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I really need some advice!!! Please respond!!!
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An_190253 posted:
For the first time in my life, I started speaking with a counselor several months ago. We've probably had 8-9 sessions over that period. It took a lot for me to admit to my doctor that I needed help and he refererred me to her. I suffer from social anxiety disorder. I have an issue with the counselor - and this is extremely humiliating for me to admit - she has went to sleep for a few seconds at a time during our sessions.

It's so ridiculous to have to be dealing with this. At the point I went to her I honestly felt like I was losing my mind as I was having anxiety over so many things. I found it somewhat easy to talk to her and, when she is alert, I like her. This is extremely embarrassing for me to admit that this is occuring because it sounds so crazy that I'm afraid no one will believe me. We will seriously be having a converstation and I can't tell she looks sleepy. Next thing she just nods off. What wakes her up is her head falling forward or to the side. This has happened in all but maybe 1 or 2 sessions and usually happens multiple times while I am there.

It is not fair that this is happening. I've been in denial about this since the beginning because I didn't know what to do about it and I was scared. I already don't know how to make basic decisions in my life. This has me frustrated but at the same time, I'm in desperate need of someone to talk to. Like I said, for the most part, I'm getting comfortable opening up to her. I'm so pathetic and need reassurance all the time and I guess I'm afraid to go to someone else. What if I can't talk to them as easily. Should I say something to my counselor about these episodes?

I did tell my psychiatrist at my appointment a couple weeks ago that I would like to see a new counselor. He, for whatever reason, encouraged me to stay with her for the next month or two. I did not tell him about the sleeping episodes because I'm embarrassed about it. How boring must I be for her to doze off during our sessions? She is literally nodding off while I am talking to her. How much can she help me when she can't be always listening. Seriously, what am I supposed to do about this?!?!
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alonealonealone responded:
You are NOT pathetic. You have a health condition. You have a valid concern about your counselor. The way she behaves, whether it is voluntary or involuntary, has absolutely nothing to do with you. Her behavior is about HER, not you. And, it's ok for it to bother you. I don't know anyone who this wouldn't bother.

She may have a health condition that causes her to drift off or appear to drift off. Or maybe she works too much, has insomnia at night, has sleep apnea or it could be a million other things.

I encourage you to talk to her about it. I know this can be very challenging. But you deserve to trust the person who is treating you. You deserve to feel safe and validated during your treatment. You deserve to take care of your needs and treat yourself the best you possibly can. That means handling this situation to the best of your ability.

If she is a good counselor she will thank you for telling her about your concerns, take the time to explain what is going on (if she knows) and make a plan for how to deal with this issue in the future. And if she isn't a good counselor, then you will know that you did all you could to resolve the situation and can feel validated in seeking a new treatment provider.

Best of luck. Please let us all know how things go.
 
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Frustrated84 replied to alonealonealone's response:
Thanks for taking time to respond. I don't think I can do that even though I know it's probably what I need to do. This is not something I should have to deal with and it's not fair. Shouldn't she, my counselor, be aware that this is occuring? Would it really be possible for her to be nodding off and not know that it is going on? I know this is her problem, not mine, but I still feel embarrassed. This has been going on for roughly 3 months and I just decided yesterday to ask people on this messageboard. Really, I think I've wanted to pretend that it wasn't happening even though it has made me upset the entire time. How ridiculous is this though? Wonder if it's ever happened to anyone else. I bet most people's reaction when reading my post is to laugh. That's why I didn't want to tell anyone, at least not face-to-face.
 
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Frustrated84 replied to Frustrated84's response:
Well, I wanted to hide my username because I didn't want anyone to know but I failed at that. I can't do anything right!
 
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Byroney_WebMD_Staff replied to Frustrated84's response:
Dear Frustrated84,

Dr. Farrell will be replying shortly with some suggestions on how to approach this. I wanted to reassure you that this board is for support and information about anxiety and panic.

Everyone here either has anxiety and/or panic, or has a loved one with it. Trust me when I say that no one is laughing about the serious issue you're having with your counselor.

Yours in health,

Byroney
 
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Frustrated84 replied to Byroney_WebMD_Staff's response:
Thank you for your response. It's so embarrassing that I've continued counseling with her since this has basically been going on since the beginning. I was just so scared and I was dealing with so much, I didn't know what to do. Actually, I couldn't believe that it was really happening. It's pathetic how desperate I am to have someone to talk to that I would let that keep occuring and do nothing about it. What does that say about me? I figured you all would laugh because sometimes even I, just over the past week, have started to laugh about the situation. Other times it really upsets me though because it makes me think that there is something wrong with me that she can't talk to me for 45 minutes without nodding off. Am I that boring? Is it that she deems my issues so insignificant that she doesn't even pay attention? I wish there was an answer to this. I really hope Dr. Farrell does reply because I'm not really sure what to do. Obviously I'm at the point where I know I shouldn't go back to her but, do I explain myself to her? I bet this is happening with other clients as well. In a way I wish she would acknowledge that this has happened. I'm honestly concerned by whether I should tell my psychiatrist what has happened as I have an appointment with him on Sept. 8th. Like I said, I told him that I wanted a new counselor and he said he could send me to someone else - he didn't refer me to her and doesn't know her. However I guess because I had a lot going on wanted me to stick with her another month or 2. Sorry to keep rambling. I'm starting to feel a lot better since I've at least got this issue out in the open here. It's hard holding it in and feeling frustrated. Again, thanks for taking time to respond.
 
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Patricia Farrell, PhD responded:
If she's falling asleep during your sessions, there is no excuse for this; plain and simple. This is unprofessional behavior and should not be tolerated by anyone. If she's working too many hours are not getting enough sleep, she's not able to take care of herself adequately and I would question her ability to help others. I know this may sound harsh, but I find this totally unacceptable.

You have nothing to be ashamed of because you are a consumer and you are purchasing the service and it doesn't seem you are getting a quality that you should be receiving. The psychiatrist, obviously, did not know that this was the problem and just felt that it was something that you and your therapist needed to work out.

I know you said that social anxiety and, possible, insecurity are the things on which you are working at this time, but you have a right to confront this woman and to tell her that you will not accept her sleeping during your sessions. As a matter of fact, if you can do this, and I would encourage you to try, you will have made a major step in your therapy.

Is this woman licensed in your state? I suggest that she should be aware that she could be sent a letter by the licensing board if this behavior were to continue. If she is doing it with you, I can only suspect that she is doing it with others because she has overworked herself or she may be ill. We really don't know what is the problem here, but it must be addressed and it must be addressed strongly.
 
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Frustrated84 replied to Patricia Farrell, PhD's response:
I would say that I'm 99 percent that she is indeed falling asleep. How ridiculous is it that I've let this happen for 6 or 7 sessions and never said anything about it. That makes me feel like a complete and total idiot. If I tell anyone else about this I'm the one that is going to look stupid. I really don't think I can talk to her about her falling asleep. Yes, she is a licensed professional counselor. I hate having to deal with this and it stresses me out when I think about it.
 
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Frustrated84 replied to Patricia Farrell, PhD's response:
I was thinking of just not going back to her with no explanation as to why. I doubt she cares anyway. Actually, I just wrote a letter to her stating how I feel - it's not something I plan on sending though.


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