Saw new therapist today... lots of thoughts

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DV

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Saw new therapist today... lots of thoughts
« on: March 16, 2019, 10:44:23 PM »
So I saw a new therapist today, and have a lot of thoughts going through my head after the first appointment...

He has some sort of experience with treating trauma (including training in EMDR). I specifically asked him what his knowledge was around Complex Trauma and I honestly wish I remembered more of what he said... it's somewhat of a blur to me now. Something about multiple incidents, I think... sigh... I may just have to ask him again next time to repeat himself. It seems pretty obvious to me though that his background is much more in "classical" PTSD, e.g. treating war veterans, etc.

Anyway, the biggest issue I had at the end of it all was that he said he didn't think I had any sort of trauma-related condition (classic PTSD or Complex, etc.) because out of everything I told him, there wasn't one single "especially traumatic" incident, something that I have nightmares over and can't move on from, etc... this is after telling him of my background of verbal/emotional abuse from my dad when I was growing up (including extreme rage blowups over the most insignificant things), having gone through all sorts of other difficulties in just the last several years of my life, etc. And there's a whole truckload of stuff I didn't even have a chance to mention to him.

He admitted I had a lot of difficult things happen to me over time that all added up, but apparently this doesn't qualify as "traumatic" in his mind.

I even told him about how I tend to dissociate whenever I get in certain stressful situations with other people, essentially flashback to feeling like a powerless little child, how the negative emotions that come to me afterwards can last a day or even more, keep me from sleeping, etc. But not trauma. Nope. Despite the fact that most "normal" people would hardly be phased by these things that affect me so negatively.

To be blunt and vent a bit... I really hate the overly narrow definition of trauma that many so-called "experts" still use... as in, if your life wasn't literally in jeopardy at one point, or you didn't see someone get killed right in front of you, what you experienced wasn't really traumatic, just stressful and sort of sucky... it feels so invalidating, even if the people who believe that definition of trauma don't mean to be invalidating.

It's even more frustrating because so much of what I've been through can't even be described in words. It's not something as straightforward as physical/sexual abuse (don't get me wrong, I don't mean to belittle the seriousness of that at all), but that doesn't necessarily make it any less traumatic. Just because someone can't understand what I've been through and fit it in some neat little category of commonly accepted forms of trauma, that doesn't mean I haven't been traumatized by it.

Ultimately, I guess I'm just really frustrated and fed up with the ignorance of trauma among even many professionals... it feels like the general and common knowledge of trauma is still in the stone ages and we all have a long way to go...

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Anjulie

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Re: Saw new therapist today... lots of thoughts
« Reply #1 on: March 17, 2019, 03:01:08 PM »
Dear DV,

oh dear, what an awful experience. I can totally understand and relate. Glad you vented, I'm in your corner totally. I think you sound very clear about him. But I read here in the forum that there are indeed good trauma therapists out there who are not stuck in the stone age.

What you tell about your trauma... o  :hug:
I had a similar childhood. Such an upbringing is totally "sufficient" to traumatize you and leave you very ill-equipped for normal life's situations.

I hope that this experience doesn't keep you from looking for a good therapist. You are worth receiving a good treatment!



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Kizzie

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Re: Saw new therapist today... lots of thoughts
« Reply #2 on: March 17, 2019, 06:19:10 PM »
Good grief DV, sorry to hear this!  There is a definite lack of knowledge/misunderstanding by some MH professionals around cumulative trauma (Complex Trauma or Complex PTSD) and single incident PTSD.  This T's emphasis on a single incident highlights this (focused on one horrific or big "T" event versus the cumulative trauma of ongoing emotional abuse). 

There are T's who do know about complex trauma though, it's just a matter of finding them and that's the tricky part for all of us at the moment because there aren't that many of them and they seem to be located mostly in large cities.  Are you in or near a city where there are more T's to choose from? 

We do have some forms that can help you to capture your trauma history, identify the causes and symptoms of your CPTSD, and hopefully locate a T who IS knowledgeable about and experienced with CPTSD here
« Last Edit: March 17, 2019, 06:21:13 PM by Kizzie »

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johnram

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Re: Saw new therapist today... lots of thoughts
« Reply #3 on: March 23, 2019, 10:54:31 AM »
I dont understand how a T can decide what is and isnt traumatic in this regard, i would think its very case by case as to what can traumatise someone.

If you do not think / feel heard by this therapist i wonder if its time to try someone else?  at least to cross check opinions?

I know from personal experience that having the wrong therapist for a long time is not helpful and felt detrimental in some ways

good luck to you

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Oscen

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Re: Saw new therapist today... lots of thoughts
« Reply #4 on: March 27, 2019, 10:12:42 AM »
Hi DV, that sounds really challenging. I'm searching for a new therapist at the moment too and I would be really disheartened if I spent a session with a professional who concluded that I didn't qualify as having trauma, especially after recounting the incidents that you did. It sounds like a very invalidating experience.

I think you need a therapist who understands complex trauma; perhaps ask about attachment as well? From what I understand, this is often a big factor in the damage caused by childhood complex trauma - lack of secure attachment. The abuses are poison icing on an already toxic cake.

One last thing I'll note - I've been having phone consultations with a few potential therapists and have found that for some questions, they've given vague answers. Because it's over the phone, I'm able to take notes as I go, so I know it's not just my memory or lack of understanding the topic. I think they don't want to answer the questions directly because they are worried that their honest answer will put me off them. They are human too, and a first consultation is a bit like a job interview for them, so they may feel pressure to make a good impression. Perhaps this is why you can't clearly remember his reply about his C-PTSD experience, because he doesn't have much experience, so he fudged his answer? Just a thought.

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Kizzie

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Re: Saw new therapist today... lots of thoughts
« Reply #5 on: March 27, 2019, 04:02:42 PM »
That's a great suggestion re interviewing potential therapists via consultation phone calls Oscen    :thumbup:   

DV we do have a form you can use in your search if you'd like - Locating a Trauma Therapist"