all.

(PG is for Parental Guidance - the rating for films that are okay for kids to Watch With Mum. Unlike my e-free poem. And as for choosing a word list, revealing or otherwise, it does seem e-words are more suggestive than others. Believe me - I was quite innocently compiling a list when this startling truth began to hit home like a slow bullet. Or something.)

Ms Melancholy said...

God, I love your description of your therapy!

This probably sounds like a very expensive bad idea but...I feel I have landed somewhere or other and reckon he is the real thing

BTW, the most recent developments in TA theory pay very close attention to the unconscious relational processes that psychoanalytic theory favours. Some might even see Relational TA as the happy marriage of CBT and analysis...

Graffiti is less interested in the relational stuff and more of a traditionalist, as far as I can make out.

Poets, in my experience, do not require contracts! Keep meandering, Signs.

Stray said...

Oh Signs - I'm very very happy that you feel like your therapist is the right place to be. It's all about that feeling stuff in the end, init? 'til we've got piss-on-a-stick tests for personality fluctuations there's no better indication than your gut feeling I reckon!

I had about four years of irregular then regular therapy with a social constructionist / systemic / narrative therapist - who I have huge admiration and affection for. And then, in the end, I was a bit too screwed up to be able to work intellectually with her. So I left and not long after I had a short spell (just a few months really) of rehab group + person centered counseling + art therapy, all of which seemed really rather flaky and unfocused, and suddenly I was OK!

After such intense (and worthwhile) therapy with my previous therapist it felt absolutely impossible that a bit of finger painting and a sympathetic ear would be so life changing. Actually probably what made the difference was that both my art / rehab therapist and my PCC therapist were using body therapy - they focussed a lot on their physical responses to me and how they might reflect what was going on in my body. Having been diagnosed with DID because I had such a severe separation from my physical-self, that was exactly what I needed.

They were also just really bloody lovely people.

By the way - CBT was about the worst thing I've ever done to myself. I think a little bit of CBT put me into an 'I can think myself better!' mode that took about six years to shift. Load of bollocks.

I like TA for the accessibility. Apparently it's particularly effective for self-harm, provided there is a good enough quality of relationship between the client and the therapist. But then isn't that the only thing that really matters anyway?

Have you read Yalom, The Gift of Therapy? My favourite factual book ...

Reading the Signs said...

Anna, I have been trying to begin the e-rated Sleeping Beauty (in my head) but this is going to be a bugger and no mistake, and suggestive words is the least of the problem - though interesting to contemplate. Sound does, after all, carry meaning. Eeeehh!
(Mweh?) Be see ye. Heh!

Reading the Signs said...

Ms M, how lovely to see you here. I've been talking to Mr. S about what you said and he reckons that there is a bit of a divide, though his course favours the Relational. I have only very superficial knowledge about the process, but the deeper in I go the more I sense that this is the right process for me, but then again it really matters who the therapist is. There has to be "chemistry", I think - that's not the right word, but I guess you know what I mean. For me, that has to do with a sense of feeling kindred - that we are able to understand each others language and that there are a few basic shared assumptions. But on the other hand, it's also like any other important relationship: mysterious in what it unfolds. It is a very weird thing to engage with, when one stops to think about it.

Reading the Signs said...

Dear Stray, I love the piss-on-a-stick idea and think someone should invent that very soon.

It's a funny thing about feeling suddenly ok, where one wasn't before. I have this notion that as long as one is at some level engaging with a process (albeit not in a particularly conscious way), rather than just letting the concrete set over whatever issues one has, quite often things will sort themselves out organically.

I do not like CBT. When I saw a CBT therapist I made such a fuss about being measured and having to do the flip chart things that she kind of gave up and just sat talking to me instead - which was actually quite good as far as it went. I did the 'I can think myself better' thing with the Lightning Process last year. Paid lots of money to do it (still have M.E. though). At some level, I think it does actually "work". But I'm not sure that I like or particularly trust how it works. It's a big like dog-training or something.

I have just been reading Yalom's "Love's Executioner" and so enjoyed it. One of the things I love is how he engages so honestly with his own responses. Will now have a look at the one you suggest.

Ms Melancholy said...

Hey ms signs, sounds like Mr S has the measure of it! So glad you are enjoying Yalom. I have been on a lifelong quest to find someone who is exactly him - except cheaper and available! - to be my therapist. Let me know if you find him first x

That's So Pants said...

Hi Signs

The very reason I can't admit I'm mad - the WORK involved, shsssh!



Reading the Signs said...

Ah Pants, I know I keep saying I'm mad but that's just affectation. For the truly bonkers I suppose there's still the insane asylum. Comforting, eh?

Gael said...

Do you know anything about Jungian therapy? I've read a little re his approach to myths, and am quite taken with the notion of individuation, and would like to just read more on my own, initially, but there seems to be such a plethora of material i'm not sure how to even narrow the field. Any recommendations would be appreciated.
Reading this thread just emphasises to me what a minefield this whole area is. Is it a matter of trial and error, finding the right broad approach and the right individual, or is there another way of narrowing parameters?

Reading the Signs said...

Gael, I wouldn't be able to tell you anything more about Jungian therapy than you'd be able to find quite easily for yourself and, alas, can't reccomend anything. But. No, wait - I loved reading Jung himself - "Memories, Dreams and Reflections". Yes, read that. Far more enlivening and illuminating than lots of academic discussion about where he's coming from.

I think what you say about finding the right broad approach is it, really. Having said that, you'll find so-called conventional Freudian therapists who are far more "Jungian" in their approach than some of the Jungian ones. I think one has to be prepared to "shop around" a bit. It's important that the right chemistry is there between you and the therapist. Having said that, one usually goes through periods of feeling furious with whoever (negative transference phase!), but there's got to be an underlying sense that this is the right person to be trusting with all this.

gael said...

Good idea. Thank you