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counseling dependency
February 16, 2001
12:29 pm
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cloud
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I'm new here. Guess I'm just looking to see if anyone else has this problem. I'm a naturally clingy type. Only on certain people. Like, people who try to help me. This is my 4th time in therapy and I'm becoming too attached to her. I've been dependent on my first therapist, and a few of my teachers. Now, my current therapist. She doesn't know this though. I fear telling her. Therapy doesn't last forever, and I find myself fearing that day when it is over. I go once a week, and constantly think about it during the week. Does anyone know what I'm talking about?

February 17, 2001
11:34 pm
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counslr336
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Cloud, what you are expierencing is something that in the counseling profession is known as TRANSFERENCE. tHIS IS A SITUATION where the client is thinking about the counselor as though he/she were was or is a significant figure in the client's past. This can be a parent or aformer friend . Most of the time it is a parent. Have all your past counselors been females?. Tell us more or think back on the past and maybe you can see how your feelings started towards this helpers when they started discussing your problems.Who do you relate them to when you are in this sessions? And by all means, let your counselor know ! If you do,both of you will get the full benefits of the sessions.

February 19, 2001
3:42 pm
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cloud
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Thanks for replying. So are you saying that I am transferring my feelings about a parent or friend onto my counselor? Most of my counselors have been females, except for one. (I am also female.) I had become attached to one of them and now my current one. But in between, I've also attached myself to various teachers...all female.
I am very close with my mother, though. We have a very good relationship. I guess maybe I look toward my current counselor as a friend...I don't have many friends right now in my life.

February 21, 2001
3:15 pm
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cloud
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I had my session today and felt completely desperate after it was over. I don't know what to do.

February 22, 2001
3:39 pm
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NESS
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Having had counselling myself three times I now realise what my biggest problem was.It was that I wanted someone to give me the answers, but now realise I had all the answers all along.I like yourself never had many friends and felt nobody liked me .But I push myself to go out ,to night class and to swimming on my own and my confidence has grown enormously.Sit back and look at your life and take small steps at atime.

February 24, 2001
3:55 pm
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cloud
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Ness, you are right. A counselor is not going to give you the answers you desire, only help you to find them on your own. The counselor I am seeing now, I had been to about a year ago also. (I didn't go for a while until now because I had progressed so much). But I am going back now for different reasons I was going before. Last time I went to her, she helped me so much to find my own answers and in turn, I helped myself so much. I was genuinely happy with myself and my life. But certain things have happened this past year to really pull me back down into the dirt and I feel I cannot deal with them on my own. So I went back to my counselor. Things are different now though. I don't know what it is but I am depending on her too much this time. It is this feeling of being desperate. I hate this feeling.

February 28, 2001
12:11 pm
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cloud
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Does this desperate dependency ever end? I get so incredible anxious before my session (after having thought about it for the whole week) and now that it's over, I feel a sense of panic. How will I go on until the next session?

February 28, 2001
1:03 pm
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Cici
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There are very effective, simple breathing techniques you can use to control panic attacks much more effectively than with drugs. the easiest one is deep breathing. You breath in through your nose, pressing your diaphragm outward. Do this for 8-10 counts. Then hold for 5 and exhale, pressing your diaphragm in, almost like your trying to suck into your backbone. Do this for 8-10 counts. Repeat this sequence for 2 minutes. You will feel much calmer.

Then, with a clear head, you can either talk to your counselor about this or do some serious soul searching. I always say that the counselor does about 10% of the work. The client does 90%!! You have the answer inside of you, as was stated above. Why do YOU think you feel so attached to female mentors? Wrack your brain, come up with a list of answers and logically examine each one.

THe breathing exercises should be used when you START to feel anxious.
Hope this helps.

March 4, 2001
2:22 pm
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cloud
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Thanks Cici. I have actually tried those breathing exercises and they do help a lot. Thanks. My counselor also told me to do them.
I've been wracking my brain trying to figure out why I get so attached to these people. The only thing I can come up with is that I have no one to talk to in my life. So when I find someone, I lach myself onto them and can't let go for the life of me. I feel like a freak because the attachments get so strong. I start to feel like I can't go on without these people. I fear the day they leave me and I am left with my own crazy thoughts. I know I have to figure out why this happens so that I can get better. I must, because sooner or later, this counselor is going to leave too and I'm going to be devastated once again.

