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Bad Therapist or good Therapist..??

N

Nighthawk43

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Joined
Dec 12, 2014
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12
Hi,
I'm hoping someone can shed some light on my dilemma. I have been going to psychotherapy group sessions for about a year now and still have another year to go. Therapy has had a very positive effect on me, as I have resolved three of my main issues. Last weeks session was by far the biggest step forward I have ever made in my life, as I was able to resolve two of those main issues.

I have always been able to understand my issues as I feel I was just blessed with the mental ability to explore my feelings and understand why I keep repeating bad habits. my sensitivity and my bad habit of ruminating were my two biggest issues in life, thanks to two members of the group I feel now that I have resolved those issues and was feeling the happiest that I've felt in many years.

However this weeks session has left me with a very bitter feeling towards my therapist. To put you in the picture I believe that we go through stages to resolve our issues. Stage one is what I call the understanding stage where you explore how you feel emotionally about what has happened to you, and also understanding the reasons why certain people in your life treated you badly, it can be very complex but as I said I feel as if I was blessed with the mental ability to do all this understanding.

Stage two is what I call the acceptance stage and this was the stage that I was stuck at, for most of my adult life I thought my sensitivity was a womans thing and it made me feel inadequate as a man, I hated myself for being so sensitive, also I did not know what ruminating was (obsessively thinking negative thoughts when someone treated me badly).

To cut a long story short there was an incident in the group a few months ago that upset me very badly, then the following week I told the group how I felt, and explained my issue with my sensitivity, and one of the women in the group reassured me that being sensitive was not a "womans thing" and that I should not be ashamed of it. Another woman in the group suggested that my problem could also be that I ruminate, I didn't even know what ruminate meant so I looked it up and found out that this is exactly what I did when people mistreated me.

Now moving on to last week I was discussing something in the group and got a bad reaction from 3 or 4 of the members that would usually have resulted in me feeling picked on and I would have let my sensitivity and ruminating run wild, but no it didn't happen, I thought about what was said and instead of thinking about all the negatives I actually found myself thinking and looking for positives, and it made me feel so elated and happy that I had actually changed my way of thinking.

Now this week in the group I now feel very bitter towards my therapist and i'll explain why.
I actually feel, well I actually know that the rest of my group are struggling at the understanding stage or the exploring stage and for me the group has become very stagnant, it feels as if they do not know what to do, the group to me is not progressing, I feel (well I actually know) that the rest of the members are stuck.
So this week I decided to share what had happened to me the week before and how I changed, but I also took the risk to say to them that I thought they were stuck at the understanding, exploring stage, and tried to help them by explaining how I overcame this stage to move onto the next stage.

Now this is where things got pretty nasty for me, my therapist stopped me in my tracks and very sternly told me that I was not the therapist that she was. I explained to her that I was only trying to help the other members in the group, and again I was abruptly stopped by the therapist and she suggested to me that I thought I was superior to the other members of the group, I told her I did not think I was superior, that I was just trying to help the other members to become unstuck.

After this, one of the men in the group said he felt that I was being arrogant and belittling the rest of the group, which I told him that I was only trying to help and that if he actually knew me he would realise that I'm one of the most modest people you could meet, after all how could I be arrogant when the truth is that I actually suffer from having an inferiority complex. Also I'm a very passionate guy and maybe my passion was mistaken for arrogance, this is the first time anyone has called me arrogant and it hurt, as I abhor arrogant people.

Now the thing is I have actually tried to help the rest of the group a few times in the past and the therapist has always stopped me saying that she is the therapist and not me. I have read about bad therapists who actually think they are the only one's who can help people, and they don't like when an actual patient thinks they can help others in the group. At the end of the session I asked my therapist if I could have a word with her, which was met with a stern reply of "no not at the moment"

So here I am feeling very bitter towards my therapist, and thinking she will either phone me or send me a letter telling me not to come back, and I'm actually thinking of leaving the group and filing a complaint about the way she has treated me and made me feel.

All help and opinions are greatly appreciated. this psychotherapy is through the NHS.
 
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Kerome

Kerome

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It does sound a bit as if you were playing at being amateur therapist, creating a system to fit experiences in and then wanting others to take that on board, and move from one stage to the next. A lot of people even outside group therapy would look at you a little strangely and not go along if you proposed it.

So I can feel some sympathy for your therapist, whose job it is to be alert for any one group member trying to exert undue influence. I totally see its with the best of intentions, but perhaps after being told once that it's not appropriate by the therapist and even having a group member say that they don't appreciate the attitude, it would have been better to just drop these overt attempts to "help".

I've had group therapy in the past, and there people did help each other, but they did it by offering insights, interpretations, their view on what others were thinking. It was all done with great care in a kind of "here's what I think, take it or leave it" style.

Often these things are just about presentation. If you had made your story about the stages as if it was about you only, then nobody would have been able to object and you would still have been setting a good example. There are some key habits, like not telling people what they should do, but instead leave them to draw their own conclusions about where they are and what they should try.
 
pepecat

pepecat

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Think about how you became 'unstuck' from the exploring stage, as you call it....... Was it through someone sitting there saying 'you're stuck and you need to move on', or was it something you came to realise in your own time, at your own speed and from within you?
It sounds like your experience was the latter, to me. Someone in group therapy suggested that you might be ruminating, you went home and looked it up and it rang true with you and helped you move on. They didn't sit there saying 'you're stuck because you ruminate and you need to move on', but that's now what's you're doing with other people.

