Life in a Bind – BPD and me

Borderline Personality Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and my therapy journey. Listed in Top Ten Resources for BPD in 2016 by goodtherapy.org. I write for welldoing.org under the name Clara Bridges.

The desire for touch – touch in psychotherapy, Part 1

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[It’s important to note that in this post I am not talking about ‘body psychotherapy’, which is its own branch of psychotherapy in which therapists are specially trained to work with the body and with experiences and memories stored and held within it, in order to enable emotional release and healing. Instead I am talking only about ‘ordinary touch’ in other branches of psychotherapy, by which I mean a touching of hands or of fingers, a hand upon a knee, an arm around a shoulder, a hug, or other similar instances. I am also assuming, by and large, that the touching is not necessarily of a prolonged duration or a very regular occurrence.

To avoid writing a very long post, I have skimmed over the surface of what is becoming a more frequently written about subject, and I have not commented at all on the one very well-known and discussed case of Patrick Casement (1982) who refused to hold his patient’s hand when requested, in order to facilitate reworking a childhood trauma. Descriptions and discussions of this case can be found in a number of places including in two papers I have found particularly helpful, ‘The Meanings of Touch in Psychoanalysis: A Time for Reassessment’ by James Fosshage and ‘Physical Touch in Psychoanalysis: A Closet Phenomenon?’ by Kati Breckenridge]

I remember a painful therapy session from more than a year ago, in which my therapist made it very clear that hugs lay outside the boundaries of therapy. Up to that point I think I had still held on to a hope that it might be possible, if I waited long enough. If I’m completely honest, I think a part of me still hopes that perhaps she will ‘declare therapy over’ five minutes before the very end of the very last session, and will hug me before I leave. Hope can be very hard to stamp out – even if it turns on a technicality.

Since then, and until a few weeks ago, I’ve spent less time hoping for a hug or thinking actively about the subject of touch in therapy. And yet it’s been a subject that’s often been there in the background and I have felt a great need and desire for touch, on a number of occasions. Sometimes the need for touch feels simply like a desire to sit close to her, perhaps shoulder to shoulder, and sense her next to me. Sometimes it feels like wanting to have my hand held for reassurance or comfort; and at other times when I am very distressed I just want a hug and long to be held close for a little while. Most of the time I sit through those moments and we muddle, fight, wade or cry through them with silence or with words, or both. Occasionally, though, the need for physical contact feels so powerful it feels undeniable – as though it should not be denied. As though it’s absolutely vital in order to help repair a past or present experience, and cannot be replaced by words. I can feel that way both in and outside of session, but until a few weeks ago it wouldn’t really have occurred to me to talk about it – because since that time more than a year ago, it has felt as though there would be no point, because I know there is no chance of the undeniable becoming permissible.

Which is ironic, really, because so much of therapy consists of talking about needs that cannot be met – so why should this be any different? I am very grateful to ‘How to be an analyst‘ who raised the subject of touch in therapy in a comment on another one of my blog posts, and who happened to do it at a time when it was very pertinent for me and I was feeling a great need for touch. Since then, I have read a number of articles and papers (forwarded, with many thanks, by the author of ‘How to be an analyst’); and posts and comments by other bloggers and readers have continued to keep this very much a ‘live’ issue for me, even when, if I’m completely honest, I sometimes want to try and ignore it.

The difficulty is this – I don’t want this to be an issue for my therapy. I want to protect my therapy relationship at all costs, and I don’t want there to be matters about which my therapist and I are in complete disagreement. I don’t want to resent my therapist, or blame her. And so I have a natural tendency to try and talk myself into accepting her position on touch, and to convince myself that she is right. It would feel so much easier if I could tell myself I may not like it, but I think her way is best. But I’m not convinced, and the most I seem to be able to do is to sit on the fence, which is not a particularly comfortable place to be.

