initial session with Anna and looking ahead to tonight

So with everything that was going on this week I didn’t get a chance to talk with you about my session with Anna.

It was pretty good but deffinetely different from the other time I saw her when she helped me with stuff over the weekend Jess was gone.

I think I’ve talked about this before, caseworkers overeagerness to be pushy and force you to set/ work on goals without even really getting to know you sometimes to just say they’ve done it seriously! I guess it is part of their job to set and help clients reach goals and if they don’t feel they’re doing that or did that then they don’t feel like they’ve done their job. I’ve also seen this with intern therapists who are likely being pushed by supervisors and want things to have a neat orderly outcome that will make a great final paper LOL! I’m probably being a bit cynical and yes I know this is actually their job.

I guess I always have a bit of a different point of view. That establishing the relationship always comes first. And to me just that process of connecting and disconnecting and finding ways to connect again could be an awesome final paper! But I guess that’s only if you’re leaning towards psychodynamic/ relational psychotherapy.

But to look at the situation here at Albany. First of all it’s not like you have any time limit imposed on how often you see your caseworker/ PRSC. You don’t like have ten sessions to do work in at all. It’s totally long term as their’s no timeline that residents stay here and many go through different PRSCS by choice or when someone leaves. So the relationship I feel can be more open/ at a slower pace, helpoing the person with goals in more of a big picture way capatilizing on organic moments of progress that come up and surprise you when you’re not focused on one single task. That’s actually how I work in therapy and how I worked with Edith and really the only way I work LOL! We work on the big things: continuing to learn how to express my feelings in a healthy way. When to give people a chance/ compromise, when to get out of a relationship. Issues with my family. If things come up with my friends. Long term things like moving out ahh not yet LOL! Different things that come up that I want to do, like whoever thought I would want to learn ASL a year ago? Things also come up in the therapy relationship. If Jonathan’s missed a month of meetings I’m gonna have to spend the next session yelling at him.

If we wrote down stuff on a piece of paper I’d be resistant as hell, and feel like I had to hold back on any natural expression of my feelings as it wouldn’t fit with the prescribed plan of doing whatever. And that even if I came up with the goals, because it was twisted into some kind of mold/ box in terms of timing/ words the person used it almost would feel like I was just doing this for the sake of doing it/ that person wanting me to and not because I even wanted to anymore. Which means Sammy shuts down.

So back to Anna. I didn’t think she’d do this at all. The rush to set goals and everything. Because we had such a relaxed connected time that weekend. When she saw me last Friday she deffinetely was still her high energy transparent self. The first thing she did was kick Jess out of the room which makes a lot of sense as it’s our one to one time. One to one doesn’t include two. Stephanie would often just let Jess stay. Sometimes this is helpful like when she gave me a huge overwhelming lecture on how I should be moving out so when I cried after Jess knew the score.

But anyway so we talked like normal. Like, two people just talking. Which is what I appreciate about her. She deffinetely has a lot of intensity and talks as fast as I do. Again something Edith often did.

I had asked Jonathan at some point between officially getting on her caseload and that day if the three of us needed to have a sit down to discuss care plan treatment ETC. He said no that we had already gotten a good headstart. Which I agreed on. Well I guess Anna had other ideas.

She told me that she *had to* meet with jonathan before she met with me! Making it almost sound like something was wrong. I was like ok is everything ok? She’s like yeah I just had to talk to him about your treatment plan so we can set goals and I can help you in the time I have with you.

I’m like ok. So she launches into what’s written on my treatment plan: “increase independence” “socialize more” I have no idea what else is there LOL. I know stopping self-harm and expressing my feelings is still and will always be, on there along with the beautiful amended self-harm care plan which Jonathan calls The Beast!

I was a bit disappointed she had fallen into these clinical terms and was steering things in this direction. Not sure why. I guess first of all I was a bit surprised she had even met with him because he barely had time to see me! The admissions person was off so he was playing director of admissions all week along with clinical director. But she said she just had to meet with him! I k kind of wish I had been present.

On grounds of more independence she said something along the lines of what would I do if Jess was at the hospital? As if judging that I needed help with the stuff she had, actually helped me with that weekend with no problem. I wanted to say this but she had already gone on to socialization and making friends. I said I had a lot of friends online and another in person friend besides Jess and Kat. That it’s hard to make friends at a place like Albany. She was very dismissive of my online friends and said she was talking about “real friends.” Just wow!

