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Choosing a therapist

Posted by Victoria on April 1, 1999, at 14:26:20

In reply to Re: What is "normal?", posted by Daniel on April 1, 1999, at 5:31:00

Daniel, I've had two experiences in therapy--one mostly bad, one very good. So I thought I'd share some of the what makes the good one good, in case that will help you make a decision about therapy. First, I shopped around and saw a few different therapists before I made up my mind. I thought through what I wanted, in my case, an MD so medication could be part of treatment, someone well-trained and experienced, a psychoalanyst (because they have to be analyzed themselves and so know the process from the inside), but someone who was flexible about treatment approaches. I had so many fears based on my previous bad experience that a lot of the early part of therapy was spent dealing with them. In fact, I was so uncertain about risking getting into another bad situation that initially I couldn't even set up a regular appointment, but needed to go home, think about the session, and call for another appointment when I felt ready. That was OK with my doc, and that's what told me he was right for me. (I'm not suggesting that as a "test," but as evidence that he was willing to take my feelings and needs seriously). I also found it important that my therapist and I are similar in temperament; he understands more quickly and, as a person, sees things similarly. It's also important to me to feel that my therapist likes me, in the normal ordinary way that we like or don't like people we meet. My point is, that it's important to know what you want and stay aware of whether therapy is providing it; your therapist should be willing to discuss those goals and progress (including being able to admit mistakes and take your perceptions seriously, not labeling them "resistance" or whatever). One big way that my previous therapy went wrong and this one occasionally gets off track is when something that's neurochemically-based gets "psychologized"; it drastically worsens my mood and makes me feel crazy when I try to dig for causes and connections for something that is actually the result of brain chemistry. (I know the distinction is artifical, but it has ben very helpful to learn to sort out what's chemical and can only be changed with meds and what thought and emotional processes can be affected by talk therapy.) For me, meds are the answer for my basic mood problems and it's best to think of therapy not as a "cure" or even means of "changing" myself, but as a way to get to know myself more deeply, in relation to another person, and to become more fully comfortable being myself. Good luck!

> >
> > PLEASE don't trust just anybody. Get recommendations from several sources, and have a second source who can help you figure out if you ARE getting the proper help from "therapy." The anguish I feel when I think back on some of those helping hands. There should be a special hell for those people--I doubt that I will ever be able to let go of the horror of where they led me.
> > ... And in addition to that, I am TERRIFIED of seeking professional help again.
> > ... It had taken me weeks to get the courage to even seek help. Well, I tried the drug therapy, but I've been that way too many times.
> Dear Cait,
> Could you please extend a little bit more on that? I am considering whether or not to enter a psychotherapeutic treatment... I have never tried that before. I am well aware of the fact that just as medication does not help everyone, the therapy, too, might not be suitable or helpful to everyone. But the thing that worries me is that I have read contradictory opinions these days that psychoanalytic approach may actually do more harm than help! (I do not know what kind of treatment approach my therapist would/will choose, possibly cognitive-behavioral for depression and anxiety, but there are deeper roots for my misery - avoidance presonality disorder - for which problably Freudian psychoanalysis would be the only means of psychotherapeutic treatment available these days. And to be honest, I do not believe that trying to recall and relive and integrate traumatic and painful experiences of my childhood and adolescence would be really of any help! In fact, and here I may be wrong, I am trying hard to forget them,
> I am not interested in "dissecting" them again and again! I have also heard of stories of people who even after eight, ten years of psychoanalysis, they were not getting anywhere! So, I am pretty confused and hesitant about this matter...
> Thank you,
> Daniel




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