View Full Version : I need help understanding

05-17-07, 12:06 AM
Please forgive me if the answer to my questions lie within the forum somewhere. Please point me in the right direction if this is the case. I didn't see my specific problem when I looked through the threads, but of course, it isn't in my nature to take too much time looking for such things.

Anyway, I began seeing a psychologist a few months ago. Here is a bit of what it says about him on the clinic's website:

His credentials are LP, MA

Licensed Psychologist, State of Minnesota
Minnesota Board of Marriage and Family Therapy

His specialties are:

Mood disorders
attention deficit hyperative disorder
marital and family therapy with children
adolescents and adults

Here's what happened:

He was extremely passive. He let me run the show. He didn't seem to remember me until about halfway through the hour-long sessions. There didn't seem to be any structure or long-term goal to what we were doing. Instead, I came into his office and sat down and he waited for me to start talking. I yammered on and on about whatever came to my mind. He rarely looked at me while I talked, instead staring at his notepad or computer screen. I asked a couple of questions, to which he gave me useless cliche' answers. He never addressed any of my concerns besides my temper (impulsive angry overreactions to things, which he attributed to my ADHD but didn't explain how they were related), like other ADHD traits or self-esteem or depression. The only things I ever got out of it, I had to push hard to get out of him. He never gave me anything to do. He never asked me any questions. If he analyzed me, I never got any results of that analysis. And I never got any type of help that I could see. I've gotten better information and felt more connected to people here on ADDF.

At first, we met weekly, then bi-weekly, then we held off for a couple of weeks because he wanted to meet with both my wife and me. I kept going (and paying copays) because I expected that eventually a plan would surface and we'd start working together towards a clear goal. That never happened. Instead, after meeting with us as a couple, he suddenly says that I don't need any more regular sessions, that I can call to make an appointment whenever I think I need to.

Did I miss something? There wasn't a breakthrough that I can think of. It's like he wants to wait until something bad happens, then I can come talk about it. So the next time I get fired because I go off on the boss, he'll make me feel better about it afterwards. I'd like to prevent that from happening if I can.

My meds are prescribed and regulated by a Clinical Nurse Specialist (who is great). When I told her about my angry reactions to things that really aren't THAT big a deal, she referred me to therapy. She also suggested I talk to my therapist about my occasional bouts of depression (can be pretty bad sometimes) and my self-esteem issues (which is a new feeling that I don't know how do deal with). Was she wrong, and therapy isn't going to help with these things? Or did I just not have the right person and need to try again with a different therapist?

05-17-07, 09:31 AM
". . . Or did I just not have the right person and need to try again with a different therapist?"
It seems so CRIMINAL to me, really, but I DO KNOW of the experience you shared!!! USELESS - not to mention, EXPENSIVE!! Ugh!!

I want to say, "That 'psychologist' of yours SUCKED!" However, what do I know? I haven't any advanced education in the field . . . (but IMHO - it is reasonable to declare "he STUNK!")

I've learned that finding a HELPFUL therapist really requires some shopping around. In my experience, I've had most of THE WORST experiences trying therapy when I saw those in private practice and/or "psychologists and psychiatrists." There was an exception, of course: I did see a therapist who was providing therapy from a home office. She had an "MSW" (Masters of Social Work) and she DID come recommended (although, I found her from the phone book - LATER I learned that she was very well-liked and respected among her peers).

I have a "prescribing nurse" (????????) who prescribes me my ADHD meds and Zoloft each month. She has been BY FAR the BEST "doctor" for psych meds that I have ever had. The psychiatrists I have seen (and I've seen about a handful in my 41 years) have not only been unhelpful, but I also felt disrespected after our appt. (and, of course, would never return).

I found my current therapist at a mental health AGENCY in my area. At first, however, I was seeing someone different. She was very kind, but we just didn't seem able to "get" each other (she was very New Age, etc. - and my cognitive functioning was impaired at that time, I believe, and I just couldn't follow the information she was trying to share with me). I was worried that all the counselors in that place were going to be these "Spiritual Goddess" types - but THANKFULLY that wasn't the case. I asked to try another counselor (which is the very FIRST TIME I ever was brave enough to do something like that . . . which is too bad, because we pay MEGA BUCKS for this therapy stuff) and she has helped me quite a bit!!! And she seems to REALLY UNDERSTAND me and gives me LOADS OF FEEDBACK and DIRECTION! It's just like plain old talking to a friendly teacher who is guiding you and there for you to discuss ANY things you've got going on. And if I've NOTHING to say that day, she ALWAYS asks me questions that are very much A PART OF the issues I regularly struggle with. In other words - she is able to engage me with meaningful conversation WITHOUT a crisis.

