TFP Part three

11 Jul 2019
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When I began my Transference Focused Psychotherapy (TFP), the therapist asked me if I'd prefer a course of 12 months or 15 months. This was an agonising question for me: I felt so broken and damaged that I wanted the most help I could get; but I hate to be seen as grasping. I wrestled internally, then asked for 15.

TFP begins with a ten-week contracting phase. For me it was like being thrown to the lions. The therapist kept asking me what goals I wanted for the therapy. I was terrified and I pushed back against the terror. It's hard to imagine now why I found this so incredibly frightening. I can only think I felt I was being asked to do more than I could - to become a better person at a time when I had no inner resources at all.

The contracting phase is essential to the therapy so I was motivated to submit, but it was visceral. I often loathed the therapist. I thought she was trying to destroy me. How we got through it I don't know. I can't remember the goals now, but they weren't actually awful. By the time we actually set them, they were OK. It had felt like fighting lions but when the battle was over and I could see what was in front of me, there were no carcasses. I'd been fighting my shadow.

And so the therapy proceeded and although it was occasionally a visceral fight, it was easier, on the whole, than the first ten weeks. Though there was still a lot of crying in the car park. And a lot of sleeping when I got home.

TFP consists of noticing the interplay between therapist and client, and what that says about the ways of relating the client developed when growing up. Once the first ten weeks were over, I experienced my therapist as insightful and sympathetic with this. It wasn't abrasive, like the psychodynamic therapy I'd had in my early 20s.

As much as I cried and took to my bed, I began to notice serendipitous things happening in my life outside therapy. It was spooky, in a good way - as though I was getting messages from the universe that I was on the right track. For instance, just the right kind of support for a certain moment might present itself. Looking back I see that in therapy I was being rebuilt on a psycho-spiritual level and things around me were shifting because of that.

There were cataclysmically painful things too.

It wasn't linear. The magical and the shocking happened at the same time. I left my husband, and was essentially homeless and penniless. I cannot now work out how I got through all the challenges that followed. I have no family this end of the country, but friends were amazing. I learnt to accept help because I had no choice.

I got through all the basics of setting up a new life, and after therapy things continued to improve for me. The therapy set off a chain of improvements. Which isn't to say I haven't worked at them too. The therapy was like magic at times, but I made Herculean efforts to use it and continue what I'd learnt. So I'm proud. And eternally grateful to my therapist who was incredibly skilled and experienced. The last time I saw her was my final therapy session, but what she did for me is constantly playing out in my life.

Katie

A Moodscope member.

A Moodscope member.

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Comments

Leah

July 12, 2019, 4:23 a.m.

Hi Katie thanks for your blog. I like they you describe in detail what helped you and how it helped you. Molly has asked me to thank everyone for their kind words and while she is not well right now she is very grateful for the support.

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Lynzi

July 12, 2019, 4:54 a.m.

Love to Molly x

Valerie

July 12, 2019, 7:49 a.m.

Hang on in there Molly.Hugs ***

Liz

July 12, 2019, 8:08 a.m.

Hugs Molly. Miss you ***

Katie

July 12, 2019, 11:12 a.m.

Thanks leah. Love to Molly xx

Nicco

July 12, 2019, 2:46 p.m.

Thinking of you, Molly, & sending love & gentle hugs.x

Molly

July 12, 2019, 3:45 p.m.

Thanks everyone xx

Mandie

July 12, 2019, 7:28 p.m.

Sending serenity to you Molly may you find a light shining on you xx

Maggie May

July 12, 2019, 4:51 a.m.

Hi Katie, really pleased that you found something that helped, and how brave to see it through. I must admit I still do not understand the detailed process of how it helped but it seems as if that would vary a lot for each person. I must ask if the divorce was because if the therapy - sorry if that is intrusive. Molly, we miss you and I wish you a speedy recovery. How like you to think of thanking others when you are not well yourself.

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Katie

July 12, 2019, 11:15 a.m.

I dont think I eould have had the courage to leave my husband without the therapy Maggie May xx

Mandie

July 12, 2019, 7:30 p.m.

You made a hard choice Katie but it sounds like it was the right one.

Lynzi

July 12, 2019, 4:53 a.m.

Katie thank you for sharing. I love your courage and vulnerability. I resonate with the magical eureka moments, herculian moments, fear, pain and renewed hope good therapy provides. Rumi said the light shines through the broken places. Love, peace, sparkles; namaste, Lynzi x

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Katie

July 12, 2019, 11:19 a.m.

Thank you Lynzi

ListeningHeart

July 12, 2019, 5:21 a.m.

