Counseling advice - should I request a different therapist?

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Rubytown

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Hi!

So at the advice of several friends on OOTF, I made an appointment with a counselor and have the initial meeting next week.  I have also pursued medication for my depression and have been improving since getting the medicine last month.  (I believe it is primarily situational depression.) 

Anyway, I have some concerns about the person the intake specialist placed me with already and wondered if I should request someone else or give it a try?  I told them about my depression and that I needed someone familiar with PD because I have family members with those issues.  My sense was that they mostly picked the therapist based on a schedule fit because she had some evenings open.  (I won't need evenings next month going forward when the children are back in school.) 

I quickly looked the therapist up online and through social media because I wanted to make sure I don't know her.  (I finished my master's recently in an education field and took a lot of counseling courses for my specialty.)  I didn't delve into her personal postings much, but noticed she attended a Christian college and is very new in the field, no children, etc.  Her posts were very inane and she seemed really out of touch with "real life," if that makes any sense?  I am fine with her Christian faith and found that a strong point theoretically but just had the sense that she might not be helpful for me.  I feel like I really need a therapist with at least a little life experience who could relate to my issues and definitely need someone who specializes in PD. 

I usually am not very assertive in this area but am trying to be more careful with my counseling since I had a bad experience last time.  In the past, I wouldn't have researched the therapist at all, for example.  I thought about going in and considering the appointment a "practice" run for trying to tell about the PD problems without sounding crazy myself or overwhelming the therapist!  ha ha  I am also willing to give the person a try but really don't have a lot of extra time.  I am having surgery soon and will be looking for a job after that.  I am hoping to resolve some issues before my schedule is extremely busy with a new job.  I also have 3 children at home and the whole PD mess to manage.

I would very much appreciate your input and ideas about this, as I feel uncertain in this area.  I am not nearly as assertive with my own self-care as I am professionally and with my children.  That is one point I can see needs improvement!  I should be more of an advocate for me.

Thanks,
Ruby
"Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding."  Proverbs 3:13

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xredshoesx

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Re: Counseling advice - should I request a different therapist?
« Reply #1 on: July 13, 2017, 07:57:31 PM »
i think it's fair to request someone else based on your initial impressions, and i am so proud that you are putting YOU first here.

you don't even have to say why, i think you can just tell the scheduler that something came up and you need a different time entirely with someone that can work evenings. 


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SeaGlass

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Re: Counseling advice - should I request a different therapist?
« Reply #2 on: July 13, 2017, 08:21:06 PM »
I  agree, I would also want someone with more life experience, and  experience with pds. My ubpd husband and I were in marriage counseling for over a year together, and she wouldn't touch the idea of him having a personality disorder with a ten foot pole when she counseled us together. When she counseled us seperately she said that we could easily look into whether he had a pd or not, but never followed through. It was very odd, but after reading on this forum and other sites I have found that a lot of therapists shy away from pds or helping in diagnosing them, or are pds themselves. Had we had a counselor who works with pds perhaps our relationship would have improved. Instead the therapist tried to only work on communication and would never address the abuse. When the therapist met with him alone she bought into his half truths, they had many similar interests that they bonded over, and she wanted him to set boundaries with me? :stars: sorry for going off on a bit of a tangent, but just couldn't impress enough upon you how important I think a therapist with knowledge of pds is. It's the only way I would do therapy again. Good luck.

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DancingRain

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Re: Counseling advice - should I request a different therapist?
« Reply #3 on: July 14, 2017, 07:29:46 AM »
I agree that life experience is important.  I also agree that knowledge of PD's is vital.  However, you don't know if this particular therapist does or does not have the experience or knowledge until you try.  Things like this can be a bit trial and error.  Can you keep your session with her and assess from there?  If she doesn't seem like a good fit for you, will you be able to find someone else moving forward? 

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SonofThunder

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Re: Counseling advice - should I request a different therapist?
« Reply #4 on: July 14, 2017, 07:55:13 AM »
I have never gone to a T, and am no assistance to you in your decision, but am interested in your findings if you do choose to utilize services from this young, life-inexperienced person, as you and I have a lot in common except gender-reversed.

I am intrigued with how schooling alone can possibly prepare a person to be a therapist.  In fact, my 20 year old daughter is away at college and her 20 year old roommate is currently studying to be a counselor.  But the odd thing, as SeaGlass pointed out, is it took me about 30 minutes of witnessing this young lady and her boyfriend to know she has a PD herself.