***

Touch in therapy in complicated – there’s no doubt about that. It’s risky, for both patient and therapist; there is great potential for misuse and damage to be done; there are serious ethical questions to consider. But just because it’s difficult, doesn’t mean it should be discounted. How often should touch occur, who should initiate it, how is it possible to know whether it will be helpful or counter-productive in a particular situation? All good questions, but again, just because they are hard to answer and require careful judgement, doesn’t mean that avoidance is best. Touch is most definitely not part of ‘traditional’ psychotherapy; it has been pretty much taboo since Freud decided patients in session should be in a state of ‘abstinence’ and ‘non-gratification’ and that touch, amongst a whole host of other things, muddied the waters of analysis and departed from the model of the analyst as a neutral ‘blank screen’.

But if there’s one thing I’m convinced of, particularly after reading a number of articles on this subject, is that touch communicates, and lack of touch communicates. Lack of touch is not neutrality – it says something. Not touching is an action of the therapist just as much as touching is. Both therapist and patient are together involved in creating the environment of the session and everything that they do or don’t do is part of that creation and conveys a message and carries an impact. Is lack of touch an avoidance of touch? Is it a painful holding back or a hesitant relief at not needing to get any closer? Is it done for the patient’s benefit or the therapist’s comfort? A lack of touch has many possible meanings – but meaning ‘nothing’ is certainly not one of them.

My therapist may not use touch as part of her practice, but she doesn’t think it is wrong or ‘prohibited’. In that sense, I feel fortunate that this creates an environment in which it feels possible to discuss the subject more openly and more comfortably. I don’t think she will ever touch me; but neither do I think that she will show me the door if I touch her. Or at least, she has implied that she won’t. She has implied that if the desire for touch is there or if touch happens, it is something to talk about, in the moment, and to try and figure out and understand.

There are those who think that refusing to touch simply re-traumatises patients – that it reinforces the negative experiences of touch that they may have received as children, and that it doesn’t provide the positive healing experience they need instead. There are others who say that refusing touch allows the patient to fully experience the negative emotions from childhood in a way that enables them to be verbalised, thought about, talked about and worked through. This seems to be one of the key aspects of the debate over the use of touch in therapy and for me, it is intimately related to another key question (which I won’t go into here as it is a subject for another post!), namely: to what extent can therapy replace or re-provide what was missing in the past; and if it can’t, why is that? In what way is the process of learning or healing in therapy, different to processes or experiences that would have taken place in childhood?

But although these are key questions, they also make the assumption (made by Freud) that these desires, including for touch, are linked to infantile wishes. My therapist has said that although the child part of me may want a hug in session, it is made complicated by the fact that I am actually an adult. However, profoundly important though touch is in infant development, I’m not convinced that the desire for touch in therapy is always an ‘infantile desire’, and to describe it in that way can feel invalidating for the adult; as if the adult doesn’t have a right to feel the same need for affection. Touch in therapy isn’t there only in order to help heal experiences from childhood. It is also there to foster a sense of connection, a closer bond, and increased trust and openness, and there is evidence that it can communicate acceptance and enhance self-esteem. I don’t believe that all instances of my desire for touch come from a child-like place – and I wonder whether that makes the possibility of touch more difficult or more uncomfortable for my therapist to consider.

***

Even if nothing changes in my therapy with regard to touch – and I don’t believe it will – being able to talk about it has been a positive experience. It is good to know that my therapist doesn’t see it as a ‘prohibition’ or as something ‘morally wrong’, and it is ultimately bonding (even if it doesn’t feel so at the time) to be able to discuss this subject in a way that makes it (and me) feel acceptable. In addition, reading and thinking about this, and trying to get underneath the skin of how I feel about touch and how it makes me feel about myself, has led to an important realisation, which I will talk about in Part 2, on ‘Feeling untouchable’.

