Psychotherapy – My first therapy session

Concepts in Eric Berne's Transactional Analysis

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After a long wait and many assessment sessions I finally had a date to start psychotherapy.  I’m having to pay privately for this as I ‘still’ haven’t heard off the NHS waiting list – not impressed!

My appointment with DJ (psychotherapist) was booked for 11am. It was not far away but being my usual paranoid self I set off early allowing time for getting lost (which virtually never happens), I had planned the route, I knew where to go.  I always plan ahead.  As a result I arrived almost half an hour early.  I sat in the car until 10.50 before going to the front door.  I rang the door bell and waited… nothing; I waited a couple of minutes and rang again… nothing.  At 10.58 I rang again, still nothing. I was panicking – did I get the wrong day? wrong time? wrong place? has she stood me up? all the usual BPD voices of my angel and devil… I then noticed two people walking up the driveway.  DJ spoke ‘Sharon?’ ‘Yes’ I answered.  ‘I’ll just come round and let you in’.  She walked round the back of the cottage and a few moment s later the front door opened.  She apologized for not being home when I arrived, having just been at the school a few yards up the road.  I said it was ok; it was my fault for being early.

She led me into the lounge and offered me a drink.  Whilst she made me a cup of tea, I looked at her bookcase, lots of books on therapy, nothing on BPD.  She returned with the drinks and started to explain about confidentiality and this being basically an assessment, to allow us both to see if we would be able to work together.  She took a few notes about my details, general stuff that needs to be done before anything else can happen; then asked why I had been referred to her.  I explained an overview of many years of problems, long NHS waiting lists, multiple assessments and finally going private in an attempt to get the help I need.  She apologised that it must have disappointing to me when she had said this was yet another ‘assessment’ and I said that while it does make my heart sink when I hear that word at the same time I know that meeting a new professional means some level of assessment must take place, they need to know details about me, and me about them, reading a referral letter doesn’t really give enough detail to be useful.

I went on to explain my diagnosis, how it had been delivered by post and I had to Google BPD to find out what it meant and how it seemed to fit me exactly.  I told her about my distrust of ‘professionals’ due to having been let down so many times, and we discussed how this might impact on our work, I said I just have to try to trust and be honest if I’m having ‘issues’ with it.  She asked about my family, had I been married, when I told her about my husband she said ‘and when did you get divorced?’ and when I said ‘I’m widowed’ she put her book down, stopped taking notes and apologised for the assumption, and asked me to explain what had happened.  I explained about his brain tumour, separating, his death and his family ‘disowning’ me and our children – classing me as the ‘black widow’ who had ‘murdered’ my husband.

I described the problems and behaviour I experienced during the most difficult year recently (2009). I explained how I would have arguments with myself in my head, like there was an angel on one shoulder telling me to have fun, enjoy myself, do what I want, what is right for me, and a devil on the other shoulder cursing me, telling me I’m bad and evil for wanting to be happy. She found it interesting who the angel and devil were and asked me if I had heard of transactional analysis (I hadn’t) so she explained.  The theory considers we all have three ‘ego’ states, the parent, the adult and the child. The parent ego state has two parts, the critical parent who is (understandably) critical and influences with ‘should’s and ought’s’ and the nurturing parent who soothes and reassures. The adult ego state is the ‘here and now’ thinking, logical, grown up, problem solving. The child is also subdivided the adaptive child is hyper vigilant, knows the rules and follows them, avoids trouble and the free child who ignores the rules, takes risks, is spontaneous, creative and playful.  She said that from what I described I was ruled my by critical parent (my devil) and free child (my angel), and lacking a nurturing parent and adaptive child.

This consumed what time we had left and she said we would talk more about this if I wanted to see her again.  I said I did and we booked another appointment.

We discussed my early arrival and how this was a ‘boundaries’ issue and she explained she didn’t want me to feel abandoned if she wasn’t here when I arrived (like today) but that I had a responsibility to not be too early that this could be an issue – I agreed, but explained I can’t help myself, I can’t abide being late so I’m always early but take this upon myself if I then have to ‘wait’ for others due to my own earliness.  I cried a lot during the session, but as usual was unable to pinpoint exactly ‘why’ I was crying, my feelings and emotions are chaotic, I can rarely understand them, I got angry when talking about ‘professionals’ who had let me down and my husband’s family.  I also cried whilst driving home, but once home I ‘shut the door’ on it and carried on with things that needed doing…

As always life goes on, just because you have feelings and emotions doesn’t mean you can allow them to swallow you. You have to keep on, keeping on…

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11 comments on “Psychotherapy – My first therapy session

  1. Hi Sharon,

    Your therapists sounds like she will be a good one – she clearly understands how important boundary issues are in working with BPD, for a start. The last counsellor I saw was big on TA, I found some of it really helpful.

    Hope you settle into a good working relationship with her.

    Charlotte (@BipolarBlogger)

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  5. I love your page. I have a boyfriend with bp and these help me understand him so much better. Thank you!

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