Managing Expectations

One of the things I really appreciate about the therapist I’m currently seeing is how absolutely clear she is with expectations – both for myself and for her. 

I told her that another piece of my hesitation around the beginning of sessions comes from my fear of being disappointing. I explained that I feel like I couldn’t keep up with the pace of my old therapist. And Zooey…well, she invited me to share, then got overwhelmed by it, then became disappointed when I stopped “opening up as much in session.” I feel like I disappointed both of them.

This therapist said that she cannot even fathom how I could be disappointing to her, but that one way we might help assuage my fears is to give voice to these moments. So if she feels that our pacing needs to change – either out of some kind of urgency or a need to slow down and allow me room to breathe – she will simply tell me that. And if I feel as though I’m somehow not meeting her expectations, I will try to voice those fears and fact-check them with her.

She reminded me that it’s not my job to meet the needs of my therapist. She said, “Really, in an ideal world – where you are (as the client) is exactly where we need to be.” Then she explained that her job is to be aware of what I’m bringing into session so that she can understand what is important to me. Because what is important to me is what is important to the work.

She talks about therapy in a way that is both very sound and professional, but also not very representative of how I’ve traditionally experienced it. So after she finished explaining all of this to me, in a very “this is just the way therapy is” sort of way, I said, “Have you ever actually met another therapist?”

She laughed. And I think she understood that this – all of this – is very new and foreign to me. I am not used to having a therapist that is so skillful and good at their job. I’m not used to my therapy being about me. I’m not used to my therapist actually communicating with me or setting clear parameters and expectations.

I need more time to adjust to this.

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17 thoughts on “Managing Expectations

  1. leanintothediscomfort says:

    After binge-reading ALL your blog posts, I feel SO happy for you that you’ve found such a seemingly competent, well-trained, and understanding therapist. She sounds great. I hope this therapeutic relationship/alliance continues to be a positive and helpful journey.
    Also, I am totally and overwhelmingly angry, frustrated, and disappointed at Zooey, and I am so sorry you had that experince. She clearly needs some supervision at the very least! All the best Andi xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Andi says:

      Wow, thank you so much! I am touched and honored that you read all of my blog. That means a lot! Thank you also for both your well-wishes for the new therapist and your anger for Zooey. Both are very appreciated ❀️

      Liked by 1 person

  2. J says:

    Your therapist reminds me so much of mine that if not for the fact that mine is also a psychiatrist, I would wonder if we were seeing the same person!

    I remember what it was like to need to even…i don’t know how to put this…come to terms? That’s not quite right…with having a decent, qualified, competent, even talented therapist, one who GOT me and who could take care of herself. After 4 years with her, I’m more used to it, but not a session, often not even a day without a session, passes without my being fully aware that I can’t take it for granted after all of the damaging, hurtful, even negligent therapy I experienced prior to her.

    I hope you get to the point where you are more adjusted to it. While it never became something I can take for granted, it’s both something I’m so grateful for and so relieved to have, and something that I can now, after so many years, rest easy against (well, more often then not).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Andi says:

      That’s actually pretty cool! My therapist is definitely not a psychiatrist, but my psychiatrist is also a therapist. Lol. I think I know what you’re saying and I really hope I remain centered in that place of knowing and being so aware of (and grateful for) the therapist and the treatment I have right now.
      I want to always remember that THIS right here is what I wanted. I never want to lose it.

      I will think of this comment often. Thank you.

      Like

  3. alicewithptsd says:

    I am really just so glad for you. Everytime you post about your new therapist, she reminds me of my therapist– who is amazing and grounded and real and just…accepting of me, as i am. Its a scary but womderful thing. I have actually asked my therapist if she realizes she is not like other therapists. She usually just laughs. Anyway, I am just really happy for you. Xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Andi says:

      Aww! Thank you, sweet Alice! I love love love your posts about your therapist, so that is a very big compliment. And a good sign! So funny that you’ve asked her the same question, haha. Not sure the good ones even know how good they are πŸ™‚

      Like

      • alicewithptsd says:

        I don’t think they have any clue. Well, actually, I think they have an idea that there are bad therapists out there, but they don’t realize how good they are in comparison. Bea was surprised how — and this is nothing compared to what you have experienced with bad therapists, and the last time I was in therapy I was a teenager, so this was over a dozen years ago– no therapist I saw ever treated me different than an adult client, they never gave me anything to do, just sat me on a couch and expected me to talk. She was also surprised how when I did disclose something to the one therapist I liked, I wasn’t believed because I couldn’t remember everything. So my conclusion is they don’t know, they only know they wouldn’t act in those ways and they are surprised that there are therapists who do.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Andi says:

        True. I think the fact that they can’t even imagine doing such things says a lot about the type of therapists they are. I’m sorry that therapist didn’t believe you. Memory is never that simple. And I think a lot (too many, really) of therapists have no clue how to work with adolescents. It’s unfortunate, really. Glad you have Bea now πŸ˜€

        Liked by 1 person

  4. insidetheclock says:

    Reblogged this on insidetheclock and commented:
    “She reminded me that it’s not my job to meet the needs of my therapist. She said, β€œReally, in an ideal world – where you are (as the client) is exactly where we need to be.” Then she explained that her job is to be aware of what I’m bringing into session so that she can understand what is important to me. Because what is important to me is what is important to the work.”

    Like

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