I honestly had no idea what to expect in my first therapy session, so what did happen caught me completely by surprise.
It was odd meeting my therapist for the first time, having only seen a picture of him before. I felt comfortable with him immediately (as comfortable as it’s possible for me to be) and strongly feel I picked the right person. But I was incredibly nervous going in, in that butterflies-in-stomach way you get on a first date. I was very concerned about making a “good impression” (of course I was!)
I spent most of the session giggling and laughing nervously, and decided to talk about that. I told him, “I feel nervous, like I’m on a first date.” He wanted to hear more, so we talked about that. I noticed I was feeling slightly dissociated and out of my body and told him that too. He wanted to focus on the dissociation so we explored it, and I tried to describe exactly what it felt like both emotionally and physically, which was hard to do.
At one point he made a joke (I forget what the joke was). I thought it was funny and laughed some more. Suddenly he looked at me and apologized. I asked what for. He replied that he was sorry if he hurt my feelings. I immediately became defensive and denied that that my feelings were hurt, and started laughing again, this time uncontrollably. I really didn’t think I felt hurt but he could see he touched *some* kind of nerve. nd I told him that normally I probably would feel hurt by something like that joke, but that this time I didn’t because he was so empathic and I felt comfortable talking to him.
I suddenly felt *incredibly* self conscious and embarrassed. I started giggling again. Involuntarily my hands flew up to my face while I was laughing, to hide my face. He said nothing, forcing me to confront whatever emotions had taken control of me. I wanted to run away and explore these feelings at the same time. I felt exactly like a bug on a microscope slide. I stopped laughing, put my hands down and looked at him. I said, “What the hell just happened there? I have no idea what just happened there.”
He told me he thought I was reacting to being vulnerable for a moment. I started to tell him no, that wasn’t it, but then I caught myself and stopped and said, “well, maybe a little, yeah.” He just said, “being vulnerable can be very dangerous and frightening.” I told him how true that was. Having read so much about the techniques used on people with PTSD and Cluster B disorders, I recognized immediately what he was doing with me, but didn’t tell him I knew this. I realized the significance of this moment of vulnerability and said, “How did you know exactly what I need?”
It’s fascinating seeing these psychodynamic techniques I’ve been reading about in dry clinical case histories and psychology books now in action on myself. But I can now see how this stuff actually works. I hope my “knowing too much” doesn’t somehow cause me to act the way I’m “supposed” to act as a patient, rather than let things happen naturally.
I left session feeling like a million dollars, very much the way I used to feel after having a successful first date. I know it won’t always be like this, but this seems like a good way to start.