The Therapist List

I mentioned in my previous post that I had met with “many” therapists. The word “many” fails to capture the vast number of therapists I have met with. I’m at the point where I repeat office buildings when looking for new one.

I have met with 20 outpatient therapists. This isn’t counting the ones I met in partial-hospital programs, the ones who I met with only once for the purpose of a referral, or the ones who I met with for neuropsychological testing.

I have an appointment with number 21 for Tuesday.

Here’s the list:

1. ADD Guy –  I met with him a handful of times in early high school when my parents wanting me on medication for my ADD. I wasn’t really clear on the purpose at the time, but my parents signed me out of school to see him so I didn’t complain. I liked him. My parents had me stop meeting with him to switch to someone closer.

2. ADD Woman– I don’t remember much about her except that I sat in the appointments being pouty with my arms crossed while my parents talked.  She prescribed me adderall which was a disaster and I stopped meeting with her when I stopped the adderall.

3. Family Therapy Lady– It wasn’t really family therapy, it was just my mom and I. We’d each meet with her individually for part of the appointment and then we’d all talk together at the end. It was awful. My mom and I would arrive not fighting and leave fighting. It ended when I sat through an appointment and refused to talk.

4. M.S. – I met with her for most of high school, sophomore year though senior year. Initially I didn’t really talk to her about much. But Junior year I told her about my self-injury and things changed. She helped me in a lot of ways, but there was a point where I hit her limit. I stayed meeting with her past the point where she could still help me. At the end we got stuck with her trying over and over the same things that didn’t help. I left and came back a couple of times and a few months before graduating I left for good.

5. Lady with the office near school – I met with her briefly when I had angrily left meeting with “M.S.”. She was so much worse, that I came running back to “M.S.”

6. DBT Guy– “M.S” asked me if I wanted to do a “group therapy” it sounded like an interesting idea. The group therapy turned out to be DBT. The group was full, so it was decided I’d meet individually with the group leader until a space opened up. I didn’t stick around long enough to get into the group. I couldn’t stand it. I met with him 2x a week for a bit over a month. He said things like “If you’re depressed you should be grateful that the ground is there to hold you up”  which as you can imagine wasn’t helpful. The final straw was that he wanted me to phone him before I was going to cut so he could talk me out of it. I have anxiety about phones, so the idea of calling when already anxious wasn’t appealing. I also don’t really 100% know if I’m going to cut until after it happens. So if I had called and then not cut after the call. I’d have felt guilty like I had been faking it. He didn’t understand this and said he couldn’t meet with me unless I could agree to that. So I stopped meeting with him.

7. College Therapist– I met with him as soon as I began college. It was convenient becase he was in the school’s health center. The first appointment I was visibly shaking. I ended up liking him a lot. But then he broke my confidentiality and got me kicked out of my school as a result of it.

8.Quick Diagnoser– She was a psychiatrist who I met with a couple of times when meeting regularly with “College Therapist”. She was very quick to throw diagnoses at me without getting the fully story. I only met with her a handful of times. She prescribed me Seroquel and Wellbrutrin. I ditched the Wellbrutrin pretty fast because I hate being on a drug regularly, but took the Seroquel as needed for awhile. When I was in the hospital she told my doctors there to lie to me about the Borderline diagnosis because she thought I’d freak out about it. I stopped meeting with her after “College Therapist” got me kicked out of school.

9. Social Worker– I met with her once after returing to my hometown to live with my parents after being kicked out of school. I was horrified that she didn’t know what Trichotillomania was and didn’t make another appointment.

10. Fake Therapist– I met with her during the time I was kicked out of school. I needed her letter to recommendation saying I was okay to return. I had a lawyer working on it too, but the letter from a therapist would help my case as well. The problem is that meant I couldn’t talk about anything without worrying that it might hurt my ability to get get good letter out of her. I had to say enough to make her think I was cooperating, but hide enough to protect myself. It was fake therapy. I didn’t tell her about my friend killing himself during the time I was meeting with her because I was worried that could be used against me. After all having a friend kill themselves is one of the classic items on the list of warning signs that that person might also be at risk. The one thing she did do that was helpful was switch me from Seroquel to Klonopin. Klonopin is much better because it doesn’t make me sleep all day. I left meeting with her when I returned to school.