Katie, how inspiring your story is and thank you so much for sharing it. Had not heard of tfp and am learning a lot reading about it, so another thank you. Ever onward and upward. A big cyberhug. P

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Katie

July 12, 2019, 11:21 a.m.

Thanks Pavane

Katie

July 12, 2019, 11:21 a.m.

Xx

Mary S

July 12, 2019, 5:21 a.m.

Katie you have good reason to be proud! I'm pleasantly surprised to see that such long and intensive therapy is supported by your healthcare system. Even if it is after a very long wait. In Australia you get 10 x 1 hour sessions a year maximum..... I don't know if TFP even exists here. Id be really interested to know what type of goals might be set, no specifics just an idea.

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Leah

July 12, 2019, 6:33 a.m.

MaryS, I have never heard of TFP and I live in Australia . Those ten x 1 hour sessions are not free or even subsidised fir everyone and I think the therapy has to be approved as well.

Katie

July 12, 2019, 11:28 a.m.

Hi Mary S. Once you have had a big therapy on the NHS, that's your lot forever! Actually sometimes they will provide a group, but it will be a much much lighter kind of intensity. If that makes sense. As for the goals set in my TFP, they were written down so I will try to find them and get back to you.

Mary S

July 13, 2019, 6:25 a.m.

Thanks Katie! Leah I know. You are lucky to qualify for the subsidised sessions at ALL here.

Oli

July 12, 2019, 5:57 a.m.

Thanks Katie. First, it's interesting to read your recollections of what it was like to experience a therapy like this. You give flavour of what's going on, how to learn how to relate to others, and how initially it produced unpleasant feelings -- both this time and back in your 20s. In fact I can see that if transference is the problem with one's relationships in general then intense practice in session would be a plausible way of learning how to do things differently. I was really curious about the goal-setting aspect of the therapy! But I know you've said you can't remember them. I guess what I find interesting is the way in which behaviour is taken from the therapy session and applied outside. And lastly, the realisation that there are no carcasses, only my shadows -- yes. That resonated. Thank you! :-)

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Katie

July 12, 2019, 11:30 a.m.

I will look for the goals Oli. I think I signed a written copy. I will have buried them deeply but will do my best to find them soon.

Oli

July 12, 2019, 12:21 p.m.

Genuinely, no worries Katie -- this is just me being curious and I don't want to be intrusive or anything. I'm a theory-nerd so I was interested in how the therapist was working. :-)

Katie

July 12, 2019, 6:40 p.m.

Could not find signed goals but a signed contract that didn't list or detail them. However have found mis point letter and am extrapolating from that that I: agreed to stay alive so I could see the therapy through; to attend all sessions and be committed to therapy. I think I agreed to something around wanting to be more autonomous. That's what I can take about goals from the letter. The letter also says, FYI, that I identified having difficulty in dealing with mixed feelings about people I'm close to. There might have been a goal around that. Something broader I expect. As that relates to that 'splitting' business Borderline Personality Disorder is supposed to be about!

Oli

July 12, 2019, 7:42 p.m.

Thank you, that's interesting. Like I said yesterday the ideas of psychic defence mechanisms like splitting, projection, denial and so on are so very different from the way things worked with me. But I was reading again what you wrote about being offered four types of therapy and (like me) you realised CBT was not the one, so I think it's good that we get drawn towards that which can help us. Something must resonate!

Orangeblossom

July 12, 2019, 6:18 a.m.

Thanks again for the very informative & illuminating account of TFP & your response to it & your developing relationship with your therapist.

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Katie

July 12, 2019, 11:31 a.m.

Thsnk you ob. I was relieved not to fall in love with my therapist as I believe this is fairly common!

Ruth

July 12, 2019, 6:20 a.m.

Wow that sounds so intense but worth it. I am seriously thinking about this therapy.

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Katie

July 12, 2019, 6:09 p.m.

Thank you Ruth. Xx

Ach UK

July 12, 2019, 6:55 a.m.

Respect, Katie. My goodness that sounds very tough, it seems it's been worth it though. Big hugs. Thank you for sharing with us. XX Ach.

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Katie

July 12, 2019, 6:42 p.m.

Thank you Ach xx

Valerie

July 12, 2019, 7:59 a.m.

Hello Katie, This is so well written and real,thank you.For me,it sounds scary.The part about reliving past childhood experiences-I can only picture myself screaming,kicking,vomiting bile.I don't have the kind of support I think would be essential when returning home after a session.I did do Gestalt therapy in the early 80's,and it was quite subtle,more about coping now than the past,and the group therapy did help me a lot. I am filled with awe at your guts Katie,have you ever thought about becoming a therapist yourself? xx

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The Gardener

July 12, 2019, 10:21 a.m.