In groups people work at all different paces and come to realisations about themselves at different times. That can mean it can feel like you're behind some in the group at times, or ahead of some in the group at other times. It can make group therapy a bit tricky to deal with I guess. The thing is though, people have to come to those realisations for themselves, just as you did, not through someone sitting there telling them they're all stuck. It might be frustrating to you if you feel like you're there before them, and I guess you want to help them to get to the place you're in as well.......but the place you're in might not be the right place for them to be in, and it might not be the right time for them to be there.
I think you need to be patient with the group, and accept that people go at their own speed and take their own time about these things. Share your experiences, of course, but from a point of view of 'I found this helpful, I wonder if it could help you as well' rather than 'you need to do x'.

Even a therapist (a decent one) will never sit there and tell clients what they should be doing. Therapy is all about discovering stuff for yourself, with the help of a therapist. It's never about them saying 'you're stuck here and you need to move on to here', so I can understand why the therapist interrupted you.
The other thing that occurs to me is that while you may or may not like the therapist, they will have seen a lot more group therapy than you, they have more training and experience in facilitating groups, in group dynamics and the way they work, and they will also know something about each of the clients in the group - probably stuff that you don't know. So there is a good reason for them to stop any amateur 'therapy talk' going on. Someone in the group may have had bad experiences with being told what to do, which the therapist is aware of and you're not...... Could be anything like that going on.

So try and be patient with the group.... Share your experiences from your own point of view, but I'd suggest not trying to play amateur therapist with the group, because you might find it annoys people.
 
N

Nighthawk43

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Dec 12, 2014
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@ pepecat, I did not say to my group "you are stuck and need to move on", I said I think you are stuck and I can maybe help you and started to explain how I got to where I am, you see there are a few people in my group who listen to me, in fact the other week the woman who I have made the most connections with actually mimed over to me "I listen to you" she mimed it so the therapist couldn't hear, the others in the group really do think they are something. and won't listen to anyone.
 
O

one-less

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@ pepecat, I did not say to my group "you are stuck and need to move on", I said I think you are stuck and I can maybe help you and started to explain how I got to where I am, you see there are a few people in my group who listen to me, in fact the other week the woman who I have made the most connections with actually mimed over to me "I listen to you" she mimed it so the therapist couldn't hear, the others in the group really do think they are something. and won't listen to anyone.
I'm going to jump in and try to explain this to you: maybe that's not what you said but it came off that way to everyone in the group, including the therapist.

It's not any group member's job to lead the therapy - that job is designated to the therapist. That's why the therapist is there. It's not up to any of the members to say 'this is what I did, it worked for me so it should work for you because it worked for me'. You telling them they are stuck and need your help comes off this way.

It would've been different if you took the approach that Kerome was explaining earlier. I think pepecat's post is great.

Maybe you need to think about this a bit before the next session, as possibly then the therapist would be ready to talk about it with you but openly with the group as it sounds like there was a bit of emotional unrest with the other members and she'd want to evaluate how everyone, as in the group as a collective whole, feels about what happened this week. I suggest being prepared for that and being open, starting from now, to understand why what you said wasn't appropriate. It's not that they don't understand you were trying to be an active member of the group, it was just your approach that could've been adjusted.
 
Rod Whiteley

Rod Whiteley

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Hmmm...bad therapist or good therapist? As soon as I read the words, "my therapist stopped me in my tracks and very sternly..." I decided on bad therapist, and nothing anyone else has posted has made me change my mind.

However, it does depend on what you mean by bad. Sometimes group therapists fall into a way of thinking that the group is more important than the people in it, and they see themselves as the group's guardian. If any group member starts thinking too independently, that can be perceived as a threat. Naturally, it causes a hostile reaction. Of course, the threat is absolutely real. If other group members make progress by leaps and bounds the way you say you have recently, then the need for the group will diminish and the therapist will feel less valued. Group members who can't make the same rapid progress for whatever reason will feel left out and stop attending. So it's unfair of me to say that the therapist's hostile reaction to this very real threat is bad. She is probably doing what she instinctively feels is right.

I hope she'll discuss what has happened with her supervisor. (She does have supervision, doesn't she?) I think she needs to get her head around the difficult idea that the purpose of a group like this is to destroy itself by enabling all the members not to need either a group or a therapist any more. It's possible she is stuck and won't be able to get there, but you are not her supervisor or her therapist, so if that is the case I think all you can do is leave her to it.
 
N

Nighthawk43

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Dec 12, 2014
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Today I've been told by the therapist to seriously think about leaving the group, because of my reaction last week (I was raging because she cut me off last week), I have been accused by my therapist of causing an unsafe environment as some of the group feel intimidated by me. I've been told to seriously think about the affect I have had on certain group members, and she told me to think about whether I have taken all I can from therapy and if I can get anymore out of it.
 
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N

Nighthawk43

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Dec 12, 2014
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Another thing I'd like to point out is that the therapist has allowed others to shout and swear at each other (something I did not do, I sat fuming and whole group knew I was angry.), yet they are not told to think about leaving the group. I was really making good progress yet I feel now that my chance to improve my life is being taken away from me, and I find I'm doubting myself and just feel numb again, I feel this has knocked me back 10 paces when I was actually feeling really positive.

Also today, well yesterday(Thursday) some members of the group now say I'm patronising, I take it they came to this conclusion because my therapist suggested that I think I'm superior to everyone.
 
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