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Old 01-18-2019, 08:51 AM   #1
mindmechanic
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Default Therapist not smiling

My therapist is still working from out of state, so we do phone and video therapy. We've been stuck on an issue for a couple of sessions since last Friday. When we talked on Monday (an add on session), she was still chuckling over the phone. She said it was an affectionate chuckle. But on Wednesday, she had no smiles on her face and looked serious. When I turn on my video, she would always wave at me. But she didn't do that on Wednesday. She later said that she's frustrated that we're stuck. Although she said that she doesn't know why she didn't wave when I went on video, I'm guessing has to do with her frustration. The session on Wednesday didn't go well.

We're supposed to have our regular therapy this evening - 9 hours away from now. I texted her if she's still feeling frustrated because I wouldn't come in if so. I still need warmth and a smile even though there's tension in our relationship and work now. She responded saying, "I'm available if you want to talk then. But I won't be able to text until then though." So now I feel like I'm trapped in a Catch 22 situation.

I need to feel safe going in. But if I'm going to be met with a straight face or if she's still frustrated, then I think that space and a break would be good. I don't think it's too much for clients to want to see a smile on their therapist's face to feel safe? There's a whole thread on here about it.
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Old 01-18-2019, 09:42 AM   #2
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Default Re: Therapist not smiling

Personally I would go to the session. If you are struggling this is the perfect opportunity to address it.
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Old 01-18-2019, 09:57 AM   #3
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Default Re: Therapist not smiling

Our session on Wednesday didn't go well. I was already flustered and worried to begin with, and seeing her pulling a straight face and not smiling or waving like she always does only made me feel more uneasy. If that's how it's going to be today, I don't want go to in because it'd just be a cycle. I want to go in and work things out, but I don't think we would go anywhere productive if she doesn't feel any warmth and is going to pull a straight face.

She thinks that I'm analyzing her countertransference, so she doesn't want to share why is it that she didn't wave or smile, and doesn't want to tell me if she's still frustrated or not today. But I think it's important for me to know whether she's still in a state where I'm going to be met with a straight face and no usual smiles. I need to be able to feel safe coming in. She always smiles. She didn't on Wednesday, I'm guessing because she's serious or frustrated. Who knows. That's for her to figure out. I just need to know that I can have the warmth and smile that every patient needs to feel safe and comfortable.

I think that even if there's tension in our relationship and our work now, warmth can still exist in this difficult situation. Is there room for it? If not, then there's no point in me going in today. If yes, then good, I feel like it's more promising if I go in.

And I've got three assignments and projects to work on over this long weekend. I'd rather dedicate my time to those assignments than having 1 hour 30 minutes of double session therapy today. Moreover, I need to feel safe coming in, too, because if the session goes badly, it's going to be hard for me to focus and be productive on these projects over the weekend.
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Old 01-18-2019, 10:13 AM   #4
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Default Re: Therapist not smiling

i think for her to tell you that she's frustrated was kinda unprofessional. She is in charge of her own emotions and she is there providing a service to you-therapy so she should be able to keep her own emotions out of it.
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Old 01-18-2019, 10:25 AM   #5
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I hope you two can work quickly through this. I think it would be good to still go to the session and tell her how you feel. She needs to keep her emotions out of the therapy, it's your therapy she is there to help you through what ever you bring to the session. She also needs to know you do not feel safe going into the session. If she is unwilling to listen and be able to work through this then you might have to find another therapist. Hugs
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Old 01-18-2019, 10:34 AM   #6
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Default Re: Therapist not smiling

I have been working with this therapist for a little over three years now. If this doesn't work out, I won't be entering therapy again. I'm not going to invest time, effort, energy, and money into something like this again. I've had in the past and it didn't work out either. This is the longest therapist with whom I've worked.

I think that a perfect therapist would be one who could keep their emotions out of the therapy session. But I also recognize that they're human and therefore imperfect. I'm not seeking perfection. Just some signs that it's safe enough to go in. Because her telling that she's available if I want to talk later doesn't make me feel promising, you know.

If I go in today, I risk jeopardizing my ability to focus and be productive all long weekend on the three assignments and projects I need to work on. If I don't go in today, the further I would withdraw and who knows when I'd go in again. Because in the three years, not once have I ever not went in. But this time I'm really on the edge.
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Old 01-18-2019, 11:52 AM   #7
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Default Re: Therapist not smiling

Oh, and the therapist said that me noticing that she didn't smile or wave as usual when I went on video is a nuance and subtlety. ?!?! Noticing that your therapist didn't smile or wave when it's something that s/he always does is by no means a nuance or subtlety. Wtf.
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Old 01-18-2019, 12:18 PM   #8
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Default Re: Therapist not smiling

I'm a bit confused. Are all of your sessions via video? You talk about going in for a session so I can't quite tell.

I would think video would feel very awkward to some people which might be part of the issue.
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Old 01-18-2019, 12:20 PM   #9
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Default Re: Therapist not smiling

I just got a text from her that reads, "Something has come up at my end and I am fortunately need to reschedule our session. I apologize. I will try to make a Saturday time available to replace it but I will have to be in touch with you about that later on."

This is the first time in three years that she is canceling a session the same day. She also made a typographical error "I am fortunately" instead of "I unfortunately." Is that purely a typographical error or is that a Freudian slip? She feels fortunate that she has to cancel our appointment. ?!?!
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Old 01-18-2019, 12:24 PM   #10
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Default Re: Therapist not smiling

Quote:
Originally Posted by mindmechanic View Post
I just got a text from her that reads, "Something has come up at my end and I am fortunately need to reschedule our session. I apologize. I will try to make a Saturday time available to replace it but I will have to be in touch with you about that later on."

This is the first time in three years that she is canceling a session the same day. She also made a typographical error "I am fortunately" instead of "I unfortunately." Is that purely a typographical error or is that a Freudian slip? She feels fortunate that she has to cancel our appointment. ?!?!

That suggests to me an autocorrect error, since she was texting. My phone does some really weird autocorrects. I wouln't take it personally at all. I'm sorry she had to cancel--I wonder if something is going on in her personal life that's causing her to be more distant/less aware of things like waving and smiling, which is connected to the cancellation? Not in an attempt to excuse her, but to suggest it might not be so much about you.
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