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TOPIC TITLE: hugs from therapist?
Created On 2/7/13 10:45 PM
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TBear
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2/7/13 10:45 PM
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It has been brought to my attention more than once in therapy that I have never had a source - since age 2 - for nurturing non-sexual touch.

My diagnosis is DID... but I am mostly co-conscious at this point - nobody really knows or notices - it is quite subtle. Just it is a very difficult thing for me to always be providing that element to my children as a single mother - but to never be held myself. As a female - with a male therpist - I have never even shaken his hand - but I began to think....

If I have a male doctor or dentist who needs to touch me to perform the healing tasks.... it is considered OK..... but to allow a therapist to hold my hand or give support when covering extremely painful subjects I have not allowed that - yet it can serve to ground and soothe - would it be appropriate, am I being radical? At this point, because I am an orthodos Jew - he doesn't touch me - he isn't Jewish and does touch his clients when needed as a tool in therapy.....

It would be comforting and yet kinda scary.....but there is a yearning deep within to just be held, and comforted - I truly have no one and it would not be right to "use" my kids cuddles for my benefit - I am there for them not vice versa....

Feeling very much alone and untouchable - touch always led to horrific stuff when directed toward me - thus the fear to receive care from others.....something the therapist wants to show me is possible.....

to touch or not to touch?
 
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star
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2/8/13 1:12 PM
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Hi, Tbear.
Dr. Yalom has a book about this topic, I think its called On the couch or something.
Maybe ask Dr.price- i wonder what he would answer.
Its a really good question.


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there is light at the end of the tunnel
 
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TBear
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2/8/13 4:56 PM
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Thanks - I know that some therapists touch their clients - and some don't .....

But I have one that does - just not me..... the question is - is it something that should remain distant or am I giving myself more hardship - making it harder than it is already.....

I will see if I can find the book you recommend - and wait to see what Dr. Lynn says.

Be Well,
 
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star
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2/9/13 8:27 PM
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Hi,

the book is just a novel actually so i'm not sure it gives a clear answer, just his perspective kind of.
But i can really relate to your question.My doc is frum and anyways i think he would never touch me
but i really relate to that need for safe touch. There's something about it that's so comforting and healing
which words can never accomplish.
Did you ever consider asking a rav about this? not that you should, im just wondering.

You seem to be in a really hard situation as a single mom and you're really thinking about your kids.
I was raised without my father in the picture in my teenage years and its really tough and lonely for everyone, I think.

Sorry if intruded c"v, i guess im just sharing my experience.


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there is light at the end of the tunnel
 
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Mimi1022
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2/10/13 7:11 PM
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1. It may be considered inappropriate boundaries
2. There could be legal liability issues. If you hug a client you have a risk of being sued for a certain type of harassment so the easiest way out is just not to touch anyone at all
 
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Dr. Lynn, Psy.D.
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2/11/13 3:59 PM
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TBear,
Please pardon the pun, but I was "touched" by your question. If you interested to see what Dr. Price thinks, I am not at all offended if you want to compare answers. Furthermore, I am honored that you want my opinion. Star mentioned a book by Yalom. One book I like and refer to alot is The Gift of Therapy. His style of writing and perspective really speak to me. In Chapter 63, page 188 of The Gift of Therapy, Yalom writes "I make a point to touch each patient each hour- a handshake, a clasp of the shoulder, usually at the end of the hour, as I accompany the patient to the door". He further explains that if people need more support via touch, he usually complies, unless he is concerned about s#xual feelings. Then, he processes the touch in the next session. That is Yalom. I highly recommend the book.
In general, I do not touch my patients. Sometimes, very painful material comes up, and I feel moved to comfort them by touch. In that case, I always ask first. Many of the people I work with have been traumatized, and the last thing I want is for them to feel violated by me. Sometimes, people ask me for a hug (males and females), and I usually hug them, except for people who have disclosed to me that they have s#xual fantasies about me or I feel there is that kind of "tension" between us, I won't hug them, and I explain why. I am saddened that we are living in difficult times regarding touch and therapy, because of social and legal ramifications. I hope this is helpful. Feel free to ask for more clarification, if necessary. Have you spoken about this with your therapist?
a lynn
 
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TBear
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2/11/13 7:52 PM
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I haven't spoken to my therapist about this....

Long story - but the first session - he stuck out his hand to shake mine and I turned him down with the Orthodox excuse - no contact..... I didn't want to be there and was actually in shock from the last therapist.....

I was in a fog after having been abandoned by a frum therapist who said that we were too close (no contact - he was 10 years younger than me and not very experienced in therapy with trauma) but after 4 years of therapy - he decided because of something in his personal life that he had to terminate my therapy and gave me one session and a phone number to call - someone who would find me a referral....

So this guy really has had a rough ride getting any level of trust - and now when he has brought up the subject of touch - I know that if he were to hug me it would probably open the floodgates - my tears are "held" in another part of me and rarely ever leak through even when discussing horrific stuff and I am feeling so sad and hopeless.....

