Sunday, June 17, 2012

Therapy: To continue or not to continue, that is the question

My clinical externship lasts 10 weeks, and upon its completion, I will no longer qualify for the counseling services at my school’s counseling center. My excitement about no longer being a student is also met with apprehension and mixed emotions as the end of the most intimate and helpful therapy relationship I’ve experienced rapidly approaches.

As the deadline draws nearer, I find myself reflecting more and more on the impact that these past 3 years of therapy have had on my life, as well as what it will be like to no longer meet with my current therapist and whether I will continue “talking” therapy with a new therapist.

I must admit, I am pretty anxious about having to discontinue services with my current therapist. I have never experienced anxiety about ending past therapy relationships. Usually, my experience has been quite the opposite – I couldn’t wait to get out the door!

This time is much different. Three years is a really long time, and I needed every minute of it to get to the point where I am now. The thought of attempting to develop a similar rapport with another therapist is rather exhausting and almost overwhelming to think about.

My perspective on so many things has changed since beginning therapy. Actually, I think a more accurate statement would be that I have finally begun to grant myself permission to consider my perspective on things. My value and belief systems have been there all along, but I have been closed off from them for quite some time.

My live-in therapist :)
Though I intellectually knew it wasn’t the case, I had honestly begun to feel like I was not free to be “Me” without the stamp of approval from others. I had become so accustomed to bending, remodeling, and even bulldozing my boundaries, all to accommodate the needs and desires of others, that I had almost completely lost track of what defined me.

The only way I could confidently identify myself was as a martyr for the needs of others. To say that I could no longer stand up for myself would be an understatement – I had pretty much lost all awareness of what boundaries I still possessed and whether I had any right to guard them.

When I first began therapy, I wanted to be told what to do. Honestly, I wanted to be rescued. These feelings only intensified this past year as I began to openly admit that I had internalized my experience with rape instead of dealing with it and that it was permeating my every move in the present.

Though I tried desperately to hide my desperation, even from myself, I could not help but notice the flailing hands reaching out from me in search of something to hold onto. I was drowning.

Utilizing a client-centered approach to sessions, my therapist has enabled me to see that I, and only I, hold the life preserver that will help me reach stable land. For this lesson, I will be eternally grateful.

Though I still have a great deal of work ahead of me, I am wondering if, come August, I will have the skills I need to press forward to shore without attending weekly therapy.  

Whatever I decide, I find comfort in knowing that I am in charge of whatever path I take.

In the noble words of Buddha: 

“No one saves us but ourselves. 
No one can and no one may. 
We ourselves must walk the path.”

6 comments:

  1. Amen! Martyrdom and victimhood were my best friends and worst enemies - frienemies is the term I believe and how glorious to step out of those roles and claim your life. It's hard to end a relationship that has meant so much to you but it might be a good time for you to test those wings of yours. I know the first time I took a break from the work I was doing with David, I was so scared and felt abandoned - I can smile now but now I realize that it makes sense to take breaks from the work and find how much space you can create with wondrous new relationships and discovering what you makes your heart sing. You have a wonderful support network in the Heal My PTSD community and you know the saying, a door never closes without a huge window opening. Eager to hear about your next steps and totally admire your strength and courage. Be well.

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    1. Graceful Lady, thank you so much for the encouragement! Frienemies, lol :) Your positive words and insight are really helpful. Thank you for helping me find that window :)

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  2. I should have waited till the morning to read this, now I am going to dream about E.T.

    I trust IN YOU that you will use the tools you have learned these tree years so that this up coming fork in the road will lead to YOUR path. Therapy is about tool building and like all types of construction, the building gets finished and it is just the maintenance that is left and maybe a few repairs here and there.

    All books are made up of chapters, and those chapters are made up of pages. As you are writing the last few pages of this chapter it is understandable to be anxious, but in reality flipping from 1 chapter to the next is no more than flipping o the next page. Just remember you are the author and you control the main story, just not always the details.

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    1. Jaime, are you saying that my cat looks like E.T.? Ha!

      Thank you for believing in me. It really means a lot.
      I hope you have a nice weekend (and perhaps a mini-break from work!).

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    2. Yes, your cat looks like ET. LOL

      You are welcome, and I always will.

      We are going to the gun range this weekend and blow off some steam. It will be fun.

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    3. Haha, have fun! And, thank you so much!

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