Her poor boyfriend is working himself to the bone trying to 'make her happy' and she is never pleased with his performance.   On the surface she is very sweet, but I picked up immediately how 'over-the-top' sweet she was, which told me she had something internally to hide.  I have hinted to my daughter (who I am making PD-aware) of my suspicions of this young lady and at first my daughter said I wrong, but now after 6 months of living in the same house with her and frequent visits from this girls boyfriend, my daughter calls me to tell me how harsh her friend treats him, yet to everyone else she is over-the-top friendly until someone (on the inside) treats her in away she doesn't agree with....then look out! 

Again, this young girl has full intentions of going forward with her degree to become a T and is very book smart.  My NPDfather suffers also with periodic bouts of depression and on 3 occasions has literally brought younger folks into their home for a week or two so that my NPD father can counsel them on depression...imo, he's just looking for someone else to give him a trophy.  Sorry I'm derailing your thread so back to topic.

I personally cannot imagine how a book-only-trained person can possibly give counsel to a person without a lot of real life counsel experience.  I would imagine PD issues would be the most difficult as PD's are so high functioning and experienced manipulators and also life-trained in sensitivity which allows them to craft their PD traits to fit the particular situation, keeping their inner issues at bay. 

Again, I'm interested in this experience if you decide to go and whether you find good results.  Cheers, SoT. 
« Last Edit: July 14, 2017, 07:56:44 AM by SonofThunder »
Proverbs 21:9 
Better to live alone in a tumbledown shack than share a mansion with a nagging spouse.

Proverbs 17:1
A meal of bread and water in contented peace is better than a banquet spiced with quarrels.

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Medowynd

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Re: Counseling advice - should I request a different therapist?
« Reply #5 on: July 14, 2017, 09:57:43 AM »
I would request another therapist.  Regardless of her education or experience, I would put some weight on her postings.  If she puts herself out there with inane comments, how helpful will she be in a session.

My daughter was born prematurely and was assigned to the pediatrician just out of med school.  In the first year, a more experienced doctor diagnosed my
daughter with pneumonia and a heart murmur.  She had surgery almost a year too late based on his incompetency.  I begged to have another doctor assigned to my daughter and they refused.  Thankfully, he moved and the next doctor was much better.

My point is, you are wise to investigate this therapist.  My pediatrician worked at the best clinic in town and I thought I could trust them.  Unfortunately, this played havoc with my daughter's life.  I wouldn't give specifics, just ask for another therapist.  Your mental health is not based on convenience.  The time they want you to spend with therapist one, could be spent getting the help you need.

I don't give up things that are important to me because of other people's thoughts and opinions.  I believe you were wise to do the research and I know you will make the decision that will be the best for you, not the therapist.

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Rubytown

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Re: Counseling advice - should I request a different therapist?
« Reply #6 on: July 15, 2017, 07:34:43 PM »
xredshoesx,
I so appreciate the validation.  It is amazing to me how much guilt and obligation I operate under.  The more I pay attention, the more I realize this tendency.  It is so true that I don't even have to give a reason.  I am putting that on myself.

SeaGlass,
I'm glad you shared your story and thoughts.  That's what happened with my last therapist, and it was individual counseling.  Over time, it became apparent she was functioning as an enabler in her own life.  (She shared quite a bit of information with me that was probably not professional.)  I was in a vulnerable place and really needed support.  She kept thinking of reasons I should stay in the relationship and was discouraging when I tried to be more assertive.  This was damaging, as my uNPDh was at that time behaving abusively.  Healthy support at that point, when we were in a separation, might have helped me get out of this unhealthy relationship.

DancingRain,
Your idea was my original thought process.  However, I'm thinking now that I may not try meeting with her.  Her focus area is working with children and adhd.  Also, I would rather wait for someone even if it's 2 or 3 more weeks because having a lot of appointments open is not necessarily a good sign either.  I am feeling like this is my first therapy challenge - being assertive enough to trust my own judgment and advocate for myself.  After all, the inability to do those things in my life is largely the reason I'm seeking counseling now.

SonofThunder,
Thanks for the input.  I will update you as the therapy situation progresses.  I believe someone can counsel effectively with education and less life experience depending on the clients they work with.  For example, my son is seeing a behavior therapist who helps him specifically with impulse control and adhd issues.  That is a good fit, although the therapist has a bachelor's and is young.  He's also a good role model.  Also, I have seen counselors work effectively using empathy with more mature clients.  However, people with less life experience do tend to misunderstand or underestimate the reality of real life pressures.  Definitely, someone with PD traits would not likely offer very helpful services.  However, some people with PD function effectively in their work life but show their "pd-ness" only in closer, intimate relationships.

