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What do you talk about in therapy?


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I have been seeing my therapist at least once a week now since December 06. (I have seen her off and on now for about 8 years but a recent breakdown made the appointments more frequent.) I can't wait to see her each week, but it has gotten to where I am not sure what to talk about or what to say which causes me to be anxious. I have a hard time talking as it is and I can't seem to start a conversation. She tries to get information out of me and I swear she must be so frustrated with me by now because I have a hard time opening up. It's like I get stage fright and I can't make the words come out of my mouth.

Last week I mentioned to her the idea of seeing her less frequently. She said that she wasn't quite sure about it, but if I fel more comfortable then we could space out our appointments for every other week. I have been racking my brain for the past two weeks now trying to figure out what I want to say and how to actually make some progress. The trouble is that I am at a loss. I normally go into the appointment and just wing it, taking things as they come, but I don't always feel like any progress was made at the end of the appointment. Then I end up feeling like I've wasted her time which makes me feel horrible. It's a vicious cycle.

So, to make a long story short, what kinds of topics do you bring up in therapy? What do you say? So many questions...

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I'm doing weekly therapy too. Rest assured, there are times that my tdoc looks bored, because the conversation is so shallow. However, I am just beginning to open up (I've been seeing him since September 06), so perhaps your breakthrough will come soon.

He begins every session by asking me, "how was your week"? I know this is *always* the first question, so by Sunday night (my appts are on Mondays), I will have thought it through, and reflected on the week. Sometimes the session takes an unexpected turn, he'll latch onto something that I thought was insignificant. It can be a bit frustrating, as we don't get around to discussing what I thought we would, but in the end, I find it to be helpful.

If you're having stage fright, trying looking away while answering. He's become quite accustomed to me staring out the window while I talk. I find it hard to think, and react to questions while looking at him directly. Try focusing on her plants, or a spot on the wall, or the blinds or something. To me, anyway, it's less intimidating.

Also, you might try making a list throughout the week. Write down problems/concerns/anxieties/difficulties/events that occur.

Yeah, I know, therapy can be a difficult thing to work through. Just remember, *you've* hired *her*. She's there to help you. Wasting her time? Nah, she's getting paid regardless of what occurs or not.

Best wishes and good luck in the future.

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I used to think that I should come prepared with topics I wanted to talk about, but my tdoc says that isn't so. In the weeks that I was doing well, and nothing happened, I used to think I was wasting the tdoc's time but she sensed that I have built up walls around me not letting anyone in or see how I'm feeling. Well I probably do yeah, without even realising it.

Something my tdoc has started doing recently is she makes us sit there in silence and let any thoughts come into my head and when I'm ready then I say what's on my mind. Sometimes that's hard because I have so much stuff going on in my head and I wonder what I should bring up out of the many things when we only have an hour. Sometimes I don't know what to bring up if I've had a smooth week but eventually something comes up and we talk about that.

I dont think you'll come out of every therapy session feeling like you've made progress. Things take time.

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First of all, I think that therapists know that trust and honesty takes time to develop, and you might not be at a stage to share deep and meaningful stuff right now. I don't think your therapist will see it as wasting their time, in fact her reluctance to reduce sessions indicates that she thinks what is going on is important. I do know that therapy is not like any other endeavor in that it's not a linear process where we keep progressing and it's not something we can be 'good' or 'bad' at. What matters is your commitment to go despite it being uncomfortable, confusing, painful and threatening, and whether you can trust that your therapist has a true investment in helping you.

Maybe the fact that you don't plan before you session is hindering you. I'm not suggesting you script what you're going to say, but maybe take time during the week to get in touch with what you feel, or what is going on, make a brief note of it, and bring it to the session. Or once you're in a session, be really aware of your thoughts, bodily sensations, emotions, or lack of them. I think it okay to say 'I don't have anything to say.' Some of the best therapeutic healing work occurs in silence. Our society doesn't allow us much time to sit with someone who accepts and understands us, in silence, without an obligation to entertain them. Sometimes as children we needed our parents to just sit and 'be' with us, and we didn't get it. In Indian cultures, people will seek out a guru, and just sit in silence with them, and come away feeling touched and healed by it. So don't be afraid of silence.

If you find yourself getting anxious, say it out loud. Just say 'I am getting anxious' and see where it takes you. Reflect on what is your worst fear about speaking up. Maybe you could talk about that. I do believe that therapy is about working with whatever presents itself. It is never a place where you are expected to please, perform or 'make progress', beyond showing up.

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Thank you for your replies. I do trust my therapist very much. Probably more than anyone else I know. I guess I just hate that I can't verbalize how I feel or why. Hell, sometimes I don't even know anything more than "I feel down, crappy, etc." I want more than anything to just open the flood gates and pour everything on her lap. I know she wants the same because she has said so, but something inhibits me.

Probably going back to the whole upbringing thing in which there was never anyone to talk to so you just keep it in. After awhile you know nothing more than how to push feelings inside to never be addressed or seen again.

I know she really wants to help me and cares more than anyone else I know.

Thanks again for your responses. I'm new here and hope to become a more active member.

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Thank you for your replies. I do trust my therapist very much. Probably more than anyone else I know. I guess I just hate that I can't verbalize how I feel or why. Hell, sometimes I don't even know anything more than "I feel down, crappy, etc." I want more than anything to just open the flood gates and pour everything on her lap. I know she wants the same because she has said so, but something inhibits me.

Probably going back to the whole upbringing thing in which there was never anyone to talk to so you just keep it in. After awhile you know nothing more than how to push feelings inside to never be addressed or seen again.

I know she really wants to help me and cares more than anyone else I know.

Thanks again for your responses. I'm new here and hope to become a more active member.

I can really relate to everything you said here on so many levels. Yes, I do trust my therapist. She's been great even though I've only seen her for a few month. I have a really hard time verbalizing my feelings. I have a really hard time just naming them. I think one of my most common statements is "I feel like crap." It's hard for me to talk about the abuse issues I have. This week we really got deep into them. And as much as I really do want to let them out, I find it difficult.

With past therapists, I've had some degree of success with writing stuff down and giving it to him/her to read. A lot of my struggles center around not being able to find the words. But if I have time to think about it and write it, it gives us a place to start.

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My current tdoc got me to write down some stuff, but when I brought it to therapy she didn't seem to want to actually see/read it (I'd done a timeline with certain major events around a certain age). She said it's not the facts that are important but how I feel about the stuff. I felt a bit disappointed and discouraged about it. Although we didn't finish discussing the stuff along the timeline I never brought it with me again. :-( And there was some important stuff on it.

I'm starting to realise that my tdoc isn't perfect (I don't think anybody is) but I don't like or believe everything she says. She has her limitations. Yeah she has good points too, I ain't gonna get rid of my tdoc or anything. Just not going to bring up stuff that she's ignorant about. She seems to lump together people with certian things in common (I can't be specific) and thinks just because in her opinion certain people do X and Y, that ALL people that do X do Y as well, which isn't so. Again, I can't be specific. I bet although I told her I don't do Y, that she thinks I could be just saying that, and not telling her. But that's f'n crap as I never have and never will do "Y". I feel a bit like I'm being discriminated against. She's just ignorant.

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