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Not sure how to phrase my question... Anyone found success with therapy after many attempts and/or hating it at first?

 

My pdoc is always urging me to try therapy... I've been in and out of therapy for years, sort of. I've probably seen 6 or 7 different therapists at least, but most of them only maybe 3-4 times. A few I stuck out for much longer. They used various methods, mostly psychoanalytic and CBT-type stuff. It's all always seemed like useless talking or condescending methods. I generally know what my issues are so talking about them doesn't accomplish anything, I don't want someone to just vent to. CBT just feels like a load of crap to me. The "homework" is just too much and seems condescending. I don't want to get off my butt to take a shower, and I have too many things to do I'm already avoiding doing, I'm supposed to add all these other activities like mindfulness, tracking my moods, going out and being social, etc. etc.? I just can't buy into it. It feels overwhelming, even if it did seem like it would help, and it doesn't.

 

I don't know, I always WANT therapy to work, but I feel like I want it to do things it can't do maybe. Or maybe I'm not giving it enough of a chance, or maybe I just haven't found the right therapist? Ugh I don't know they're all just so annoying I want to punch them. I can't stand being told what emotion I just expressed, fuck validation, I'm not four years old... "Wow, you sound really upset!" Really? Gee maybe that's why I'm in a therapist's office! Or they ask stupid questions like, "How do you think I can help you?" or "What would make you feel better?" Like I'm supposed to know that??!? That's why I'm there! I don't know...

 

Just curious if anyone felt like this and got over it... I'm so tired of looking for the right medications and I just feel like someone should be able to "help" me somehow, whatever the hell that means. 

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I've had a REALLY shitty history with therapy.  My psychiatrist was doubling as my therapist at the time and things went wrong.  Since then, I've been in and out and pretty much was at the end of it all when I tried one more time.  My current therapist is amazing, but I went in with a list (literally) of what I needed and what I didn't.  I knew what I've been through and I knew what wouldn't work for me.  It seemed to help find the right one.... or maybe I was lucky.  This is what I did... I pretty much interviewed him over the phone.  I asked some basic questions. " Do you deal with this?  Do you have experience in this?  Is your experience through training or do you have real life experience with this?  "  Once that was done, I met him and read off my list and told him what kind of language I respond to/and don't.  I asked him what his method/philosophy is. 

 

I see mine twice a week and each week, we do a quick check-in to see how things are progressing and to identify anything that needs to be changed. 

 

Therapy is a two way street.  They ask questions to get to know you better.  You should ask questions too.  He asked me, "How do you feel you are progressing regarding...."  I replied and then followed up with, "How do you feel I'm progressing in ...."

 

In the end, I wouldn't trade my therapist for anything. 

 

Hope that helps.

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I too have had a lot of bad therapy experiences. But I have finally found one who is awesome! I think it is so dependant on having a compatible therapist for the treatment to work but I think it might also be to do with attitude partly. When you describe feeling it is condescending and unlikely to help I know that is exactly how I used to feel, and I always seemed to be proved right. I was so at the end of the rope with everything this latest therapy attempt was really a last ditch try for me, and so to give it every chance I could I went in with the mind set that it WOULD help and well it did! It maybe that I just got lucky but I do think not being so sceptical and judgemental made a difference. You have to be accepting that not everyone can be as intelligent as us crazies :P

 

I really do hope you find some treatment that works for you, fighting for worthwhile help is as hard as fighting are illnesses far too often.

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I have been in and out of therapy for about 25 years.  The first several years, I didn't find any relief in therapy.  It has only been in the last 10 years that I've experienced the real benefits of therapy.  I use a lot of CBT techniques b/c its what I've found most helpful over the years.  My favorite technique is questioning my thinking and replacing "faulty" thoughts with ones that are closer to the truth.

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I have had 3 good therapists in my life, and I'm 36 years old.  I've seen a lot of crap therapists.  Right now I have two therapists and they are both amazing.  One is doing couples work with me, and the other is my primary therapist.  I am so grateful for both of them.  They also do very different therapy.  My primary therapist works with people with OCD a lot and really just helps me work on how I think-- challenging my thoughts, helping me recognize unhealthy patterns,  etc.  When things are bad, she sees me twice a week to keep me going.  The couples therapist does more work with relationships and interpersonal stuff.  He's really challenging, but I feel like I've grown a lot with him.

 

I couldn't be happier with the therapy I'm in, but it took years to find truly good therapists.  You just have to keep looking until you find someone who you're comfortable with and who challenges you.

