When your loved one loses their longterm therapist
I have found myself here, hoping anyone can shed light on their personal experiences or is a health professional that has gone through this before.
In short, my partner has had the same therapist for around 8 years. Due to some family issues his therapist has had to move interstate. My partner leading up to this time was obviously very worried and upset - losing his torch of the last 8 years.
It has ended up creating issues in our relationship. I have had short term therapy many times in the past, and me not being able to understand how big the situation is for my partner has caused a huge crack for us.
Hand on heart, it's not me being unwilling, i just don't know how to support him. I have tried my best to explain, and offer the support I can. I love him very much - and I can also see a change in his character. He is quite depressed. He is also not sure now whether our relationship is best for him, and he has said it himself, this situation was a massive red flag.
I want to understand more, so I can be more useful. I am totally devastated. I love him very much, and we have a great relationship. But this has just changed everything.
I just wanted to also add he now has a new therapist, but it is very early days and his new therapist is overseas for another month.
I'd like to welcome you here to the Forum, a good move to come here as we have a pretty wide range of experiences.
By the looks of it your husband's therapist leaving has had a massive effect on the both of you, his directly and yours having to deal with his difficulties.
As someone that has coped with PTSD,anxiety, and bouts of depression over a very long period I've had both long term psychiatrists and short term psychologists. My attitude and reliance on each is completely different. Although I'm speaking for myself I'd imagine there are many, your husband included, that are the same. The long-term therapist becomes very much a structural support, someone that is relied on and in some ways a source of certainty.
I expect a continuity of treatment, things I know worked will not suddenly be denied with someone who might have a new theory or approach, I can almost talk shorthand as we a both very familiar with the case, and I can rely upon the therapist's opinions and judgments, having had many examples of them in the past.
Importantly I know I can function under this umbrella.
A short term therapist, of the sort I have experienced is basically am impersonal expert there to set up, coach or explain a mode of therapy. It would be doing them an injustice to say they are interchangeable, but they are more nearly so than those who have treated me long term . For one to disappear half way though a course of treatments would be an inconvenience, and with some on a personal level I'd be sorry they had gone, but that is not something that will drastically affect my basic life-structure.
As to what to do. May I suggest giving the matter time, use the common sense support you have always given your husband and make sure you are supported yourself both medically and personally
Is there a family member or friend there for you?
This whole matter will be very upsetting and most probably leave you feeling quite lost, particularly if your husband appears uncertain of his love. On that I can say when in the grips of depression I was highly uncertain too, but as I improved I became surer and surer of my relationship with and love for my partner.
I doubt this matter is going to be quickly solved until after you husband forms a relationship with the new therapist. Please feel you can come here and talk as often as you'd like
Thanks for the warm welcome Croix!
I have friends there for me, the majority of them are mutual which is a pro and a con.
I think I am struggling equally with being pushed away, it's not doing wonders for my anxiety - put it that way. It's easy to take everything personally, especially when being told 'we're not on the same page anymore'.
It's hard to understand someone wanting space, when that's not the way you approach things yourself. I've tried being nicer and it's only causedmy spouse to get more frustrated. I am going to stay away all next week, I hope that space helps it.
It was reassuring to hear you also questioned your relationship during this time.
OK, I'll amplify, it might strike a chord.
When I was at the worst stages it seemed like there was a wall between my and the whole world -including myself. Yes, I know this makes no sense. There was little or no meaning in life, there were lots of things I needed to avoid from sounds & light to personal contact. I did not have any idea if I was capable of love and did not know if I loved anyone, though I knew I had in the past. Frankly I thought everyone would be better of without me. I tried in a misguided manner to see to the welfare of my family in that vein.
As you can see if your husband is going though anything remotely similar then the whole foundation of your relationship will appear at the moment to be changing.
I can say that in my case I recovered a great deal and lived many years with my wife and family in a loving relationship.
So as I say give it time and have confidence in yourself - not easy I know. Perhaps a visit to his new therapist yourself when he returns to discuss what is the best way to go might be helpful.
My partner's life was very hard during those times though one can draw too much of a parallel as I had other matters and illnesses to survive too. When she was informed about everything life became easier for her. Less self-blame and more confidence in backing off at times.
I'm very glad you have other people to support you , it can be real help
The psychologist I have been seeing for 20 years, it was a workcover case so all appointments were paid for by them, but she and I had spoken about a lot of issues, starting from the beginning where I could hardly talk because I was a mess and constantly crying in each session, to the end when I was starting to come out of it, sometimes circumstances and times are hard to get right, so I'm sorry.
When I went to an appointment I was told that she had left, without any notice or apology, I was shocked beyond belief, I couldn't understand why and not tell me, so I felt as though I had been thrown into the gutter, that's when I had a relapse, especially when the divorce had gone through.
My doctor was concerned and suggested I start seeing another psychologist which I did but only for 3 or 4 sessions, simply because his techniques were bizarre, told me that I shouldn't be taking any medication at all, not even if I had a headache, I should be able to talk myself out of needing anything, so I gave him a couple of scenarios, after a hip operation and for epliepsy, that's when I stopped seeing him.
It's not going to be easy for him to see someone else, because he will always be comparing the new psych to his other one, unless something is said that he can relate to which wasn't and hadn't been discussed before. Geoff.
Welcome to the forums and thanks for your post.
I can see that you've already had some great replies here so I'm not too sure how much more I can add.
I just want to emphasise that in your post you said 'losing his torch'. I understand completely how it can seem like the therapist is his torch; having seen many myself. But this isn't their role. Therapist's don't hold the torches; they teach people how to hold their own. As painful as it is now, I'm sure that your partner has made leaps and bounds since he initially started therapy.
I'm currently in the same situation having just lost my own therapist very suddenly. I think it's about trying to hold onto the progress that you have made while you've had that opportunity.
I don't think there's an easy way to understand it, in the same way people lose their dogs and it can seem so benign because they're just pets. Unless you've been in that situation it may seem rather confusing. I would try and explain it in the way that losing a therapist is like going through the grief process, even though they haven't died. It sounds like his therapist helped him a lot, and so it's going to take some time to adjust to knowing he has those skills on his own and being able to use the next therapist to reflect and continue on.
I also wonder if it would help talking about this with him; i.e. what do you need me to do? How can I be here for you? Is there anything I can do to make this easier for you? Sometimes space is helpful, other times it might be just listening or just providing company.
Hope this helps,