So I let her speed through all this. Because I guess she needed to get it out of her system. I know that Jonathan doesn’t put staff “up to” anything including setting goals or how time with a caseworker should go. I think knewer people think that they have to like I said make a start right away on some orderly plan of goal achievement or else they’re somehow not doing what they’re there for. I just think there are different ways of going about it and getting to the same place.

She kept saying “helping you in the time I have left” that I finally asked her how long she was planning on staying.

She totally shocked me and perhaps this is where transparency goes a bit too far. She said that when she started this job she was only planning on working here a few months! I was thinking wow did Jonathan know that? But then she said, she decided to stay in Chicago so would probably be here a year from now and that her leaving anytime soon. I was still thinking about the only planning to work here a few months thing. Guess we grew on her just wow.

So I thought, why are you acting like you only have like a couple months to work with me?

I didn’t ask. Because she was about done anyway. She was like next week I want to start with your biggest accomplishment. I thought she wanted me to tell her what I thought my biggest accomplishment was which actually would have been a good exercise. I was considering this and so didn’t hear the beginning of the sentence that ended with “your self-injurious behavior.”

I was like what? I haven’t cut in over a year! She’s like I know. I want you to tell me how you did it! As if I was keeping a big secret from the world. She said how something like self-harm is extremely difficult but people can “get over it” and she was so happy I did. Well we had much to talk about then. First of all, you don’t “get over” self-harm, or I feel any chronic mental illness. You manage it and sometimes things are fine. For weeks, months, or even years. But it doesn’t mean it’s gone. I truly believe what Jonathan says about never turning your back on your illness completely.

Secondly, saying to someonethat they “got over” or should get over self-harm is really insensitive. If I had been in any kind of emotional mood, or had it been anytime before oh a year or so ago I would have bitten her head off. Or actually self-harmed.

So she’ll have a lot to hear from me tonight!

And I want to shift this back to my leading. There are things I want to do that might not be on that stupid write up of my goals. I want to try to volunteer at Anixter center or someplace with people that have a range of disabilities, kids and adults both. I want to visit a cat shelter with Jess at least once a month. I want to keep finding creative ways to learn ASL. And of course other stuff. Writing, playing with my toys generally zoning online but in the end with an important purpose. So I should be seeing her tonight. I also want to see if I can slow down her intensity by speaking intentionally slower. Therapists are supposed to do something called “mirroring” or “matching affect” so if the client is speaking in a more animated, whatever the emotion behind it, tone of voice the therapist responds with a similarly animated tone/ facial expression/ body language. It’s an art and it doesn’t mean that the therapist gets as fired up as the client on something. But they’re showing that they’re in the space with the client, experiencing alongside them the feelings and thoughts that are being brought out into the room. This can be done in an opposite way. If a client is speeding along the therapist can intentionally speak slower and quieter and this might affect the other person. Maybe. It depends why they’re speeding along. So we’ll see.

I do think she has a big intense personality and as Robbie pointed out she probably is a bit anxious about working with me. About working with anyone likely. But I’m a bit different than other clients here in a lot of ways. Like Jonathan said “you’re your own language.” Lol.

So if she has any anxiety it will translate into this urgent need to be actively doing something within the first five minutes. So we’ll see what tonight brings.

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2 thoughts on “initial session with Anna and looking ahead to tonight

  1. Keep us posted! I had another thought. what if she is anxious about working with you then leaving, then she feels guilty because, in her head, you guys made like 0 progress? I honestly think she is planning to leave but does not know when, so she wants to do everyhing right now so she can say she made some sort of progress so she does not feel like a failure. This is all speculation, of course, but I think like 95% of this is nerves. I think she does not want to let you down. I also think that she is worried about a lot of things, like her boses view on her performance and client connections, things like that. This behavior, I think, is totally nerves.

    • Yes you’re totally right! Today she said it would be better for us to do our one ones going somewhere like to the store or even walking around the building LOL! Instead of “just sitting there talking!” So yeah very anxious to be “doing something.” Though I said no to walking around the building obveously! Going for walks to the store would be fine. She also wanted to take paratransit with me and I was like that’s ok LOL!

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