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Does Therapy really work ???


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Hi, I have found some help in therapy, but only short term. If I have a particular issue I am struggling with or mixed up about, I go see someone for 3-4 sessions and then I can usually work the thing out. Most of the other learning I've done has been from my own personal research and introspection, and actually I've found a lot of insights on these threads...

I think it's different for everyone. Have you talked about this with your therapist? How bringing up all of these things is just making you feel worse... Perhaps he could change approach or focus for awhile to give you a mental break...

Edited by Symora
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Guest ASchwartz

Hi Symora, Sweetsue and Everyone else,

This is a question I am planning to write an article about. Of course, there is nothing in this world that works for everyone all the time. However, my opinion and experience is that, on the whole, yes, therapy does work.

However, there are a number of things that need to be in place for therapy to work:

1. A skillful and caring therapist is a key ingredient. That is because it is the relationship between therapist and patient that is central to recovery. In my opinion, it is that relationship that is more important than the type of psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral, psychodynamic or any other kind.

2. You need to feel motivated in therapy and want to recover from what makes you miserable.

3. You need to feel trust and confidence in your therapist. This is true whether you are seeing a medical doctor for an illness or a therapist for emotinal issues.

4. You and the therapist need to set clear and concrete goals to achieve so that you both know when you have achieved those goals and can end therapy.

5. You need to express all of your doubts to your therapist and have the kind of therapist who can deal with your doubts and your criticisms.

Frankly, it is sometimes more important to change therapists than to do anything else.

What do others think about this?


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I actually like Allan's reference to 'confidence in the therapist' as being key and I think that is why I have only been helped by short term Employee Assistance Program interventions. I would go in to discuss a particular issue, the person would helps me focus on the elements at play and then I moved one.

I've never found a long term therapist I have been comfortable with... and I've seen about 5. One would fall asleep as I was talking, the other told me I was damaged and would never get better, the other was arrogant and would talk to me as if I was an spoiled child ... I gave up for a long time after that and only used EAP services once in awhile to help me cope.

Recently I've found someone who is nice, an X pastor. I think he is someone I could trust for a longer time... it's nice when it works. I feel that, indeed, just being able to trust someone with our inner life and trusting them not to hurt us is a big step that may be worth the time in therapy...

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I'm going to jump in with my thoughts on this without reading the other responses first, so my apologies if I repeat anything someone else has mentioned.

I mean I understand the concept of therapy, but what is the point of it, its making me think about things that I really would rather forget about and leave forgotten. You know push the pain as far to the back of my mind and just leave it there.

I believe that pain pushed to the back of your mind will likely fester and manifest itself elsewhere in your life if it is not heard, felt and acknowledged. You may not be consciously aware of these painful feelings, but you may also make unconscious and unhealthy choices due to them.

Having to talk about it aswell, its not just embarrasing but I feel degraded by having to voice about the memories that well, quite honestly make me physically sick.

The hope is that giving a voice to the memories eventually takes the secrecy out of the emotions, lessens the shame and eases the power these bad experiences have had over you in your life.

Surely therapy is supposed to ease things, isnt it ?

Eventually, one would hope, but the road might be a great struggle at times.

I think the relationship between the therapist and the client is crucial to the success of the therapy. A well-matched dyad is really essential in this. It gives a client the opportunity to express themselves in an environment which is supportive and non-judgmental. It also allows a client to work through issues and feelings within a real, live and healthy relationship with another human being.

Also, the client likely needs to be very motivated to make positive changes, listen to alternative ways of thinking, be willing to challenge themselves. Of course having a very competent and caring therapist helps too.

This therapy stuff is unquestionably extremely difficult and very hard work, Sue. I hope that you find it begins to offer you some inner serenity soon. How is your relationship with your therapist?

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Currently I am seeing 3 therapists, they all have different styles in there approach and different goals that they are working towards. Its quite intensive and has become somewhat overwhelming.

Three at once? I wonder if this is typical? Is one of them a Pdoc? I would think several different therapists at once would be confusing.

