Posted by: Questions Questions | 2009-08-18

Letter for CBT for someone else?

Dear CS

My fiancé  is going for his first CBT appointment this week. He wanted to go to the appointment because his temper is threatening to ruin our relationship.

During his tempers, I have been broken up with countless times, been called a slut/liar/hoar, sworn at, told he hates being around me, had my keys thrown back in my face etc etc. Although I know that it always takes 2 people, we both agree that I have really tried to fix the negative things that I brought to the relationship &  that for the most part is under control. After he calms down, he always says that he didn’ t mean any of the things he said &  very much loves me and wants to be with me and sort it out.

Although I know he has made efforts, it never seems to last long and we find ourselves in square one. It has got to the stage now where I am drained and sick with worry. He has little belief in himself to begin with &  is getting to the stage where he knows therapy is his last hope. When things are good, they are fantastic, but when things are bad they are horrific …  I always find myself giving into him and begging him to stay during these episodes as I know that as soon as he cools down the ‘ reasons’  that ‘ caused’  him to behave in this manner will lose all significance.

He admits that it’ s almost as if he perceives that I have hurt him in some way and then he has to hurt me in return and run away before I get to hurt him again...even though I may have done nothing to actually ' hurt'  him.

Very sadly, his Dad killed himself a few years back and I don’ t think he ever really got the chance to deal with this, because he had to be there to pick up the pieces for his family. (Extreme anger and fear of abandonment). Please trust me when I say he is otherwise the most wonderful, gentle, caring, super-sensitive guy –  we have been friends too for many years.

My question is twofold –  Firstly, he asked me to write a letter about these points that he can bring with him &  show to the Psychologist. (I tried, but not sure this is a good idea as it only comes out sounding accusatory which may upset him or make him angry or dishearten him before he gets the help he needs?) Please can I have your expert opinion?

And secondly, I am not a psychologist, but I am a good, long term friend who knows and loves him well. I am convinced that if he can speak to someone about his Dad (who was also unnecessarily hard on him growing up, maybe causing more anger) and if someone can help him with this it will release some of his anger. Should he emphasize what happened with his Dad upfront to the Psychologist, or will this come up naturally? (He also agrees that he has never had the chance to deal with it. He is trying to take responsibility so that we can move on and be happy together).

Many many thanks CS!

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Our expert says:
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Its good that he will be seing a herapist, and ask him to discuss with his therapist the issue that he has previously curbed his temper but only temporarily, so that he needs to work on maintaining the temporary improvements he has managed before. And of course this odd sense of perceiving Hurt from you when you haven't actually done anything to hurt him. This strong expectation that anyone he allows to get close WILL hurt him.
Writing a letter for the therapist could be a good idea. But so it can be accurate and not felt by him as an attack or acusation, why not ask to draft it WITH him ? that way you can ask him to suggest points you could describe, and raise others yourself asking for his input on them ? Similarly, simply say to him that you think it has been very unfair to him that he had to deal with so much after the death of his father and suggest that this be something he mentions early to his therapist, so they can deal with this, too.

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