Psycho-Babble Psychology | about psychological treatments | Framed
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How does therapy help you?

Posted by Dinah on July 14, 2004, at 17:00:28

I'll bet the answer is different for therapists who use different therapeutic models. Or maybe even at different times in therapy.

My therapist is rather eclectic in approach. At first he was a pretty standard combination of CBT and Stuart Smalley psychobabble. But now I think you'd call his approach "Whatever doesn't get Dinah to dig her heels in and argue" or maybe "firm flexibility". Maybe he uses a sort of Irvin Yalom-ish relational therapy with me.

And at first what helped most was learning that I wasn't crazy. That there was a name for what I was experiencing. I could organize my experiences around this new name "OCD", and the CBT exercises helped a lot in increasing my sense of mastery and helping me feel more confident in my ability to handle anxiety.

Then later what was more helpful was continuing to discover why I did the things I did, and getting to know my patterns better so that I didn't surprise myself so much. This also increased my sense of mastery over my emotions. So that now I can say, OK, I understand that this button has been pressed and that's why I overreacted. Or oh yes, I'm dissociating. Let me learn how to dissociate even better so that I feel some small amount of control over it. I bought a book on self hypnosis and practiced.

Then later (and also at the same time), therapy helped me by teaching me that it wasn't absolutely necessary to maintain emotional distance to be safe. That it was ok to take chances in relationships, and that while they didn't always work out, sometimes they did. This gave me a slightly increased sense of mastery over the totally baffling (to me) world of interpersonal relationships. My therapist continues to be my translator in this foreign territory.

And now, I think, therapy is helping me internalize a sense of safety, a sense that I can tolerate things, that I never ever developed growing up. I never experienced abuse or trauma, but my life was never ever safe. There was always the threat of loss hanging over my head. My parents' marriage wasn't stable. My parents' moods weren't stable. School wasn't stable. And after so many years of feeling safe so often with my therapist, I think I'm beginning, just beginning, to feel that I can feel safe within myself. Just beginning mind you. Nowhere near close to finished. :)

I'm almost positive that last step was only possible when my therapist quit resisting my demands for reassurance, for forever therapy. Now that I have a stable therapist/mommy that I know will be there for me, I feel just a bit capable of wandering off and exploring on my own, and just checking back now and again to make sure that he's there. Just beginning mind you, no where near there yet. No where near.

So if I were to sum up what has made therapy helpful to me, it would be a sense of mastery.

And the release valve. I can't forget that therapy acts as a release valve to keep me from blowing sky high when stress is applied.




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