March 9, 2001
1:54 pm
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NESS
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Hi!Have you been out and met anyone new and interesting yet?Ive recently started a new job which has helped my confidence no end,but I sort of know how you feel because I am noticing myself looking at people,wanting to be their friend and hoping they like me.I now realise its my self confidence thats lacking and a low self esteem.So I went out,got my hair done,did my nails,bought new make up,and generally pamper myself a bit more.It really does help ,so why not try it?Why not talk to people more when your out and about?You might not make good friends from it but it makes you feel better about yourself ifyou feel people are listening to you.

March 9, 2001
3:33 pm
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There's nothing wrong with forming an emotional connection to people. In our age of anonymity, it is increasingly more unusual to have emotional connections with anyone! Even marital relationships are supposed to be passionate some of the time nad merely friendly other times.

Abraham maslow, a celebrated humanistic pscyhologist, and Carl Rogers a collegue of his in humanism, both had what would be called unethical relationships with clients. Never romantic, but they became friends with them, sometiems for years after therapy ended. Today that would be labeled unethical.

But what about relaitonships with friends and family in the past? Did you feel secure and comfortable at home? Or were your parent(s) kind of unstable in their affection towards you? Children of bipolar parents have a higher incidence of dependent personality disorder and generalized anxiety disorder because there wasn't ever any surety with their parental affection.

Were you ever cruelly betrayed by a close friend? Have you always had problems making friends? How do you feel about yourself? what are your reasons for feeling that way? These are questions you should be asking yourself in terms of soul seraching for answers.

It's so hard to have insight into problems that you can only hear one hour one day a week. I work in a mental hospital and interact with patients on an almost daily basis, so I feel like it's so much easier to understand them because I see their fluctuating moods every other day.

Why not try keeping a journal? It's hard to get into the habit, but once you do it is very therapeutic. And you can use it to guide therapy sessions every week by jotting down thoughts or ideas you've had throughout the week that you may have forgotten in the session.

March 11, 2001
11:18 am
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cloud
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Ness, I really have to push myself to go out and meet people. I'm a bookworm and always studying. I really don't go out and have fun at all. But I guess it's because I feel I don't have time. And when I do meet new people (which is rare) I close myself off to them. I guess I'm afraid of becoming even remotely close to anyone for fear of becoming too emotionally attached to them. I am obsessive about some of my relationships and don't like when that happens. So I guess I purposefully close myself off to them.
But I am going to try harder to get myself out there in with others and see how it works out. Thanks!

Cici, my parents are very affectionate. That's why I don't understand why I am the way that I am. There was one big thing that happened when I was a child and I know that is definitely a big factor in why I am the dependent person I am. There was a time when I was 8 years old that my brother became very sick with cancer and I guess I felt neglected in a way, even though my parents say that gave me just as much attention. But when you're 8, you don't see that. That's when my anxiety attacks started. I seem to look outside my home, toward other people (teachers, counselors) for attention. As for friends, it seems that every time I get closer to them, and start telling them things that I wouldn't just tell anyone, they leave me. All of a sudden they stop returning my phone calls, and we completely lose touch. It's not even like I give up. I don't. They do. So I don't have any luck with friends in that respect. Maybe I don't want friends anymore. I may be better off without them. There are times when my self-esteem is high. About a year ago, while in therapy for depression, I became a totally different person. I loved myself and felt genuinely happy about everything. That's because my therapist taught me the power of positive thinking. I made a complete turnaround and was doing wonderfully. But then certain things happened in my life to give me anxiety again. And I guess I sort of lost that positive thinking. (I didn't really lose it, I still have it, I just didn't really practice it anymore because things were just too bad again.) That's why I started going to therapy again. And I guess I'm in one of those times of my life where I'm reaching out and looking for attention again from the outside (ie. my therapist) because my brother is now a teenager and is causing some major family problems again. It all goes back to when I was 8, I guess. I know that. I do keep a journal which I find very helpful. I just wish it could give me back advice.
Sorry for the length of this.

March 12, 2001
10:36 am
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Cici
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Well, there is ok therapy and there is effective therapy. "Ok therapy" is like a bandaid. You put something on over the wound and feel good for a few months until the wound beneath the bandaid fester sand reappears.

Effective therapy is getting at the heart of the matter. The problem with therapy in general is that our culture is very supportive of self-deception because you kind of need that ability in order to survive. Self-deception is so insidious that it can change our attitudes and beliefs without conscious knowledge or awareness. We think about ourselves in a certain way, in a certain light, and we begin to believe that that is how we are.

The thing about therapy is that you walk a fine line. All that self-examination and exploration is not doing anything if you're exploring a self-decieving image of your own creation.