Edited by dianthus

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I just wanted to add that when I started CBT, I was insulted at how condescending it seemed. I had to go to a class 6 times at the order of my pdoc (whom I really liked). By the 6th time, it wasn't that I adored everything about CBT, but I did find aspects of it that were really helpful for me. I don't use every aspect of it, but I am glad it is in my tool box, and I definitely use techniques from it. And I took it 9 years ago.

 

I'm also kicking around the idea of taking a DBT class in my head.


I had difficulty with "talk therapy," but it was most likely because my therapist was friends with my dad, and wouldn't let me talk about him in any context, good or bad. "Your father is a wonderful man," was the response to anything I said.

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I had difficulty with "talk therapy," but it was most likely because my therapist was friends with my dad, and wouldn't let me talk about him in any context, good or bad. "Your father is a wonderful man," was the response to anything I said.

 

Ethically he should never have taken you on as a patient. 

 

Talk therapy has worked really well for me.  I don't do as well with CBT.

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I agree, but it was really hard to find good therapists in Pittsburgh that didn't know my dad at that time. Part of it was that part of the psychiatry dept. at Yale moved en masse to Pittsburgh. But that was a while ago, it wouldn't be a problem now.

 

My pdoc even did his residency under my dad, and was his protege. But they came to not really like each other. So it worked out. I didn't really like him either, but he was a good pdoc.

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I am not a fan of CBT (although that may be because when I was doing group CBT it was not really the appropriate therapy for me at the time). It seems kind of judge-y to me, although I know that a lot of people find it empowering.

 

Talk therapy, I prefer, although I think an awful lot depends on whether you click with the therapist.

 

The most helpful therapy type thing that I have done is a course of mindfulness based stress reduction. It didn't cure anything but it makes living from day to day easier to deal with and I learned some useful skills that help if I get overwhelmed. The guided meditation bit I don't like, but the philosophy of judgmental awareness and of being compassionate to yourself really works for me.

 

Have you tried any mindfulness based therapies? They're definitely becoming more popular.

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Yes, I've had talking therapy that was far from BS, but it had to be picked out from other stuff which was poor, useless and even harmful, over an approximately fifteen-year period.
 
(And it's only side-effect progress when you think your therapist is talking rubbish and you realise that you're right to think that, even if it is a boost to confidence and self-esteem.)
 
I agree with Phoenix_Rising

"My favorite technique is questioning my thinking and replacing "faulty" thoughts with ones that are closer to the truth."

This, emphasising the cognitive end of CBT first, can be very hard work initially, as it's about trying to detect, observe and correct sub-standard, negative and erroneous thinking, using a mind which is prone to sub-standard, negative and erroneous thinking.

This is particularly why the early steps are often best guided and rather formal in structure. It's rather like learning a new skill: carpentry, or sailing a dinghy.  Getting the sound basics in place can be boring.

 

A therapist who can communicate at the right level and in the right style for you is also a major factor.

The person in therapy has enough to do understanding themselves, without having to make major shifts in understanding to establish reliable communication with the therapist.  That  should largely be the therapist's job, I think.

 

Chris

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"Or maybe I'm not giving it enough of a chance."

 

I have a lot of problems with therapy and therapists, but listening to your description, I'd say you're not giving it enough of a chance. Therapists are not mechanics, and you're not a car. 'Fixing' you requires some cooperation from you, even if it's just being honest with your therapist about how frustrated you are with everything and how hopeless you feel. A good therapist will help you work through that stuff. But since you're not a car, therapists don't have schematics on you, so they have to learn about you by asking questions like, "how do you think I can help you?" and "what would make you feel better?" If you're overwhelming default reaction is, "This is stupid!" it's going to be hard for anyone to get much traction with you. 

 

You want therapy to work, but it doesn't sound like you want to do therapy; it's your pdoc that's pushing it. If you don't want to do it, it's probably not going to work. 

 

So, if we do acknowledge that, what else would help? There are other interventions, like home visits to check in on you and give you some more social connection.  My state has a department of mental health that provides different services. Clinics and hospitals are usually better connected to these services. You'll probably still have to go through a therapist to evaluate you for these services, but hopefully they'll be willing to refer you without giving you too much hassle, and they'd be willing to step back from having  a hyperactive role in treating you.

 

Two other things: You may just have a really strongly biochemical depression, in which case, yes, drugs are an important -- maybe crucial -- part of getting better; and maybe you're right that therapy won't help *that* much. It might be something that comes later. 

 

Second, I think environment is more important than a lot of people (therapists included) think it is. It may be helpful to reframe your problem (just a little bit) in that light. For instance, the problem could be not that you're depressed, but that you're living alone. There is a really irritating therapeutic assumption that just thinking can cure depression, which I find extremely annoying because there are clearly environments that reliably *create* depression. If you're in a depressive environment, one goal could be to figure out how to change that. It's probably not any *easier* than doing homework, but there's less of a "what the hell is the point" factor. And once you make that change, it will be helping you every day, whether you want it to or not. Maybe that's just as quixotic as therapy seems, but it might shift things a little to think of things that way. 

