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Is therapy the right thing?

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This topic contains 17 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by avatar ktfran 3 months, 2 weeks ago.

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  • #727702 Reply

    Hi everyone,
    I’ve been reading this site for a long time now, and I’ve noticed that not just Wendy but also the commenters frequently suggest therapy for the LWs.
    It seems that pretty much everyone agrees this is the right way to face personal problems.
    However, I don’t necessarily agree 100%.
    My background: I was dealing with some self-esteem issues a couple of years ago (still do, tbh) which showed themselves as a fear of exams and thus pretty much ruined my career. I went to therapy for about a year about that. It did give me some tools and ideas on how to change thought patterns. Theoretically. But that didn’t really work in every situation and didn’t magically cure me. Some of it might have to do with the therapist as a person (quite passive, and I didn’t fully trust her). But I wonder if another therapist would have been able to do better – probably not much. When the previously agreed number of sessions was over, I was kind of glad and didn’t push for any more. The therapy did not make me pass my exams, and it did not make my self-esteem issues go away. So while I can appreciate that it’s a solution for some people, I don’t think of it as an end-all-be-all.
    Does anyone else have a critical view on it? (Or maybe I’m just an exceptional case?)

    #727705 Reply

    I think therapy is suggested here for most LW’s, not all of them though. I really suggest therapy when people have patterns of self destruction or self sabbotage. Like when you let people treat you bad, you need to understand why that happens.
    In your case, maybe it was your therapist. I stopped going to mine because he became really expensive and really didn’t help me. He only wanted to talk about my ex, what was he thinking, why would he do such things. But I was the one who was in therapy. I really wanted to focus on me, the relationship was over and I wanted to heal, not to dwell on him. So I stopped going. And I really feel like I should find a new one, but all the effort it takes to find a new really good one, I’m really lazy about that right now.
    “It seems that pretty much everyone agrees this is the right way to face personal problems”
    Therapy is a tool you can use to face your problems. But it is not magic. There has to be an effort on your side. They only give you tools. You either accept them or you don’t.

    #727709 Reply

    Therapy isn’t *supposed* to be a magic cure-all. From what you wrote, it sounds like you thought showing up to therapy and going through the motions would somehow fix what you’re going through without much effort on your end, and it doesn’t work like that.

    Maybe it’s not for everyone, but it’s a great place to start for a lot of people who come to this site.

    #727745 Reply

    Therapy is a wonderful thing, and I think a lot of readers on this site would agree that it saved their life in some capacity. I honestly don’t know what kind of person I’d be now if I never sought out help for myself.

    That being said, it is absolutely critical for the success of therapy to have a solid level of trust with your therapist. If you feel uncomfortable with them in any way, it’s totally fine to drop them and see another one.

    Two other crucial factors in making therapy work though is a) understanding the work is a PROCESS and takes time, and b) you actually have to DO the work in order for the tools you’re given in therapy to be effective. I had to learn the hard way that your therapist doesn’t have a magic wand to wave over you and deem you cured…sounds dumb to say, but it’s true.

    Back to your original question though, it sounds like your therapist wasn’t a good fit for you. Perhaps a new perspective could introduce you to some new tools to help work through your self-esteem issues. Best of luck!

    #727820 Reply

    If you have a serious problem that’s affecting your ability for you or your relationship to function, Therapy is absolutely something you should try. It’s not supposed to be a magic pill, but a good therapist should help you figure stuff out and learn coping mechanisms. For couples, it can be great to help resolve conflict, improve communication, rebuild trust – IF both people are committed.

    It isn’t always going to solve everything, but with the right therapist and attitude, you should be able to make progress.

    #727992 Reply

    @ale wrote (and others said similar things) this:

    “Therapy is a tool you can use to face your problems. But it is not magic. There has to be an effort on your side. They only give you tools. You either accept them or you don’t.”

    I wholeheartedly agree. Once you find a therapist you click with, you get only what you’re willing to put in.

    Personally, I think most people, even the most seemingly put together people, could benefit from a good therapist.