Take care. And shop around next time. Ask alot of questions. Tell any new therapist about what you didn't like from this therapist. Tell them you want feedback. You want SOMETHING - something that makes you feel that you actually RECEIVED something beneficial from going there!!!!

And it can take A LOT of shopping around!!!!!!! Don't let that discourage you if you'd really like to get some therapy. In fact, I am POSITIVE that you can find a terrific therapist that you'd feel so comfortable talking with and LISTENING TO . . . and who would really captivate your attention with his/her HELPFUL INFO & INSIGHTS into why you're struggling with those things that you are. Therapy CAN BE wonderfully life-changing. It's the finding the right therapist that's the hard part!!!!

Good luck. Keep us posted!


P.S. So sorry you had to go through this. What a waste of time & money - eh? I've been there.

05-17-07, 10:42 AM
It could be that his method/style aren't a good match for you. It sounds like he's using a client centered approach. A lot of people go through a few therapists until they find one that is a good match for them.

05-17-07, 07:00 PM
You need to ask him about his "method" or "style" of therapy.

Tell him what you just told us.

"Hi Doctor X. I am feeling hopeless about our therapy together. I cannot see the direction that this is going, and it is feeling like we are not making any progress.
My conclusion is that: I come in, talk too much, you scribble stuff down, and i leave. I am feeling confused and like you are passive -- when I need ANSWERS about what is 'wrong with me and/or my situations in life' or psycho-education about my ADD/ADHD."

At this stage, I'd say he might still be "observing you", in his passive listening. ("Yammering on and on" and on by a patient, could be seen as a clinical sign of your hyperactivity and inhibitions in talking, possibly, BTW.)

05-18-07, 10:56 PM
...comfortable talking with and LISTENING TO . . . and who would really captivate your attention with his/her HELPFUL INFO & INSIGHTS into why you're struggling with those things that you are. Therapy CAN BE wonderfully life-changing. It's the finding the right therapist that's the hard part!!!!

I went into these sessions very receptive to anything he would have said. I would have gladly listened. Helpful info and insights are exactly what I need. Hell, most of the time I would have been happy if he would have said anything insightful or not.

Tara, I have no doubt that his style was client-centric. With me at least it was entirely client started, finished and client-filled in the middle. That's the problem. I have no doubt, as both of you have said (among others) that his style doesn't work for me. Incidentally, I have made an appointment with another therapist. This one comes recommended by my CNS. I told her basically that I needed a therapist who wouldn't let me run the show or take any BS from me. (Like her, which is why I love her.)

Here's a little history into why it's so important that the therapist be the boss:

During the seven years that my mother carted me through every psychologist's and psychiatrist's office she could find, I learned to be manipulative. After a year or two, I recognized the techniques (games, art, storytelling) that the child psychs used on me and I knew what responses to give in order to avoid what I saw were punishments for wrong answers to the doctor's questions. Namely, pills, food restrictions (I was taken off sugar of any kind for 3 years), and more trips to the doctor for more embarassing questions and stupid games. Eventually, I got so good at it that I was declared "cured". Well, they said that I had outgrown the need for stimulant drugs and therapy sessions.

I can't feel like I'm determining the direction of the therapy, because inevitably I'll wonder whether or not I am manipulating my answers artificially, even though I really want whatever help a therapist can offer and no longer see it as a game where I am trying to "beat" the doc.

Also, my problem has never been not KNOWING what the right thing to do is. I'm past that part. I don't need soemone to tell me what's wrong with me or how I should have done things differently in the past. I'm not interested in the past, really. I know where I need to be and how I want to act. Where I need help is HOW do I actually do it when the time comes.

I also don't need a passive sounding board. If anything, I have too much license to vent my problems. The right person for me will listen long enough to find out what's important then shut me up and either ask questions to help cut through my rambling and find the roots of the issues, or give me feedback, hopefully with something I can DO to change the things about myself that are effecting my life negatively. But either way, I need someone who'll shut me up when it's appropriate to do so.

Like I said, I have an appointment on June 15 with someone who I'm told is more like what I describe. I'll give him plenty of time to see what he has in store then we'll see if he's any different.