For now, I can think of no better way to end than by quoting from one of the papers I have found most helpful, ‘The Meanings of Touch in Psychoanalysis: A Time for Reassessment’, by James Fosshage: “Touch is a powerful form of communication. We cannot afford to eliminate a profoundly important mode of communication from our healing profession. As with any form of communication, verbal and nonverbal, we can use it advantageously or not for facilitating understanding, communication, and the analysis.”

 

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27 thoughts on “The desire for touch – touch in psychotherapy, Part 1

  1. Pingback: ten | how to be an analyst

  2. I visualize you using a weighted blanket, (yours) during the session- when desired- to hold yourself ..a self hug… and Just maybe, your therapist can put her hand on this object…touching you, without touching you. What a powerful communication. And the blanket takes on the concept of object permanence. Use it when you need it. ☺️

    I was allowed to hug my therapist at the end of a session. I do believe she re-raised me and holding was a part of that, for me, for us.
    She doesn’t live in the same state now, so I can’t hug her anymore. (We do tele-therapy). And I’m fine.
    Yes, for me, hugging was invaluable.
    OOOO to you.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you so much for reading and commenting….interestingly enough, I don’t have a weighted blanket but I do have a ‘therapy jacket’ which is fairly heavy and warm and fluffy…..I bought it during a therapy break, on the first day on which I would have had a session, but didn’t. It immediately became a transitional object which I take everywhere and which lies on my bed like a blanket! it comes to every therapy session, including in the heat of summer, and it always goes over my knees as I sit on the chair, and I use it _exactly_ as you have described- to grip onto and to cover myself with when I really need a hug….So excellent suggestion and I would definitely recommend it to others as well 🙂 I’m not sure she would go for touching the jacket, as I think she’s not averse to the actual touch necessarily, but to what it is there for and what its meaning is, in the context of therapy, and I think she would argue that that issue would still exist, whether or not her hand was actually in contact with my skin. From my own perspective (as I will talk about next week in Part 2) it is also important that my therapist is not afraid or put off by physical contact (e.g. when it happens accidentally), and I think I’d be scared that if she touches me through an object, it might reinforce my feeling of being ‘untouchable’….but I think it’s a really interesting idea and I will definitely talk to her about it….your comment is really thought provoking…and I’m just wondering whether her holding the jacket sometimes (not when it’s on my knee, but on her own, perhaps) would actually be a bonding thing in itself…..
      I’m so glad you had what sounds like such a positive experience, and that your therapist was happy to hug at the end of sessions, and that your relationship continues, albeit at a distance. Many thanks again for such a thought-provoking comment, and do keep in touch 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Superb post. “To what extent can therapy replace or re-provide what was missing in the past; and if it can’t, why is that?” It can’t. “You can’t step into the same river twice,” because, as you know, the river you stepped in the first time has moved on and you are older. What treatment can do is provide a healing experience that allows you to shed the injury of the past and go forward without a bleeding wound inside of you. It can help you know that you are worthy of love, touch and intimacy, allowing you to find it elsewhere.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you – I’m glad you liked it 🙂 For a little while I’ve been meaning to write a post about how an experience in therapy (e.g. receiving acceptance) differs from receiving it originally and what metaphors/pictures one can use to visualise those differences. I saw it as a follow-on to my post about the way we see things and ‘a picture held me captive…’. But it is also related to this post, and I’m hoping it might follow on after Part 2 to this one. I completely agree with your point – but does that mean (as it doesn’t necessarily follow) that you are sympathetic to the view that gratifying the desire in therapy (whether that be for touch, reassurance etc) generally gets in the way, sidesteps or shortcuts the process of the client fully experiencing something that needs to be felt and processed? Part of being older is also having language (and the corresponding ability to think – language being a big part of the post that will follow). Part of idea of non-gratification, as I understand it, is ‘forcing’ the experience into the realm of awareness and verbalisation, where it can be thought and talked about, and not ‘just’ felt. Is this the view you would take (if you don’t mind me asking!)….

