Tuesday, April 6, 2010

You get what you pay for Part One...

Author's note:  This is just my recent experience with therapy.  I am not putting down any form of therapy or if you or your doctor feel it is necessary.  I am just relaying my experiences with one  therapist.

Before cancer I thought I could handle anything.  I am a pretty strong willed individual.  I don't back down from a fight, and truth be told I can be argumentative too ( I know its pretty shocking to most who know me.)  Cancer, depression, chemo and the side effects those really got to me.  I like using the hockey analogy, its like when another player taunts you and gets in your head. All you can focus on in that taunt, that player, not the game, not where you are supposed to be on the ice, nothing.

So I thought to myself.  Ok, I know I am not supposed to feel this way.  I am done with treatment, I am back to work, but it is after all called the "new normal"  something that you are not prepared for, or well at least I wasn't. 

I decided to see a therapist one on one.  It worked for a while. I told her I am not an easy patient.  Some things are hard for me to talk about.  I told her sometimes you might have to literally pry it out of me like the jaws of life.

She wanted me to journal everyday.  Ok, so what if I have nothing to write about?  I blog here when the mood strikes, I am not a write on command type of person.  Ok I tried.  Got a notebook.  I don't like writing in a notebook, can I write on my computer, its easier for me.  She said something about the brain going to the hand and some subconcious something blah blah. 

Well I asked her, when I am done writing are you going to read it next time I am here?

 No its for you.

Dude, seriously I thought, I know how fucked up and depressed I feel, you sure you don't want to take a peek?  As if writing down my thoughts would miraculously make me feel better and have the sunshine and puppies moment.

She didn't want to see it.


She didn't like the thought of prying my thoughts out of me, although that is what I needed. 

She told me she worked with teenagers with emotional problems when I had first met her, so I thought ok, that is helpful since I try to share my feelings but like I said, its hard sometimes and there is that jaws of life analogy again.

She told me that I could call her after hours at home if need be.  I said I don't really like to rely on that, people have their own lives, I don't like to pry.  She insisted.

So I called her on two seperate occasions.

Now being a therapist and knowing that the emotional shit doesn't always happen between the usual 9 to 5 office hours you think she would have taught her kids how to take a message.


I got pissed at her about that and all I got was basically an oh well kind of response.

The second time I called she was having some kind of family dispute and had to call me back.  Now for both situations I wasn't at the end of my rope, but could you imagine if I was?  Uh, I am sorry, I am dealing with my child, sorry that you are having an emotional meltdown, hang on I will call you right back.

Once again I got pissed at her.  Once again it was an oh well kind of response.

At some point during my therapy sessions with her she thought it would be therapeautic if I finger painted.

You read that right.

Fucking Fingerpainting

Sure, a depressed almost 40 adult dealing with cancer and survivorship for the first time and you want me to break out the fingerpaints and that would help me cope???!!!! 


At one point I imagined smearing that paint on her face thinking, yeah, you are right, I feel better now!!!

Her job was probably going to get downsized so she told me that she would remain my therapist and we would figure out where we could continue our sessions.

That was not the case. She told me that, basically I wasn't following much of the direction that she had given me in therapy (Ok lets stop there.  You think that if all you have is a couple of things in your therapy bag of tricks that you might, oh I don't know, ask colleagues, go online.  There is a wealth of information out there.  I know I seek it out.) and that her position will no longer be funded so I should seek help elsewhere.

Obviously getting dumped by your therapist isn't easy, but she was free, a service of a local organization. 

So see, you get what you pay for.

Mel is the producer/co-host of The Vic McCarty Show.  Listen live Monday-Friday 10am-noon eastern standard time on wmktthetalkstation.com

Check out my podcast The Cancer Warrior on Empoweradio.com.  Available on demand now and also available on itunes.


  1. O.k. - well, I have to agree about the journalling part - and actually writing- there is something about the written word , handwriting etc. that is therapeutic .

    I think the calling after hours thing was inappropriate on her part, but I don't know the whole scenario so.... idk.

    I think what she probably meant about the finger paint was an artistic outlet . . .haha although the thought of you finger painting is pretty funny.

    Yes, in many, many cases you get what you pay for- but on the flip side of things, I have given countless Pilates sessions etc. workouts etc. without any appreciation because they were free. Basically, if you aren't paying something for it, people don't hold it any value. So maybe she thought that about your scenario- like " Well, she's not paying for it- so why should she care?"

    Sad, but true.

  2. I agree Angella, like I said this is just my personal experience with one therapist. If you or your doctor feel like you need therapy seek it out. I am always happy to hear of people and organizations like yourself who offer free services to cancer patients and survivors. I would not put down anything that I have not had experience with myself. This one particular therapist may have helped other people, but she did not help me.

    Awesome that you give free pilates to survivors!!! Kudos to you!!