So, in my last post I asked these questions;
What is ” the therapeutic relationship “?
What does it mean?
How far should it go?
Is it real? Can it be real with the limitations of the artificial boundaries put in place?
Is it a personal relationship despite the clinical construct?
You would think after 5 therapists over 7 years, that I would know the answer to that question. If you’d asked me at the beginning of my venture into therapy-world, my answers would be very different to what they are now.
I do have a very clear answer to all those questions, but really I was interested to see everyone else’s interpretation of this weird magical, painful, profoundly healing and frustratingly complex relationship we have with our therapist’s.
And the reason I wanted to hear everyone else’s opinion or understand of it, is because what happened in my session on Monday and as a wider issue how my therapist experiences me, my level of need, and how her countertransference seems to influence how close or apart we are. The things she said in session made me question whether how I was viewing our relationship was somehow wrong. Was I seeing it as something more than what it is?
I liked the replies I got to my questions. Most were on par with what I think which helped me realise that the way I view my relationship with Sienna is fairly accurate, that I am not too out the realms of normality. I was starting to really question whether I do expect too much of Sienna, whether I expect the relationship to be something it is not.
I am going to be writing quite a lot this week because once again it seems like we are at a sticking place. I wouldn’t call it a rupture exactly but it’s certainly not too pleasant for me and maybe not for her either and we are slowly trying to pick our way through it.
And to counteract the amount of confusion I am feeling, I need to write this out. Step by step.
The next few blog posts will probably be heavily transference and counter-transferencial and that can feel intense to read and you might even get a sense as you read of the foggy dissociation that seems to follow these transferential issues, and it might be triggering. So be aware of that and ensure you feel okay to read.
But this post will be okay and not too deep.
My answer to the question “ What is the therapeutic relationship” is this ;
I can only talk about what I think my relationship is, because each therapy relationship is defined by the two unique human beings in it. It is a co-creation between therapist and client. It can’t and shouldn’t be defined by arbitrary rules set by some philosopher/psychologist 100 years ago. (Cough *Freud*)
I have worked with Sienna for 2 years and 3 months so far. She is the best therapist I’ve had and the one who’s yielded the most results in me. She’s also the longest serving therapist I’ve had since the rest couldn’t handle the heavy work-load and counter-transference that I seem to come with/induce.
For me our relationship is real. It is really important to me and to her, so she says. We are important to each other. I love her. She might love me but I’m not sure. But I guess I know she cares.
Even though we are most definitely Client and Therapist, and there are boundaries to ensure that we remember that, I feel like that’s almost in the background and the relationship, the real feelings and real dynamics that happen in that microcosm are about me primarily but also about “ Us”.
I think it’s a relationship like no other, there’s no other template in life that I can refer to. It can be very parental, Sienna taking the mother role. But the professional boundaries ensure that it isn’t taken too literally, that we don’t become enmeshed or blurred.
While Sienna takes a parental role in my life, we both know she isn’t and will never be my mother and that there’s limitations to how much she can give. And sometimes that fact frustrates me and hurts me, but I accept it. And I’m glad she keeps the boundaries because I need her as my therapist and it keeps her as a safe person.
Our relationship is real, but it’s boundaries are professional ones. And it’s hard to knock against them sometimes. It’s hard to feel the limitations of these boundaries which seem so cold in comparison to the emotional intimacy we share.
The boundaries are weird and are talked about a lot more than any other relationship. It’s weird to feel so close to someone, to be so emotionally intimate and sometimes dependent of this mother-figure who soothes, and calms, and diffuses anger and who teaches me so much. And yet despite all those things, we’ll almost definitely never go out for lunch together, we’ll never go clothes shopping or go get our nails done or go to the movies. I will never truly know Sienna in the way her friends or family do. Our relationship exists only in that room. It’s hard to share so much yet so little with this person who is one of your closest allies.
But as weird as the boundaries feel sometimes, I accept them as they are. I see that every relationship has its own boundaries so having those boundaries with Sienna doesn’t make it a fake relationship, just a different one.
I feel like I am talking shit. I can’t seem to really say concisely what I want to. So I’ll end here.