I think the main therapy that I am most struggling with dealing with is the psychotherapy. Its kinda burdened by the fact that its a man therapist, and god that makes me sound so, .... whats the word Im looking for prejudiced, sexist ??? - Im not sure, but seriously Im not really like that. Its just that when discussing certain events men just scare me, make me feel insecure and unsafe.

Maybe... for these very reasons...having a male therapist could really be healing for you.

Probably dosnt help that I feel that our personalities clash more than just a little. I feel judged (although in all fairness, I have great paranoia about being judged anyway)

Have you told him you feel this way? How is it, do you think, that you clash? Feeling safe to not be judged for anything is really key, I think. Maybe try expressing this to him.

I realise I just have to work at it harder and try be more open, but its easier said than done, when every word I speak takes so much effort, and its even harder when its something I dont want to think about let alone say out loud. Maybe Im just not ready or strong enough to face things head on yet, Im not sure.

Building trust takes time, Sue. I can remember curling up in the chair, closing my eyes, hiding my head, whispering things...but I felt a strong connection with my therapist too. Are you getting any of this? My therapist also allowed me to write a lot and would read my letters during the sessions. I had to work my way up to talking. Give yourself time, take your own pace and remember it's your therapy. If something doesn't feel like it's working, tell your therapist. Let him adjust to your needs, work things through with him.

P/doc recomends this therapist very highly and he has gotten very good reputation, so it is probably me. And I really dont want to let them down, which is just making me feel or add pressure to myself which shouldnt be there, coz like I feel surely I should of gotten over all this crap by now, and if I was pulling my weight I would be , well not cured, but atleast a little nearer to the finish line, compared to in reality where I currently am at.

You're going to therapy for yourself, Sue. Not for them. For you. There is a chance this therapist...no matter how qualified he is...may not be the right one for you. Make your needs known to him. Express your doubts. Try being emotionally honest. Try not to pressure yourself with judgments. Have faith in yourself. Hopefully things will get better for you soon.

Sue, on the flip side, I do understand what you're saying about too much being too much with the years and years of therapy. Especially if you feel you're going round and round in circles. You may indeed have a valid point in this. What do your therapists think about you possibly taking a break?

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Guest existindeath

Hi Sue,

Yes I had my doubts about therapy; psychology or any thing related. In fact even with a basic understanding and belief in some of the things that were preached they often appeared more like something you could work out with some common sense. Though I would not say that about the more serious types of mental illness that are obvious.

It appeared mostly like a waste of time; something really not needed and with my first experience with a psychiatrist it almost cemented that belief or did for a very long time. Now my attitude has changed about the therapeutic process. As Allen pointed out a good relationship helps with the person your dealing with. Though I will always be distant in the relationship there is this attempt on my part to figure things out. Only recently did I actually believe that the diagnosis that was given a long while back was actually correct but only because I believed that if something was finally said the problems would dissolve. Now don't misunderstand me here I appreciated this new discovery recently. In fact I thought at last it makes sense... though now it all seems so pointless like a journey with a cliff at the end.

So did therapy help? Indeed it did now I know the why's. How they will be dealt with it is another matter as it appears there is no point to further discuss anything. Now granted I do believe this is the time you probably should talk about something but its like WOW... what is the point I know the problem. Yet there is this thing called acceptance though for some reason it's not working.

Also your right therapy does drudge up things you tended to bury long ago thinking that it was best left there and never to be thought of again. Like they would never have an effect in your future,,,nah no way. Though this would only happen if you spoke of them to begin with.

In a weird way your lucky because all those bad memories even though it is uncomfortable to speak of is probably and hopefully the best way they can help you. Truthfully I never spoke about myself in my entire life.. never. Then I did and well hell soon came after that session... oh it took it's time for a few days then snap... what a wonderful feeling. So I can relate a little bit to what your feeling.

In the big picture your probably get the right medications and supposedly after talking about your issues your hit this plateau of coping that will reduce symptoms and could lead to less medication. These are all the pluses or at least how it should or would work. As for taken a break... hell yeah... sometimes you just need one and it could very well be a positive though it all depends on many factors.

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