Topic: I'm a therapist with alexithymia.

English Alexithymia Forum > Personal Experience

I'm a therapist with alexithymia.
21.12.2016 by belowthesky

To start, I'm new here and really don't know what I'm looking for. I've always known that my emotions and feelings were always "off." It took me a really long time to begin to realize that something was different about me. I think it began when the first serious death in my family occurred, I reacted as I thought I should have, but I never really felt the loss. This has happened time and time again. The only time I ever actually felt the pain of loss was when I lost my dog, I actually felt the hurt, and this only happens with animals. Is this something that anyone else experiences? This is what never made me consider that I actually have alexithymia. When I moved far away from home and left everyone behind, I never felt a sense of loss, I never felt like I missed anyone, and I know that isn't how it should be. In my relationships, romantic and interpersonal, I can cut anyone out or off and not feel anything. I never thought I could be someone with alexithymia, this is especially true because I am a therapist. My clients love me, they feel I understand them, and in a way I do, but I feel like I just know how to react. I can understand and get why a client is experiencing what they are by using theory to understand them, but I never actually feel or truly understand how they "feel." Does anyone else have a career that involves empathy and understanding human emotions that they are successful at? I just don't seem to understand how I am capable of doing what I do if I don't feel... I'm a therapist that can't figure out myself or what I'm thinking or feeling, even though I help people do so every single day.

Animals, not people....
22.12.2016 by DXS

I really feel the loss when I have lost pets.

When my father died, I didn't cry. My siblings got mad at me for not crying. So, I "Manufactured" it.

When I was a freshman in high school, one of my classmates died. He had been in an accident, he was in the hospital for a month, and he eventually died. I felt that one and was very sad. In fact, that was the first time I had ever been to a funeral. My parents wouldn't allow me to attend funeral before that, but I had to kick and scream on that one. I was 15.

I moved a lot
22.12.2016 by DXS

In my adulthood, I moved around a lot. Once I had "left" a place, didn't even miss anyone. Just looked forward to the "newness."

Counseling with Alexi
20.01.2017 by Asterism

I've been a counselor in various ways, and don't have what others call empathy. I don't feel what others feel, and don't know how I feel about things for quite a while. But I'm an INTJ, so use intuitive thinking to logically conclude how others feel. I also write fiction, so writing about a character other than myself helps to process emotion for me...it works surprisingly well.

I don't think you need empathy to be good at your job. You make people feel heard, and not being emotional makes it easier to get things done and logically see what people need to do next. You're less prone to compassion fatigue. Think of the upsides. You're put together differently, but more capable of handling the "emotional" weight of a profession where caring can literally bake your brain. Sure, it's hard sometimes, having to try to conjure up some responses to emotional inquiries all the time, but you'll handle it better than a hyper emotional person will. Plus, another upside, you get to see the nitty gritty of how emotional people respond to situations so you're ready for anything when it happens out in the rest of the world.

Game Plan
21.01.2017 by gigi

I am beginning my counseling internship. I will be discussing my concerns with my supervisor next week. Since I am familiar and adaptive to how I function, my greatest concern is not with how I treat or perceive others. I have an empathetic soul and feel deeply. Communicating my emotions with self and my close network, is challenging. And, since I haven't openly revealed this character trait they (family and friends) are often perplexed. So, I am preparing to have a conversation with a select few. What I have experiencing for years is a conversation and phrase I no longer am willing to hear: Them: How are you? Me: I am fine. Them: You are lying. And then, I become distant and pretend or act as if.

Does the phrase “I am fine” have same associations/meanings for the “Them” as for the “Me” in the above example?
21.01.2017 by thoughts

An example:

1. In many western countries, eye-contact is associated with respect and honesty, i.e. considered appropriate and respectful behavior.
2. In many eastern countries, eye-contact is associated with threatening or challenging someone, i.e. is considered inappropriate and disrespectful behavior.

