Part 1: A Surreal Therapy Consultation

I recently phoned therapists and scheduled consultations with two. My appointment with the second therapist began with a dog’s nose shoved up my crotch. And it only got better.

I should have been suspicious 15 seconds into the first phone call when the therapist asked straightaway if I was okay with cats.

“Well, of COURSE,” I thought. I don’t own two cats – they own me. So I said no problem.

She had 6.

When I arrived, I was greeted by a happy dog, a greyhound or whippet – some sort of friendly gangly happy creature. My crotch must have screamed (as it does to all dogs) Insert Nose Here! Like I think I’m somehow special He was probably attracted to all the markings OTHER dogs have left shoving their wet nose into my jeans over the years; that neon sign that only dogs can see that clearly does not come out with repeated washings.)

As she led me through the small house with the dog in accompaniment, we were joined by two very fluffy cats, one white one cream, as we marched en masse up a narrow winding staircase into a dormered attic area festooned with clay solder statues, wall hangings, and knickknacks from China stacked on many wooden shelves. I looked around, the zoo pausing expectantly as I took in the odd-shaped room with nooks and cubbyholes, and noticed small areas extending around the corner. I wondered if larger artifacts loomed just beyond my sight. Indiana Jones-ish.

Dark; oppressive. Cluttered. I don’t even recall if there was outside light.

She gestured to a cushy chair and a cushy couch; clearly my spot was marked not only by the obvious furniture cues, but by the presence of a cat who waited patiently for me to sit so the apparently-expected affection could commence.

Sighing, I complied.

My fleece-lined jacket (oh, you cat owners nod in realization), carelessly tossed on the couch, was immediately occupied. Another potential conqueror lay in wait.

Now, I have two cats. They are all over me: lap cats, foot cats, chest cats, back-of-chair cats, warm up laying on my laptop keyboard cats. Two monitor-bookends when I work at the computer.

My house (except for a few square feet around the litter box proper) does not smell like cats. THIS house did. Not like a litter box, but like years-old accumulation of cat fur and dander worked into the fabric and the walls of that disturbing cat<heh>comb in the attic.

My brother has 4 cats; you’d never know unless you actually saw them. Or noted their dishes of food. Or the occasional hairball.

Embedded dander cannot be removed. Trust me.

It is possible to own cats without slapping your visitors in the face with them.

The first two cats had immediately revealed themselves. As I settled in and got more comfortable, the white cat ended up on my lap. “Hmm, therapy cat” I thought as I began to pet and scratch. In clearly, the feline thought, all the Right Places.

Interesting. I wonder if that helps people calm down. As I sat back, another cat came into view – in Cheshire cat in meatloaf position on a pillow tucked underneath a carved single-leg table. I think I saw one more, but I lost count, overwhelmed by the oddness of the room. I suspected before the therapist’s first word, despite my love for cats and my own cats’ blood-pressure-reducing abilities in my own therapy and healing, that this relationship was not going to Work Out.

After a long and strange hour, I was again escorted by a dog and two cats (and a therapist) back down the stairs, through the kitchen and dining room, and back out the front door. I ended up at my car, somewhat stunned at the whole strange experience.

I’d like to say that the actual consultation itself pales when compared to the environment and the psychiatric “staff,” but I can’t. The interview was completely bizarre in its own ways.

That’s a whole ‘nother post.

– ∞ –

See also:
Table of Contents for all blog posts
Therapist consultation for dissociative identity disorder
Changing therapists – what to consider
Comment: Importance of Physical Environment in Therapy
Flame-Quenching “Move Along” Standard Disclaimer
Guest Book and Introductions

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9 Comments»

  davidrochester wrote @

Um.

Ummmmmmmmm.

I have this theory that a surprisingly large percentage of therapists are, themselves, batshit crazy. This person certainly falls into that category.

I’m just amazed that anyone could possibly think that was an appropriate therapeutic environment. Or an appropriate environment in any sense of the word.

