Unfocused…and bad therapists

I can’t seem to get focused on the work I’m supposed to be doing. I really, really hope I get the 3rd shift EAP coordinator job because I want to ditch my freelance work.

Of course, that creates a dilemma: do I quit the freelance work, knowing that I could fail out of training? Or do I quit it because it would make it that much harder to get through training in the first place?

It’s not a simple choice, because I have one primary client that accounts for the bulk of my work. If I don’t make it through training, I would miss having that work. But I also know that (probably unlike most people) I probably can’t really function doing both.

Of course, it’s currently a moot point, because I haven’t been offered the job yet. But if I am, I think it’s really going to be a good thing.

Interestingly, my daughter asked me yesterday what therapy is supposed to be like and if it was common for therapists to give you “homework.” I said that many therapists do give out worksheets (which is kind of a pet peeve of mine, to be honest.)

But then she said that her therapist “assigns” her things to do—like making big sweeping new habits to change—and expects her to make real progress on them by the next week! And when she (my daughter) fails to do so, the therapist told her, “you get out of therapy what you put in.”

I was just like no, no, no.

The therapist is still essentially a trainee, working under the supervision of the therapist my other daughter saw when she was going through transition. My other daughter’s therapist was immensely helpful and she really helped her gain confidence in herself and presenting as trans.

The trainee therapist my younger daughter is seeing is very much not helping. My poor daughter said she felt worse about herself after her most recent appointment and that she thought therapy might just be something she “has to endure” until she can get the therapist letter required for the name and gender marker change.

Honestly, the first thing I thought was that I would do a better job than that. I know this trainee is new but still has 2 years more education than I do. I respect that fact. But I just can’t believe she’s not even trying to recognize where my daughter is mentally and meet her where she’s at.

Instead of telling her that she needs to get on a consistent schedule, start exercising and make more phone calls—all in one week!!—the therapist needs to break that down into making ONE small change by the next visit.

More important than that, the therapist should be curious about why my daughter has such inconsistent schedule issues and probe a little bit to find out what she’s gaining emotionally from the inconsistency.

I don’t know, I know how conceited and full of myself this will sound, but I couldn’t help thinking that I would already be a better therapist than this person.

So I reaffirmed that my daughter shouldn’t feel like her therapist was expressing disappointment in her and that it’s perfectly okay to take her time. I suggested that maybe she should try to take on just one small change.

The part I didn’t tell her is that taking on just one change and succeeding at it will likely boost her feelings of confidence and competence, which will then make her more likely to succeed in taking on the next challenge. All this stuff is seriously so elementary to me that I’m honestly a bit stunned that it didn’t occur to her therapist.

I told her that she needs to be blunt with her therapist—which is something she’s good at—and tell her that she’s unhappy with the direction therapy is taking so far, and decide whether or not to proceed based on how the therapist responds. But I think that kind of feedback is exactly what a new therapist needs to hear.

Then, because we were being very honest with each other, I told her “if, using a hypothetical example because I know this is something Amy struggled with, you feel like you need more confidence to present as female, you should tell her that.” I could tell I hit a nerve with that one because she got tears in her eyes.

Honestly, this whole experience just makes me feel even more like I’m meant to be a therapist. And I want to specifically work with LGBT people, particularly young people and their families. Even more particularly, with young transgender people.

I really hope I get this job. But even if I don’t, I know for sure I have to start going to school part time (so it doesn’t get me kicked off disability.) I’ll figure out what to do later about my missing freelance income, because I really don’t think I have the bandwidth to do both like I did before.

And honestly, I would also like to say how completely honored and humbled I was that my daughter felt like she could ask me that question. The state may not let me be her therapist (and that would be an obvious conflict of interest anyway) but I am so grateful she trusts me enough to point her in a different direction.

It also really made me think that I am doing at least some things right because I never, ever would have gone to my own mother with similar concerns. I just want Chloe to find a good therapist who draws her out of her shell and lets her feel more confident in presenting her true self to the world.

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