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Old 04-21-2019, 03:23 PM #1
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Default The look

I donít have a problem with eye contact in therapy, for the most part anyway. Sometimes I feel a little awkward depending on my mood or what weíre talking about, and then eye contact can feel strange, but for the most part thatís not the case. We occasionally have moments of silence when I become aware that weíre not talking and then Iíll look at him and Iím relieved that heís not looking at me. But once in a while (not frequently) when I look at him he looks directly at me and doesnít look away like one would normally do in a typical social situation. Even when I look away and then look back, heís still looking. Itís weird and intense, but not necessarily bad and it only lasts for a few seconds although it feels longer. Iíve been trying to figure out how to describe this experience and I found this description in a book I recently finished (about someone seeing a therapist) that I thought was close to perfect:

ďHis eyes are like magnets, and every time I glance away, they seem to find me. His expression is intense but gentle, a combination of a wise elder and a stuffed animal, and it comes with a message: in this room, Iím going to see you, and youíll try to hide, but Iíll still see you, and itís going to be ok.Ē

I wouldnít describe my T as a wiser elder/stuffed animal exactly, but the message that comes with his look seems accurate and weirdly comforting while feeling awkward at the same time. I wonder if they practice ďthe look.Ē Anyone else get this look?
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Old 04-21-2019, 03:50 PM #2
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Default Re: The look

No - such never happened as far as I know. I would never have described either of the woman as having a look and certainly never one that indicated they were going to see me.
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Old 04-21-2019, 04:11 PM #3
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Default Re: The look

I don't really understand what people are talking about when they talk about being seen in therapy. It sounds like "seen" is code for "understood," but then why not say understood instead? I must be missing something. I don't personally feel like being eyeballed makes the therapist understand me.
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Old 04-21-2019, 05:02 PM #4
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Default Re: The look

Love the quote.

It was Kohut who said we develop a positive sense of Self from our Mother's reflecting back her pleasure at us when she looks in the our eyes.

I was never 'seen' by my mother because she reflected back her projections of me, her resentment of me. Her dread of having another child she didn't want. In therapy, someone who is interested in me and who could see me for who I am, rather than through transference and projections, has been a positive experience.
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Old 04-21-2019, 05:04 PM #5
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Default Re: The look

Similar to you, I make eye contact here and there, but when things are slightly uncomfortable and begin to get deep, I avoid our eyes locking. Our eyes are the windows to our soul they say, so it appears Iím too afraid to let her see too much of me.
My therapist recently, with a gentle-like face, stared into my eyes, trying to hold eye contact. It felt intense, so I of course looked down. I believe her intent was to build a connection with me and to help me feel comfortable and safe being vulnerable with her, as this is something I have been avoiding at all cost. Itís perhaps to show and to teach clients the importance of connection and vulnerability in order to get what we need from people. Itís perhaps to show that they are here, a 100%, actively listening and willing to show compassion, so that we can be our authentic selves.
Having said that, my T and I now sit side by side lol, so that I feel more comfortable without the intensity of eye contact during vulnerable moments. Our goal is to eventually sit opposite each other and for me to be able to make eye contact when discussing the difficult stuff! 🤔
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Old 04-21-2019, 05:05 PM #6
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Default Re: The look

I very much had this with ex-MC, and it was something that felt very healing to me. I feel it's something he likely practiced, as he's mentioned other techniques he uses. And he has very intense brown eyes.


T does the fairly intense eye contact thing at times, too--it can be particularly intense when we're parting ways and shaking hands, because then there's both physical touch and eye contact. It can also feel healing (both with ex-MC and T) if I look at them when I'm crying and they hold eye contact, which can feel very accepting, even if they don't say a word. Or if I'm sharing something that feels shameful. Feeling seen and accepted are very important to me (I feel I missed some of that in childhood), so eye contact in therapy can feel very powerful to me.
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Old 04-21-2019, 06:39 PM #7
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Default Re: The look

Quote:
Originally Posted by susannahsays View Post
I don't really understand what people are talking about when they talk about being seen in therapy. It sounds like "seen" is code for "understood," but then why not say understood instead? I must be missing something. I don't personally feel like being eyeballed makes the therapist understand me.
I suppose the whole thing sounds kind of weird to you then. I used to think the idea of being ďseenĒ was a bunch of hand-waving or maybe a fairy tale or code for something woo woo. Iím not sure now. I wish I could explain it better. I definitely donít feel like Iím being ďeyeballedĒ though, and Iím not saying that the look means that he understands me or gets me, but itís kind of nice and gives me hope. And itís still kind of weird to me.

Last edited by Lrad123; 04-21-2019 at 06:53 PM.
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Old 04-21-2019, 06:51 PM #8
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Default Re: The look

Quote:
Originally Posted by LonesomeTonight View Post
I very much had this with ex-MC, and it was something that felt very healing to me. I feel it's something he likely practiced, as he's mentioned other techniques he uses. And he has very intense brown eyes.


T does the fairly intense eye contact thing at times, too--it can be particularly intense when we're parting ways and shaking hands, because then there's both physical touch and eye contact. It can also feel healing (both with ex-MC and T) if I look at them when I'm crying and they hold eye contact, which can feel very accepting, even if they don't say a word. Or if I'm sharing something that feels shameful. Feeling seen and accepted are very important to me (I feel I missed some of that in childhood), so eye contact in therapy can feel very powerful to me.
I agree that it must be a technique that they practice and actively choose to do in certain situations because it otherwise would be kind of unnatural. I also agree that eye contact in therapy can be powerful, maybe even more powerful when words arenít being spoken.
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Old 04-21-2019, 06:55 PM #9
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Default Re: The look

I always use eye contact in general. I always have. Only exception is if someone makes me feel inferior to them, like by being good looking. While I adored my T. he was not "good looking" to me, so eye contact was never a problem, we always looked at each other and to me, it just felt normal.
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Old 04-21-2019, 10:54 PM #10
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Default Re: The look

He does this sometimes, but I very rarely look at him unless it's small talk or about something fairly mundane. I've appreciated the few times he's asked me to look at him when I was especially deep in feelings of shame. It's like it gives me "permission" to look at him when I feel like I don't deserve to or I'm not worthy or I'm too disgusting or whatever, like he's telling me he doesn't feel that way about me. And when I have actually been able to glance up and see him looking at me I do feel "seen." I feel exposed and that he's still looking at me unflinchingly.
When someone does something embarrassing or shameful in front of us, we tend to avert our own gaze.
When he's still looking at me like that it feels like he's telling me that he doesn't see it as shameful/unacceptable, that he isn't disgusted by me, that he isn't angry, that he isn't "rejecting" me, that he isn't hiding judgment or disdain.
I kind of wish he would do it more often.
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