      Liked by 1 person

      • I will try to answer your question as I understand it. Yes, if you (the therapist) don’t fulfill the request then the client is more likely to deal with the long term issues that are beneath it (absence of love from the parent or other factors relating to the feeling of unworthiness). Put differently, the desire for touch from the therapist can make the treatment about the relationship with the therapist rather than the transference. Therefore the desire has to be interpreted. It is not, or shouldn’t be, just a withholding. The therapist shouldn’t, in effect, “become” the new and better version of the parent. He is there to help the patient grieve the loss, at which point the needs that ought to have been fulfilled by the parent years before can finally be allowed to heal, and the patient, in effect, comes to find other ways to receive touch in ways appropriate to his adult life. As you know, therapists differ on this and I’m not personally opposed to the idea of an occasional touch or hug. The client, however, must find ways to comfort and affirm himself with the therapist’s help. Both regular reassurance and touch can stymie the process.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Thank you so much for answering this – I found this really helpful. And you’ll be glad to hear that my therapist said that you and she are on exactly the same page with this 🙂 Great minds, and all that 😉 One quick clarification or attempt to play devil’s advocate – ‘..the desire for touch from the therapist can make the treatment about the relationship with the therapist rather than the transference…’. Although the treatment is not _about_ the relationship with the therapist, it does work _through_ the relationship – could not the desire for touch, or actual touch, be part of strengthening the relationship so that difficult work can be done? And does the strength of the relationship enable the transference? For me personally (though I know this is not the case for others), I tend to agree with your point about regularity. I would likely get ‘comfortable’ in that sort of regular situation, and be less likely to want to sit with difficult emotions and to challenge myself to try and self-soothe. I have always made it clear to my therapist (I hope) that the sort of touch I’m talking about is fairly minimal and occasional. Thank you again 🙂

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      • Hello again.
        So glad to see the “conversation” continue. I spoke again with my therapist this week and I asked my plethera of questions about why, when, how and my feelings around her decision. She thought I understood at the time when she was consulting with the psychiatrist that I understood it was to make a decision about withdrawing “all physical comfort”…whereas, I thought they were going to discuss not providing comfort at times of great distress. We in essence were not looking at the reason for the consultation from the same perspective and therefore she could not really understand my severe feelings of confusion, surprise and hurt when the result was “no more hugs at all”!!!
        I know she understands now why I am feeling so traumatized and hurt. I could see and hear that she truly felt regretful for not approaching or understanding my perspective in this. I still feel that touch can and would be a reparative part of my therapy and growth but will honor her perspective and hope I can view it as another aspect of therapy that needs to be worked through. (feel I could have worked through this without experiencing the removal part so suddenly).
        Regardless, after working together for over 4yrs, I do have enough faith in her and us that we can work this through in time.
        Thank you for all the comments and feedback and for this blog. It truly is making a connection with me and others who experience “life in a bind”!

        Liked by 2 people

      • Thank you SO much – it’s so nice to see that connection ‘in action’ as it were 🙂 Blogging wouldn’t be blogging without the connections and conversations that go on – they’re such a big part of any post….
        Although difficult, I think honouring her perspective can be a means to growth in itself – it’s definitely an area I’ve been trying to grow in which I think will be ultimately really helpful not just in my interactions with my therapist, but with others as well (and primarily with my husband). It’s lovely to see that faith in her, as well – it sounds as though you have a wonderful and trusting relationship 🙂