Question:
i. If someone dislikes making eye contact, does it necessarily mean that s/he is being disrespectful and dishonest?
ii. If someone likes to make eye contact, does it necessarily mean that s/he is threatening or challenging?

I can't. I'M DONE
09.04.2017 by Karla

I'm 13 and I cant take this any longer. I have alexithymia and my family laughs it off thinking its a joke. I cant do this anymore. I tried talking to some of my friends but they dont understand. I cant feel anything anymore. I took the test and scored 173. My family and friends doesnt understand what its like. My mother keeps laughing at me when I try to explain that I cant feel anything.

To Karla
10.04.2017 by Athanasa

I can't. I'M DONE.

I'm 13 and I cant take this any longer. I have alexithymia and my family laughs it off thinking its a joke. I cant do this anymore. I tried talking to some of my friends but they dont understand. I cant feel anything anymore. I took the test and scored 173. My family and friends doesnt understand what its like. My mother keeps laughing at me when I try to explain that I cant feel anything.


With all due respect, your mental state at 13 years old is not representative of you as a person. Puberty and life at that age basically bounce you around like crazy. Also, given your name, I'm assuming you're female. As a fellow female, I pose you this question: Did you feel like this two weeks ago? Answer within yourself honestly, not here. Then question if it's something ELSE going on that might be making your moods go mad (at that age I almost changed personality when my menstrual cycle came around). Even at 25 I still find myself going, "God, I feel crap! Why am I so miserable and sensitive? Wait... slightly upset stomach, more aches than usual, increased sex drive... GODDAMNIT OVARIES." At 13, chances are you're still not used to the signs of femininity sneaking up on you in the dark alleyway of your mind and smacking you around the head with a brick in a sock.

SECONDLY!

Your highly emotional reaction and wording makes me suspect that you have latched onto Alexi as a potential explanation rather than it being the actual truth.

Finally, WRT your score.

Don't take the test when sleep deprived. Don't take the test when miserable. Wait a week, force your mind to clear of emotion (should be easy if you're alexi...) and retake the test. Be logical - answer truthfully. Try to think in shades of grey - don't just always select STRONGLY AGREE and STRONGLY DISAGREE.

This isn't some tumblr "headmates" bullshit.

Therapists
11.04.2017 by tiger91

To the two therapists/counselors there with alexityhmia or doing it without empathy. One of them being INTJ on top of all of it...

Let me just say, it's no good. Leave that profession and do something else where real empathetic connection isn't actually necessary.

For a therapist/counselor it is absolutely necessary. I did go to one of these people once and she was an INTJ and without real empathy. It sucked. Waste of time.

Therapy doesn't work if you can't have true empathetic connection with the therapist.

Well, maybe for pure CBT it's ok. For anything else involving emotional processing, no good.

Let me add about the INTJ counselor
11.04.2017 by tiger91

She was actually very very enthusiastic in terms of trying to help. She would write me long emails free of charge trying to analyze stuff. But it was just no good, she couldn't help access any feelings to process. And I already have incredible difficulty doing so, obviously (I score 134 on the alexithymia test).

I do remember she once *actually* got emotionally involved. I don't remember what I was talking about but her face visibly changed, and she leaned forward and sat a bit closer and her concerned and interested expression on her face was genuinely deep feeling. That was actually nice kinda, but it only happened once for a short time.

And I don't see how you get to learn to trust a therapist otherwise. The rest of the time she would just be analytical, logically concluding things like the INTJ therapist in this thread explained. No, INTJ therapists do not make me feel heard on a level where it will actually lead somewhere emotionally and for the therapy process itself.