He has brought up the subject saying it is a need I have and wanting me to look for a source to fill that need... He even recommended a female massage therapist that I have gone to - who works with trauma survivors..... You see, I go through life ignoring touch to the point that I can turn off feeling (broke my hand once and didn't even know it) so I really don't know how to even talk about it - he asked how I would imagine being held.... and honestly I don't know - last time someone held me for my benefit and without any s#xual overtones.... I was 2 years old.

Maybe I should ask - would feel weird - This therapist is OK - don't have any inappropriate feelings toward him - he is the age that I have worried he would retire and I would be devastated again - but he said that was not an appropriate way to transfer - and he would try to do all he could to let me decide when to terminate or give lots of notice and processing time - hopefully not until we have met the therapeutic goal of full integration.

Perhaps I will look up the book you mentioned "the Gift of Therapy" and ask him if he has read it.....

Thank you for your response - it has given me something to think about - and maybe discuss in therapy tomorrow.....Hmmmmm
 
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Dr. Lynn, Psy.D.
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2/13/13 9:53 AM
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TBear,
You are brave to be exploring these issues. I wish you hatzlacha in becoming fully integrated! Please do share, as you like. With hugs,
a lynn
 
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TBear
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2/14/13 9:19 PM
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So - I did talk to him about allowing touch..... He said how he did it was that I would need to ask him, or even just reach for his hand - that he was available to touch my hand to ground me.....

That was Tuesday's session...

Today's session we were processing more deeply into.... an awful incident that happened Feb 14th when I was 7..... I shut down- couldn't ask for any grounding - wanted to - suddenly realized how far away he usually sits and I was "paralyzed" in the particular mindset, literally cannot move my legs when I am in that state..... so I was in and out of dissociation and well; just felt so ashamed - even considering asking - know better - that doesn't mean I feel it. He is good at bringing me back to an adult mindset at the forefront in the "here and now" so I am safe before going home. The realization of it all is beyond sad - could have used a hug

Think I should just forget it - it is enough to do the hard work - it is so hard..... then to come home - homework, dinner, bedtime story with the youngest, teenage discussions with several children, exploring a daughter's shidduchim prospects, questions/ profile - and my children get so concerned - they can tell when there is this underlying grieving going on - I tell them it is not them..... try to stay present with them when all I want to do is cry.... when this stuff hits - I understand what he means there is not a source of nurturing touch for me..... guess that I realize it shows progress - I used to just "switch" it off and that isn't happening anymore - but it hurts

Guess this is just a long-winded way to say thanks for the responses... needed to type this out.

Wishing all a Good Shabbos
 
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star
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2/15/13 10:04 AM
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wow it sounds like youre dealing with a whole lot. it amazes me that people can be dealing with such pain and still raise kids. i feel so incapable.how do you do it?


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TBear
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2/15/13 4:22 PM
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How I have done it in the past - is with the help of HaKodesh Baruch Hu - He brought good out of the painful past......

In actuality, a mentally healthy person could not do it all, and has to make choices to stop working and take care of themselves, their children, delegate, reach out. You see with DID - I could (and still do under stress) wall away part of who I am and operate on "automatic".... Sadness, fear, anger, joy were not even accessible I did not feel hunger or anything until I would almost faint because I had forgotten to eat..... I would in a hyperalert manner just keep going as if I were always in crisis - I used to go on 4 hours or less of sleep a night. As I get healthier - I cannot handle the same workload - but what I do is done with feeling and full presence - which is better.

If I am to serve Hashem with ALL of my heart - I need to keep it all together! The multiple parts of who I am were necessary to survive the unsurvivable - but now - the danger is gone and I have to learn to deal - like you or any other person does - it isn't easy - and is sometimes overwhelming - but also sometimes great!

Good Shabbos - I Love Shabbos!!!!! Hashem holding us in His loving arms
 
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HopefulMommy
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2/17/13 2:30 AM
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TBear, thank you for your inspiring and moving post! You must be an amazing mother.
 
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Dr. Lynn, Psy.D.
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2/18/13 6:02 PM
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TBear,
You are doing great! Your therapist sounds warm and available while still grounded, which is an important combo. That feeling of being frozen and ashamed is important to talk about with him. I believe you are closer than you think in terms of leaving the past in the past, and being willing to be open to love and intimacy. It is definitely progress that you can notice when you would have walled off, and now you don't. Keep up the good work!
a lynn
 
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TBear
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2/18/13 8:29 PM
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Dr. Lynn,

Thank you for the encouraging words.

TBear
 
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Dr. Lynn, Psy.D.
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2/20/13 2:26 PM
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TBear,
My pleasure. I am excited for you.
a lynn
 
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Dr. Lynn, Psy.D.
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2/25/13 3:57 PM
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TBear-
Any updates?
alynn
 
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TBear
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2/26/13 2:06 AM
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Thank you for asking....

Last week - hitting on trauma we have to put the brakes on - begins to pull me in to a flashback and we have to bring me back.... and send the parts who are getting overwhelmed into their safe places..... part of me died in the horror of the past.... she is mute - he asked if I could allow myself (all of me) to feel at least 5% of the sadness and pain with her - she shouldn't have to bear it alone any longer, she needs me ...