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      • Hello,
        I had my session on Thursday and it was very painful but we have moved a bit forward on the “touch/hug” situation. I still feel that touch can be part of the repairative aspect of therapy but am having to be patient with this new form of being seen, heard and cared for. I asked for a favour last time in session…for her to consider giving me one last hug so that I might be able to more therapeutically close the door on no longer being comforted this way. It would represent my saying goodbye to hoping it would happen again and also be a touch stone (so to speak) that I can say to myself…(I remember that last hug) instead of not really remembering them before because they had become so much part of my process. Somehow it seems so much more special to be able to hold it in my memory and it reminds me she really does care.
        On Thursday we did hug for the last time. I am holding on to that memory and will for a long time. It was a very brief hug but spoke volumes to me that she had heard me in the earlier session.
        I also found it quick amazing that during the whole session I was not able to look at her at all!!! I was crying the whole time and when I asked why I could not look at her, she said it usually meant shame and did that feel right for me?
        I looked inside and said it felt more like if I looked at her, I would have to acknowledge that it is “her” hurting me by withholding the hugs and that did not coincide with how I “view” her. I view her as always caring, loving and patient but if I looked at her while acknowledging she was never going to hug me again (and that feels very painful), I have to accept that she also can hurt me which reminds me of my abuse.
        It felt too threatening to “see” her as being able (not wanting to but) and has hurt me so deeply. At this point in my therapy, I still need to view her as my ally so to move forward, I may have to look at the floor for a while. She apparently understands this.
        Thanks for the support and continued blogging on this.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you so much for answering this – I found this really helpful. And you’ll be glad to hear that my therapist said that you and she are on exactly the same page with this 🙂 Great minds, and all that 😉 One quick clarification or attempt to play devil’s advocate – ‘..the desire for touch from the therapist can make the treatment about the relationship with the therapist rather than the transference…’. Although the treatment is not _about_ the relationship with the therapist, it does work _through_ the relationship – could not the desire for touch, or actual touch, be part of strengthening the relationship so that difficult work can be done? And does the strength of the relationship enable the transference? For me personally (though I know this is not the case for others), I tend to agree with your point about regularity. I would likely get ‘comfortable’ in that sort of regular situation, and be less likely to want to sit with difficult emotions and to challenge myself to try and self-soothe. I have always made it clear to my therapist (I hope) that the sort of touch I’m talking about is fairly minimal and occasional. Thank you again 🙂

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      • In general, the power of the relationship with the therapist IS the transference. Of course, some therapists will generate more or less because of how they behave, good or bad. As far as touch strengthening the relationship to make the work flow better or easier, I’d venture that is pretty individualized. But, an important point: it shouldn’t be essential.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I find this topic just so well timed. I have received hugs from my therapist on occasion for over the past 3 yrs (once in about 3 months and always at the beginning of the session). I found it so very comforting to be “welcomed” back after a very difficult, shame/guilt based prior session. About a month ago, my therapist of over 4 yrs, decided to stop ALL physical contact!! (she also has held my hand once while crying). There is more to this event than I can say here without needing to spend forever explaining it but suffice to say, I have just been so traumatized by this decision. This is a very “clinical and black and white” decision (I feel) coming from someone who I have had few if any real disagreements over those 4 +yrs.
    For over a month now, I have asked her questions about why this sudden change of heart around providing hugs? Her reply is simply that it just doesn’t feel therapeutic any longer…FOR WHO???!!! It felt therapeutic to me and still would!!!
    Anyway, I am trying to wrap my head around how to deal with the “rules of our therapy” changing and not feeling like I did when I was little and felt the same way when I could never predict when/if/how I would be abused next. The situation was inconsistent and without a “valid” reason from her as to why this is no longer therapeutic, it replicates inconsistent re-parenting in the therapeutic setting…… Just my two (okay maybe 5) cents worth.
    Thanks for the blog. I am finding it very interesting and relevant to my diagnosis of BPD.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s well timed because although ‘How to be an analyst’ really brought this subject to the fore for me, and originally inspired me to read and think about it, and although I’ve been meaning to write about it for weeks and weeks, it was your emails which actually made _this_ the right time for me to write about it, so thank you! I still do intend to reply, so apologies for my delay! I’m hoping that this post, and the one next week and the week after (about how therapy experiences might be different from the experiences we _should_ have had as children) will also be helpful, and almost part of my reply, as it were, because I think they will say a lot of what I might want to say in reply to your emails and comment….to be honest, I’m torn, reading your comment, because it feeds so directly into my own ambivalence about really wanting touch, but wanting to trust my therapist’s viewpoint and not disagree with her. The idea of a strong, trusting 4 year + relationship feels so valuable and intimate and special, and yet I can imagine how incredibly painful this change must be. I think I can see both sides of the argument, but emotionally, I am both with you in terms of the shock and pain, and at the same time terrified at the thought of the rupture of a relationship that close and longstanding….Please accept my apologies for the fact it may take me a little while to reply to your email, but do know that your situation will be in my mind as I write my next couple of posts, and that I am very much hoping that they help! I’m actually hoping that by the time I’ve processed and crystallised my thoughts and written them, I might actually be in a better position to answer your email. Also, I want to read much more of the webpage that you sent me the link for, before I reply, as I want to hear what you heard, as it were, and what has been feeding into your own thought process…….Take care…

