Saturday, June 18, 2005

My Dilemma

I recently started seeing a new therapist, Kathryn. I went to my first appointment so full of anticipation, so ready to start over with a new person and then go miles further than I had with Anne. I had loved my sessions with Anne, even though sometimes the topics were painful. I had found it so cleansing to be able to just unload whatever was on my mind and have someone help me process it. It was Anne’s idea that I terminate therapy. She felt she had done all that she could for me. But in my heart of hearts I knew there was a lot of unfinished business.

I asked a very good friend with whom I meditate for a referral to a good therapist and that’s how I found Kathryn. In picturing my perfect therapist, I would have suggested a female about my age, Jewish, someone with a good sense of humor. When I contacted her, I was very up front about needing to know that if either of us thought that this was not a good match, that we could easily terminate our relationship.

I have now completed three sessions with Kathryn. It turns out that she is a female about my age. I doubt that she is Jewish. And I haven’t noticed a sense of humor yet in three hours of therapy. Kathryn is very serious, somewhat tentative in the way she speaks, and she writes a lot during our sessions. In fact, it occurred to me that I haven’t had a lot of eye contact with her. I have to ask myself whether that is because she is somewhat uncomfortable with what we are talking about or whether she is just a shy person who is more comfortable looking at a pad of paper.

It suddenly hit me after our last meeting that I was going to have to make a decision about whether or not to make a serious long-term commitment to therapy. I was starting to think that perhaps Kathryn was too much like me – a somewhat serious person, not very spontaneous, fairly Type A, no real sense of humor. I also realized that there were topics that I couldn’t picture myself discussing with Kathryn. Whereas I woke up on the day of my last therapy session and dashed off a message to Rebecca about a particularly troubling dream, I couldn’t imagine telling the same dream to Kathryn, probably because I thought she would think it was silly. FYI – Here is the message I sent Rebecca:

Just woke up from a dream that really creeped me out: 45 babies all lying on a wooden shelf in something like a storage room. None was crying. I kept wondering, where are the people who are supposed to be taking care of them, holding them? I picked one up and it fell to the ground, where its head bounced on the cement floor. Were any of them real? God, I hope not!

I have no problem talking to Rebecca about just about anything. I even told Anne most everything. So why would I feel differently about talking to Kathryn? I concluded that it is because Rebecca and Anne were so unlike me, whereas Kathryn is just like my upper-middle-class friends who buy their clothes at Chicos and send their children to private schools.

There is also this matter of cost. I had not even asked Kathryn’s rate, assuming that it was something like Anne’s rate of $110 or the rate Rebecca pays her therapist of $120. Kathryn’s rate turns out to be $175! She is constantly urging me to come even more often than once a week and when I suggested that I might want to come every two weeks, she said, “We’ll have to talk about that.”

I decided to terminate my therapy with Kathryn, so I called her up and left a message to that effect. When we finally talked this week, we agreed that I would come one more time just to wrap up what we had done. I also shared my concerns about the lack of eye contact. I didn’t mention the missing sense of humor or the cost as factors.

Since that appointment, I have had the same yucky feeling in my stomach that I used to have when I was about to break up with a really nice guy who hadn’t done anything wrong, but where I knew the chemistry was not right for me. All my best-laid plans of how to gracefully end therapy seem to have evaporated. I was concerned that my friend who recommended Kathryn would now be mad at me, that Rebecca (who first suggested that I go to therapy) would be mad at me, that I would be mad at me, etc.

I’m not sure where this is going. As the week wore on, I began to realize that I would truly miss having someone to talk to in this capacity. Kathryn had actually been a wonderful listener and had made some insightful connections between my early years and my present life. I’m willing to concede that if she will just quit writing and look at me and allow me to come every two weeks, I would like to continue. The thought of starting over with someone new is just more than I can imagine at this point.

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