The wonderful AND worst thing about humans is that we have free will. We can choose at every moment to be deficiency motivated, where we are always trying to fulfill a perceived lack, or growth-oriented, where we are moving past our set-backs and letting go of the past hurts and pain that we like to carry with us.

I see Jesus's crucafix as a metaphor. He doesn't bear the burden of our sins, he bears the burden that we carry of clinging. We cling to the past, to past hurts and traumas and anguish, and it stops us from being able to see anything but ourselves. We hurt so much that our perception of the external world and our relationships with other people dull away into nothingness. When you can let go of that clinging burden, let go of the past, you can finally move forward and finally grow up.

As long as you carry the hurt of your childhood with you, part of you will always be that hurt child, and that part will always react defensively to protect its existence. You will feel that anxiety and fear forever because part of you feeds off of it. But if you let go, you can let go of the anxiety as well.

March 12, 2001
11:57 am
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cloud
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I want to let go of the past and not have it bother me anymore, but it seems like it's become all tangled up with the rest of everything. How do I let go of that hurt and stop clinging onto it? You're right, I guess in some way we all cling to those feelings in our past and we somehow feel we need them to live. But certainly, life would be so much better if we didn't dwell so much on the past. But I don't know how I'm supposed to let go of that stuff. I guess that's what therapy is for. I feel the therapy I'm in is very effective, because I went to her before (last year) and as I've already said, it was the most helpful thing in the world. I guess it's just that we haven't gotten to the "heart of the problem" maybe? I really feel that I don't know where the "heart" is because it's so intertwined with other things.

March 12, 2001
12:10 pm
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For me what helped was learning about the philosophy of Buddhism. Buddhism isn't really a religion per se, there isn't any divinity. The Buddha said you should follow his teachings only after critical examination and acceptance. If you don't feel it's right for you, don't learn it. If you do, then learn it and follow it.

Buddha didn't really say that he woudl save anyone, just that you could stop suffering by following his eightfold path. And from my own experience, it does work.

I sort of see life like it's a river. People are fishes that flow by, and sometimes they stop to chat. But when you are clinging to your memories and problems, you are stuck in the middle of the river, things flow past you, friends grow up and move on, and you are just stuck there, rotting. When you can let go, you can flow with life like everyone else.

It's not easy by any means, but it is powerful to practice. First you ahve to try to understand what you are clinging to and why you do it. Most of the time, it's fear of the unknown. Fear of growing and changing. Fear rules the lives of almost every American. Paranoia is how our species survived. But because we have free will we can choose to be slaves to our evolutionary impulses or we can choose to rise above those impulses.

This has been a powerful tool for me to overcome two rapes and childhood molestation. It also helped me come to terms with my abusive mother. I realized that physical abuse was painful, yes, but the only power the memory had over me was that which I gave to it.

March 15, 2001
7:14 pm
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I too have a problem with dependency on my therapist. I have obsessions about her. I feel so ashamed. I brought it out last week in therapy, she said it was a normal reaction, transference, but it's driving me crazy and making me feel so sahamed.

March 15, 2001
8:14 pm
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Sal
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Feeling needy can be the worst thing to some people. For me it makes me feel stupid and immature, so I avoid it as much as possible. When I start feeling dependent, I panic. I begin to obsess about how much I'm obsessing, OR I back out or run away. Who can teach us to safely risk needing others without the baggage of clinginess? I need to see that modeled, and I don't think I ever have. Risk/Safety. Life. C'est la vie! Que sera, sera. y'know?

March 16, 2001
4:43 pm
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cloud
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I guess you're supposed to tell your therapist when you feel this way, but I can't and never will. I will just have to deal with it somehow when she leaves. When I start to feel this way, there is no way out. No way to deal.

March 16, 2001
5:18 pm
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Sal
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Then, I'm afraid, you will continue to run into this obstacle. I speak from experience. Be brave. Be bold. Let yourself BE. You won't die. I promise. I dare ya'!;)

March 17, 2001
1:45 pm
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cloud
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But this is the one thing that is hardest for me to just talk about -- my dependency on other people. I even talk about my dependency on OTHER people with my therapist, but could never even imagine telling her that I have it with her. But I know that in the end, she will find out. Because she probably already suspects my dependency on her, even though, I feel I hide it so well. When she leaves me, she will see it come to head.

March 17, 2001
8:21 pm
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Sal
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She probably DOES already know, so what's the risk? If you tell her outright, you may learn something and work through it finally.

I actually told my counselor about my needy feelings for him, and lived to talk about it! I even owned up to having inappropriate feelings. I honestly feel so much better, and am no longer consumed with thoughts of retaining his respect and friendship.