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      • Wow!!! I needed to read the reply here very much..
        Please don’t apologize for any delay in responding to my email. I figure you are a busy person and would get back when you had time to.
        I appreciate the perspective (of being torn).
        I can’t stop thinking that there is some information that is missing, not being told to me that if I knew that tidbit, it would make sense and I could at least resolve how this action on her part makes me feel confused and somehow blamed. One of the statements from the link I provided to you from the Shrinklady site was “What I believe is happening now in your therapy is a mini recapitulation of what you got as a child – inconsistent parenting”. That is what it feels like. That the rules have changed but because I really don’t know why, it feels blaming which feeds into my shame and inner self negativity.
        There is a part of the history that might also help to see why I am feeling so hurt/shocked by this decision. I will include it in my reply to you in an email. I am sure it will explain (at least in part) why my pain runs so deep.
        If you find any part of what I send you to make things more detailed for your blog here (and perhaps explain to other readers also), please use any part of it by simply cutting and pasting here.
        I appreciate your time, reply and especially this blog. They all help to make me feel not alone and more “normal”.

        Like

      • I’m so glad this has all helped, and I replied in another comment to say I’m sinking a bit at the moment and so it may be a week or two before I get the chance to reply further…I hope things are going okay, and take care…

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    • Lou – thanks so much for the comment on my post. I have some understanding of what you’re going through, as my previous therapist of 2.5 years took similar action. I am incredibly sorry. The pain you must be in sounds almost unbearable.

      The first thought I had when I read your comment here was that of induction. I’m not sure if you’re familiar with the term, and I don’t know what kind of therapy you’re doing, but induction is something that happens frequently in my analysis and I’m confident it was involved in all of the conflict with my former therapist. This is purely anecdotal as I have no formal training, nor do I know what is happening in your therapy. But it might be something to consider and, if you feel it appropriate, bring up to your therapist.

      A quick search for induction in therapy or objective countertransference can give you some information in psych lingo, but an example from my analysis might also help: Recently, I was having a really difficult session and wanted my analyst to hug me, but “knew” (without saying anything) that she wouldn’t because that is who I feel I am as a person – disgusting, untouchable, unloveable. My analyst unconsciously picked up on that belief and was “induced”; she later said she felt frozen and literally did not want to reach out and comfort me, despite the fact that I was sitting next to her, sobbing. We talked about this session for the next couple of weeks and determined an induction had occurred. My analyst said that sometimes inductions can go on for quite some time without either party knowing.

