The New Therapist Update

ImageI’ve only been to “Liz” twice now, but I’m very optimistic about working with her. She seems more qualified than the other therapists, maybe it’s just her method, but she just seems to know what she’s talking about, and most importantly, what I’m talking about.

Her office is small. It’s a suite in an office building, with a little waiting room with warm, slightly dim light. Her office itself is brightly lit with natural light. She has a fountain she plugs in that fills the room with the sound of water. The environment is calm, but not sleepy. The couch is insanely comfortable. It’s also significant to me that she sits at a very balanced distance from me; she’s not too close or too far away. Most therapists I’ve been to seemed very far away. There was this empty space between us. I felt a little like I was being observed in a zoo. With Liz, we’re in this together.

The second time I met with her, she had typed up all the problems I talked about, and had a section for goals and methods. Here’s a sampling:

Panic Disorder/Mild Agoraphobia – move to reduction of social anxiety, agoraphobia resolved, no panic attacks – learn and practice coping skills, desensitization, identify factors that cause anxiety

No other therapist ever handed me a piece of paper with something concrete on it. I want to attack this illness from a rational viewpoint; it’s the emotions that are the problem. I’m used to studying. This is familiar ground, this is my court. CBT seems to have the tools I’m looking for.

The biggest thing I’ve noticed with Liz is that unlike with other therapists and even with my current psychiatrist, I don’t feel like I’m performing. I usually feel the need to have the “right” answer, to always be articulate, even funny, but with this therapist, I don’t always know the answer. That’s why I’m seeing her. Why do I often feel crippling physical and emotional anxiety when I’m in a group of friends? Liz is able to help me break down the question into smaller questions that I can better answer. Am I afraid of rejection, even from friends? Am I afraid that when I get quieter, withdrawn, that people won’t like me? Is that why I feel like I’m always performing, pretending to be an extrovert when I’m around people, and then the consequence of that is exhaustion and anxiety?

These are the important questions. I don’t have all the answers, but maybe simply asking the question is where the real change begins.

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