Using The Precious Therapy Hour

I have one hour of therapy a week. No, actually I have 45 minutes. It’s so little time, sometimes just enough to get me up the point of something deep and then it’s time to go. Also, E. follows my lead in what we do with those 45 minutes. This makes me feel like I need to go into every therapy session with a plan for what I want to talk about.

So tomorrow evening I have therapy. What should I do with it?

The predominant thing I am thinking about is, “I am so tired and have such a mountain of work to do; how will I make it until my leave starts on October 1?” But that’s not a good way to use that time. It’s only two weeks, E. doesn’t really know what the pieces of work are, and anyway, the only solution is to do as much as I can and not worry about the rest (even though I am worrying).

I have also been thinking about who I am at the core, and whether I have a core. But in some ways, that is just a philosophical question. I am not sure I need to answer this in order to get better. Or perhaps I do one day, but I don’t feel it’s pressing right now.

Part of me wants to talk about my first marriage. I have never talked about that except in passing. I feel myself wanting E. to hear about it, to help validate that it was crazy-making, that I’m not simply blaming my ex-husband unfairly because I don’t want to take any responsibility for the failed relationship. I feel like it was something that affected me deeply but she doesn’t know what it really looked like. (Just the other day, I found an old email from him that started: “The older you get, the stupider you become…” and later went on to say “you are a failure at everything you have ever attempted in your life.”) But I wonder if this is an evasive maneuver, designed to postpone processing early sexual abuse.

But sexual abuse is not the only thing that has contributed to my long-lasting depression. I wonder if I have been taking too narrow a view?

There’s the whole issue of my step-father, who never touched me but who made my siblings and me feel very unwanted, even hated. My mother and all of us tip-toed around his rage for years.

Or perhaps the next topic should be all the anger that I’m sensing from my little girl self?

How can I know where I should go next? How do I make best use of those precious few minutes in E’s office?


  1. For what it’s worth… (and I admit fully that I know virtually nothing about your circumstances and history) I think that while discussing your ex husband at some point would be a good thing, it seems to be evading both early sexual abuse, and the anger from your little girl self. I’m happy to go into the deductions that led there if you’d like, but I will try to avoid being more presumptuous than I already have been.

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  2. I think you are sorting yourself out, therapy is supposed to help you and so you should not stress yourself out rushing to “get there”. Might I suggest filling a hat with anything that comes to mind and just picking randomly before your sessions? It might help you not dwell so much prior to going in. Just a thought ❤

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  3. Q, you know I do the same thing. But what I’ve learned is being mindful expands to therapy sessions as well. Possibly it means we cannot plan and control our sessions to be what we think is productive. Possibly we need to step outside our minds and out stories and focus on how we feel in our body at that moment in time. Crazy huh?! I’ve actually been thinking a lot about this and what being present means. And tonight if you were to just sit with E and look at her and breath and feel…identify that and go from there. Unplanned and uncensored. I’m not very good at this yet but it’s something to thing about.

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  4. I used to make lists with short captions so I could remember them and then prioritize the list and kept it in my pocket. Sometimes I took it out while in session to make sure I covered what I had wanted to.


  5. Could you possibly send E a list of these things and ask her to help her sort out what is most relevant to discuss right now? Then, you are still leading the session– here is what I need to talk about– but you can work together to figure out what should be worked on. I don’t know. I feel like once a week is really hard. I often have lists that Bea and I work off of, and if things come up in between, we kind of pause the list; knowing its waiting for us because it is on a list. If that makes sense. Sometimes it takes weeks to get through a list– and some items on some lists still have not been touched. I hope today’s session goes well.


  6. I hear such an earnest desire to make the best, most productive use of your precious and valuable therapy time – I often think, after sessions, when I’m unsure if I talked about what I ‘needed to,’ that my subconscious mind stores all the trauma, and will surface whether or not I intend for it too. So what ends up being said is more important than I can consciously realize.

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