My Continuing Misadventures

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. Image is in the Public Domain.

I was informed a couple weeks ago that I was getting a new therapist. The previous one was getting a promotion, and she wasn’t keeping me as part of her reduced patient load. Part of me was happy.

The new one seems nice, like that generic niceness that comes from all therapists. She had her degrees on the wall, bachelors and masters in counseling. She also had her certificates in pastoral counseling. It made talking about my religious upbringing a bit awkward. Although she tried coming off as sympathetic, I knew I had to be careful in talking about the sort of damage my previous religious views had done.

She chalked my problems up to some generic stuff – words like “abandonment” and “trust issues” were in there somewhere. By that time I felt like I just wanted the session to be over with. This was the third time I’d had to relate my personal circumstances and personal history to a therapist. It was the third different response I got back.

I don’t know if it’s just my depressive mindset, but such things remind me of the severe lack of progress I’ve had. Medications keep me poised above a dangerous cliff, but they haven’t helped me walk away from the edge. I feel like I’ve wasted half a decade. It’s not quite true, but it’s not quite wrong, either.

At any rate, I’m still around and kicking. I’m not writing as much for various reasons, few of which I like. Writing has been an outlet for dealing with my misadventures, but it also holds up a mirror to my mind. I don’t always like what I see. It takes a lot out of me to look.

8 thoughts on “My Continuing Misadventures

  1. Brave you are to keep looking! I am not sure the therapist matters. They do provide an opportunity for something to happen, but I think you are completely in charge of that (unfortunately). I would like to think that there are mental health professionals that know what to do and when to do it … but I do not. I am not all that convinced physicians are all that good, either. We are just babies still in figuring out how to help people. When I have such opportunities I simply ask “Is there anything I can do to help?”

    Right now, it seems that I can listen and respond gently, so I do.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I hope you’ll forgive me for offering counsel since I don’t know you except through your blog, but …

    I can understand your reservations related to discussing the negative effects your religious experiences have had on you — especially with a person who cites her “pastoral counseling.” Yet it seems this is exactly what you need to discuss. From all that I’ve gathered from posts about your personal mental health problems, it seems quite apparent your religious experiences played a major role. Thus, it would seem to me a discussion of same must be part of your healing. It may mean being assertive if the counselor tries to “guide” you via spiritual rhetoric … explaining in the clearest of terms that this type of “help” is NOT what you’re looking for.

    Again, forgive me if I’m overstepping my bounds. Feel free to delete this message after reading it.

    Liked by 2 people

    • It’s fine, Nan. She’s not actively citing her pastoral counseling. It’s written on her certificates. For me, it’s one of those things where I just naturally stay quiet to avoid messy confrontations.

      I also don’t have options of getting a therapist elsewhere, and I have to see the therapist in order to have access to the doctor for prescriptions. So there’s a lot of other stuff riding on my interactions in therapy.


  3. Very glad you are still kicking around!

    Personally I think you should be honest about what your religion has done to you to your new therapist. If a therapist is going to be helpful you need to be able to free to speak about the things that are the source of your issues. Religion is certainly one of them. If she unable to honestly give you the support, maybe it’s not the right therapist for you. I really believe a connection with a therapist is important and at least the British Psychological Association recognizes the trauma caused by religious indoctrination. If she can’t acknowledge that, I don’t know that’s a very good therapist!

    I hope you find a way back to writing more, as I always find value in what you say. Take care of yourself SB. :0

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I consider myself highly religious, but I’m not convinced that religion is compatible with, or suitable for everyone – especially if it’s imposed on you by your surrounding environment.

    I agree with Nan and Swan Gill. Whether or not religion is the cause of your depression or simply a significant factor, it’s going to remain the elephant in the room until it is adequately addressed.

    I’ll concede that Aotearoa New Zealand is not America, but a 2006 survey here indicated that about 1 in 9 mental health professionals held any form of religious belief and less than half of those held a belief that their religion/faith was better or more true/correct than any other or none at all. Even allowing for the strong religiosity of America compared to NZ, I’m sure there must be plenty of mental health professionals who understand what the excesses of religion can do.

    I think you might be making assumptions about the therapist’s religious point view based on the fact that she has certificates in pastoral counseling. From my experience, religious exceptionalism is not as widespread as many people believe, and this is especially so with those in counselling roles, and perhaps surprisingly, among trained religious leaders (although this might just be a NZ experience). When my wife was suffering from depression, she was greatly helped by a therapist who was also an ordained minister. That therapist encouraged my wife to ground herself on the bedrock that my wife was most familiar with, which was Shintoism and Buddhism.

    Pussyfooting around the issue of religion is not doing you or anyone else any favours. Why not use the presence of the pastoral certificates to query her attitude towards non-religion? Then if you believe that her religiosity might get in the way, tell her. If she’s good at her job, she’ll refer you to someone more suitable.

    Just my two cents worth. Take it or leave it as you see fit. Either way, I hope your misadventures start to become adventures. Take care.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I am not an expert in this issue, but I think, that in the therapist-patient relationship, you are the customer. The service paid for has to be at the very least adequate to be of any help to your problems. If you can not talk about them with your therapist, then with whom are you supposed to face these problems? If the therapist is limited in their ability to help you because of their own religious views or other superstitions, you do not need that particular therapist.

    Having read many of your blog posts, I would say, that even if you do not feel you are at the moment strong enough to face these issues with the therapist, you are more than well versed to bring up the issue with anyone. It might even help you to get over some of your issues, if you honestly discussed them with a therapist whose religious feelings obscure their vision on the damage religion can cause to the human mind. Because you are right – religion may cause trauma and there are no gods, that help with that reality. The argument about such obvious facts is the easiest to win, even though the religious person – therapist or otherwise – is never going to admit defeat. Naturally all of that in your own good time and at your chosen moment, if ever.

    You deserve a therapist who is able to address your problems. Perhaps there is a way to search for such a therapist for you?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Sirius, what a tough hand you were dealt, especially with this brutal disease. Your friends here are offering good advice, I see, including, Why worry about protecting the imaginary feelings of a therapist whose job is to listen to you? It’s hard to put yourself first and it must be boring to thrash over the same facts yet again. Maybe you could tell a new story… There are different ways to view it and tell it. Those mandatory therapy sessions are for you to use as you wish. I’m impressed that you wrote this piece and hope you get back in the swing of writing.

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