11. S.M.- He was the best therapist I’ve ever met with. He introduced me to the psychodynamic approach, a refreshing change from things like DBT. I can’t really sum up how awesome he was in this little paragraph. He restored my faith in therapy after having had it destroyed by “College Therapist”. He helped me realize that majoring in psychology was an option. He doesn’t realize that though. I’d had an interest in it before, but had so much anger over bad therapy experiences that I felt studying it wasn’t an option. I left him when I decided to transfer schools to switch majors and to escape the drama that had followed my return to the school after being kicked out. I thought for sure that as long as I had a psychodynamic therapist near my new school that they’d be near as awesome as he was. I was sad about leaving him, but not anywhere near as sad as I was later when I had trouble finding a good therapist. If/When I move back to the area where he works I’d like to meet with him again.

12. Couldn’t afford her fee – “S.M.” recommended her.  Then it turned out my insurance didn’t cover her the way I thought it had so I couldn’t meet with her. So I only went a few times then left.

13. Home Office Guy – I met with him once and liked him even though the idea of  a home office seemed creepy to me. I was prepared to meet with him regularly, but then at the end of the appointment he said  he ‘couldn’t meet with me’, gave me a list of two names and sent me out the door. I have not a clue what happened there.

14. Repeat after me– I met with her for about a month. I tried to give her a fair change, but she drove me crazy (more so than I already am). Al she did was rephrase back to me what I had just said. In moderation I don’t have a problem with that. I understand that it can be soothing, but there is a limit and she went far beyond it. I told her that I wanted therapy that was more on the expressive end of the expressive-supportive continuum and she repeated that right back to me, not grasping the irony that repeating what is said is a supportive strategy.

15. Guy who couldn’t hear– He was old, his hearing was going and I speak softly. It was a bad match so I didn’t last long.

16. K.L.– He was a convenient walk from where I lived. I met with him for about 6 months. It got stuck fairly early on though. I stayed largely because the security of knowing I had a therapist can keep me somewhat stable even if the actual therapy doesn’t help. Early on in therapy I bought a book he had written. I didn’t like it much. I never told him I’d bought it. I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt. Even if he wasn’t a good writer he could be a good therapist. But things got stuck. All it felt he did was ask me what I fantasized about. And when I said ‘I don’t know’ (I have trouble with generalized questions. More about that later.). He’d rephrase it and ask what I daydreamed about. As if the minor word change would change my answer.

17. Nice Smile Therapist– I found him on a online therapist finder. I liked his smile in his photo. It seemed really genuine, not fake the way a lot of therapist smiles look. So I made an appointment. I went through my life history. And he told me that I made him “too anxious” for him to be able to work with me. I was really crushed, because it’s rare for me to go into an appointment with a new therapist feeling positive about it.  I think that because I was feeling more positive I may have shared things more quickly than I would have normally. I guess though that it is good he decided that on the 1st appointment rather than on the 10th.

18. Secret Agent Therapist– I called him this because the instructions to get to his office were very complex and involved secret codes. He scared me a little bit because he didn’t put up with any crap from me. But I also appreciated that. The problem was that he didn’t have a regular time in his schedule open for me. He assured me there would be one soon. So I met with him whenever there was a cancellation. I liked him because he actually believed me when I said “I don’t know” in response to a question.  He helped me figure out that it’s generalized questions I have trouble with and that rephrasing to something more specific can help. For example, not asking me ‘what’s your favorite type of movie?’ and instead asking ‘Did you like that movie?’ He theorized that it was related to a problem with executive function. Which seemed logical because previous neuropsych testing I’d had found problems with that. The problem was a space never opened up for me. He eventually told me he couldn’t meet with me because it didn’t seem like he’d have a regular time or me anytime soon. And this turned out to have probably been a good thing, because my dad didn’t like him. He’d done something that my dad considered shady with how he’d billed the insurance company an my dad is still trying to untangle his mess.

19. Rock Band Guy– “Secret Agent Therapist” referred me to him. I had trouble talking to him and spent the entire appointment talking about the video game rock band. I figured that if in even the first appointment he couldn’t get me to talk about real things, then in the long run it wouldn’t work out.

