Ever since I started doing therapy online in 2011, I have dealt with many different disorders. Early on, it was a transitional phase moving from office to online but it quickly moved on. In my office based practice, I dealt with a lot of codependent clients and this has increasingly been the case since 2011. I have developed my own method of dealing with this and it conveys itself to an online medium easily.
Codependents tend to be resistant to making the changes needed to move away from their typical behaviour. They are often “hooked” into a relationship that on the surface seems (to everyone else) toxic (and usually is) but they cannot escape. This calls for a program that will help them move away from such a situation safely and also to work on the issues that got them into that situation in the first place. I use a mixture of Internal Family Systems Therapy, Inner Child Therapy and challenging concepts from CBT. This is treated within a framework. More details here.
Many people reading this will have heard of online therapy but might find it hard to imagine how it works. What better than to hear from someone who has been there and done that. Here one of my former codependent patients shares her experiences of life in online therapy.
I was a reluctant client at first due to my experience of therapists and years of trying to deal with my issues. I could be classed as a typical codependent involved with a partner who never met my needs. Not that I knew what they were. I was sick of being taken advantage of and being in toxic relationships. There was one after the other and I was powerless to stop it. Someone passed me the details for Dr Jenner’s therapy and I immediately put it in a drawer and forgot about it. Online therapy…what next?..I thought. Surely that cannot be effective, so I forgot about it for a few months. Then something happened for the worse and sent me into a spiral that left me depressed with no hope of recovery and resigned to my fate. I had experienced the triple whammy…financial, health and personal problems all at the same time and I felt desperate. My latest partner had caused my financial problems behind my back and I could not cope.
As always happens, I could not find his details at first and that depressed me even more. I searched on the internet, found him and made tentative contact. I sent a long email, not really knowing who would read it, if anyone would read it and unsure of the response. I felt bad that I had spilled my guts to a total stranger and regretted my decision to write. Just as I was going to bed one night, I received my answer. Dr Jenner wrote me a long reply that seemed just to fully understand what I was going through. He didn’t offer solutions, just compassion and empathy and I felt better that at least one person in this wretched world seemed to understand what I was going through. He suggested that we get together online via video and talk about he might be able to help me. I asked him if it would be ok if we did that on the phone first and we set up the call. He called me one evening and we spoke for about an hour….he didn’t say much but what he did say mattered and I felt understood. He made it clear that while he could bring tools and models to therapy, it was my choice whether I decided to act on them. At the time, this felt frightening but in hindsight, that attitude helped me to take responsibility for my progress. I signed up for a course of therapy and I started. . Due to my financial problems at the time, he allowed me to pay over a period of time. This enabled me to start. Two hours before our first video session, Dr Jenner contacted me and asked me if I had any questions and put me at ease about appearing on video. The first session was easier than I had anticipated and I found myself getting more and more comfortable as time went on. It was great to think that I didn’t have to go into town to see my therapist and I guess that is the big advantage for many people. What I found amazing was that Dr Jenner gave me assignments to do from a self-help book between sessions and I was free to contact him by phone or mail if I hit a rough patch. This was never the case with other therapists. I always got an answer within 24 hours, mostly in the evenings. Was the treatment effective…certainly. I found that Dr Jenner centred first on the things I could change quickest…things that would have a real positive effect on me and he gave me constant encouragement to set small goals and not procrastinate. We are now nine months down the line and we have dealt effectively to this point with some of the issues that caused my codependency. Despite my early misgivings, Dr Jenner has become a trusted confidant. He has allowed me to get close enough while still keeping the boundaries needed for therapy. I cannot imagine my life now without him in it or doing therapy any other way.