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I guess Sadly's thread about her P crying made me wonder how common it is, or isn't, for a T to cry in session. I've been seeing my T for 2 years and have never yet seen her cry. A few times her voice has cracked and it sounded like she might cry, but she didn't.

I am also interested in knowing what your opinions are on the appropriateness or therapeutic value/damage of a T crying in session. Is there something wrong with a T crying? Can't it reflect a sense of detachment or indifference if they don't? For those whose T's do cry, has it ever made you feel unsafe?
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Hi MH! Smiler

My T doesn't 'cry', but she has teared up on me twice, and both times were during very intense emotional connections. She is a tough woman, and once told me her co-workers have NEVER seen her cry, even after her mother passed away last year.

These two events at the moment seemed really strange, and the first time the emotional charge from the experience was already REALLY high, so for her to get teary-eyed and almost cry was on one hand really moving, and on the other was kind of unnerving. The image of her face with tears in her eyes was stuck in my head for the four days following that session until she called me to check in.

The second time T teared up on me wasn't as emotionally charged an experience as the first. She was telling me something about wanting me to develop deep and abiding attachments to other women so I had good support during the difficult transitions in life, saying that some of them are painful. That's when she teared up, and I think she was still pretty sensitive from the loss of her mother. It wasn't unsettling at all, as I know she was trying very hard to communicate and connect with me, and I felt that it showed her care for me as well.

Her voice also cracked once on the phone with me when she called to thank me for a card I had made for her and written a list of things about her that I admire/look up to. She was saying that it was beautiful and thanked me, and her voice cracked and she wrapped up the conversation pretty fast at that point. Big Grin Things like that make me feel that she is human and not impenetrable or immune to feeling emotion with patients.

Good question! Smiler

MTF
quote:
Originally posted by Mad Hatter:
LG, you brought up a good point that seeing a T cry might initially be unsettling and yet overall prove to be therapeutic. Perhaps I should have used the term damaging in place of the word disturbing. That is what I mean, for future poll responses.


Yeah, damaging puts a different spin on it. However, I didn't vote in the poll because I have two Ts and wasn't sure which way to vote.
My old T didn't actually cry but she did tear up on a couple of occasions and had to reach for the tissues. At first I was slightly shocked before feeling a little choked up myself as it meant she truly cared. I also think she felt sad that I couldn't cry myself. She also told me she cried for me after sessions which I am not too sure how I feel about or if I even believed, but if anything it made me feel safer knowing she understood my pain.
T has never cried and usually when he says things like, "That makes me so mad," or "that's really sad" or "upsetting," his voice has been pretty neutral. There have been a couple of occasions where his voice has had a lot of feeling in it, either anger over stuff that happened to me or sadness.

***ABUSE TRIGGERS?***
-My mom's creepy ex, the one who physically abused my older sisters and who I have not-sure-if-they-are-memories flashbacks to icky, unclear stuff with me, used to call our home for years after they broke up (when I think I was five, turning six). Whenever I would pick up, he would pant into the phone. For some reason, I didn't get to hang up on him. I would still sometimes have conversations with him afterward, until I got screamed at for it. I can't remember witnessing him beat my sisters or any other of the horrible stuff I've heard he did, so other than his creepy panting, I didn't know I shouldn't talk to him (plus, I almost NEVER hang up on anyone). Anyway, T sounded pretty angry (for him) when I described this guy calling over and over and making sexual panting noises to a young kid on the phone. It stopped when we changed our number and went unlisted.
****End Triggers****
-When I told him that my dad and step-mom told me in a therapy session for nightmares that I couldn't live with them, because my step-mom was "done raising her kids," T was angry at my step-mom and that therapist (for some reason not my dad...maybe he thought I'd get defensive). He sounded, maybe not livid, but really irritated and baffled.
-Last session, when we talked about what he felt not up to task about and he said some of the stuff I faced was scary, he also said, "Sometimes, it's just really hard to see you hurting so much." His voice was really soft and seemed to catch in his throat a little.

If he ever did cry, he's probably not the sobbing type, so unless I learn to actually LOOK at my T, I will probably never know.

I have had a couple tears run down my face while hiding in therapy, but not outright cried or anything. That's not something I can do without someone really close by, like holding or reassuring me in some way. However, if T told me a really sad story and started crying himself about it, I would probably easily sob. It's so funny. I really wish I could actually LET the pain I'm feeling when I'm around him out. Maybe I would come out of sessions feeling better, released, instead of worse, all worked up.
I want to report that I just had a strange experience with my T yesterday, one where I would have expected her to cry, and she still didn't. She thought one of her clients had SU'd (it turns out the client didn't succeed and is ok for now, but at the time of our discussion T believed that client to most likely be dead). It was a client she'd had for a long time. I guess I sort of wanted my T to show stronger outward grief, to demonstrate how deep her caring went for her clients. Clearly the client was on her mind, yet T seemed rather in control of herself.

