Therapy Didn’t Go Well

Image courtesy of Stockvault.

I was in my therapist’s office earlier this week, and I started talking about that trip to my old church a few weeks back. Seeing some bible quotes on the wall made it a little awkward, and my therapist was trying to get at my generic depression and anxiety issues. Eventually I had to stop talking about it, because I didn’t want to broach the subject of what exactly disturbed me.

I don’t have a choice in selection of therapists, and this one has generally been fine with regards to my other issues. If I’d described my time in the faith as a cult instead of a mainstream religion, maybe I’d be able to get more use out of therapy. As it stands, I’m not sure that recovering from faith is anything my therapist is capable of handling. It would involve talking about what I believed without letting it drive at her beliefs, and that’s something that is exceptionally difficult even under the best of circumstances.

Fortunately, the RFR group I was mentioning looks like it will be having its first meeting soon. Being able to go to that will (hopefully) provide me an outlet that I need.

19 thoughts on “Therapy Didn’t Go Well

  1. Sirius,

    I started therapy in 2001 for family issues and church issues and I found talking about church and spiritual abuse exhausting. It was like I was teaching the therapist about what spiritual abuse is. The thing for me I guess is that I just got to the point that I didn’t care what my therapist believed or didn’t believe. All I knew is I had to get it out of me, so I talked my head off. The thing is, I was so vulnerable when I left because I got little from the therapist that helped me with the church stuff. To have someone understand it all surely is preferable. One therapist I saw had a plaque in her washroom. The verse where the lion lays down with the lamb. I remember thinking, oh great, a believer. Then I spent years trying not to offend her. Just not a good feeling at all but I was desperate to get the crap out of me, so I just kept on. Not easy.

    Having to divert what you need to talk about because of scripture on the wall is not fair. 😦

    Maybe you can learn of a secular therapist at the RFR group. I hope so.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Right now I couldn’t get a secular therapist if I tried. If I voiced a preference, my family would figure out that I don’t believe, and that would open its own Pandora’s box of terrors.

      Still, I can check with the other people for if/when I’m able to get my own therapist. Then I’ll definitely get one that I won’t have to fudge around the religious stuff with.

      Liked by 3 people

      • So your family still thinks you are a believer. That must be really hard on you to feign all the beliefs and rituals. The idea of making a mistake and outing myself would make me sick and give me an ulcer. You are between a rock and a hard place. I hope it all works out for you. Hugs

        Liked by 2 people

      • I don’t know what they specifically believe, because I don’t go to church. They don’t push the issue because they don’t know I blog about the awful stuff I learned in the faith. As long as they think I’m quiet, they don’t care.

        The second they figure out that I do more than not go to church, I don’t know what they’ll do. I wouldn’t even put it past them to try to have me committed again.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I am sorry you do not have a choice in your therapist S.B. It seems to me that it would be hard if you and your therapist were at odds on the issues. Is there any way you could do a written therapy with a different therapist to cover the religious issues? Maybe something online? Sorry if I sound clueless but I do not know how things are where you live and how restrictive therapy is. These days it seems everything is online. I wish you the best. Hugs

    Liked by 2 people

    • The RFR (Recovering From Religion) group is supposed to be group therapy, which is why I’m so interested in it. My issues with religion aren’t as big as they used to be, but they’re still fairly staggering for me. If all goes well, the group will be the therapy that I’ll need.

      That said, if it’s not, then I’m going to have to rethink everything.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I don’t know if this will be helpful, but since you’re stuck with that one therapist –

    Would it help to tell them specifically that your experience with religion and “the fallen people in it” was traumatizing for you? (insert specific examples here) Simply framing it as PTSD ought to be something that a halfway decent therapist could wrap their head around and help you with. And that specific “fallen people” phrasing should: 1) be something any Christian should be able to agree with; 2) not put your therapist on the defensive about Christianity as a whole.

    And when they say, “Oh you should try another church!” respond with, “I will consider it when I’m healed.” (a lie, but that’s okay) “In the meantime I need to recover from the abusive relationship I experienced so I can consider entering another relationship with a clear head. Let’s make all the progress I need on this specific stage before we even talk about that possibility.”

    Those Bible quotes / children’s songs that they find comforting? They are triggering for you because they transport your brain back to your traumatizing experience in the abusive relationship with the “fallen people” at your church. If they have any sort of passing knowledge of trauma recovery, they should know that things that other people find mundane or even positive can send a person into a downward spiral. And if they know this, and they are a professional, they should accept this as something YOU are going through without judgment and move forward from there.

    Yes, I know that you shouldn’t have to manage your therapist this way, and I may be 100% on the wrong track. But since you say you’re stuck with this one I just thought I’d throw some thoughts out there in case it’s helpful.

