Talking Through Impasse

I brought my concerns about our recent therapeutic impasse into session on Monday. I altered the post so that it read as a letter directly to the therapist. I felt that would be a better way to communicate than to give her this information in a strange third-person manner.

She was incredibly receptive to what I wrote. She felt I explained myself very well and she said that having such information really helps her better understand what is going on with me in those moments. She further explained that she had also spent the weekend thinking about this and brainstorming different ways to respond to me that might be less triggering for me, which I appreciated.

Then she explained that although the goal is certainly not to trigger me or cause me to feel as though I’m being abused again in any way, it’s also very important that we’re “bringing my family into session”. Meaning that part of the work is in having these triggers come up and identifying the historical components of them. She feels that it is crucial that we stay with the authentic emotions of the moment and work through them together.

So she wants to be supportive of me, but she also wants to encourage me to face the trigger and allow it to play out however it needs to within the therapeutic space. That gives us a chance to really explore what’s going on and to help me find different ways of reacting and responding to similar triggers. All of which would help me feel less distressed in the long run. But it also means that there will need to be times when sessions will be very uncomfortable or painful for me.

That made a lot of sense, but it also sounded out of my range of abilities at the current moment, which I explained to her. She said that she understood and asked if there was anything she could do to help me feel more supported. I told her that it would be helpful if she was more compassionate towards me and was able to see me for where I was at in those moments, even if that means I need to believe the distortions despite all logic and reason.

She responded by asking me if I felt she was not being compassionate towards me. I said, “No, I do think you offer compassion, but I don’t think you’re leading with compassion. I think that my need to be seen and heard is at battle with your need to provide a certain type of support. So although I appreciate being challenged and I can see the value in that work, I think, for now, that I need you to open with compassion and then pivot to the challenging part.”

She said she would definitely work on that, but then assured me she would most certainly fail from time to time. I know this. I don’t expect perfection from her, but I’m grateful that she’s always so mindful of keeping the expectations very clear.

Something about this conversation felt really good to me. I think it gave me a much stronger sense of why she pushes me the way she does. I have a clearer picture of what her goals may be when she says certain things, which makes them less threatening. I felt very listened to and understood. And I think her ability to stay firm with me and sorta hold her own despite me pushing her to back off was weirdly reassuring.

I can’t really explain it, but something about the way she responded signaled to me just how invested she is in the actual work. I can see how much she is thinking about this process and how careful she is with her words and questions. There’s a certain purpose to her language that I can grasp a little better now. She is not some passive layperson just listening to me talk for sixty minutes. She really is in this.


18 thoughts on “Talking Through Impasse

  1. alicewithptsd says:

    She sounds invested in helping you, in containing feelings and in working through it all. I think that there is something reassuring about a person holding their boundary when we push back, espessially if they hold that boundary while being understanding and compassionate. I think this is something parents are meant to provide for their children– that consistant boundary, but with kindness. don’t know, but thats my guess. If it’s something you arent used to, or have not experienced before, it does feel strangly reassuring. Bea has been consistant in her responses for over a year now; not consistant like she says the same thing, but her behavior is steady and transparent. She’s authentic, i guess. And it is reassuring that her responses are the same, the way she feels about something stays the same, that i can predict how she will react to things, and (a part of me can) feel fairly certain of how she will reapond to me. I have noticed that as Bea has provided this for me, i have begun to be more like this with my own child; where before i could hold a boundary or keep a demand in place, it was a fight within myself and it showed in frusteration, and sometimes i would end up yelling. Now, somehow, i am able to hold a boudary with kindness and see it as providing safety and containment. I don’t know, my perspective has changed. And i totally didnt mean to write this huge long comment about me and my story. You just made me think about this and it led here. Anyway, I am glad you had a good session and feel reassured. 😊xx

    Liked by 2 people

    • Andi says:

      Yes, I agree. Boundaries work for a reason and I think part of that is to create safety. Which is so important for those of us who’ve not always been protected and kept safe. I also agree that parents are meant to do this. I wish that was always the case. And perhaps NOT having our parents do that is what makes it feel so strange and uncomfortable now. I’m so glad that Bea is consistent – that is so important for you to be able to do this work with her. You really need that sense of consistency and predictability. It makes her emotionally dependable and reliable. I love your comments, so write away!! Thanks for the support 🙂


  2. Amb says:

    It truly does seem like she is in it with you. She’s holding your hand in the journey, not watching you from behind. It’s amazing and I am so thankful that you’ve found someone so invested in your healing. I also admire your courage to tell her what you need. Sending you many kind thoughts and gentle hugs, friend. xx

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Rachel says:

    Wow, I hope you can see the evolution in your communication with your therapist since the beginning. I recall your early posts about your therapist, and you feeling stuck or that she wasn’t hearing you. And you were so triggered and upset (understandably so), and it just seemed really awful. And now your insights and way you view communication with her, and her responses to you are SO DIFFERENT. It is amazing. You should be damn proud of your emotional maturity.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Andi says:

      Ah, yes. So damn true. I do see the evolution, especially when I look back on older posts. I can see how necessary it was for us to struggle in the relationship. We didn’t know each other. We still don’t in many ways. But I’m beginning to understand how we relate to each other and how she reacts to me, which is reassuring and dependable. I think she’s developing a stronger sense of how I react to HER, which also informs how she reacts to me. It’s a constant back and forth, really. Thanks for the support 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Sirena says:

    Good work, you were really brave in telling her what you need from her and being able to give her constructive criticism and she was really good at taking it on board.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Tina says:

    “Out of my range of abilities at the current moment” … that’s damn powerful! Awesome work. I’m glad the conversation was so productive, that you felt heard & knowing her intention so that even though it’s triggering, it’s part of the work sounds helpful. Nice.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Andi says:

      Thanks! Yes, I love that, too. It’s always nice to feel like we’re working on this together – that she’s not just waiting for me to change. We’re both constantly shifting and evolving to figure this out together.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Cat says:

    As you already know, the relationship between client and Therapist is where a lot of our most important work takes place. I love how she always seems so invested in learning how to work with your particular needs… as trust grows with her… always encouraging to read

    Liked by 2 people

    • Andi says:

      Thanks, SL. I think she’s still figuring out when to push versus when to hold back. It’s tricky even for me to know when I need one thing versus the other. But, yes, she does seem invested in doing right by me and that is what matters most, I think.

      Liked by 1 person

      • silentlistener2510 says:

        It also matters that you relationship is dynamic and that she is making changes according to your means just as you are well remain consistent I think this is the difference between an abusive and non-abusive relationship one of them anyway

        Liked by 1 person

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