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how to find an IC?

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splitintwo posted 4/5/2014 09:03 AM

I'm kicking around the idea of starting with an IC.

However, I've tried this a couple of times in the past, and, to be blunt, it sucked. I thought it was the most ridiculous thing in the world.

But when I read 20WrongsVs1's list of emotions she listed when required by her IC, I realized this is me, all day, every day:




I know I have underlying issues that need to be address. I do a fairly good job of being cognizant of the ways the aftereffects of CSA & other whatnot manifest in me as an adult, and I have taught myself ways to counter those responses. But it appears that others are capable of surfacing, and I likely need someone to walk me through the process & help me fix me for real, not just patchwork.

Here's what I don't want:

My first ICs were during my childhood years. She taught me that if I lie & tell them what they want to hear, then I get out of the sessions. Or, in the case of the one that worked at the school, I could use them to get out of class. It was all balloon metaphors & such, no real talk. Total waste of time.

My first IC as an adult was during college. She said, "pretend this pillow is your mom"...I looked at her like she had three heads & never went back. A pillow is not going to make me suddenly rediscover my feelings, thanks but no thanks.

I tried another IC briefly, but it just didn't click.

I am a logic-driven person. I will argue. I need someone who can counter that, cut through my bullshit. I need someone who can teach me how to feel again because I don't remember how. That's one of the biggest draws of AP. I actually felt love and joy and despair. Not constantly, but there were moments. I want my range of emotions back, in part so that someone other than BH triggering simple ones, like joy, doesn't domino into something else. When you feel nothing long enough, even painful emotions become desirable.

Is there a style of IC that's designed for people like me? I know they study various methods & such, but I don't know how to parse that into "choose this one." BS's welcome.

20WrongsVs1 posted 4/5/2014 09:56 AM

SI2, I went to a counselor in college once. Once, because she sucked.

I asked the same exact question here almost a year ago, and someone astutely pointed out that like any other profession, the certificate on the wall looks the same for the one who graduated at the top of her class, and at the bottom.

I need someone who can teach me how to feel again because I don't remember how. That's one of the biggest draws of AP. I actually felt love and joy and despair.

ICR. Do you have a higher physical pain threshold than most people, as far as you can tell? I totally do, or did, because I was so profoundly detached from my feelings. During my A, I burned myself when cooking, and it hurt, and it was marvelous. I felt elated when I spoke to AP or read his emails. My therapist says those feelings "weren't like a drug, they are a drug." What I was feeling wasn't genuine, it was basically a chemical injection.

Now? I actually feel emotional pain, I cry, and it's brilliant. and confusing and scary :)

I need to run but I'll post later and tell you how I found my IC. Glad to hear you are considering it.

Jrazz posted 4/5/2014 10:54 AM

My first ICs were during my childhood years. She taught me that if I lie & tell them what they want to hear, then I get out of the sessions. Or, in the case of the one that worked at the school, I could use them to get out of class. It was all balloon metaphors & such, no real talk. Total waste of time.

Me too!

Is there a style of IC that's designed for people like me?

I was just talking to a dear friend about this the other day... and I actually had an answer. Like you, I've been to counselors at various ages for various things. More often than not, I wouldn't get much from the session. Sure, there's some catharsis in being able to get ALL your complaints out to someone who is paid to listen, but most of the time the benefit would stop there.

For me (this is going to sound obnoxious) I need a "psychic" counselor. As an adult, I try to be as forthcoming with my issues as possible. I'm pretty extroverted, so I can put most of it out there without too much discomfort, but looking back there are almost always gaps. I fail to tell counselors things that I am either embarrassed about, or that I know will result in a course of action that I am not ready to do. When a counselor can call me on something I haven't offered, there's almost a miraculous sense of relief.

I don't think the counselor actually has to be clairvoyant, but I need someone who can read between the lines a bit, and is able to ask relevant questions instead of sitting there and saying, "So, what's new this week?" I need a counselor who WANTS to get their hands dirty, you know? Those have been few and far between for me, but my newest psychotherapist is a WIZARD. It took about 15 minutes for him to uncover things that I had unwittingly buried. It's fantastic.