    #727998 Reply

    Thanks for your answers!
    You may be right that the therapist probably wasn’t the right fit. When I first contacted her, I was in a bad place emotionally and was kind of exhausted from calling dozens of therapists and getting rejected because they were all booked out. So I was glad to find someone. Her approach was to let me talk most of the time, relatively unstructured. It felt weird to talk about my secrets with a person who I knew nothing about. Like, I don’t even know if I’m approaching a subject that might be sensitive to her… I’m complaining about my mum, maybe her mum died last week? Felt like talking into a void at times. Also I felt like my problems were trivial and other people were so much worse off (but that last one was on me, not her).
    At the moment I try to work with self-help books, affirmations and so on.

    #727999 Reply

    My therapist would listen a bit, then interject and ask questions that challenged me and my way of thinking.

    I’ll give a couple examples of how she helped me. I’m sensitive. I grew up in a household where feelings where held in. We didn’t talk about them and I have a hard time speaking up when something is wrong.

    After talking to her about problems I had with friends, family or boyfriends, she helped me figure out the right words to use so I wasn’t afraid to speak up. Since then, I’ve flourished at work and relationships.

    Another example, I was always afraid to look out of place or like I didn’t belong. She helped me see that people aren’t judging me, that I’m projecting my my fears onto others. I live a more authentic life because I’m less afraid of being judged. I also judge people way less now and am happier in general.

    My problems were pretty insignificant, but they were mine and it felt good to talk to someone who not only understood, but helped.

    Anyway, everyone has their own stuff to work out. I’m sorry your first experience sucked and I’d be turned off too. I suggest therapy a lot because the right one can really help.

    #728071 Reply

    NC, what you describe is very typical for therapists for very good reason. They let you run the session because giving you freedom to talk about what’s on your mind is the whole point. They are a void because their personal lives don’t matter, the session is about you. It’s not a typical relationship at all; even though it is incredibly intimate it is in many ways one-way. A therapist who shares details of her own life right out of the gate is one to side eye, not the one who keeps quiet. A therapist isn’t a supportive friend, they’re trained professionals who help guide you to your own conclusions and break throughs. You have to do the work and it isn’t easy. Very often it can feel like running on a hamster wheel going over and over the same shit but that’s because lasting change generally takes time. Your issues weren’t created over night they won’t disappear that fast either.

    #728129 Reply

    I get it NC, I wouldn’t enjoy that either. I would think they’d at least try and do some groundwork to make you feel comfortable opening up. Like I don’t even like sharing feelings with family, it would take some prodding to get me to do it with a stranger. It was just a bad fit.

    #728188 Reply

    Yeah, you should probably try another therapist to see if you find a better match. My therapist sometimes lets me talk and talk and talk, but she also knows when to pause and ask me questions. I once referred a friend to whom I used to be close to my therapist, and we compared our experiences — I learned that my friend was a talker in therapy, while I was getting more out of the experience by being asked pointed questions at appropriate times. I appreciate that my therapist seems to be able to pick up on preferred styles, and that we’ve found what works best for me.

    We also didn’t jump right in to my problems. I think we spent the first two or so sessions talking about my life and my background so that she could get a good sense of who I am as a person. I’m not sure if the primary purpose is to help her understand me, or to help me become comfortable talking to a stranger, but I’d suspect this approach was beneficial to both of us.

    I can relate to feeling like your problems are petty, but like @ktfran said, they’re your problems. Everyone’s struggles are their own, and just because someone is experiencing something that may be worse, doesn’t mean your issues and pain and struggles aren’t real or valid.

    As for worrying about “triggering” you therapist. I mean, I suppose that’s considerate, but don’t. This person is a trained professional, not a friend whose feelings you need to tiptoe around.

    #728460 Reply

    Thanks again for your considerate answers.

    Maybe my expectations were too high and I should have done more work myself.

    Yes, I guess you’re right, ktfran and Copa, about not tiptoeing around the therapist’s feelings. I guess that’s a manifestation of my initial problem (thinking about others’ feelings too much, offen in unnecessary and unhelpful ways).

    That’s interesting what you say about “sharing” a therapist with a friend, @Copa. When I was looking for a therapist, I unknowingly contacted a friend’s therapist and even had a first meeting with her. We seemed to get along well, and this therapist asked more pointed questions and seemed energetic. However, when I told my friend that I met with therapist X, she said: “Oh, but that’s my therapist!” She didn’t like it. And shortly after, her therapist called me and said that we couldn’t work together. Pretty sure my friend told her to. That was a pity, I would have liked to go there. Interesting to know that this can work, two friends having the same therapist.

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