20. M.G. – I met with him a few months. Up until a week and a half ago. I mostly was meeting him him because I felt worn out from the whole searching for a therapist process. He didn’t believe me about the whole having trouble answering generalized questions thing which was frustrating. He just didn’t get me. Every interpretation he made was way off base. He’d jump to conclusions and I’d tell him they were wrong and give a reason and he wouldn’t budge. When I’d vent about  a problem he’d make me leaving feeling much worse. So I got frustrated and left.

Wow that took much longer to type than I thought it would. I should be doing my Cognitive Psych HW.

Anyways I hope I’ll like the new one I see on tuesday. I’m not sure if I can afford her though. I have to figure out insurance stuff.

Every time I see a new one they feel more disposable.If this one doesn’t work I’ll go buy a new one. I try to give people a fair chance. It just keeps not working out.

I keep thinking ‘this one is the last one if they don’t work I’m done with therapy’ and then I still end up going looking for a new one.

Updates:
21. No clever name – I left saying i wanted to take break and then she reacted so negatively to me wanting to take a break that I decided I just didn’t want to come back at all.
22. Scared him off– Post about it here
23. C.H.– Post here and also here.
24. CBT therapist– Basically setting this therapy up to fail by picking a therapist who has loads of traits I’d normally avoid.
25. Post here
26. Post here

27. Therapist who I travelled really far to get to.

28. Therapist who I started seeing upon moving for grad school

29. Current Therapist

14 thoughts on “The Therapist List

  1. this is a great post! I’ve recently drawn up a similar list as I went through Shrink Idol 2009. It’s amazing how quickly, after a while, we can identify characteristics.. or should that be caricatures?

    It’s a very personal and complicated process. I wish you the best of luck!

    BTC

    Reply
    • Thanks for commenting:) There’s so much variety in therapists, much more than most people realize. It’s easy to oversimplify them yes , but notice that the ones I met with longer I used initials for and the ones I met with less time I used nicknames. For the ones I met with longer it seemed harder to summarize in a few words because the relationship was more complex.
      I checked out your blog. Looks interesting. I subscribed to the rss :)

      Reply
  2. I have returned the RSS love and will also place linkage on the blog if that’s ok.

    I’m currently uploading some old posts as I have just transfered from WP to blogger. One of them is my “therapist list” post but I’m not sure how brave I’m feeling!!

    :)

    BTC

    Reply
    • Thanks for the link:) I added one for you too.

      Post the list:) I’m interested in reading it.

      By the way when I try to comment on your blog the “capcha” code gets stuck at “loading…” so I can’t post a comment. Not sure if it’s a problem on my end or a general one.

      Reply
  3. I am so glad you blogged about this. I am especially glad you mentioned DBT Guy. I am in a huge fight with my therapist right now because he suggested DBT. I am SOOOOOO over wasting my time with that stuff. I know I’ve mentioned my bad experiences with those kinds of treatments to my therapist and it makes me angry that he is either insensitive or has a poor memory. It makes me feel like he just really doesn’t care about what he’s doing when he talks to me. I’m starting to think about just giving up on therapies.

    Reply
    • There is an attitude a lot of therapists unfortunately have that if DBT doesn’t work for you that it must be because you’re being difficult. Because they think it is the only option for treatment of a behavior. It ignores the causes and functions of the behavior. I got really frustrated with that so now I only meet with therapists who use a psychodynamic approach. They’re more interested in the causes of a problem. Since I started seeing that type not one has been on my back to do DBT.

      Reply
  4. I’m with you about generalized questions. I only reacted angrily once in therapy when asked “what kind of man are you looking for?” There are so many aspects, tradeoffs, and personal history to consider…

    I’d have told ground is holding you up guy I was suddenly feeling homicidal instead of depressed.

    As someone who’s only seen one who wasn’t great, and who has put off therapy for 2 years because it sounds like too much work to find someone who won’t understand me, this list doesn’t inspire confidence.

    Reply
  5. maaaaaaaaaan that is a lot of therapists… I’m too lazy to change… or maybe I just am non confrontational and choose not to discuss why maybe the time has come for me to change shrinks.

    don’t you find it exhausting telling your story all over again>

    Reply
  6. This is brilliant…funniest thing I’ve read in a long time – I love the names for each one. I might have to do a list like this.

    Reply
  7. Pingback: Anxiety and the way it sneaks up on you | Tales of a Crazy Psychology Major

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