I think, considering what you and others have mentioned about the complexity of PD, I will push for that expertise.  I really can't imagine trying to educate someone about these types of issues if they don't really understand PD.  I have been through that a couple of times before, during my individual and marriage counseling.  I basically gave up because their advice was not relevant or helpful.


Medowynd,
You make a good point about her posted comments and the importance of experience.  I'm so sorry to hear of what you went through and am glad your daughter is better now.  I like how you said you don't give up important things because of other's thoughts and opinions.  I also appreciate you saying I was wise to do research and reminding me that it's not my responsibility to take care of the therapist's feelings!  (There's that caretaker role again.)  I was feeling like I was being unethical somehow in looking her up.  But I think that's more of my conditioning from childhood saying I don't have rights and that I should accept whatever others tell me to do.  It's time for that mindset to change - for my well-being and the effects on my own children.

I'm really glad I wrote in here about this because I was planning to keep that appointment.  I feel really good about this decision.  The validation and ideas from you all have helped me feel stronger and more competent.  I will check back in to let you know what happens with the therapist change and therapy whenever that begins.  It is really good to be able to share with others and experience what healthy relationships are like.  I look forward to one day developing more such relationships in the future in my "offline" life.  Right now, I'm so nervous about running into more narcissists (which I attract like a bug light), that I find myself avoiding interactions.  :-/

Ruby



 
« Last Edit: July 15, 2017, 07:40:53 PM by Rubytown »
"Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding."  Proverbs 3:13

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SeaGlass

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Re: Counseling advice - should I request a different therapist?
« Reply #7 on: July 16, 2017, 09:29:41 AM »
 :)Good luck Ruby! Keep us posted!

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SonofThunder

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Re: Counseling advice - should I request a different therapist?
« Reply #8 on: July 16, 2017, 12:44:44 PM »
:)Good luck Ruby! Keep us posted!
:yeahthat:
Proverbs 21:9 
Better to live alone in a tumbledown shack than share a mansion with a nagging spouse.

Proverbs 17:1
A meal of bread and water in contented peace is better than a banquet spiced with quarrels.

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Rubytown

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Re: Counseling advice - should I request a different therapist?
« Reply #9 on: July 17, 2017, 02:47:42 PM »
Success!!!

Just wanted to check in and let you know that I called and requested a different therapist.  It was actually harder than I expected.  I told the administrative assistant that I wanted to request a different counselor.  I also told her that although I have adhd and depression, my main concern for counseling is dealing with a family member who has a personality disorder.  She tried to get me to change the time and keep the original counselor by stating that she has experience with personality disorders.  I told her that I felt uncomfortable with the counselor they assigned and needed a different person.  I was calm and cordial but firm about this.  I had decided that I needed to view the issue as I do any business problem instead of letting the personal nature of it cause me to be unprofessional and give in as conditioned in childhood.

She put me on hold and went to look at the counselors' schedules.  I just prayed the whole time, hoping I would get someone who could at least understand and validate me instead of further adding to my stress in this situation as happened before.  Amazingly, she scheduled me with someone I know (on an acquaintance level) from my graduate work who is an excellent counselor!  I worked with him in a group counseling class and was impressed with his maturity and calm nature.  The class was designed to put pressure on people in education and mental health fields to develop our ability to handle conflict.  We were actually supposed to initiate and work to resolve conflict in the group.  Some people were very distressed and reactive with the assignment.  I ended up in a pretty intense interaction with a student I had inadvertently triggered.  I tried to help the other student calm down and rebuild rapport with him, but he was extremely upset, visibly shaking.  This student was adopted internationally and had recently come out as gay among peers.  I'm still not sure exactly what I did but noticed he was aggressive in interactions with other students as well.  Anyway, the counselor I am scheduled with now intervened in the situation and helped tremendously.  I remember that although he was empathetic, he was not overly sensitive and tended to challenge other students to really look at themselves analytically.  I think this is an important trait in a counselor as well, as I am not interested in someone just patting me on the back.  I intend to put serious effort into the process and gain significant improvement in myself.  I also specifically remember someone from that group class disagreeing with him emphatically at one point and insulting him.  He politely said something like, "I respect your opinion and have considered your ideas.  I continue to believe my perspective on this is the most helpful for me."  He didn't respond to the personal attack but was not weak in his reply.  That is a behavior I would like to learn in my own life.

