She was controlling and patronising in her manner throughout. She also showed astonishing ignorance about psychotherapy, her own field! She clearly felt that she had to establish and maintain authority throughout. I kept thinking "control freak, control freak ...". But I never said anything directly to express my strong dislike of her (which was itself a mere reflection of her evident strong dislike of me, formed before she had even seen me).
My best theory about her attitude is that, after doing a psychology degree, and perhaps a PhD, she has been trained in cognitive therapy (I didn't actually ask - the entire interview only lasted half an hour), and this (or whatever her training was in) has given her a blinkered view of the entire phenomenon of psychotherapy. She talked down to me, in a controlling and patronising (and above all, completely illogical - I'll come to that in a moment) way, about things which, I quickly realised, I actually know far more about than she does. I think part, maybe even all, of her hostile reaction to me may have derived from various things I wrote in my response to the questionnaire (at least one of which, I must admit, was largely bluff or bullshit - but I admitted as much even in writing it) which showed that I had read a bit of Freud, and had had years of experience of analytical psychotherapy (which had mostly been useless, or even harmful - I'm not starry-eyed about it at all). So she was insecure, and she attempted to compensate by acting authoritative and not listening to a word that I was saying.
Psychotherapy, for her, is a managed and time-limited procedure, subject to an agreed contract, and aimed at achieving clearly stated "goals" or "targets". (This is to some small extent an inference on my part, but based closely on many things she actually said.)
Any idea that the part of the self that does the controlling and managing, and setting of targets and goals, and making of contracts ... that that
part of the self might itself come into question in psychotherapy, was clearly anathema to her.
I must emphasise this. She repeatedly spoke as if, not only did she not in any sense believe
in analytical psychotherapy (fair enough - I'm not sure that I do, either!), but she did not know what it was, and she even repeatedly spoke (contradicting herself, of course) as if it literally did not exist
She said (patronisingly, as if speaking to an ignoramus) that psychotherapy was always time-limited (to about three months), goal-directed, and subject to a contract agreed at the start. She did not merely say that that was the only kind of psychotherapy on offer. (However, in other parts of the conversation - perhaps only after questioning from me - she did put it this way. But she never once said a single positive thing about what was actually done in psychotherapy. Everything she said was negative, or purely managerial, even when I invited
her to explain something in positive terms about the kind of psychotherapy she believed in.) This wasn't a misunderstanding; she repeated it when questioned.
So I said to her that, when left to their own devices, people will willingly nearly bankrupt themselves in order to pay for sessions several times weekly of analytical psychotherapy that can (notoriously) go on for years. Her reply to this was the non sequitur
that "not all people" do so. Patiently (I was patient, logical, and polite throughout the interview, in spite of my slow-burning anger at her ignorant and patronising control-freakery) I explained that I didn't mean "all people", I meant "some people", and that I was one of those people. To this, she simply had no reply. Even this simple remark had taken her out of her script.
When I observed, reasonably, that I could understand the economic reasons for only offering short-term forms of psychotherapy (this was the NHS - I'll refrain from giving a long history of my involvement with the NHS, and my opinions about it, except to say that the very worst, the most shocking responses I have ever encountered from psychotherapists were not
from any working for the NHS, but from some working privately), she wouldn't even admit that it was a simple matter of economics, but tried to hint mysteriously (again, without giving a single bit of positive information) that there were other reasons why this kind of psychotherapy was apparently best - not only for "some people", but for everybody
In short, she appeared completely brainwashed (and to be trying to brainwash me). I'd probably have been better off talking to a Scientologist or an evangelical Christian.
She struck me as an apparatchik, a functionary, employed by Great Britain PLC to keep the human components of the factory running, by fixing their supposed cognitive machinery when it goes wonky. (And mine is
wonky! - that's the maddening thing - I really badly need help.)
I have never, ever had such a bad "assessment interview" for psychotherapy (or indeed anything else). It was worse than merely incompetent; it was borderline insane, in view of what (so-called) "mental illness" is, and what psychotherapy is. (To say this is not to imply that I have a clearly worked out theory of either - I do not - I only have intuitions, and much experience.)