Nothing we say will convince you, though. My challenge stands: I dare ya!!!

PS What did you mean about it all coming to a head? And why would she leave you? Sounds like you still have plenty of issues to work through!:)

March 18, 2001
10:37 am
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cloud
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Sal, how did your counselor act when you told him of your feelings? And how did you get it out in the first place?

I know the couseling can't last forever, and she won't be counseling forever at the place she is now. It's at my college, and she will move on, probably when school ends in a little over a month from now. But I won't be able to deal with it. This has happened before with another counselor, when she left the agency where I was going. Then I had to switch to another therapist, who (by the way) was horrible.

What I mean by it coming to a head is that when she announces to me that she will be leaving at the end of the school year, I will most likely say, "Okay." And when she asks me how I feel about that, I will most likely say, "I'm okay with it." Then when I leave her office I will be extremely depressed and desperate and when I feel like that I can't even control my thoughts or my behaviors. I will try to do anything to keep the separation from happening, just so she won't leave me.

March 18, 2001
4:08 pm
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Sal
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Don't you hate it when you feel desperate? I really relate. Do you sometimes also get the urge to end it before she can?

My therapist is very clever. I said I was feeling needy and desperate, and he asked if some of it was with him. I was brazen enough to say "yes" and we were able to talk about it in context. (I wanted to be parented and was desperate about leeching on to people whom I wanted for parents, him included)

This attachment is what is supposed to happen, they say. So then what do we do with it? It's like unrequited love! Is this therapist person going to up and leave me, taking the file folder of my secrets with her!!?? Won't she miss me? Doesn't she care? Couldn't we just meet for coffee once in a while? Maybe she could adopt me!

The fact that we still want to need people is a sign that we are still reparable. Shutting it down does no good. It just kills off what is still tender in us, our deep heart, hurt though it may be. And that shutting down does its own damage, makes us less than we really are. I hope you choose to risk it! I hope I continue to, also!

PS You said you would try to do anything to keep from separating. Does that include a suicide attempt? I ask because I have actually done that in the same attempt to implicate a former therapist in my life. It worked a little bit. She was worried, called me, checked on me, but in the process (which included group therapy, and one on one) I learned that I could reach out to and rely on more than one person, and I found some self respect. Self respect is too high a price for getting someone to care for you. Steady on!

March 20, 2001
2:27 pm
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cloud
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Sal, I thank you for replying to my posts. I can tell that you really do know what it feels like. Yes, I hate feeling desperate. It's like, you don't know what you're going to do.

So, I see that your chance to talk about your dependency with your therapist came about when you told him you get dependent and desperate on people, right? And then he took that as a clue to ask if it included him. Maybe my therapist will get the picture and ask me the same thing too soon.

I have actually threatened to kill myself in order to get the attention of a teacher I was dependent on and obsessed with. Like you said, it worked for a while, but eventually, so many other people became involved that the teacher and I lost contact. She now ignores me and is frightened of me.

My next therapy appoinment is tomorrow and I'm planning on putting on a helpless act to gain her sympathy and affection. I can't help it. I need to do something to get her to stay with me. Yes, I have thought about jumping off a building in order to avoid separation, but I doubt I will actually do it. Just think it.

March 20, 2001
4:43 pm
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Sal
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Are you sure the helpless thing is an act? Isn't it just your way of getting what you feel you need? Can you tell her it's an act?

Jumping off a building is permanent separation, not a way to avoid separation.

Keep working through it! Don't be afraid of it(the needy desperation), look it in the face, walk into it. Not talking about it openly gives it some kind of power to possess your every thought. What's she doing now? Maybe I'll see her at the store? Does she think of me? WHAT does she think of me? What can I do to be sure she thinks of me? Why am I always thinking about her? What could she do to relieve this desperation I have? Anything? Is it her responsibility? What excuse can I use for calling her? Maybe I'll call just to hear her voice? Is her home number listed? If I drive by her house maybe I'll get a glimpse of her.

I told the therapist that I obsessed about that I drove by her house and called her voice mail just to hear her voice... Well, I did it during our termination session, when I wouldn't really have to face it, but I knew I needed to blurt it out so that it wouldn't continue to consume me.

Currently, I'm trying to keep the same thing from happening with this therapist, see if it is possible to have a healthy therapist/client relationship. At least for me. I'm learning. Risking. Trusting. And instead of making me more dependent, I believe I'm making progress, as the desperateness is going away. TRY IT!! What have you got to lose, except this maddening obsession? Write back and tell me how things go, whether you play helpless, or confess that you really are, and own up. You can do it!!!

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