Still utterly puzzled by whole thing - sounds like ones idea of the classic psychiatrist and Freudian digging into your past. Am I being facile, or are there links/roots. Difficult not to be cynical, everybody seems to have a therapist in the US. Uk personal trainers.

The Gardener

July 12, 2019, 10:28 a.m.

Think my view influenced by Wimbledon, Anne Jones talking about playing grand slams in her day, and now top players with their teams - Serena Williams talking about her therapist - sorry for view, being a war child sets your mind for ever, I reckon. xx

Katie

July 12, 2019, 6:14 p.m.

Hi Valerie. I think I'm too judgemental to be a therapist! Though I like the idea of doing it. For me the therapy was scary as there were scary things in my past. But I felt safer and safer over time. Now nothing terrifies me like that. The therapist wanted to build structures inside me to cope with life. She certainly achieved that.

Katie

July 12, 2019, 6:55 p.m.

Gardener you are right. Copied this sentence from decent website: Freud’s psychoanalysis was the original psychodynamic theory, but the psychodynamic approach as a whole includes all theories that were based on his ideas, e.g., Jung (1964), Adler (1927) and Erikson (1950).

Hopeful One

July 12, 2019, 8 a.m.

Hi Katie- Sooooo glad you found a form of therapy that suited you. Psychotherapy a minefield with acronyms like CBT,DBT,PC,SFT,EFT,TFT to name a few. Each has its proponents and opponents in the psychotherapy world. There is no 'one size fits all' so the suffer will often end up trying different therapies and therapists until they find something that fits which can be frustrating as not all therapies are available everywhere. There is also the question of cost and time and the evidence base of the therapy.In the USA where medical treatment is principally insurance based the company will only payout if its within their cost range and has evidence that it works. But laughter is a universal therapy as it will produce the same feel good neurotransmitters in all of us. Warning: this joke has adult content which some readers may find offensive. A nun, badly needing to use the restroom, walked into a local Hooters. The place was hopping with music and loud conversation -- and every once in a while 'the lights would turn off.' Each time the lights would go out, the place would erupt into cheers. However, when the revellers saw the nun, the room went dead silent She walked up to the bartender, and asked, 'May I please use the restroom?' The bartender replied, 'OK, but I should warn you that there is a statue of a naked man in there wearing only a fig leaf.' 'Well, in that case, I'll just look the other way,' said the nun. So the bartender showed the nun to the back of the restaurant. After a few minutes, she came back out, and the whole place stopped just long enough to give the nun a loud round of applause. She went to the bartender and said, 'I don't understand. Why did they applaud for me just because I went to the restroom?' 'Well, now they know you're one of us,' said the bartender, 'Would you like a drink?' 'No thank you, but, I still don't understand,' said the puzzled nun. 'You see,' laughed the bartender, 'every time someone lifts the fig leaf on that statue, the lights go out. Now -- how about that drink?

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Nicco

July 12, 2019, 2:56 p.m.

Great joke, HO!

Katie

July 12, 2019, 5:54 p.m.

Thanks HO and lol xx

The Gardener

July 12, 2019, 10:55 a.m.

Thinking about how 'flip' I am being, therapists vital for mental help for many, finding which one the problem. I am SO influenced by humour - cartoons of the bearded doctor, with notebook, patient on couch. Then, 'Cold Comfort Farm' with the possessive Judith being packed off to look at 'Old Churches'. Then 'What's new Pussycat', Peter Sellers and Woody Allen, and Peter O'Toole trying to be cured of chasing girls. Katie, really hope it 'works' for you. xx

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Katie

July 12, 2019, 5:56 p.m.

Thank you Gardener, the therapy did wonders for me. Sometimes I did kind of watch myself in therapy and see that it was quite funny. At times!

Valerie

July 12, 2019, 11:48 a.m.

TG you must Google Bob Newhart's You Tube sketch called "Stop it".Very funny.xx

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The Gardener

July 12, 2019, 3:50 p.m.

Thanks, I did - funny, although rather like slapping someone around the face when they have hysterics. This is not, of course, a funny subject, but there ARE occasions when a quick douse of cold water is effective. xx Below see

Mj

July 12, 2019, 12:39 p.m.

Congratulations! Healing and therapy demand courage and perseverance. You have shown both. You are an inspirations.

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Katie

July 13, 2019, 12:04 p.m.

Thank you mj xx

Nicco

July 12, 2019, 2:44 p.m.

Thanks for your honest blog. I can identify with the ceying in the carpark, sleeping lots, & the serendipitous things happening. I think the therapy i had was psycho dynamic but only 12-15 wks on the NHS. It did help a lot but i fwlt i needed a lot more. I guess it depends on what health authority one comes under so depends on where you live.