05-18-07, 11:32 PM
At this stage, I'd say he might still be "observing you", in his passive listening. ("Yammering on and on" and on by a patient, could be seen as a clinical sign of your hyperactivity and inhibitions in talking, possibly, BTW.)
Thanks for responding, Q. I thought this, too. I waited 4 months. And when he told me at the end of our last session that I didn't need to schedule another appointment, I lost all hope. As I said before, he just said that I could call and make an appointment to see him "if I needed to." So I waited and talked and talked and talked and there was no conclusion. It's like watching a movie until almost the end, then having the electricity go off during the last half hour.

Since my old guy told me only to come back if I "needed" to, I no longer see a "need" to tell him anything. He isn't expecting me back, anyway.

05-20-07, 01:25 PM
I agree with Tara, there are many drs out there that have different methods.

It sounds as though he is letting you start and talk about what you need to .

What I did with a therapist was journal about the week and give them a copy and that

way it was easier to start the conversation.

05-20-07, 05:14 PM
If the guy you were seeing did not even remember who you were during a session, he is probably not consciously "client centered". Instead he is probably either lazy, unskilled or a dope. (Or maybe all three.)

Whatever. Unfortunately finding a good therapist is a crap-shoot because of well...many seem to fall into the above categories.

Regardless of a professional's treatment style, you should map out your expectations early on and outline a treatment plan after one or two diagnostic sessions if you resonate with the guy. And bail out (fire him) if he is not meeting your needs.

Try sending the new guy a concise e-mail before each session and tell him what's bothering you and what you want to talk about. That gives him an efficient framework with which to engage you and saves time.

Good Luck,


05-20-07, 10:12 PM
Hey Chris,

Like I said, I thought that was exactly what was happening until he ended the regular sessions. If he had an agenda, wouldn't he have made sure I came back?


You are exactly right about the expectations. I think my approach was too passive this first time. I don't think he was a dope or unskilled, or even lazy. He was probably a very very good counselor at one point. The impression I got (and my wife's unprompted opinion as well) was that he was burnt out and had lost some of the zeal for his job. Be that as it may, it doesn't change the fact that I didn't receive care.

My journal is my blog. Maybe I can do a sort of combination of your suggestions and direct him to my blog to get caught up on what's going on in my head.

Well, thanks again for the replies. I'll post here with my first impression of the new guy next month.

05-21-07, 01:40 AM
I wonder if you would make more progress with a Social Worker (MSW)?

They might be more your style... (and my style too; I'm like you. don't lack for people to talk to/listen to my yammering...)

In my journey, I've met some cool MSWsthat taught me a lot about myself.

05-21-07, 06:23 AM

Re: "He was probably a very very good counselor at one point. The impression I got (and my wife's unprompted opinion as well) was that he was burnt out and had lost some of the zeal for his job."

Then he was lazy and sloppy. On your dime. He made his problem yours and wasted months of your time. Imagine the number of busted lives he put on hold by sleepwalking through life. Good riddance.

BTW, don't point your new guy to your blog. He won't read it. He has better things to do with his time (no offense.) Rather you read your blog and abstract out from that what your underlying issues are. An executive summary so to speak. You will be writing to the therapist and yourself BTW. Use that as a basis for your narrative that you explain to the guy in your first session or two.

And then have him give you a clear assessment and outline a treatment strategy based on that and your conversations. And then 2 days before each follow on session, send him a one paragraph e-mail that says something like; "I appreciate your insights. To continue what we talked about last time, for our upcoming meeting I'd like to discuss/focus on [issue here]. Briefly, here's what I see and how it has impacted me...

Good Luck,


05-30-07, 11:53 PM

No offense taken. I kinda thought along the same lines about the blog, too, about half a second after I posted.

Thanks for the other suggestions, as well.

06-01-07, 10:45 AM

re: finding a Therapist that Fits

At the end of the day, people likely need to listen to their Gut and their Heart and say:
-it's been 3 sessions, or so, how do i feel going to these appointments?
-Is it helping ME?
-Am I discovering things about myself?
-Am I getting new skills to cope?
-Am I seeing how I will eventually feel better? (therapy can feel worse at first.)

ADHDers (or the passive-deferring types; or those who are very emotionally unaware) tend to persist at bad things too long, and not stick w/ good things long enough.

I was in therapy with this psychiatrist in my city. He was the only one taking patients, so, in retrospect, the least effective/least skilled guy around. All that happened was he minimized my family abuse history (dangerous) and got me taking Xanax (not addicted; but you do get tolerance and therefore, sick, in withdrawal if you use them daily and stop. OMG. Barfamonga. awful drug.)

Just glad to be in the Big City now where there are not just Mental Health therapists, but Emotional Health therapists (treatments for anxiety; PTSD, etc)

To Thine Own Self Be True!