  Jackie wrote @

I’m speachless. I echo David’s comments. But I need to thank you for the laughter. I can’t believe you actually stayed through the interview. New coping mechanism? lol I have been in similar situations while visiting clients- in a suit (skirt), which left me in the least most proffessional appearance for the remainder of the day that I think I’ve ever been in. I’m use to people looking at me, but I’m sure I made quite an impression for the remainder of the day. (I wonder how many people had adult activities after seeing me that day…hmmmm) I don’t visit there anymore in case you wondered, I meet them at a restaurant.

  Secret Shadows wrote @

Gosh, I love animals, and I think there is a place for therapy dogs and such, but this is ridiculous. I would have a problem with that. And you know, lots of people are allergic! I am allergic to cats. I have one, but the one doesn’t really bother me. I’ve had her for 14 years. I even had 2 at one time till one got lost. (insert sad face here) However, 6+ would have me sneezing, wheezing, crying, and scratching. From what you described those pets have taken over completely.

We actually have 7 pets in our home, but our home isn’t taken over. We have the one cat, who most people never see. In her old age, she rests a lot upstairs in my room on a fleece blanket. She’ll come down for food, littler box, and occasionally to “hang out.” We have two dogs but they are small (Maltese and Cavaleir). Two of my daughters have guinea pigs. Now, those things stink. Didn’t know it would be that way when I agreed to have them, but they are in cages in the kids’ room and they don’t mind. They take care of them independently for the most part. Then we have two parrots. My husband has a bird that’s really “his”-a green Amazon, and one is “mine:” and she’s a red-breasted Cockatoo. Sounds like a crazy house, but our dogs are well behaved, and the birds are too and really no trouble. We also have a pretty large house.

Anywa, that being said, even I would not want to go visit that therapist. I wouldn’t want all those animals crawling over and around me, sniffing me, etc. And I would also think that it would be a distraction and not a therapeutic help.

My sister went to consult with a therapist, and the therapist had a therapy dog, but the dog sat very well mannered in a special spot in the room, and only approached the client by request. Now THAT”S a therapy pet!

  hystericalfemale wrote @

Emily, I had to laugh when I read this. I think we need to be able to view our therapists as at least partially sane in order for us to work with them.

I love animals and have 2 cats of my own, but I’d be horrified if I thought my house smelled of cats, or that visitors to my home found my cats annoying or intrusive.

It sounds an utterly surreal experience. I can’t wait to hear what the actual therapy session was like.

  emilylonelygirl wrote @

Yes, this was a good laugh, eh? Yes David, batshit crazy…I have started to use your phrase when talking about her. 🙂

It is amazing that there are a few types of people who have animals, and many of us treat them like members of the family rather than just some animals….mine are my daughters. My babies even tho they are older. Love them like kids. And many people I know manage to keep animals without the mess.

Jackie – yes, I amazed myself too for staying, but in my post about the session itself, I will explain that. Partly, it was that part of me who enjoys surrealism who decided to stay just to see how it would all end. Kinda neat.

  Tigerweave/Anna wrote @

How do you get your cats to be bookends *on either side* of your monitor?

Mine determinedly sits right in front of it 😀

What a hilarious situation. I wonder which of you needed therapy (or at least some common sense) the most 🙂

I would have had a hard time with so many cats. I am slightly allergic to them, one on one, but can cope with it. I found living with 2 just a bit much. 6 or 7 all at once? Nup.
And I would have been itching and my eyes running for the rest of the day till I could go home and get changed, and that would have pissed me of severely.

Fascinating story!

  emilylonelygirl wrote @

Anna

Yes, my dear kitties. Long story short, my kitties are getting older and I bought heating pads and put them on either side of my monitor.
So kitty bookends!

  flora wrote @

Thank You so much for posting that! I’m not ashamed to say this…but I don’t like cats…never have, never will & I’m completely okay with that. However, I LAUGHED so hard when I read this post b/c I pictured myself crawling in my skin if I had personally experienced it. Emily, you are a great writer–this was the first post of yours that I’ve read & I really enjoyed it. Thanks!

  Emily’s Camigwen wrote @

Hi flora

Thanks for the feedback – actually, when I go back and read what I wrote, sometimes I crack MYSELF up! Many times the funny angle comes from somewhere inside me and when it isn’t *me* who writes it, it makes me laugh more when I read it. Hey, who says you can’t tickle yourself..with DID, you can!

My best
Cami


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