I've been seeing my psychologist for about 18 months. Overall, she's great: upbeat, insightful and easy to talk to. But on a couple of occasions I've left therapy with a distinct feeling that she wasn't being entirely forthright with me, or like she actively tried to make me feel insecure during a session. Are these red flags real?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (44 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
My psychologist, Lynn, is seeing me for depression, social anxiety, and sexual assault trauma. Lynn is about my age (late 20s), and we're both straight females with similar interests, so we quickly developed a good rapport. I was one of the first clients she started seeing after she left Metro Counseling Inc. and started her own small private office. I've seen a handful of therapists in the past decade or so, and I feel like she's quite the find overall; I'm very comfortable talking with her, and I feel like she has given me some very valuable tools to help me deal with my problems.
About 2 months in, Lynn and I both decided that it seemed like I might benefit from taking some kind of medication for my depression. She referred me to a psychiatrist named Dr. Alexander, and I signed consent forms so they could coordinate on my treatment. I saw Lynn weekly, and I've been seeing Dr. Alexander every two months or so. I like him quite a lot, too. I feel like he's a very compassionate person. The first time I met with him, he had me take a depression inventory and prescribed an antidepressant. He has tweaked my medication a couple of times since then (I now take a small amount of a benzo, as needed, for social anxiety) and I feel like the medicine does help somewhat. As far as I recall, he has never mentioned any other diagnoses to me.
A couple of weeks after my first visit with Dr. Alexander, I asked Lynn if the two of them had gotten a chance to talk about my treatment; She seemed kind of evasive/uncomfortable, and after a pause she said that, they had, and said "He and I agree that we're likely dealing with a personality disorder here". This surprised and me and made me feel bad, as I know personality disorders carry the stigma of only being "manageable" rather than "curable". I asked her which personality disorder she suspected, and she said something like "I don't think it's important for us to talk about that right now. Let's talk about what we should do to look forward this week." It's possible that she was trying to spare my feelings, but it struck me as odd that she wouldn't tell me specifics.
I didn't get a chance to talk about this with Dr. Alexander for a long time, as my sessions with him are very short and only focus on whether or not my medication seems to be helping. But recently, it occurred to me during a visit that I should ask him what my official diagnosis was, and if it had changed at all as a result to talking to Lynn about me. Again, he didn't mention anything about a personality disorder, just clinical depression and anxiety.
I can't shake the feeling that it's strange that Lynn's report of their conversations is so different from Dr. Alexander's report. Are psychologists and psychiatrists obligated to tell you the truth when you ask about your diagnosis? Is it possible that they felt like telling me my "real" diagnosis (the personality disorder) might set me back in my treatment?
There are a couple of other occasions where I felt like Lynn was evasive when I've asked questions about my treatment. Once, she had me fill out an end-of-the-year treatment evaluation where we both gave our assessment of how I was doing; One of the questions was "Rate your stability on a level of 1-10, 1 being completely unable to function and 10 being completely functional". Lynn said she'd rate me as a 5, which seemed really low to me, as I considered myself pretty stable even when I first started seeing her, and she and I have done a lot of hard work talking through my issues. When I asked why she picked a five, she said "It's the middle of the scale. It just means your not doing particularly well OR particularly badly. But I don't think we should focus on the number so much as the work you're doing."
TL;DR I feel like my therapist dodges the question when I ask for details about her plan for me, and where our therapy is going. MeFites who are work in mental health care, and MeFites who have experience with therapy, am I being paranoid about her vagueness, or does something seem slightly amiss?
I realize a lot of people's first reaction on a question like this will be "you don't trust your therapist, DTMFPsyD", but keep in mind that my difficulty trusting people is one of the major problems I sought therapy for. It's quite possible that I just pick things apart too much and I would find a reason to distrust other therapists.