      Anyway, those are just my thoughts, but it wouldn’t surprise me if what’s going on is some kind of countertransference. I hope your therapist has a good supervisor and you can keep talking with her about it until you both are clear about the issue, whatever the ultimate decision.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Sorry, forgot to ask. Is there a way to get those articles online or sent out? I would love to read them!!!
    ‘The Meanings of Touch in Psychoanalysis: A Time for Reassessment’ by James Fosshage and ‘Physical Touch in Psychoanalysis: A Closet Phenomenon?’ by Kati Breckenridge].
    Thanks again!!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Another eloquent post on a poignant topic; thank you for bringing additional awareness to something that seems difficult for many people – therapists and clients alike – to talk about. My latest thought on touch involves how it is a very real need for any person, child or adult, even if the adult wasn’t denied touch as a child. Contact is part of how we survive. To have a therapist deny this need, even with the best intentions, can be incredibly retraumatizing. I give you a lot of credit for continuing to stick it out and discuss this with your therapist. It really shows the strength of your relationship.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for your kind words, and for stimulating thought on this in the first place. And thank you for your comments about my relationship with my therapist, which I really appreciate – I think we do have a strong and trusting relationship, though I’m sure there is much further to go as I know there are still areas where I could definitely trust her more. I think there is so much good stuff there, I don’t want the question of touch to become a barrier to that, but it’s helpful and fruitful to think about it and talk with her about why it feels important to me. It’s also given me a chance to try and gain further insights about therapy, and its role and how it works….

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I have never had Reichian therapy administered, but have heard that it is beneficial for some. If it resonates with you, you may want to google it. I have benefitted from practicing Contact Improvisation and Body Mind Centering in safe environments. If you want to check out those somatic practices, please please please make sure that they are in safe environments.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello and thanks to both nocivum and inacarnivalsaloon for their comments and perspectives. I have never heard of “induction” before and I like to think of myself as rather up on alot of things “therapy”. I will take a peak and try to understand before I see my therapist on Thurs. As far as Reichian therapy goes, she has basically said that if I wanted to see another “therapy” type practitioner, I would have to stop my sessions with her until that was finished or switch modality to that type instead.
      Since I have seen her for over 4yrs, I hesitate at this point to stop or switch. I fully intend (at this point) to continue to question her reasoning and rational until my inner child feels less negative ramifications of her decision.
      I have been losing alot of sleep over the past month thinking about this and trying to rationalize how and why this could happen so quickly without warning and really without discussion!!
      The only thing I have come up with so far is that perhaps she is planning on retiring in a year and by withdrawing her physical comfort and then broaching the subject of retirement once I have regained equilibrium and hopefully able to comfort myself, she feel better about telling me the “bigger” news. I really am just speculating at this point trying to think of ANY reasoning about her decision. (very crazy making).
      By the way, I read that “inconsistent parenting, creates an atmosphere where the child interprets “it is not what he/she is doing that is wrong but it is he/she who is wrong. I have cut and paste part of this website below.

      “Unfortunately what happens is that it isn’t what you do that becomes wrong, but who you are. As a child you come to see that it isn’t the behaviour that brings the punishment, but it is you the person that causes it.

      Your parents’ inconsistent parenting creates a dreadful feeling of guilt within you as you struggle to come to terms with their inconsistency. You know you have done something wrong, but because you don’t know what it is you just end up with a huge feeling of guilt for being you.

      If your parents also coupled your punishment with lots of anger, or worse still, by withdrawing their attention or affection toward you, then this message is even more powerful for young children. It tells you that you are not ok and that there is something about you that is bad or wrong although you may not really understand what that is.”
      Here is the URL: http://www.consistent-parenting-advice.com/toxic-parenting.html
      Sorry for the long reply. This situation is so complicated and with so many layers of history and perspectives it is no wonder it is hard to follow.
      I thank you again for your reply but also to having this blog available for support and commonality between experiences.

      Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you for reading and commenting – I appreciate the pointers to further reading!

      Like

  8. Pingback: ten | Life in a Bind - BPD and me

  9. Very interesting post on a subject I’ve not heard much about. Thank you for sharing

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Pingback: Feeling untouchable – touch in psychotherapy, Part 2 | Life in a Bind - BPD and me

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