Attachment Difficulties in Therapy

This morning I attended the penultimate Mindfulness class of the DBT Skills Group I am enrolled in. Today my therapist was cofacilitating the group again, with another therapist. My experience of seeing mine in these groups is one of anxiety, hyper-vigilance and discomfort. For some reason, whenever I have seen my (past and present) therapists outside of individual sessions, irregardless of whether the interaction has been for therapeutic purposes, I become pretty dysregulated.

In such situations, I feel like I am being watched and judged, and that she is analysing my every move. This makes it even harder for me to speak up in the groups, as I’m constantly wary of how I’ll come across and what she will think of me. It influences how I interact with the other members of the group, how I sit, how much eye contact I make and with whom, what I do during the break at half-time, etc. Everything becomes about her and what she will think of me in the circumstances, and I lose myself completely in this attachment-triggered “dance”.

Today I was under the impression that she was judging me more than usual (not that I have any evidence whatsoever that she actually ever judges me). She specifically asked me something in front of everyone, and it totally threw me. She didn’t “pick on” anyone else, yet she targeted questions at me twice, and she knows how bad my social anxiety can be in the group and how hard I find it to share. Honestly I felt as though she was testing me, “doing this to me” on purpose, and intentionally pushing me into a situation I felt uncomfortable in. I felt like she was prodding me to speak up as though she thought I had something to hide. I felt like I was being accused of a wrongdoing, or shamed for something I was unaware of. I’m sure this is me being paranoid, but it was my experience all the same.

Feeling caught off guard and in need of confirmation, at the end of the session, I decided to play detective and test our relationship theough a two-way interaction. I wanted to see if she would act any differently to usual with me, within the context of a little chat (just us) as opposed to within the group itself. It ended up feeling uncomfortable and not as safe and holding as she usually is with me. I don’t know why but I just felt so empty, unfulfilled and deficient in relation to her, and like she wasn’t as friendly or close to me as usual. It felt stilted and awkward and emotionless. I am convinced something is “going on” or “not right” between us. She usually has so much more to say to me and makes me feel so contained and cared for. Today she just seemed so distant.

I waited to see if she would say anything which I could take as a loving or attentive act… but that really didn’t happen. I feel so stuck in feelings of abandonment and in my head the only solution is for her to make contact with me.

I am wondering if the emotions and paranoia I’m experiencing are being intensified as a result of the reduced contact she and I are having. The fact that I am used to “having” to contact her daily for a check-in (aimed to desensitise me to my anxiety around calling her) meant our relationship was nurtured daily, and our connection grew quickly during this time. Yesterday this contact was stopped, as we both agree I am desensitised enough to feel able to call her in a crisis. However, despite the agreement and initial knowledge I had that this regular daily communication would be temporary, I still feel extremely rejected. I wanted her to tell me that I still had to call her. I wanted her to continue giving me this special time and attention. I wanted her to see how much it’s been helping me to have this regular contact with her.

But she didnt, she can’t, and she probably won’t. And so now I feel like she doesn’t love me any more.

All day I’ve craved some sort of positive interaction with her, and I can’t accept that I won’t be able to speak to her properly until Tuesday during our session (unless for crisis coaching). I want to call her and explain, but know I’ll feel weak and shameful if I do. Why am I so needy? My solution is to wait until tomorrow when I can see how I feel from a more Wise-Minded perspective, and let go for now, try to be one-mindful so that I can enjoy my evening, and be present with my friends.

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5 thoughts on “Attachment Difficulties in Therapy

  1. Just wanted to say that I was in a therapy group led by my individual therapist, and our relationship became very rocky. I felt, like you, that he was judging me in group. It was intensely triggering. So I do relate to how you feel about that. When I stopped group, our relationship got a lot better again. I think now he actually wasn’t judging me, but my feelings that he was were completely overwhelming.

    Hope your wise mind kicks in and you enjoy your evening!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My wise mind is nowhere to be found……about to cave in…. I’m so amazed that after 39 years (I still feel like I am 7) I have found someone who thinks and feels EXACTLY the way I feel……amazing….

    Like

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