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what do you use your therapist for?


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Hi again

Okay, I'm having a little crisis of conscience here. I've been working with my therapist for over a year and I've told her a lot about my past, but lately I've been wondering what the point is. I mean, I expected there to be some "aha" moments where I would feel suddenly unburdened with some weight or other, and my life would be that much better from then on. This is, I guess, a naive view manufactured by Hollywood, although if anyone has experienced, this, please prove me wrong. I've told her a lot about my most painful memories, more then I've shared with anyone in my life, and I don't know, at this point, if I'm just wasting my time. And I don't mean that I'm expecting an "aha" moment, although it would be nice, but I just don't know if all this talking is helping, at all. What do other people think? What's the point of talking out your past in therapy? Do you find it to be therapeutic, or is therapy really only good for venting current frustrations?

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I mean, I expected there to be some "aha" moments where I would feel suddenly unburdened with some weight or other, and my life would be that much better from then on. This is, I guess, a naive view manufactured by Hollywood, although if anyone has experienced, this, please prove me wrong.

It isn't a naive Hollywood invention -- I have experienced this. Not the "unburdening" part, because I don't really have anything to "unburden," but definitely the "aha" stuff in terms of understanding myself, my motivations, my ways of thinking, etc, much much better. And yes I think my life has improved in some ways due to therapy. I don't usually talk about my past, but it's not really venting day to day frustrations either. I don't talk about my frustrating day at work or that kind of thing. And I don't talk about my childhood. It's more (for me) about looking for patterns in my life, understanding the way I think and act, and using this knowledge to improve my life in areas in which I feel there are deficits.

What do you want to get out of therapy, specifically? Is there something you want to change about your life, or something you are confused about concerning yourself? Is there anything about yourself or your life or your behavior that you want to understand better?

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I end up talking about my past a lot (mostly because of abuse-related PTSD being my primary dx), but I've definitely had cathartic moments. Most often after a tdoc session, when I'm thinking about it, something just clicks and I feel like I understand better why things are the way they are for me.

If you're not feeling it with therapy, maybe you should mention this to your therapist. Maybe it's time to try a different approach. If you don't want to be just talking, have you ever tried CBT?

Different people want different things from therapy - I get a lot out of just having someone listen andvalidate my pain, and I do spend time venting about day-to-day concerns as well, but that's just the kind of support I need right now. Maybe things are different for you.

Also, I guess it depends on how well you are. Different people in different stages of MI need different sorts of support. I'm fairly newly dx'd, so that might be part of what's happening with me.

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I've been working with my therapist for over a year and I've told her a lot about my past, but lately I've been wondering what the point is.

I had this same experience with my first therapist, a very nice warm and fuzzy older woman. But it was almost like I was talking to a really good friend. After about a couple of years, I stopped going.

The next crisis period, after interviewing a number of women who I did not feel comfortable with, I decided to try a male therapist for the first time. I started out by going twice, three times a week (I had great insurance) and for the first time in my life I realized what therapy was all about.

I think my biggest breakthrough was knowing that I can and should bring everything to therapy, including my thoughts about the previous client in the waiting room, my dreams about my therapist however embarrassing, my irritation with the therapist, etc. My best results had everything to do with my opening up about what was actually going on in that moment. Of course my totally dysfunctional childhood was around, but also my fear about visiting my parents in the coming week, the fight I had with my husband that morning, anger at my daughter. The key was using the present mood/feelings/emotions as a tool to deal with my issues. Therapy works when something is actually happening in that room, not just talk. Don't plan out what you are going to say. See what comes up.

Also I believe it is extremely important to find a therapist that you feel safe with but also is willing to challenge you and deal with the hard stuff. Sometimes it depends on your current needs. I suggest telling your therapist that it is just not working. See what happens and how the therapist handles the situation.

Once I found the right therapist and then finally was willing to work hard (it is very hard work), the benefits were enormous, even with only a rare "aha" moment.

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Water's right - what's been the most meaningful in therapy for me has been the ability to look at my relationship with my tdoc and sort of use that as a road map for figuring out what's going on in my head. And a lot of that has been really silly-seeming things (i.e. "Oh, tdoc, this week I had a dream where your dog ate me". No lie - this actually happened.) that turned out to be meaningful and trust-building.

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What do you want to get out of therapy, specifically? Is there something you want to change about your life, or something you are confused about concerning yourself? Is there anything about yourself or your life or your behavior that you want to understand better?

That's a tough question. I guess I'm confused about a lot of things, and when I think about it, just talking about embarrassing/painful memories has helped me to feel less embarrassed and has put things into perspective. I think I was in this "mode" for a little while, and then for some reason I stopped feeling it was immediately relevant. Not that I felt like all issues from my past were resolved, but I just didn't want to talk about it anymore, and I was afraid there was nothing else to talk about.

If you're not feeling it with therapy, maybe you should mention this to your therapist. Maybe it's time to try a different approach. If you don't want to be just talking, have you ever tried CBT?

What's CBT?

I think my biggest breakthrough was knowing that I can and should bring everything to therapy, including my thoughts about the previous client in the waiting room, my dreams about my therapist however embarrassing, my irritation with the therapist, etc. My best results had everything to do with my opening up about what was actually going on in that moment.

Water, you're a genius! I had a session tonight, and I just started saying exactly what was on my mind at the moment. We had a great session and I felt like I made some progress.

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CBT stands for cognitive behavioral therapy - it's sort of based on the idea that inaccurate thoughts contribute to distress and if you change the thoughts, you can help the distress. I'm no expert - seems to involve a lot of reframing and stuff. Maybe you'd better look it up - I think I just mangled it totally.

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I had eighteen months of psychotherapy.

I found that during the therapy process itself, it felt painful, arduous and confusing. It didn't feel worthwhile or like I was getting anywhere. I wanted my thoughts untangled and my feelings to change.

What actually happened was that I had that intensive time of 'feeling' things. It was necessary to dredge up my childhood and 're feel' what happened, because once I had done that, the power of that feelings melted away. Now I have done, I see the benefits of that in that I am much more emotionally literate than I am now. I still feel pain about the issues I raised, but now it doesn't dominate me.

I know what you mean, Karuna. When I think about it, it is true that 're feeling' emotions help to put them in perspective, and they tend not to exert as much control over you anymore. Thanks for pointing that out.

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Well I'm on my third therapist in almost two years & this one I don't really care for that much but it's good to have someone to talk with whenever problems come up & lord knows it's been a hard week emotionally for me what with my recent breakup.

For me therapy isn't just about confronting the emotional problems I'm dealing with but it's also more about finding ways to avoid the triggers that produce a bout of severe depression in the first place along with trying to find ways to reach some of the personal objectives I've set for myself....such as,and most importanly getting back into a relationship with another person(if you know what I mean).Of course talking about these goals with my therapist isn't going to bring them any closer to reality but it does help sometimes.

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