Backed off to supportive stuff again because I have been unable to sleep for a week or so - don't remember anything - yet seem to have been active - hate that... Want to just push through it all - but he won't let me because it could be too much and I have to keep functioning.....

I took a huge risk at the last session, told him I suddenly felt like he was too far away (in the previous session) - he said he felt it too and had sat forward in his chair) - So I sat in the sofa closer to his chair and it was so strange - he seemed more real (also seemed to back up don't know if he really did or not), seemed less like a "talking chair" - multiple reactions within, scared - really anxious - there is a deep yearning from the youngest parts who want to be closer and also from others who are terrified - I have to comfort myself within, I know it is safe... sounds crazy but by risking sitting closer to my therapist - the older pieces of who I am were able to get closer to the youngest most hurt of me within - like maybe yearning for care doesn't have to be followed by torturous pain, maybe I don't have to be on guard, maybe I can accept care - have to remember though the comfort must be handled within, no one can replace the loss of the past.....

Feeling overwhelmed - and isolated in a crowd.... fed 13 at the Shabbos table for the midday meal.... Purim was wonderful - sat with my married daughter at the Megillah readings - grandkids were ill/ cranky so she and her husband were trading off; one teen of mine ditched us to go to another shul - delivered shaloch manos with five of my kids... all dressed up - wonderful, close community, such fun - yet feel that if they really knew all of me, what I have dealt with - then we wouldn't be accepted.. too intense, but I have to try to hang in there for the kids - and keep them protected...

My past therapist - who abandoned - was at the community/ shul dancing Seuda - even blew a kiss at my youngest - don't think he ever looked at me - I avoided him..... he was drunk (as usual for Purim) - my sons have joked about staying out of his reach - any male aquaintances will get a hug and kiss.... his wife was in tears about something and they sat down to discuss it next to where my child had put her toys and drink.... oy veh (she doesn't know who his clients have been) -

Improvement for me though - I didn't "check out" nor did I feel su!c!dal ideation from running into him as I usually do - just blank and down..... probably rough on him as well - my issues were out of his expertise and he didn't get consultation and well - he messed up - gave reassurances that were lies, though he probably meant them at the time.... also can't imagine how someone can sit with a client week after week twice a week (we did accomplish lots) - with check in calls (i was in constant crisis)... know intimate details - then act as if they are merely aquainted - my kids and his are in the same schools..... then I get paranoid and wonder what he has said to others.... too much - it hurts

For now though - tired.... just want to not be in pieces - in the here and now, without being triggered or on guard or tainted.... frustrating to feel so alone - yet to all in the neighborhhod - I am a "strong, inspiring, single mother, etc.... " all the while I feel like garbage that has been damaged, shattered and thrown away.....

Afraid to go to session tomorrow - don't know where I want to sit.... so scared and sad - better try to sleep... he says I have been doing some hard work - frustrating that it takes so long to deal with stuff that was not my fault, part of me is angry - I know G-d helped me through and I have much to be thankful for - but for now I am avoiding sleep hyperalert mode kicking in, trying not to ... have to function at work tomorrow - actually today... guess I will be powered by coffee and exhausted....


Edited: 2/26/13 at 2:29 AM by TBear
 
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Dr. Lynn, Psy.D.
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2/27/13 9:58 AM
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TBear,
I am proud of you. You are working hard and should be proud of yourself. The self judgment that this is taking so long is not helpful- try to let it go. It's taking as long as it's taking. As I said before, I think your therapist sounds good. Hatzlacha!
a lynn
 
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TBear
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2/27/13 9:00 PM
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Thanks - of course you are correct about the self judgment - no matter how frustrating it is.

Guess I was a bit more effected by the trauma processing than I realized - seem to be getting back to centered and stable - I was functioning a bit on auto pilot earlier - and there has been improvement - yet it has taken two weeks to get fully back - better today - certainly was rambling in the last post.

We spent the last session discussing how it effected me to sit closer (from the more distant seat) and now I am not so afraid: two steps forward one step back: trauma processing - realization - integrate - depression - mourning - stabilize: over and over again.... round and round and round we go.... hopefully to a healthier me

He is a good therapist, genuine and kind, and knows this trauma stuff like the back of his hand..... he keeps me within the window of tolerance - Baruch Hashem! (bli ayin hara) no crises, only tough work and struggle.....great as long as he stays away from the "he or she" for G-d, questioning the "male-centered" nature of Judaism and the comments about how I choose to limit my options of intimate companionship to only marriage and only Orthodox.... somehow feel as though I am walling away the spiritual side of me even though he does tell me to look to my faith for answers for the, "Why this had to happen..." kind of questions.... like I am speaking a different language - and it does effect the comfort level and connection but keeps the dyad from being "too close" I suppose.

I do appreciate your responses Dr. Lynn, it is reassuring.

Be Well,
TBear


Edited: 2/27/13 at 9:11 PM by TBear
 
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Dr. Lynn, Psy.D.
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3/4/13 2:24 PM
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TBear,
Keep up the good work. The issues you brought up (Hashem, "healthy male-female relationships) is exactly why it is often preferable to see a frum therapist. Nonetheless, it seems like you are well suited and doing good work together.
a lynn
 
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