Hi, and thanks for a really thought-provoking, thoughtful, and insightful forum! I’m two years into therapy with a psychoanalytically trained T who’s been perfect in so many ways that I feel sure I’m wrong to be bothered by this. Your thoughts, please?

What I’m struggling with is that I sometimes feel T doesn’t engage with me emotionally, particularly when I’m feeling good. He’s rock steady when it comes to providing a supportive and comfortable environment, and he usually says the right words. (Words are critical because I’m on the couch and I can’t see his facial expressions.) He’s shown his constancy and support through many actions. But he doesn’t get HAPPY with me! Couldn’t he please praise me when I come to an insight that I think is, well, insightful – or encourage me when I’m expressing the ways that I’ve made progress? Or say “NOW is when I want to hug you, even if I don’t actually do it”? Instead, he usually remains silent, even though he can be quite talky when I’m exploring difficult stuff.

I’m reminded of one of AG’s blog posts where she finally got the nerve to ask BN whether he was proud of her for something she had done. She wrote (forgive my paraphrasing): “BN went right past my question to what I was really asking [which was] “Am I ok now?” That he thought the reason I was asking was because I was recognizing my progress and wanted to see if I was good enough now….So he said that if he told me yes, then it would imply that there was a time when I wasn’t ok and he didn’t find me acceptable. He told me that of course he was proud of me, he always had been. That of course he was happy to hear of my accomplishment, it was life spreading life, how could he not be happy about that? But whether I came in with something wonderful to share or sat across from him sobbing … how he felt about me did NOT change….”

That makes so much sense but…still… wouldn’t it be a good thing if, just sometimes, T said some words that would be the verbal equivalent of “beaming”? I feel let down every time an opportunity goes by, untaken.
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Hi DeepDive

It's late and I need to get some sleep but I wanted to say to the Board and it's very nice to meet you.

I will come back tomorrow to talk about your post. I just didn't want you to think no one read it and cared enough to respond.

Hi DeepDive,

Welcome to the forums. Smiler

I don't think you're wrong to feel bothered by this. Feelings aren't wrong - they are there to help us understand what's going on inside. We all long to be validated, especially when progress is made in what is a very difficult process of healing and change. Validation is a huge part of being engaged in a dependent relationship and so I can totally see why this bothers you.

How would you feel about bringing it up with your T? I can just imagine how scary that is, but I would imagine a caring T would want to know if something was bothering you.

My T used to use a phrase and for months it bothered me. Whenever he would say it I would feel like I was wasting his time. Finally, one day I found the courage to tell him how it made me feel. He apologized several times because he knew he said that phrase often and didn't realize how painful it was for me. He said it's my job to inform him when he's being ignorant and saying things that bother me. It was a such a relief not only to tell him, but for him to finally stop saying it. Smiler

I hope you can find a way to let him know how important it is to you to be validated the next time you make progress.

Thank you so much, TN and PF, for your responses. Just reading them almost made me cry - the relief of "coming out" and getting non-judgmental reactions (not that anyone on this forum would do otherwise), but also the sadness of needing it so much and not getting it. I see him today; I hope I can articulate what I'm feeling. I've tried but usually only when I've gotten so mad that it comes out in anger, and then off we go talking about my anger. And, with that, it's back to my mom and therefore not him. Not real enough for that moment! Does that make sense? It's just not all about transference. Which leads me to the ambush hug; I am so going to do that to him some day. Just not today.

Welcome to the forum! Wanting someone to be proud of us is a childhood need. I don't necessarily see that it has to mean that you are asking if you are better now.

This is from a Psychology Today article:

Praise, like a smile or a gleam in our eye, is different. It is a deeply intrinsic human need. If we think of praise in this way—as a basic need, not a “technique” for raising obedient children—our understanding (and our advice to parents) fundamentally changes.

Praise is ubiquitous in our adult lives. No matter how self-reliant we have become, the opinions of others (especially the opinions of people we look up to and admire) matter—to all of us, throughout life. When we have worked hard and done a good job, we want (and need) people to tell us that we’ve done a good job.

I wanted my old therapist to be proud of him. He too missed it but was focusing on something else. When I brought it to his attention, he told me that he WAS proud of me. He just didn't know that that was what I needed to know at that moment.

Hope it went well today.
Well, wow, that was an intense session. Seems like we covered my life in therapy, if not my entire real life, in one blindingly staccato session. But here's the thing: he has suggested that I stop posting on this forum, and more generally quit with the internetting. There's a little history here, the most significant being a strange and unhelpful man I met on the internet. It was my "relationship" with him (very wrong word) that led me to therapy in the first place. And T has seen how I can live more lively online than in real life. So T now says come back, talk to HIM. It's almost a sickening thought to trust him that much, but I have to try. No, change that to "want" - I WANT to try. Kind of, sort of. Anyway, I WILL try. No more posting; he's gonna get a text when I might otherwise have written here. I am envious of the warm and honest community you have here, but he will get to hear about that too. Please wish me luck.

Good Luck!

My therapist also told me not to spend time here but I didn't listen. Wink I figured when I was ready for "real" relationships, I would seek them out and that is the way it happened. I got to "practice" here, so to speak, and talk about issues with people who were receptive to them and open to understanding them. Having a community here has been invaluable. So don't beat yourself up too much if you want to come back. Wink
I took another peek because I forgot to turn off auto notification and saw there was a reply. CAN'T ignore that! Auto notification off now but, Liese, thank you - your reply made me smile. I'd like to see a thread about "disobedience" w/r/t T's guidance - when do we think we know better than T and were proven right or wrong; if wrong, did we do it again, etc. Oh, wait, I won't get to see it. Must. Sign off. Now.

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