Wednesday, 25 January 2012

My first therapy session

I've been having therapy sessions for a while now, and they're all quite varied. It's a bit of a trial and error affair, treating vaginismus, so my therapist (she of the fabulous coral earrings) and I have gone through different processes that may work for some women, and not others. Turning up for my first session however, I really had no idea what to expect. It was snowing and dark as I tramped up the unfamiliar road from the unfamiliar train station, to the unfamiliar clinic at the top of a hill. I walked through a door marked "out patients", having made the bold assumption that I would be allowed to leave at the end of the session, and found a friendly, round-faced security guard who pointed me in the direction of the right reception area. I'd been referred by the GP, at the recommendation of the gynaecologist, and really didn't know quite what to expect from it all. The letter I received was from the "psycho-sexual therapy clinic" which I found immensely entertaining, especially because it makes me sound like some sort of sexual demon. In fact, it sounds so much like the sort of thing some dominatrix cliché of a female character would attend I’m quite surprised it wasn’t included in a certain recent Sherlock Holmes episode….

I digress.

I took a seat, as instructed by the indifferent receptionist, and waited for what felt like an age to be called through. It got to the point where I started to wonder if the whole thing had been a massive mistake, if I would be sitting there so long that the receptionist would question me further and then not only turn me away in disgust, but go to the pub and tell all her friends about the freak that turned up at completely the wrong centre, and everyone would be laughing at me, and I'd go home and hide under my duvet and line up my emergency fluffy toy collection, and ask them in watery tears “why sheep, why, why?”, and cry, and never leave the house again.....when my therapist bustled through a door, all silvery hair and swinging coral earrings, and called my name. Relieved, I followed her through to the treatment room and told myself to calm down and stop acting like a dick head. 

On the way to the therapy room she introduced herself, and then threw me off my game again by asking if I'd mind if a trainee sat in on our session. I very, very much did mind, quite a lot, so I firmly and decisively opened my mouth and said:

"Of course not, that'll be absolutely fine."

I am very much the polite British stereotype in this respect, all bumbling acquiescence on the surface, and angry self-righteous grumbling underneath. Silently seething, and wondering what sort of a therapist thinks it is OK to ask a patient, at their first ever treatment session on a sensitive subject, if a trainee can sit in, I followed her through the door to a very ordinary looking office room, with three hard-backed chairs, a clapped out looking old computer, and an extraordinarily young looking woman beaming at me. Ah, I thought to myself, bitter smile slapped across my face - the trainee. Excellent. 

The therapist introduced herself and the trainee who was visiting from a University in europe, and explained that the first thing we needed to do was to go through questions to a questionnaire which I had been sent. Except I hadn't. Ah, she said, yes this was a bit of a set back, but no matter, I could fill the questionnaire out when I got home after the session. She started then to talk about how the therapy sessions would work, how many I would get but not to worry if I found I wasn't quite "cured" at the end of the sessions, because if we found out that was the case she could recommend some more. I cheered up a bit at this, and also at the polite interjections from the trainee, who it turns out wasn't some slack-jawed undergrad who had turned up to snigger at the freak show, but a professional who was gaining further experience in her field. Silly me.

The therapist continued to explain a bit more about vaginismus, the possible causes and the manifestations and such. She started to describe muscle spasms using her fists – which I would soon find out would be a recurring event at the sessions – at which I felt my face freeze itself into a polite mask of vague interest and my stomach start eating itself a little.

The session was interesting, and seemed to be over remarkably quickly. As I made my way out the door, feeling encouraged and looking forward to the process, the therapist called me back with these chilling words

“If you could fill out the questionnaire we should have sent you and post it back to us when you’ve done, that would be great.”

I proceeded back down to the waiting room and off home, wad of scary paper clutched in my sweaty mitt, chanting to myself “it won’t be that bad, it won’t be that bad, dear god it won’t be that bad.”

How naiive I was.

Now get me wrong, they were all necessary and important questions, but by eck rating your ability to orgasm on a scale of 1-10 does put some things in perspective for you.

I put 8 by the way. Don’t pretend you’re not impressed.

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