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I want my analyst to sit on the couch with me.

This needs to be explored thoroughly. My previous therapist would sit on the couch with me, at my request. I loved the physical contact. She would hold my hand, we would cuddle… it was very nice. In my mind, it was representative of acceptance – my mother is quite uncomfortable with physical contact and so, as a child, I received less of it than I would have liked. I’m also convinced that my mother finds people repulsive, including her own children, and so to have my therapist sit with me felt like I was not repulsive to her.

But also, having my therapist sit next to me on the couch meant that we weren’t facing each other, and she couldn’t look at me. I think there is something big here. Currently, my analyst and I sit across from each other – I’m sitting on the couch and she’s sitting in her chair (on her “perch”, as she once called it). As much as I am telling myself that I want my analyst to convey to me that I’m not repulsive, I think there might also be something to do with looking at me. To be looked at and acknowledged means one must exist. I think I have difficulty in this area. In the beginning, I did make quite a bit of eye contact with my analyst – a sharp contrast from where I was when I left my previous therapist. But last week, I noticed I was not looking at her at all. I also noticed I was feeling a distinct lack of connection following the sessions, and I hypothesised it had something to do with the lack of eye contact. I had to make a conscious effort to look at her on the last session of the week, and I noticed the difference. Our sessions are naturally increasing in content and intensity, and I’m wondering if it’s difficult for me to have that raw feeling of being seen while exploring topics that are more difficult. And if that’s the case, I may be looking to alleviate that discomfort in two ways by having her sit on the couch. One, it would feel like she is more “with” me if she sat next to me, and two, I wouldn’t have to tolerate the feeling of being looked at. I mostly remember my mom making eye contact with me when I was in trouble, so maybe having eye contact with my analyst also feels like I am in trouble for having thoughts or feelings.

When I first started analysis about three months ago, I told my analyst about how my therapist would sit on the couch with me, and I requested that my analyst not do this. I thought it was because I knew I needed to tolerate the feelings of not having physical contact, and that in order to work through them, I needed to have my analyst sit in the chair. To have her sit on the couch with me would be to skirt around the issue and to gratify my need for the contact. While I still believe that is true, I think there is more to it in the sense that I do not want to be looked at, that acknowledgement of my existence is too overwhelming, and I need to tolerate this, as well.

2 comments
  1. Hello Nocivum,

    I’ve been following your blog for a little while now and the first thing I would like to say is to wish you a big congrats on the birth of your bub! Also I think that you are very brave for willing to be so honest.

    I can very much relate to not wanting my therapist to sit in front of me. It took me over a year of seeing her for me to realise that I felt even more uncomfortable with her sitting opposite me than if she sat somewhere else in the room. I finally mentioned my discomfort to her and she suggested changing her position to one where I felt comfortable. She offered to sit next to me, however for me this was too confronting, so we opted for her to sit to the side of me in her chair. It has helped me enormously! We worked out that it is because of my huge feelings of shame that I find it very triggering having her sit in front of me.

    Anyway, just thought I’d comment to let you know that there are others of us who feel the same way.

    Thank you again for your bravery and honesty.
    Love from Australia. xx

  2. Hello!
    Thank you so much for the compliment, and for detailing your situation. I hadn’t thought of another alternative like you mentioned. I find myself sitting formally in therapy, as if I was being interviewed, and I know that’s not helping. I think I’ll take your wisdom and suggest something different to my analyst tomorrow. Thank you again, and I hope you’re doing well 🙂

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