Anxiety, Emotional Availability & Nail Varnish Fumes

Thursday evening. I’m doing my nails. For the third time. In the last hour. Can only mean one thing; anxiety levels are spinning out of control.

I’m flying out to Sweden on Saturday. First I’m spending a few days with my dad and then I’m travelling on to stay with my mum for a week. And I’m nervous about it. I haven’t seen my parents for two and a half year. And I’m not sure exactly where we stands.

Also A. is going away. And that’s never good. Even at the best of times a break in therapy is a big deal. I’ve written about it in other posts; abandonment issues, worrying that the therapist will never return, the endless thoughts of How Can You Do This To Me!? It’s not a pretty sight from any angle.

But this time, returning back to the UK from what will undoubtedly have been an emotional trip (regardless of whether it’s gone well or not) knowing that A. will be away for another week.. well.. it’s pretty scary. Seven days can be a veeeery long time.

Also it doesn’t help that I am incredibly bad at actually talking about all of these fears I have surrounding A. going away in session. I’m not sure what it is, but something always stops me. The last few sessions I’ve really wanted to talk about this – to not just mention it and then quickly move on to something else, but to actually explore it. But I haven’t.

And it isn’t just fear of admitting to being attached to A. And itisn’t the worry about being too dependent. It’s to do with something else. Something I can’t quite put into word, but something I feel both A. and I play a part in.

I feel sometimes that we get into this pattern of holding back. And in doing that, it causes the other to do the same. What I’m talking about here is not about some sort of power struggle (which, admittedly, we also get into now and then) or a wish on my part for more equality or more self-disclosure. No, this holding back I’m talking about is to do with emotional availability and honesty. I know for a fact that I hold back, because I’m scared, or because I feel embarrassed. And I feel that A., too, holds back. Quite possible for very different reasons, but the result is that there is this gap between us where things very much remain unexpressed. And I’m sure A. knows this as well.

Hm.. How did I get on to this..? This wasn’t at all what I had been planning on writing about. Must be the fumes from the nail varnish.. I’d best stop before I confuse both myself and you further.

Be well.


Unconscious Communication

Anxiety levels soaring, I’m trying to control it the best way I know how; by reading. Thankfully a book arrived in the post on Friday, one which I have been waiting for for over a year. (Yes – over a year.. It was meant to be released in Jan 2009, but wasn’t until just recently).

Regular readers of this blog will already be aware of my love of books of all sorts, but in particular books on therapy and/or psychology related topics. The book I’m currently reading is Dr Karen Maroda‘s most recent offering; Psychodynamic Techniques. I’m about a third of the way through this book, and I have to say, I’m liking it. It should probably be noted that this volume is primarily aimed at neophyte therapists starting out, and touches on issues like the use of self-disclosure in the therapeutic relationship, therapeutic and non-therapeutic regression and how erotic feelings can either help or hinder the process.

Having previously read Dr Maroda’s books “The Power of Countertransference” and “Seduction, Surrender & Transformation” (see links to the right and previous blog entries) I notice that this book is written in the same ultra-accessible style, with many case studies to illustrate the theory in a real in treatment situation.

In my most recent session with A. she made the comment that (in contrast to other situations in my life) I seem to feel that in therapy I perceive her as being the one holding all the power. I responded that I don’t entirely agree with that statement, but that, although I choose what to talk about and what to withhold, I am not the only person in that room, and that just as she plays off me, so I play off her; that she brings something to each session through being who she is. I don’t think I managed to quite verbalise what I meant, but reading Maroda’s chapter on mutuality and collaboration in the therapeutic dyad, I found something that much better expresses what it was that I was trying to say: both therapist and client will inevitably repeat past patterns (within the therapeutic relationship), and so, even though the focus of treatment is (as it should be) on me and my progress, A. does have a certain directional power in the way she responds to me and how she either encourages or discourages me to delve deeper into certain areas. Naturally, this is not necessarily a conscious choice and often not expressed verbally, but it nonetheless plays a part in how the therapy develops. I suppose what I am trying to get at is that far beyond our conscious and surface choices our respective unconscious are also in some way connecting, communicating; in short are aware of what the other is experiencing in the situation. Naturally not in a psychic I-know-what-you’re-thinkings ort of way, but on a more subtle level of knowing when we’re hitting the mark and when we’re not.

Anyway, must end this here. Time to (hopefully) watch Canada trash USA in the men’s ice-hockey final.

All the very best and more,


Additional comment: YEEEEEAAAAAAHHH! Go Canada, go!