I'm a therapist with alexithymia
17.05.2017 by Lalay1990

"To start, I'm new here and really don't know what I'm looking for. I've always known that my emotions and feelings were always "off." It took me a really long time to begin to realize that something was different about me. I think it began when the first serious death in my family occurred, I reacted as I thought I should have, but I never really felt the loss. This has happened time and time again. The only time I ever actually felt the pain of loss was when I lost my dog, I actually felt the hurt, and this only happens with animals. Is this something that anyone else experiences? This is what never made me consider that I actually have alexithymia. When I moved far away from home and left everyone behind, I never felt a sense of loss, I never felt like I missed anyone, and I know that isn't how it should be. In my relationships, romantic and interpersonal, I can cut anyone out or off and not feel anything. I never thought I could be someone with alexithymia, this is especially true because I am a therapist. My clients love me, they feel I understand them, and in a way I do, but I feel like I just know how to react. I can understand and get why a client is experiencing what they are by using theory to understand them, but I never actually feel or truly understand how they "feel." Does anyone else have a career that involves empathy and understanding human emotions that they are successful at? I just don't seem to understand how I am capable of doing what I do if I don't feel... I'm a therapist that can't figure out myself or what I'm thinking or feeling, even though I help people do so every single day."

I don’t think that theres anything wrong with the fact that you don’t naturally feel or express emotions. I think that you are a kind person that you try to give your clients peace of mind by understanding them (even if you don’t emotionally feel anything). Therapy is for the client not the other way around. I don’t think that you went into the caring field without interest or lack of caring because if you didn’t you wouldn’t be a therapist. I think that there is a place for what you are doing in the field.

" I reacted as I thought I should have, but I never really felt the loss. This has happened time and time again. “ the the process if mourning are personal emotions and emotions are illogical no one can judge our process of grieving. Grieving does strange things to us. Even if we have Alexithymia. Although I understand that there is a pressure to react a certain way.

Lastly, empathy can be acquired the same way we learn any skill. As long as you like your job and the quality of the job isn’t suffering then I don’t think theres anything wrong with you being a therapist.

My hope is to become a therapist too. I too struggle with Alexithymia.

Not sure im alexi or not
28.05.2017 by manarina2000

hi..i hope all of u can help me.. im 17 years old.i m at boarding school..so i often spend time with my friends... many problem occurs..such as exam, i lost my smartphone.. but my reaction to this problem just.. owh..okey.. something that look cools..n dont cry or something looks sad..my frend always do not satisfied on how i react. they do not understand why i react just like that..even when we just had tough examination.. for me..i thought that everything i just let them be..let god do his works for me.. i dont know how to explain.. when im a little girl ..around 7 years old..when my mother buy furniture..i dont felt to see it..in fact i want..but i dont want to show my exitement..as i dont like to compete with my brother..he always want to win..everything tht my mom buy..he wants it..until one day..im give up to compete with him..when im 5 years old..he once bite me..bcoz we compete to answer the phone..he always bully me..i hate him until now...now..my friend n family always think that i dont care if they did bad to me.. for example..my friend will straight forward about their feeling to me..im hurt..but i dont show it..as i also straight forward to them how i felt..i love one my friend very much as she care to me.. her touchness make me felt exited.. i feel someone cared for me..but its just my imagination..she do not care too much to me..huhu..but sometime she cares..i dont know how to explain..but i felt her love..i love her than my mom..my mom..i felt awkward.. i dont know why..mybe my mom dont reallly care about me since i was little kid..mybe..so..my friend always call me do not have emotion..bcoz i dont react to anything..my family also told me that im too relax..same like my friend..for me..over react is just for drama..so d u think i have this simptom? for 17 years old girl? but i know how others felt..but i just let them be..i dont want to conceal with it..i also ignore my feeling..but when sometime at night..i remember all those hurt..the hurt that no one care about me..it ache my heart very much..i felt it physically..what is my problem? someone..please help me..i cannot tell anyone..bcoz i donno how to tell anyone with word.. i dont like to talk about my feeling to others..until one day..my friend ask me how i felt as they do not know how i felt..

