So, as some of you might know, I've been with my therapist for 14 years. And I've been trying to leave her for at least the last eight years (commitment issues :-) ), but I haven't found the right person to take her place and she and I have such a strong bond between us, it's difficult to let her go. However, now she has moved out of state and while I appreciate being able to keep working with her by video chat, I truly miss the live interaction/person-to-person contact of in-person therapy. So, I have decided to leave Myrna for good and find a new therapist. Well, the order is more like find a new therapist and then leave Myrna.
To which end, I have been interviewing new therapists this past two weeks. I had meetings with three of them and...well...this is going to be a hard process. In my first interview with each of them, I laid out the issues I have that might be the most contentious -- I'm atheist, I'm polyamorous, I'm lesbian, I'm an artist. I mention these things to check the response of the therapist. Do they flinch at all, do they shift in their seat when I say these things? What is their reaction - not so much verbally, because of course they are going to say they're fine with it, of course - but behaviorally.
Therapist A got really stiff when I mentioned those four items. Therapist B seemed like she dissociated and therapist C seemed ok with them - she just nodded her head.
In the first interview, I try to lay out my own emotional landscape - where I'm succeeding and where I have challenges. It's like an inventory of how I'm doing psychologically and emotionally. And also practically. I mention my financial state and my living arrangements and my ADLs (activities of daily living) and how I'm doing with keeping up with them. It's pretty comprehensive. I know a lot of people go into a first meeting talking about whatever main issue it was that brought them to that therapist to begin with, but I think it's important to be a bit broader in my approach to a first meeting to really get a sense if this therapist can actually help me out. 'Cause eventually we're going to get beyond just that single issue, and I have to know whether this therapist is a one-trick pony or not.
In the first session, the therapist is probably going to take a lot of notes. Therapist A, B and C took lots of notes during out sessions. Therapist C actually had a check list of questions she was going through - this impressed me. Therapist A had forms to download from her website and then fill out so that we could get started right away with the process - this impressed me, too. Therapist B was frazzled and disorganized and her office was really undecorated/undesigned and not very welcoming. This did not impress me.
The office should be one that you feel comfortable in. I felt more comfortable in Therapist A's office because it was filled with art pieces and really well designed and the furniture was very comfortable, classy, good stuff. Therapist C's office was ok, a little spare, but set up ok, a little small. But do-able. There weren't papers all stacked up all over the place and disorganization like with Therapist B.
You should feel comfortable to say anything you want to say, even the first day. Therapist C insisted that I call her DR. So-n-so. I asked her about that and why I couldn't use her first name. She said that clients under 18 years of age use her first name, but clients over 18 must call her Dr. So-n-so, 'Part of my training' she said (for the fourth time). 'To make sure there's a proper boundary between me and the patient.' I said, 'Huh. I really don't know how I feel about that. That's weird.' She shrugged and that was the last moment of our session because she had gone over due to her questionnaire. The last time I called a therapist by their formal title and last name I was 18. Bizarro.
So, on top of all this searching for a new therapist, I'm going to be going through this break up with my current therapist and that's going to be a veritable bitch and a half to go through. I'll probably write about that as it comes up. For now, I'm focusing on finding someone I can trust to take her place.