    Good luck!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’ve thought of a bunch of different ways of going at the topic over the years. Early on, the subject just got changed. It happened often enough that I realized it couldn’t have been an accident, despite me not knowing the specifics.

      In the end, I have to be as honest as possible. My therapist can’t – and shouldn’t – be able to help me with everything. Some things I can’t bring up, I suppose.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m sorry – that sounds frustrating. Especially since I would think the source of what you’re suffering wouldn’t much impact the tools a therapist would use to help treat you. Whether your PTSD is from church or from war (for example) – yes everyone is an individual but there’s still patterns in how stressors impact us all. That’s how therapy is even a thing in the first place.

        FWIW I’ve been having an argument with my husband off and on – he went through something that he’s convinced that no one could possibly understand, but I’ve told him that they don’t necessarily need to understand what he specifically went through. They just need to identify how it’s impacting him, what triggers he has, and how to address them.

        Anyway – I’m sorry your therapist’s hangups are preventing you from getting the help you need.


  4. SB, what the heck is the above message about ^^^ regarding Pat, Kym, Klamath, and witnessing an accident? Is this spam? Wrong blog?

    Anyway, about your post…

    I totally feel you. When I deconverted a few years ago I had been seeing a therapist weekly at a Christian counseling center. In the waiting room I was forced to listen to Christian music. Over the months it became increasingly uncomfortable as I was worried about offending her and, more importantly, I felt like I couldn’t talk about this life altering change that was happening.

    As I slipped into deeper and deeper depression my therapist’s response was to send me a bible study (well, that was technically just before I deconverted) but it obviously didn’t help and actually made it worse. The bible study may have been the straw that broke the camel’s back regarding my deconversion process. I had been very upset and confused about what I was reading in the bible and I came to the conclusion that the bible was full of contradictions but, more upsetting was I learned that God was a total dick.

    My therapist’s approach to send me to a bible study I now see as a unethical. What I really needed was to see a psychiatrist for meds and probably be hospitalized (I seriously have no idea how I made it out of the experience alive).

    I ended up having to tell her that my therapy with her wasn’t working and that I was looking for a new therapist. I sincerely liked her as a person and was afraid of upsetting her, but it was what I had to do. It took me MONTHS, in the middle of a severe depressive episode, to find a therapist that was not a believer.

    I did a search through the RFR’s Secular Therapy Project and they found me a “secular” thearpist. This supposed “secular” therapist graduated from a seminary, his mentor was a minister, and though it’s possible he could have deconverted since that time his type of therapy was not evidence-based and seemed to focus on the spiritual so I was like NO THANKS. Of course that made me feel more hopeless.

    So I had to search on my own for a secular therapist and I did this by researching therapists and could not find a therapist that was a non-believer or hadn’t attended a religious school or, if not technically a believer was into some weird spiritual shit. I finally settled on a practice that was known to help LGBT individuals (and not in a conversion therapy type of way) as I figured it was unlikely they’d be religious.

    I had been super nervous about bringing up my deconversion as I didn’t know my new therapist’s religious beliefs, but she seemed non-religious and very sympathetic, though she was inexperienced about helping people who have lost their faith. Even still, after a couple years, I’m afraid to really get into it as she seems to get a confused look on her face when I bring it up as she’s not sure how to approach it. She did acknowledge that my experiences were extremely harmful to my mental health and has encouraged me to take actions that are in-line with my values, though, which is positive.

    I would LVOE to be able to attend a RFR group, but the nearest location is hundreds of miles away. I’m so glad that you have that in your area, SB. That’s very hopeful. Hopefully it’ll be a place where you can get the therapy that you need regarding this issue and meet other people who have gone through similar experiences. Good luck! I hope you will share with us how it goes.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I’m not sure what that comment was, but I flagged it as spam. Akismet doesn’t always catch everything. Though this is like the third comment ever that’s slipped by.

      With regards to the RFR therapist, did you report that person to RFR? It sounds like that person might have just been someone who was trying to save souls. The group itself has had its problems in the past (which has made me leery of going to a group), but I’m grasping at some straws here.

      I will definitely post about the group, though I can’t post many specifics if all goes well. That way, the group can help those who need it. I can also ask questions on how the group started (since it is new).

      Liked by 1 person

      • I never reported that RFR therapist. To be honest, I was extremely depressed at the time and didn’t have the energy. And now I don’t remember who he was. Maybe I’ll do another search and see if I can find him again.

        I’m so glad you went to the RFR group and that it went well. I’d love to hear as much as you are comfortable sharing about the meetings if you continue to go.

        Liked by 1 person

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