Maybe I was wrong to expect tears. I mean, I know I have a hard time feeling emotions publicly and tend to grieve in private. A T might be even more guarded in an effort to be professional. And also, the first stage of grief is numbness and denial, right? But it made me wonder if T ever, ever cries even in her personal life. When she got home from work last night, did she finally crash and let the tears come, or were there still none to be had? Does a T have to be calloused and detached in order to survive the emotional ups and downs that clients bring to the office each day?
MH,
May I echo STRM's surprise that your T was talking to you about another client's possible SU? As far as her crying or not crying, I honestly think it has a lot to do with the person. I can cry at a well done McDonald's commercial so it's no big deal when I cry. On the other hand, I have known people who cry very seldom and never in front of other people.

I did want to comment on the detachment. Volunteering on the crisis line has been an eye opening education in being on the other side of the couch so to speak and actually has helped me trust even more my Ts caring. When I am talking with callers, I strive to stay very calm since the idea is to help them calm down and feel more grounded. If I am racheting out of control emotionally, I will only make things worse for them. It's also about the caller's feelings and crisis, so my own feelings shouldn't really be in the mix. Appropriate self disclosure is ok, I can tell a caller that I am sorry about a loss, or that I'm glad they called but by and large, I keep my feelings to myself. The focus needs to stay on them and how they're feeling.

But while I'm doing all that, and maintaining that calm, I am STILL me and their is a wide range of emotional responses inside me. I have had some calls where I am very calm while on the phone but have hung up and sat and cried because what the person was dealing with was so heart wrenching. But I don't want to do that in front of them because they don't need to be worrying about how they're affecting me.

The last time I saw my T, about three weeks ago, he asked me how the phone work was going and I shared with him about that, about realizing that my emotions were very present even when they weren't being expressed and that it must be true for him also. He has this awesome way of agreeing without crossing the boundaries to talk about how he feels. He just let me know that it was true for him too. I think that most Ts care and care deeply, but the more they care and the more seriously they take their responsibilities, the more committed they are to keeping their own feelings from becoming the focus.

I know that detachment can be difficult. I railed against it and found it horribly painful at times. But I did come to see it as absolutely necessary to the healing process.

AG
AG, thanks for that insight about your experience on the crisis lines. I hope that's what my T was doing, holding back a show of her feelings in my presence, not because she didn't have deep feelings but because she was trying not to make my session be all about them.

STRM, I think you are also right that being calloused would interfere with empathy. I don't see how one could have the patience and strength to be a good therapist day in and day out unless you were motivated by empathy.

The reason my T told me about the client's SU was because I first inquired whether that client would be going on an upcoming group therapy outing. She is a client I have met before on another group outing, and which I happen to have immature feelings of competitiveness and being possessive/territorial over T. It was really bad timing for me to be feeling jealous of her. Roll Eyes Frowner
yikes, MH, that is a bit scary that your T told you such personal stuff about another client, and one that you both mutually know, so it is not anonymous, even...does this client know that your T is telling her other clients- and people who *know* who she is- about her SU attempt? this would totally freak me out, it just seems like such a *serious* breach of confidentiality..it's scary...I would never be able to trust that my T isn't telling other clients that I *know* and have met, about my own personal issues after that! Eeker Are you totally freaked out by it, or are you feeling ok about it... do you think your T would tell others about your stuff? Eeker
quote:
The reason my T told me about the client's SU was because I first inquired whether that client would be going on an upcoming group therapy outing. She is a client I have met before on another group outing, and which I happen to have immature feelings of competitiveness and being possessive/territorial over T. It was really bad timing for me to be feeling jealous of her


Eeker I am really disturbed by this even more now than I was before. Your T has NO right to divulge that kind of info about another client unless that client has a signed release saying it is okay to talk to you about her (which would be silly). The fact that you know this client and knew exactly who she was talking about makes it even more disturbing.
Agree on the confidentiality stuff here. T will tell me, "I had a client who dealt with _____," and how the client approached it or how T approached it. Or he will tell me about stuff he has learned from clients, but never anything more than the most general information and the most I know about these people is, "a woman" or "a teenage boy," or something.
I didn't mean to divert the thread away from the original topic so much, but I want to give a brief reply to some of the concerns about my T's disclosures. I agree that - at least on the surface - it appears inappropriate for my T to share that info about the other client. I will admit that initially the information was shocking to me, because despite my jealousy I truly have no desire for harm to come to this client. So although I was disturbed to be caught in a bind between the opposing feelings of jealousy and genuine concern, it was also something I would have wanted to know. I would have probably been more upset if this client never showed up to another group therapy again because she was dead, but I was never told she was dead.

I think there would have been a time earlier in my relationship with T that this type of information sharing would have felt threatening to me, as far as trust in her keeping confidences goes. I can't adequately explain why that factor is not of concern to me now. I am quite certain that T did not share this information with all her clients, and perhaps with none of them except me. I do know that part of what she told me was due to my specific inquiry, but at least another reason was because some of what she told me (of which I did not post all the details) was of personal therapeutic value to me due to similarities in our cases. This level of information sharing is not a regular occurrence, however. I hope that helps alleviate your concerns.
Didn't mean to upset you or anything, MH- I know things can seem ok in the context of how they are happening. I think it would have been totally fine for your T to disclose if the client was actually dead, but since she was still alive, should have kept the client's confidentiality as a matter of boundaries? oooh just my opinion though...based on the very, very little that I actually know. no hard feelings or anything at all, I think your T has lots to offer and does many things well, but in this case I believe she made a serious error.

BB

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