Keep looking. It may take a while, but when something clicks you will feel it like a jolt of energy.

cindergirl posted 4/5/2014 13:15 PM

splitintwo, I've seen a handful of ICs over the years. And while I generally liked all of them, I readily admit that some are more effective than others. As with anything else, you might need to shop around--try on a few for size. Many therapists give an overview of their areas of specialties along with an overview of their approach on their websites. You can use this to screen which ones might be a good fit. From there, schedule an appointment with one or two and keep going until you find one that "clicks".

As Jrazz suggested, you might check into counselors identifying as psychotherapists. I was initially put off by what I thought was a fluffy-sounding, new-agey title, but found the approach not fluffy at all.

Not sure if you're paying out of pocket or if your insurance covers this. Regardless of whether finances are a contributing factor in decision making or not, I encourage you to put in a call to your local domestic violence center(s) and schedule an intake appointment. Most of these centers offer counseling services free of charge. More importantly, all of the counselors on staff are specifically trained to work with clients who have been traumatized by abuse, regardless of how long ago the abuse took place. Since it's free and all the counselors are experts in your specific area and passionate about their work, what's the harm in giving it a shot?

Regarding the pillow, you're an adult and can tell the therapist that you don't find it effective, or simply that you're not ready to do that and can we try something else? I do see the merit in this approach, although it's clearly not for everyone. (It's not for me, either.)

Also, you're not a child anymore. You are seeking IC for you. Therefore, lying is of no benefit to you as an adult. The responsibility to be honest with your therapist rests with you and you alone.

The hardest thing about IC is making the commitment to stick with it and be real. This isn't about pleasing anyone else anymore. It's about you healing you.

splitintwo posted 4/5/2014 13:30 PM

I know lying is stupid & counter-intuitive, and hmm. it's not the plan. After all, an IC isn't cheap, and I have much more fun ways in which I'd want to blow money. But I also know me. And with me comes my boundary issues, my denials, all of that. I need a HUFI. Someone who can keep me on point, redirect my whatnot, all that. The IC's I've seen will believe my bullshit, never challenge me to address the root of anything.

Do you have a higher physical pain threshold than most people, as far as you can tell?

Yep, 20Wrongs, I do. I tend to ignore headaches & other pain, & I discount the severity. It took a long time to understand that I was having migraines at one point...eventually, I realized putting up with it was stupid & got an Rx for Fioricet. I look forward to hearing how you chose yours.

20WrongsVs1 posted 4/5/2014 15:06 PM

Honestly, I think I got pretty lucky. This is a free service, so I assume the link is allowed: and I just searched near me and chose one that sounded like a good fit. It was clear from the first session that she was experienced in helping CSA survivors. She is an EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) practitioner, which if you look it up seems like total quackery, but it's great. We hardly ever do "tapping" in our sessions, mostly we just talk through stuff, but EFT is a good at-home tool. BH even showed it to DS9 recently, and the kid liked it!

One measure of a good shrink is how easy it is to schedule an appointment. If she's booked out 2+ weeks, that's a good sign. Our MC was similar, I liked what he had to say on his website, and it took at least 2 weeks to get our first appointment. The good ones are busy for a reason!

We have health insurance with a high deductible, and aren't keen on having mental health services on our "permanent record" (call us paranoid) anyway so we pay cash, and yeah, the expense is high. But worth it.

In the meantime, I have a book recommendation for you. Nonviolent Communication by Rosenberg. It's basically an empathy primer. Honestly I think that book helped me learn to identify feelings as much or more than therapy.

BTW I asked about your pain tolerance because for me, I truly believe it was a symptom of my untreated PTSD. It's like my wires all got disconnected from that trauma, and what I love about IC is the reassurance that my experience isn't atypical. Kinda glad I didn't start therapy till after I experienced natural, drug-free childbirth two times.

Matilda23 posted 4/5/2014 15:29 PM

Hi Splitintwo,

When I was looking for a new IC, this thread helped me at least start the process.