To Lalay1990
29.05.2017 by tiger91

You said "empathy can be acquired the same way we learn any skill". Um, not the same kind of learning like for other skills... Yes you have to practice it like other skills but it's about directly involving your feelings personally so it's kind of "dangerous" compared to learning some impersonal skill. At least, from my pov, I'm not used to freely feeling empathy and connect to other people that way and if I do get there (somehow lately I sometimes had some such moments for short times), it's always "dangerous" in terms of how to tell right timing because if it's not done at the right time it can end up bad, it seems. That's probably part of the skill, the timing skills, but until you practiced it enough, well...

Also, let me just say, if you think emotions are illogical, you are not yet ready to be a therapist. Good luck to becoming one but it doesn't sound good to me if you go in to meet your patients thinking that. I've seen and heard of too many therapists who didn't realize how to be empathetic in the right moments (while still giving the right guidance, I do not mean enabling behaviour here) and instead they'd end up invalidating the client's emotions which obviously did not lead anywhere closer to finding the solution for the client. Very unprofessional, in my opinion.

To Asterism
26.12.2017 by Gluskin

I'm INTJ too and pretty much deal with this the same way you do; and I also don't think that Alexi is some sort of curse to me. It rather is to others.

15.08.2019 by User39287A24

Oh I can relate. When my animals die I feel the pain unless they are old then I understand. The real sadness hit me for the first time in a human is when my grandma died, the one who raised me. I feel into a deep depression. My other grandma I was "sad" but I couldn't understand how to act because my great uncle died that day. I began to fake being sick. I feel my own version of loss it seems like, while being disconnected at the same time.

14.11.2019 by User43371N89

whew....i have not been able to express my feelings (when i do have them) for a long time, such that right now i feel its a waste of time. not that i dont want to at times, but that i cant, like i cant find the right words and right intonation to convey it so that it can even vaguely capture how i feel partly because i cannot dissect the individual moods. i like to think that i understand how i feel but in my head (just like now...its all analytic for me both the emotion part and in expressing it ). i am so detached from emotion that when i am trying to explain a feeling or to someone i find my self fixated on whether the person is really interested in what i have to say that i end up summarizing it till it becomes superficial. I feel no attachment to anything whatsoever, i feel deep connections to people i relate with but at a distance, like i fall in love with their personality but not in relation to myself (i dont know if that makes sense) . i can remember blissful moments with people but i dont feel it at the time i am with them......and i have no urge whatsoever to go back. i know i am not a sociopath cos i understand peoples feeling but thats it.....understanding...not feeling it, like i know where the person is coming from. to chat on social media is a chore for me(cos to what end). i am not a sad person, i am not bleak, i like to have fun in social gatherings but in small doses unless it will become overwhelming, then i will have to recharge in my own space else i feel out of touch. i rarely feel the need to meet or know people, out of sight is out of mind for me, not that i dont care but something else takes its place till you are in sight again and all the emotions (would i call it that...more like memory) come rushing back. l remember when i was diagnosed with spinal stenosis and i was to be operated on my parents were panicking i didnt feel any significant emotion at all . i process situations mostly on a mechanical level. there is nothing i have experienced in my adulthood that has made me want to cry but i cry at times in movies that are emotionally intense.
i like myself the way i am most of the times but sometimes i have flashes of sadness cos i dont fit in and i would like to experience emotional connections with people on a deeper level for the experience. sorry i am everywhere on the map (a representation of brain)
would i be considered as having Alexithymia or i am just lacking emotional awareness and expression?
ps. i had a 134 but then for someone that has difficulty processing emotion & feeling the test was highly tricky


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Alexithymia - emotional blindness - is a personality trait characterized by the inability to identify and describe emotions in the self. Core characteristics of alexithymia are marked dysfunction in emotional awareness, social attachment, and interpersonal relationship.
Alexithymia is prevalent in approximately 10% of the general population and is known to be comorbid with a number of psychiatric conditions. Due the inability to cope with feelings and emotions as described in psychology there are counseling services to establish mental health.
Psychologist have argued that the alexithymia construct is strongly related to the concepts of psychological mindedness and emotional intelligence.
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