Sunday, 29 January 2012

Talking about therapy

I applied for low-cost (read trainee) Gestalt therapy. No, I don't know what that is either, but our relationship counsellor Douglas suggested it and we trust Douglas.

Therapy: I have had plenty. For years during my twenties I went once a week to see a nice man called James. He had a bald head and a mild expression. I sat on an orange sofa and told him the edited version of what was going on in my marijuana-addled, depressed young mind. I was usually stoned and always too ashamed to tell him half the stuff I was really thinking about. James never challenged me on this and I used therapy as a way of keeping going rather than sorting anything out.

Finally I decided that therapy was not going to get me any further. I just had to go out and start living again. That was the last time I had therapy until my ex-girlfriend Beth and I went for couples therapy together. I'm not sure that helped much either. We split up eventually and that was the right thing. I don't think the therapy helped much except maybe to draw out the process and alleviate my guilt.

I tried a short course of hypnotherapy once to try to 'move things along that were stuck'. By this I mean to try to find out if there was a psychological basis for the constant thrush I was getting and not knowing what I wanted to do with my life. It was a waste of time. In six sessions I didn't go under once. The man in the next room crying, kids playing outside, constant noises off through the partition walls kept me in a state of distracted consciousness. My best suggestion at the end of it all was that both me and my vagina were irritable.

My problem with therapy is this: I can say and think it but I don't feel it. The talking cure does not connect with how I feel. Understanding and being able to explain to yourself why you are behaving/experiencing things/feeling the way you are will only take you so far. You need to feel and behave differently to actually get the benefit.

The counselling Virgil and I have had in the last few months has helped for sure. It has also identified that I need to sort out my issues. This has led me to seek some therapy. Douglas thinks Gestalt might be the one for me. I remember a painful tutorial when a tutor failed to get a roomful of freshers to get a Gestalt belly-laugh going. That's all I know about Gestalt.

In my financially tenuous state I chose the trainee therapist route and because my weekday availability is second to none I got phoned up pretty quick.

The trainee therapist has a nasal voice. Her first introduction was hurried and mumbled. I had to ask for her name at the end of the call. She asked if I was available to come in for a consultation next Tuesday at 11am. I asked if that meant I was being offered regular slots on Tuesdays at 11am and as the words came out I realised that while I had said I was available on the form I really didn't want to put a therapist's appointment right in the middle of an otherwise free day.

I tried to backtrack. I said, Look, the way my week works at the moment is that I work three half days and then I have two free days. But I need to change that and if I get work I would have to prioritise that. How long a commitment are you asking for? She wouldn't answer. I said, I mean, how long does Gestalt therapy take? Are you on the CBT end of things or is it like analysis? She acknowledged that there was short-term option and said, Well, who knows what will happen? Why don't you just come for an assessment.

I thought. What's the point if it's just to start therapy with someone I can't continue with? Someone whose voice I don't even like? I asked if she had any other Thursday appointments and got a 9am, which is better but not much. She probably wanted to save that for a person with work but if she's a trainee she might not have much of a clientele. She probably needs to take whatever she can get. 

Having been a trainee myself, I have low expectations. Maybe I should bite the bullet and hire an expensive NLP practitioner to do a mind wipe on me instead. It could work out more cost-effective in the long run.

Anyway, next Tuesday at 9am, I have an appointment.

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