Anyway, I wanted to share, as it was kind of an amazing outcome.  I felt that pushing through the uncomfortable situation resulted in a much better outcome for me.  Either way, I feel good about being assertive and taking care of myself for a change.  That's part of what the counseling process is all about - pushing ourselves to deal with difficult things and step out of our comfort zones.

Thanks again for the encouragement.  I don't believe I would have had this outcome with my original plan to meekly accept the counselor they assigned.  I consider this my first successful accomplishment in my counseling work.  :-)

Sincerely,
Ruby
"Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding."  Proverbs 3:13

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SeaGlass

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Re: Counseling advice - should I request a different therapist?
« Reply #10 on: July 17, 2017, 03:34:27 PM »
 :cheer:Yay, Ruby!

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DancingRain

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Re: Counseling advice - should I request a different therapist?
« Reply #11 on: July 17, 2017, 03:35:01 PM »
That's great, Ruby!  Good job:)

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SonofThunder

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Re: Counseling advice - should I request a different therapist?
« Reply #12 on: July 19, 2017, 07:56:15 AM »
Great news Ruby!   Glad it worked out well and that you were pleased in way you handled it, unmoveable in your path to get a new counselor and handling it in a professional manner.   :applause:

In encouragement,
SoT
Proverbs 21:9 
Better to live alone in a tumbledown shack than share a mansion with a nagging spouse.

Proverbs 17:1
A meal of bread and water in contented peace is better than a banquet spiced with quarrels.

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Rubytown

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Re: Counseling advice - should I request a different therapist?
« Reply #13 on: July 21, 2017, 05:22:01 PM »
*Update on counseling*

I went to my first appointment today and was thrilled with the therapist! My intuition on this was definitely spot on.  Again, thank you all for the support and encouragement to request a different counselor.  I don't have a problem with a younger therapist or even one with less life experience, as long as I feel they can help me build better skills.  My new therapist is at least 10 years younger than me and doesn't have children, but he studied overseas and has some significant understanding of PD and insight into my personal issues.  I get the sense we can make a lot of progress.  I'm definitely stepping completely Out of the FOG into the bright sunlight here - coming more fully out of denial in my marriage relationship as well as regarding issues with my family of origin.

My new T confirmed it would be a good idea to study ideas about early trauma, complex PTSD, and information on adult children of alcoholics.  He said it sounded like I had a lot of early traumatic experiences and that my current life issues make sense in light of that.  He has a very accepting attitude while still offering a challenging style with focus on goal-setting.  I feel I can improve and learn a lot from this experience.  I will let you know how things go. 

I strongly encourage you all to consider counseling if you haven't looked into it yet.  I would stress that the right fit is vital.  Otherwise, I believe it can do more harm than good by reinforcing past hurts or causing you to feel invalidated.  My former counselor was an enabler in her personal life and discouraged me from stepping out of the caretaking role, for example.  If anyone is looking for a book on early trauma and effects in later life, the counselor recommended "The Body Keeps the Score" by Bessel van der Kolk, M.D.  I haven't read it yet but just ordered it.  I'm still reviewing parts of "Stop Caretaking the Borderline or Narcissist," which is an excellent book SoT recommended.

Wishing you all well,
Ruby
« Last Edit: July 21, 2017, 05:25:28 PM by Rubytown »
"Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding."  Proverbs 3:13

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Ilovecoffee

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Re: Counseling advice - should I request a different therapist?
« Reply #14 on: July 21, 2017, 05:53:31 PM »
Hi Rubytown.  Congrats on finding a great therapist.  I agree that finding a therapist is very helpful in sorting through what we go through on a daily basis.  I too see someone and it has really helped me see things more clearly.  I just finished "Stop Caretaking the Borderline or Narcissist" and it was a great book and very helpful.  I would absolutely recommend it!   I did find that some of the suggestions on how to communicate with the PD definitely don't work with my uPDw but then again it may depend on the individual.  I'm sure the suggested communication does work with certain PD individuals.  I can tell my uPDw that I'm going to take a few hours to myself on a particular day and her response would be "who do you think you are?  you don't control everything and you have 2 kids so no you are not going anywhere."  Followed up by "if you think you are going to just do what you want and go out and cheat you have another thing coming".   :stars:  But it really is helpful in setting boundaries and the follow through on them.  It also breaks down the PD's behavior.  Great book!
« Last Edit: July 21, 2017, 05:55:11 PM by Ilovecoffee »