I will see him for the first time because I felt like my last one just wasn't for me. I have never really done IC and was reassured that if you don't feel your IC is helping you in what you need, it's okay to look for a new one. Ask questions. No question is stupid when you are healing yourself.

hpv50 posted 4/5/2014 16:53 PM

Boy, I can relate to your post. I have had some terrible ICs and MCs, and one or two terrific. Keep going until you find terrific; you're paying way too much and it's way too important to settle for less. Cliche but true.

First piece of advice is to initially pick a few and meet them. Many will discount their fees for the first visit so you can both see if it's a good fit. It's like anything else in life: chemistry matters, and if it isn't there, it won't work.

Second, there are many different styles of therapists, and figuring out which type of general training they had may be important. One broad type is "psychoanalytical," which focuses more on delving into unconscious thoughts developed during childhood and how it affects current behavior. When I was younger, I dubbed this the "tell me about your childhood" approach, and I hated it. All I did was talk talk talk about old crap and the therapist sat there like a log, occasionally asking a vague and gentle question. Sometimes I would make things up out of sheer boredom.

Another broad type, which I like a lot more, is "cognitive behavioral therapy," which focuses more on the here-and-now, but digs back into old stuff on an as-needed basis. The CBT approach believes that we think first, and then feel and/or act. Thus if we can change or reroute our faulty or distorted thoughts then we'll feel better. Both me and my WS have found this approach very helpful.

From there, we read a ton of websites and looked for psychologists who are more proactive - willing to jump in and offer direction, and call me on my b.s. Yes, I'm the BW but my FOO issues run so deep that I often deny or distort things. I am told I have a very strong personality, so I needed someone who could stand up to that.

I have a positive bias toward psychologists (rather than therapists with masters degrees) because they've had hardcore training and often know a TON about FOO issues that often are really on the spectrum of a personality disorder. Case in point: my IC figured out that my husband is a vulnerable narcissist, which is something I'd never heard of before. This led him to low self-esteem driven rescuing behaviors to feel good about himself, and hence EAs. This is not a common diagnosis, and very rarely made among non-psychologists, but is HUGELY relevant for WS (and our marriage). It was eye-opening to both of us - so much so that it stopped me from leaving him.

Oh, we also used Angie's list, believe it or not. It helped narrow them down.

hpv50 posted 4/5/2014 17:01 PM

I just re-read your post, and I'm like you in that I'm logic driven, way too good at debating, and was emotionally shut down for years. I felt like I was floating underwater, where above the surface, I could see how I was *supposed* to feel, but wasn't feeling much of anything. A good CBT psychologist might help, and maybe one who also does EMDR. I had deep FOO issues and PTSD from them (which caused my emotional devoid). EMDR can help.

splitintwo posted 4/7/2014 11:06 AM

Excellent info, thank you all. I'm off to find a copy of Nonviolent Communication by Rosenberg.

badchoice posted 4/7/2014 12:59 PM

I am logic driven too, and I have had an IC in the past that was a complete waste of time, mostly because I did not really participate in the sessions, just showed up cause my BW wanted me to.

This time around I spent time seeing 3 ICs for about a month, and told them up front I was trying to figure out which one was the best fit. I asked them how they worked, what were their methods, and wound up having 2-3 sessions with each of them.

It cost a little more doing it this way, but in the long run the one I picked is excellent. She is just the type of IC I needed.

Good luck.

cindergirl posted 4/7/2014 21:55 PM

On recommendation, I purchased The Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Relationship by Diane England. It's actually directed to the partners of persons afflicted with PTSD, but I bought it for both my BSO and I to read. I'm rambling. Anyway, the point of this is, I just finished reading the chapter on different types of therapy approaches followed by a chapter on how to choose a therapist, and immediately thought of you. There's a ton of great information there. The book's only about $10. Might be worth picking up a copy. I just downloaded the Kindle version.

Btw, didn't intend to imply you were planning to lie. Lol. Sorry about that.

splitintwo posted 4/8/2014 11:57 AM

Thanks for the book rec, Cindergirl. I wasn't offended...given that I've lied to ICs in the past, it's a logical conclusion that I may. :) But it's one thing to use an IC for gain (in my case, getting out of class in middle/high school) vs. undermining my own recovery. I'm not a fan of the latter...

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