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Katie

July 13, 2019, 12:07 p.m.

Hi Nicco. I can't imagine 12 to 15 weeks could change someone's life :- (

The Gardener

July 12, 2019, 3:56 p.m.

Katie, I was classified as manic/depressive in my late 30's. Had excellent GP, endless meds, no therapy. There was a big psychiatric hospital in the village, and the nuns ran a live-in clinic for female alcoholics and drug abusers (in the 1940's). As kids we were awful,nut-case, loony, soft in the head, village idiot. Youngsters with mental problems stayed at home (don't know how they coped) older people who were ''moody, weird, odd' etc would remain in the community until they were dangerous, then it was hospitalisation. So if I seem 'flip' seen mental problems from every angle (Sams as well).

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Katie

July 13, 2019, 12:08 p.m.

I understand your viewpoint Gardener xx

Molly

July 12, 2019, 3:57 p.m.

Hi Katie, I’m unable to read your blogs properly but hope to later. I hope you don’t mind me using your page just to let off a bit of steam. I’m more grateful than I can express for the support I have had from everyone here. I’m in a bad place mentally and then I fell over on Wednesday and have damaged myself badly. I have sprained my ankle (not broken it) and cracked or bruised my ribs. I’m in a lot of pain. My friend tried to take his life on Tuesday, he was away when he did this with one of the dogs I look after (his dog) he’s in hospital away so even if I could walk I can’t get to him or the dog. Usual feelings I am sure but I feel so guilty because we just didn’t see this coming. I’m feeling awful all round. Thanks everyone for being concerned about me. Molly xx

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Katie

July 12, 2019, 5:53 p.m.

Sorry to hear this Molly. You are facing some very hard challenges. Thinking of you xx

Ach UK

July 12, 2019, 8:56 p.m.

This is a really rough patch Molly, can only say I'm willing you on and sending positive thoughts to you. XX Ach.

Molly

July 13, 2019, 12:55 a.m.

Thank you Kate and Ach. I can’t remember the last time I felt this bad mentally. Or physically for that matter. But I suppose it’s progress that I’ve been able to go on here. I lost a few days I think, didn’t even know what was happening xx

Valerie

July 12, 2019, 4:06 p.m.

Oh Molly,how dreadful.Is this the same person you mentioned last week, where you thought you might lose contact with the friend and the dog? It is very rare for anyone to see this coming,don't beat yourself up.I am sure your help and support will mean a lot to him, when your own injuries have healed.***

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Molly

July 13, 2019, 12:39 a.m.

Yes, we had a bit of a row Val, I’m sure it was all my fault. I had no idea he was feeling so bad himself. Another lesson learnt in life I guess. I thought he was ignoring me, he’s always been there and we became close and he always answered me. Me and my husband think the world of him. His daughter is with him, she drove down there and the latest news is there is no change xx

The Gardener

July 12, 2019, 4:28 p.m.

Molly, so sorry, as if you did not have enough problems. Echo all here relieved that you are back, if you get as much support as I have on here you feel almost WILLED to get through the tough times. I think I mentioned a daughter went back to where she flat shared and the other girl's occasional boy friend was hanged in the hall. Other daughter took charge, and they are coping. So grim, for all concerned. xx

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Katie

July 12, 2019, 6:08 p.m.

How terrible Gardener xx

Molly

July 13, 2019, 12:49 a.m.

I was in the middle of trying to send you a message earlier Gardener to try and help you to stop worrying about upsetting your family on here to say I don’t think you say anything wrong, you just say how you feel (I browsed the comments yesterday about worry of confidentiality) I have not told anyone apart from one friend that I use this site so I feel quite safe in that respect. But personally I have been so unwell, I physically couldn’t read or reply as I like to do. I’m struggling just writing this but thank you for your concern. I especially noticed your comments about being worried about me and it will always stay with me

Molly

July 13, 2019, 12:58 a.m.

Thank you Kate, I didn’t want to invade your blog, just realised we have moved on to the next day now haven’t we. I seem to be a bit disillusioned xx

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Hopeful One

July 13, 2019, 4:29 a.m.

Hi Molly- soooo glad you are back. All I can do is add my support to the others for the tough time you are going through. Do not lose Hope that things will get better , things will improve even when there is not the flimsiest evidence. When one is going through a dark tunnel keep whistling!

Molly

July 13, 2019, 4:58 a.m.

You treasure thank you HO, I’m trying to be strong but it all hit me at once. I am aware of your support I just couldn’t message back properly. Thank you for caring xx

Katie

July 13, 2019, 12:09 p.m.

Invade my blog any time Molly, it's so good to hear from you xx

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