 

ETA: There are also completely different modalities of therapy, like art therapy or even horseback riding. If being in your head too much is interfering with therapy, maybe something not head-based might work better.

Edited by ovOidampUle

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Now that I think about it I'm not even sure what "talk therapy" is or should be... I stuck with one guy for 10 months and it might have been talk therapy but it was mostly me talking/venting/explaining, which became repetitive, and useless to me as I'd already "analayzed" my issues to death. He never offered any insight, just nodded and said "hmm interesting" a lot. I'm guessing this works for people who need a sounding board to make self discoveries, but I need more guidance than that. What does talk therapy actually look like, or is that it?

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A lot of talk therapy is like that, and I've had the same experience. Don't need anymore insight, thank you! Please don't waste any more of my time! And i don't really care what kind of therapy it is, if you've been doing it for ten months and haven't gotten any better, time for something different.

 

What's aggravating about therapy is you can read about all different kinds of therapy, like CBT or ACT, and find it impossible to find a therapist who actually fucking DOES it. You call them and they say, "I'm familiar with that and incorporate into my work, but I mostly take an eclectic approach." 

 

A lot of time, it really does come down to the therapist, how long they've been doing it, how skilled they are, and how your personalities mesh. Some CBT practitioners act like third-grade teachers, explaining lessons and handing out assignments. Other CBT practitioners are more careful about addressing your concerns about feeling overwhelmed, or they realize when things aren't working and change their approach instead of blaming you for not trying hard enough. So it's still kind of a crap shoot. 

 

I've been in your same situation, after years of therapy. I don't spend much time with therapists anymore, because I start hearing the same things I've heard before; and when I push back, sometimes things get ugly. But I haven't given up. Right now I'm seeing an ACT therapist and I feel like he's helping. 

 

I also think that I've had to have life kick me hard in the balls before I'm willing to acknowledge to myself what my real problems are. 

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The only therapy that helped me was solution based through workbooks.  DBT (green book on Amazon is great!), CBT (online at MoodGym or Ecouch), behavioral threapy and ACT therapy.  I find that therapists just echoed my thoughts and words, and I wanted solutions, not a parrot.  This is different for everyone, though, and there are therapists that are good, I'm sure.  Just sharing what has worked for me.

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Good answers above.

 

Off point:

My therapist recently cut me loose from our regular CBT sessions, saying I had obtained a good awareness level of the mode of therapy.

I am feeling a bit rejected because I really,really like her.  She is very smart w/ that intuitive ability that is a big help.

 

Question:

What therapy would have you confront your phobias?  That is, say I am afraid of going outside and I visualize going outside and conquering the fear.

What would be the name for that?

I think it would be CBT based but perhaps by a different name for the therapy.

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What therapy would have you confront your phobias?  That is, say I am afraid of going outside and I visualize going outside and conquering the fear.

What would be the name for that?

 

I think the phobia is called agoraphobia. And you're right, treatment is CBT-based and it's called exposure therapy. 

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Yeah I knew agoraphobia, just couldn't think of it.

(To be honest, I thought it was agro-phobia, which I guess would be fear of farming come to think about it.)

 

Thanks for the name of therapy Big O.

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While we're talking about exposure therapy.. I did some exposure therapy with my fear of strangers and it really helped. Like I'm still scared of strangers, but now I could ask a shop assistant where something is, which I couldn't before. They try to slowly confront your fears while in a controlled environment. They take away safety behaviours (drinking lots to avoid talking for example, or fiddling) to make you feel most exposed, but that's how you improve. I would definitely recommend it for your agoraphobia.

I've done lots of different therapies. Although many people swear by mindfulness, it just sends me to sleep! Schema therapy was incredibly interesting but not very helpful. Psychodrama was intensely empowering and if anyone ever has the option of doing it, I would recommend it. Compassionate mind helped with critical thoughts. Cbt, meh I can take it or leave it. I try to use it when I have a problem or feel emotional, but I don't use it every day like you're supposed to. I've also done counselling, psychotherapy and some mixes of things. I'm hoping to try DBT next, to help me deal with my emotional reactions to things.

Most of those were done in a group setting, and I think that helped me lots. Being able to bounce off other people really helps me to validate what I'm feeling, and it makes it less important how good the therapist is. One to one, I've had good therapists and bad therapists and amazing therapists. I would recommend trying until you find someone you click with, but I agree that you have to be open to the experience.

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