Counseling is often painful

I posted in November and December about my experiences with couples’ counseling with my husband.  It was difficult and heart-wrenching, and I often left the counselor’s office drained and depressed.  It sometimes took me days to recover.  I made jokes about how I needed my coach to help me deal with my counselor.

Some of it was just that our counselor was not the right person for me.  I think of him as a Mr. Fixit.  He listens a little, makes a lot of assumptions based on his years of experience, and offers opinions and suggestions for fixing the issue.  I needed someone to listen to me and validate my feelings.  He did not.  I often left feeling worse than before I went in.  My husband just wanted to disappear.  He was paralyzed with shame and guilt and could not participate as I wanted him to.  The doctor felt my husband was as present and involved as he could be under the circumstances.

But the counseling did have some very positive effects on our relationship.  My husband finally understands and accepts the pain I have been in.  He tries very hard to do the right thing these days.  He cooks and cleans and generally helps with whatever needs to be done in our lives.  He is loving and affectionate and considerate – most of the time anyway.  He doesn’t want to talk about it, but he often apologizes when I am triggered or if I have nightmares.  He used to get mad and say I should be over it already.  That’s why my blog bears its name – because I’m not over it.

There are still many issues for which I think we need a mediator more than anything else, and a marriage counselor would serve that purpose well.  My coach and I have discussed it and it seems that, even though our marriage counselor is not that great for me as a therapist, he would do well as a mediator for my husband and me.  He suggested we see Dr. K a couple more times.  Ugh.

James, my coach, then said something that struck me as something important to remember.  He said that clients often came into his practice expecting mystical vibes and feel-good discussions and affirmations.  It was almost like they thought they were going to a spa for the mind.  In actuality, therapy is digging down into psychological wounds and scars and cleaning them out.  It’s often painful and exhausting.  He said it was common that people did not expect this, and then didn’t want to go back.  He said they had to educate clients about what therapy was and what to expect.

And he said that coaching was different because we were dealing with frequent – almost daily – small insights.  It is often engaging and interesting, even when we are discussing difficult and painful events.  So he reminded me not to compare him to Dr. K.  It’s hard not to do that.  James is like my guiding angel.  Dr.K is my nightmare.

So ok then.  If that is what therapy is all about, maybe Dr. K isn’t so bad.  I’ll make some appointments today.


10 thoughts on “Counseling is often painful

  1. Coaches and therapists have different goals and techniques. It is often common for one person in therapy to be unhappy with it. But…as you said, something is happening that is affecting your husband.
    Although I agree with you in that based on your accounts, you need to be heard more…your husband has definitely made strides to understanding the havoc his actions have caused to your soul.

    • Not Over It says:

      Good point, LFBA. I will start the next session by saying straight out that I think I need to be heard more, and then I will keep pushing for it. I think even my husband will back me up on that one now.
      Thank you, LFBA. Hope all is well with you.


  2. backonmyown says:

    Good post. Thanks for sharing your coach/therapist insights.

    • Not Over It says:

      Thank you, Pat! I appreciate the feedback.

      I was one of those people who had no idea what therapy was really all about, and I needed to be educated. Then I thought that maybe there were others in our blogging community who might need to hear it as well.

      For my personal healing, I prefer coaching. But to heal a couple’s relationship, I guess it’s hard to beat traditional counseling. James keeps telling me that in the hope that I will go back for more gut-wrenching sessions. It’s like scheduling yourself for a dentist who doesn’t use novacaine. But I’ll do it…

      Have a great weekend, Pat!


  3. I would like to consider the ability of saying thanks to you for that professional instruction I have constantly enjoyed browsing your site. We are looking forward to the commencement of my school research and the general planning would never have been complete without visiting your site. If I can be of any help to others, I’d be thankful to help by means of what I have gained from here.

  4. I just came upon this post by accident. Very compelling. Very open. I want you to read my post on Marriage Counseling because, in the same way that your coach helped you with a definition of therapy, I think it will help you with sort of normalizing your experience.
    I will say here that couples counseling can be excruciating. It is complicated, unpredictable, and provocative. You won’t get the same feeling of being heard as you do in an individual session because the therapist is too busy and also, plays a different kind of role.
    Therapists doing couples counseling try to be fair in managing the session, to give both people something akin to equal time but, it is difficult. However, if it really feels unfair, then you should address it. If there is no improvement, you may need to try someone else.
    It’s true that no therapy is easy but it can be so helpful (in the long run). Life is just better when you understand yourself better. We all face surprises, good and bad constantly so it’s easier if you are not also surprising yourself. Therapy helps with that.

    • Not Over It says:

      Thank you, Paula! I visited your blog and read that article on Marriage Counseling and enjoyed it. You write with a friendly style that drew me in to what you were saying. Great information, too!

      Your current post is for me, too. I am very sensitive. I feel others and what they feel and need, many times before they are aware of it. Through the years and with training, I have learned to balance that with assertiveness and I don’t often neglect me anymore. But I have to stay vigilant about it!

      Thank you again for introducing me to your site. I will visit often!


  5. I just read your post about having trouble trusting and not fully believing that the feelings for OW are gone and what the counselor told you. (What a compelling writer you are!) I agree with your counselor and your coach, except for one part: I think that those feeling for OW or OM as the case may be–yes,women betray husbands sometimes too–CAN, in fact disappear. In addition, what was thought to be love maybe wasn’t actually. Maybe it was something else—excitement, escape, distraction, narcissism, immaturity, playtime—so many options. Real love is something, of course, that we all have to define for ourselves and I have my definition. But it is worth thinking about for each individual. I guess I wouldn’t just assume that he actually loved her. The affair could have been filling some need.
    Thank you for your thoughtful comments about my blog. I appreciate that a lot. I like what you said about sensitive people; you’ve added that some can be quite perceptive.
    I’m glad we found each other today, and connected.

  6. Not Over It says:

    Thank you for your thoughts on his love for her. That has been a huge stumbling block for me. I have thought a few times that I had put the issue to rest, and then bam, it rears its ugly head again.

    I am also glad to have connected with you. I’ll be over to your blog this weekend for some more reading – looking forward to it!


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