Recently, I had the opportunity to start the process of EMDR therapy, which stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. As I mentioned in my earlier post I was excited to try it and promised I would report on my experience as soon as I had a moment. With the celebration of Christmas winding down I figured I would post before the New Year celebration claims my time.
While I still find the idea interesting, I am afraid that I do not have much to report, except that I think I need a new counselor. I have worked with this counselor before and I did not like her approach. She has a habit of taking the “I am right and you are wrong” approach. However, I chose to give her a second chance, since we had discussed how unhappy I was with the first few sessions we had together a few years ago and why. Unfortunately, I am still unhappy with her. Upon meeting her again for the first time in four years, she basically blurts out that I am stubborn, but quickly follows up with “but it seems to have served you well.” As if the follow-up comment somehow made her blatant observation a positive one. Considering that I had not said anything at all that could have caused her to say such a thing I can only assume that she must have read through my existing file. She did not explain why she made the statement, but I tend to find out on our third session.
During the EMDR session, we used a combination of the alternate sound and hand buzzers, since I found the eye movement distracting. It started out very simply with her asking me to recall a specific incident that she felt bothered me the most in the last session we had together. She got upset when the memory did not elicit the response she expected. She thought I should be angry at a specific individual, because of what he had done to me during a survival school incident. When I told her that I was not angry, she tried to make me talk to this individual as if he were in the room with me. She insisted that I had to be at least a little angry. The truth is, I am really not. There were other things going on which were more important and more traumatizing to me than what the particular individual did. So, once again I found her focusing on the wrong problem and not believing me when I tell her something. The “I am right, and you are wrong” attitude rearing its head again.
As an aspiring counselor myself, I am all for challenging a client when you think they are not being honest or you feel that they need to take a deeper look at a bothersome or painful issue. That being said, I think you need to be respectful of your client. Calling them stubborn and getting upset when you do not get the response you want, is not respectful. It is also interesting that this particular counselor seems to place no value on building a rapport with me, but instead, she just insists I provide her with the information she wants to hear regardless of how painful it might be. For me, building rapport is extremely valuable and necessary for a healthy counselor/client working relationship. If you want your clients to trust you enough to be willing to talk about their problems, you need to take the time to build a good working relationship first. While it may be challenging to do so with the time and funds the client may have allotted for therapy, I believe the client will get more out of their sessions if the proper time is taken to build rapport.
It is my plan to address my concerns on the subject with my counselor in our fourth session together. It is possible the fourth session will be a termination session, with me asking to be assigned to a different counselor. That being said, I plan to be respectful of her and her time. I will be honest about my concerns around her lack of desire to build rapport with me and how that has impacted my experience. I plan to discuss with her the statement she made about me being stubborn as well as the fact that she frequently chooses not to believe me. A problem that has surfaced in our previous counseling sessions and in the current sessions.
A final note from me would be that not all counselors are created equal. Please do not let one bad experience with a counselor keep you from attending therapy. It is important to find a counselor who is a good match for you and not all of them will be. As I said before, it is good to find someone who will challenge you and insist you look deeper into areas you find uncomfortable so they can help you work through them. However, they need to go about doing so in a respectful and caring manner or their attempts can negate the therapeutic process.