Wednesday, 6 January 2010

After A Therapy Break

Puzzled, slightly distressed and completely confused by the way I felt as I sat in my therapist's room on a Monday after a two week break, I desperately searched the web for explanations as to why I felt so angry and yet so empty; why I was overwhelmed by the pointlessness of the journey I have apparently, embarked upon.

Note: I say "apparently" because much of the time, I feel as though I am either going round in ever widening circles, further and further away from myself or her, or I am crouched close to the ground with my arms over my head trying to protect myself from whatever it is that I think I probably went into therapy to find.

Monday's session was a proper Ikea session.

For anyone who hasn't had the pleasure of being acquainted with the Swedish Store, allow me to explain that before you start out, you browse your dog eared edition of last season's Ikea catalogue, which has been sitting in your bathroom for a while now, and draw indecisive circles around various images and measurements, asterisking various Wooden Finishes at the bottom of the page.

On arrival, you circle the building, attempting to park in the closest non disabled space in the car park, you have a list of specific items that you are looking for. You are not intending to be in there for a long time, and have no intention of getting trapped in The Marketplace looking at funky striped tumblers and plastic gadgets which open your beer when you can't be bothered to use your fingernail.

The overwhelming yellowness is positively dazzling as you step inside the open plan monstrosity, and as you pick up your mailbag style carrier, you cannot help but feel the brightness of possibility and the hope of a better future (which, obviously, lies in that new set of drawers (6 drawer Tall Boy, pine).

On paths bearing some resemblance to the yellow brick road, determined to go straight to the section you need, you follow the polished laminate aisles through a dense forest of plastic, something like metal but not quite (is there a name for that?) and MDF.

After twenty minutes, having been distracted first by the cheap rugs and then by novelty lighting, you become aware that somewhere in you chest, there is a ball of weariness, impatience and exasperation at the fact you seem to have arrived back at the entrance twice and still haven't found what you are looking for.

You continue to search, with increasing desperation, and eventually, following what feels like the death of all the good things you had ever carried within you, you see something that may be vaguely close to what you wanted when you left your house (but may well not be).

When you get home with your TV (I did say it may well not be related) you pull it out of its box and having lugged it and pushed it and pulled it and edged it into the small space you have designated, you take the annoying little black twisty thing off the lead and plug it in.

Or you would plug it in.
If the plug would reach the bloody socket.
But it doesn't because it's bloody well from Ikea.

At which point, you may do a variety of things (the most sensible of which would be to move closer to the socket).

In my own, rather pathetic case, I leave the room, continue to function as though I haven't even heard of Ikea and then, at some point later that night, I lie in bed unable to stop crying.

Metaphors aside, this week I desperately searched the internet for a reason as to why I felt like never going back to therapy after the break.

What follows is an extract from a Google book that I found, which I suppose I am posting here
primarily because at some point or other, some other Ikea victim may come looking for some reassurance that they are not alone in their experience of therapy after a break...
The extract is taken from a book by Maria Luca called, "The Therapeutic Frame In The Clinical Context: Integrative Perspectives.

I'm not entirely sure whether it's ok to quote here or not... But I'll take the risk and hope for the best.

It explains a little... or enough... to have made me feel just slightly reassured that at least breaks are a little bit important.

I'm not mad for feeling strange after one.

"Why does the practitioner want it to be acknowledged that the breaks might
become upsetting for the patient?It is because growing feelings of dependence upon the therapist arc in danger of being exposed around the holidays so that the
therapist will be most at risk of losing patients at break times. It is surprising how patients who deny the importance of the break might miss the last appointment before a holiday or the first session back after it. This makes them the`leaver' and not the `left', and lessens the impact of painful feelings of being abandoned by the therapist during the vacation. It is my experience that after a vacation my patients seem to be all over the place, and I often feel like Little Bo Peep who has lost her
sheep! An average entry in my diary at this time
would be:

It's the middle of the first working week after my summer holiday. I've had two 'no-shows', with no telephone calls of explanation, a couple of moved appointments and two calls to check that it is indeed this week that we return. Three people have returned saying that they feel they have managed the break so well that they no longer feel the need to continue the therapy."

Now. I'm not saying any of this relates to me... I'm sure as hell that I don't feel 'dependent' or anything like it...

But I have come back feeling as though it's pointless and I don't need it.

I've said more than enough but, if you made it to the end, I wanted to say a huge thank you to those who have written to reassure me.

Hearing your own experiences and your wisdom really helped m this week.

Thank you.


  1. Funny stuff this therapy huh? And why are we all so damned unwilling to admit TO THE THERAPIST that we missed our therapist?
    Funny stuff.

  2. Hi-

    Great metaphor with IKEA, yup, good one. :-) I think that anyone who spends a lot energy and time to understand a part of the the therapeutic journey, breaks or otherwise, definitely wants to be in therapy. I don't like change at all and when I did my three year stint with my therapist I was always early. I never understood why. My therapist had some ideas but none of them made sense. when I think about it I am early for everything - and he thought it was about him. heehee heehee :-)

    Love you

  3. Blessings and prayers,

  4. Well, it must be a small comfort to realize that it is a wide spread problem, enough so that therapists realize it will happen even before it does.

    And I never even get out of the IKEA catalog and into the store. There's a metaphor there somewhere too. lol

  5. jss - Funny stuff indeed.
    Point taken about being too scared to tell the therpist how you feel about the therapist.
    I don't even know whether I missed mine or not, and if I did, then I didn't feel it, so does that mean I didn't????

    Gail - Yeah. I do think some of this therapy stuff takes it all too far.
    I'm always bang on time... You were always early.
    Does that really require analysis?? !

    Andrea - As always, thank you.

    Beth - Yes. I understand your use of the metaphor.
    Hearing that looking through the catalogue was confusing enough. x

  6. Hey...great post...great took me a long time to listen to my heart...not my head. MY head never knows what I'm doing...what I need to do...what's right...what's wrong...looking to someone else for my answers. But my heart always knows. I miss running...I miss spring. b/c that's where I really hear my heart speak in the woods, nature. Reading this....I heard your heart....Sarah

  7. As long as you credit someone, it's okay to quote them. This was a great post. I love the Ikea metaphor and the cartoon.

  8. I can totally relate to the statement "If the plug would reach the bloody socket". If only I could move closer to the connection.

    I have never been in an Ikea. I tend to get lost and overwhelmed in big stores. I enjoyed reading your metaphor.

  9. Truly amazing how we are not alone. I loved reading your Ikea metaphor and what you found about returning after a break.. brilliant.

  10. thank you, this was really useful to me and i have discovered why i decided to take a braeak just before his two week holiday.Dependency is the word.
    You are brave and I wish you well.