You’re not my guru

I found this old blog post while doing a Google search for myself. It still stands and I thought it was interesting, so I figured I’d share this post I originally wrote in February 2013. It’s at times like this that I really wish I hadn’t blown up my original Conflict Girl blog 😦

Original post as follows:

I saw a therapist for about six months last year. Although I understand that some circumstances deserve discretion, I don’t feel that seeking therapy is one of them. In general, I think secrets are toxic and I am completely in favor of erasing any stigma about mental health.

My therapist – we’ll call her Nancy – helped me with my writing career and my fear about the fact that my long-term contract job had an end date. I made peace with the end of my job and learned that I really did want to pursue my career as a writer again.

I developed a lot more confidence in my writing and my regular per-word rate doubled as a result of seeing her. So she was great when used on a short-term basis as a kind of career coach.

The problem was that she was flaky and very self-centered.

She was very much the stereotype of an aging hippie: all-black outfits and ethnic jewelry, flute music in the waiting room, and artifacts of all cultures including both Native American dreamcatchers and statues of Buddha. She was kinda all over the place. There’s nothing wrong with any of that in itself. But one thing was clear: she really wanted to be my guru.

I’ve run across other people like her before. She reminded me a lot of a woman who used to run a witchy shop that sold crystals, essential oils, and books on Wicca, who swung a crystal pendulum over your wrist to divine your future. (Flaky witch lady told 18-year-old me that the pendulum said I was pregnant when I definitely wasn’t.) She was nice enough, perfectly harmless, but flaky as all get out and clearly envisioned herself as a very wise healer. In fact, that old witchy shop has long since closed but there’s a new one in town with a different owner, who fits the same spacey-airhead-guru personality type.

My therapist Nancy had a good talent for helping people find the root of their issues. My husband went with me for a couple of sessions and Nancy helped him zero in on some of his own hang-ups that were impacting our relationship, things he thought were long buried.

But that seemed to be the extent of Nancy’s help: she could identify the problems, but not how to fix them.

Part of that may be that she really only had two treatment modalities, something called the “emotional freedom technique” (or EFT) and inner child visualization.

My oldest child went to see her for a couple months to sort out some of his sexual orientation issues and problems he had with me, and he now considers Nancy a complete quack and she turned him off from seeing another therapist, just because she was so limited in her treatment approaches.

Although she said that her own treatment approaches helped her and she repeatedly went into detail about her own problems, which was extremely unhelpful, she just seemed completely unable to offer other treatment methods even when asked to do so.

Call it a failure of imagination on my part, but I just didn’t want her to be my guru.

Inner-child visualization and the energy-meridian tapping of EFT just felt too silly and I couldn’t ever get into it. Maybe that makes it a failure on my part rather than hers because I just couldn’t embrace her treatment options. What I do know is that it didn’t work for me, my husband, or my kid. It was just too weird for us.

The interesting part that I learned was that I’m apparently more traditional than I sometimes like to think I am. One of the issues I discussed with Nancy was my discomfort with certain things about the Catholic church. She strongly discouraged me away from going back and tried to put in a major plug for me to go to her Unity church instead.

She emphasized how free the Unity church was and how I could believe in whatever I wanted, even though I told her that I liked the rituals in the Catholic church and wanted to find something a little more structured. Not being a therapist myself, I don’t know much about what they’re supposed to do, but I’m pretty sure that a good therapist is not really supposed to try to sway you out of your religious beliefs.

As much as she wanted to be my guru, I came away from it realizing that I am really my own guru. That doesn’t mean I’m my own God or anything, but it does mean that I realized that I’m the one I trust, more than I trust her. I can actually fix my problems quite well on my own. I hadn’t seen her since before Christmas and called her on Tuesday after my disastrous birthday, to make an appointment for a marriage counseling session. But I called to cancel the appointment today because as I told her, my husband and I found a way to work things out on our own.

Ultimately I’m going to be okay, with or without her.

She sounded disappointed by that.

3 Comments

    1. Yeah, she really was. I’ve since learned how many things she did that were inappropriate, from telling me about her personal problems to seeing both me and my son at the same time. Not to mention the whole trying to talk me out of my religious beliefs and into hereby. Honestly it makes me nervous about seeing a new therapist.

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      1. I’d be nervous too. But they’re your employee and you can always stop seeing them. (I often forget I’ve that power given my own issues) The power dynamic can be really imbalanced given the emotional issues one can bring to therapy, but we get to interview them too, not just they interview us.

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