We need Tinder for therapists says Sophie White, who spends more time fantasising about the perfect therapist who might be around the next corner, than focusing on her issues with the current one
"What's your number?" is a question usually associated with sexual partners, but when I asked my friend over lunch a few weeks ago I wasn't talking about how many beds she's been in but rather couches she'd been on.
I started to get concerned about my therapist commitment issues when I bailed on my most recent one just three sessions in. She was the fifth therapist in two years. This number seems kind of high to me, especially given the level of personal detail about my life that I have offloaded on to these poor unsuspecting therapists. For the level of TMI I'm subjecting them to, they'd be forgiven for thinking I was signing up for the long haul but no, a few more weeks or months and I'm out of there. And there comes a point when I have to start questioning whether it's them, me or therapy in general.
I'll be honest a large part of what's driving me to get to the bottom of the serial therapist hopping is the sheer expense. Therapy in general isn't cheap but the beginning stages of therapy are practically a loss leader as you spend the first however many sessions doing the 'catch up' – a pesky, but necessary run down on the facts of your life to date. And since I'm barely moving beyond the preliminary 'catch up' portion of the therapist relationship, I'm really screwing myself financially speaking.
At 32, I'm not sure if my 'catch up' is of average length for my age. It certainly seems a shade on the long side as I bring prospective therapists on the scenic tour of my twenties taking in such delightful sights as a drug-induced breakdown, PND, parental loss and the continued existence of my mother.
"Is she zoning out," I wonder, paranoid. Not that I blame her, considering it's my life story I'm not sure I tell it very well.
A couple of years ago I wrote a book that on reflection was essentially this scenic tour only illustrated and punctuated by delicious recipes. (It's called Recipes For A Nervous Breakdown and is still available in all good etc etc). One of my sneaky side-motivations for writing the book which is part memoir, part cookbook was to expedite the 'catch up' convo with future therapists.
Upon telling Himself that I would be publishing a book that chronicled the many missteps and misdemeanors of my life, nearly all of which implicate him in some way and have likely landed us on some kind of social services watch list for the safety of our children, he was thrilled. He was picturing film rights being sold and one of the Gleeson boys playing him. So he looked a little doleful when I informed him that few people get into publishing to make money. I reassured him then that the book could be lucrative for us in that I need never waste the fees of the first visit to a therapist ever again.
Instead of taking up precious, expensive therapy minutes with the lengthy catch up, I thought I could forever more just send a copy of Recipes For A Nervous Breakdown ahead of the appointment. It could potentially save us thousands. During the publicity for the book as I was often spilling my guts on my then therapist's couch and then relocating to a slightly more upmarket couch and pretty much doing the same thing all over again to an unsuspecting journalist, I privately I started to muse on whether doing book promotion could eventually replace the therapy altogether? It could not and I eventually embarked on a new therapist hunt last Autumn and have still not settled on one.
I'm gonna go right a head and blame smart phone culture for this inability to settle on a practitioner. It just feels too risky to commit in this age of boundless choice. I can barely commit to one tab open on my browser at a time, never mind hitching my mental health wagon to just one doc. I'm always envious when people say they love their therapist, I usually immediately try to move in on them which I've found people do not like. For a time, in an attempt to hedge my bets on the therapist front, I two-timed a couple, in that way that people date multiple Tinder profiles, only with feelings chats involved. It proved much too complicated as I could never keep track of which one I'd told what and they each seemed to offer vaguely contradictory opinions on the same topics.
This year I'm going to start afresh and ask another therapist to have me and try to get to the bottom of myself and my failure to form a lasting connection with this stranger whom I pay to listen to me.