More threads by Eunoia


can therapy "cure" people's problems or is it only ever a way of helping the person make the best out of their lives and gain some greater understanding about themselves? I understand that therapy isn't a "magic cure" and that it takes work and is a two way deal. I also understand that it's all about a continuum and that when I say "cure" I'm not implying that there's something wrong w/ the person him/herself that needs to be "fixed" by a therapist. But I am wondering, is every issue treatable so to say? Can there ever be a client where therapy doesn't work, even w/ different therapists? Does this only come down to the person's motivation in change?

I'm asking, because I feel as if this will always be my life. I haven't given it a fair chance, I know (therapy I mean) but I'm so scared of that and I guess just can't see it working for myself.

To offer a vague reply: It depends upon many variables in the person who receives therapy. Some "issues" take more time than others. Motivation can play a role in how therapy works. Not to mention the therapist's level of training and experience. Therapy can work like the tide...some weeks it may seem like it is working, then others it seems like you have made three steps backward. It can be a wonderful experience and there are very few people who would not benefit from therapy. You said, "But I'm so scared of that and I guess I just can't see it working for myself." I have heard that when my clients make statements like yours when they are getting closer to the point where they can gain some new perspective of themselves. It might seem like it isn't working, but it is.

Today a client had a breakthrough following almost a year of therapy. She was able to begin to heal an area in her life so that she can be open to new aspects of life that she has been avoiding. It takes time, patience, and a willingness to see it through. Sporadic attendance is how therapy might appear ineffective.

Hope this answers your questions? Just think of this way: If you are not willing to give therapy a fair chance, then you are not giving yourself a fair chance either. Best wishes,


May I add?...

...from my own experiences, I have noticed that successful therapy begins with a collection of expectations. Some of them realistic and attainable, others ephemeral and possibly unrealistic, but no less important. I have suffered from severe mental illness all of my life, and have spent many hours in a therapist's office, pastor's office, councelor's office, doctor's office, UHG! In the beginning, after I became an adult and realized that life was not working, I sought out help with the belief that those professionals had the answers. Unfortunately, they believed that I had the answers! They believed I was doing something wrong that was causing the difficulties in my life. But the problem was not in my doings, it was in my beliefs and expectations!

I finally hooked up with a psychiatrist who specialized in Cognitive restructering and psychotherapy. He helped me build a list of expectations and desires that became the main focus of our discussions. The past became insignificant compared with present day thoughts and beliefs. Between us, we have been able to come up with a far more functional pattern of beliefs, desires, values, and goals from that original list of distorted expectations and desires.

I believe that I could have started the healing process a lot earlier if I had focused on expectations early on in life. Anyway, it's something to think about.

Daniel E.
Once you get a certain momentum going and things start falling into place, you can more easily ignore, resist, or deconstruct whatever was dragging you down.

In a possibly related post, Dr. Baxter wrote the following in reply to the comment: "...How many people on this earth struggle thru the first 30 years of their life and then magically become productive good human beings?"

David Baxter said:
You might be surprised to find out how many... many of them addicts or drug abusers, probably... some abused in various ways by life and families who end up in institutions of one kind or another... some who, perhaps like you, are just too depressed and angry to do anything except lash out and hate... what all of these people have in common is that one day something happens, or sometimes someone happens, and they say, simply, "I've had enough... no more... the next 30 years are not going to be like this". It isn't suddenly all milk-and-honey-in-the-promised-land after that, of course... it's more like one small step at a time, one hour at a time, then one day, one month, one year.. but that moment of epiphany or whatever it is changes that person's life.

I have seen many examples of this... some quite close to home.

Questions about suicide (October 2004)

From a posted article:
Studies suggest, for example, that factors like how motivated patients are, their readiness for change, the gifts of the therapist, and the strength of the bond between patient and therapist all make a difference in whether psychotherapy is successful.

After four years in treatment, he is now able to express his anger once in a while, he says, adding that his therapist "has angered me, and challenged me and I just woke up; it was like the Big Bang for me."

For Psychotherapy's Claims, Skeptics Demand Proof

Eunoia said:
...I guess just can't see it working for myself
Many people with depression, for example, would naturally think they would not benefit from any form of treatment, feeling their situation is hopeless and that their personality can't change over time. Part of therapy can be deconstructing your assumptions about what is possible and what is not. I used to tell my therapist "I just don't have enough desire to do ____." She would reply like a zen monk: "Who says you need desire? Just do it."

The big problem in mental health now is not the lack of effective treatments. The problem is people not getting treatment in the first place or falling between the cracks and not getting treatment on a regular basis.


you guys are right in that it is a lot about my own beliefs and expectations (of myself, of the person who might be able to help...) which are keeping me back. and no, I'm not giving myself a fair chance, but if I was then I wouldn't have any of these problems in the 1st place, right? I wrote down a list of reasons "for" and "against" going to therapy (for myself) and I thought they'd be about even... imagine a piece of paper w/ a vertical line down the middle to divide it into these two categories. my for column was 1/2 page on one side. my against column filled both columns on either side. ironically enough, we covered this topic in class this week and it does come down a lot to emotional awareness, awareness of the problem, motivation, etc... but it doesn't matter how much I know this is 'wrong' b/c as much as it is wrong it is right. I used to be able to see it as okay, now I go back & forth every day, every hour... it's so exhausting. How can I be so ambivalent??? How can I have such strong feelings/ opinions about such two extremes???? How can someone live like this, wanting to go into 2 different directions, living out both versions but clearly they're clashing.... even if it would work, and I think it could w/ lots of hard work, I can't seem to get to that point of giving it a chance...why am I like this???

Daniel E.
The standard advice given to those between the fence about going to therapy or not is to explore therapy. As you know, you can quit therapy at any time. I see it as a no-lose situation and have only regretted not going sooner.
I wonder if it is the "what" you might believe you will find about yourself in therapy that brings on your feelings of ambivalence? I found from my own therapy that my awareness of my life's turmoil comes without judgment. To be aware of my "issues" without self-criticism was important to my own understanding of me as well as to the "healing" of me.

One can find all the reasons in the world not to seek out therapy...but I can tell you of only one reason to go...You!

The question to ask yourself is "I am willing to give therapy a chance or better yet am I willing to give myself a chance?"

I agree with what Daniel said. One can not go wrong by receiving therapy. What do you have to lose by going through a process which involves healing? And further, what do you have to lose if you don't go?


How can I be so ambivalent??? How can I have such strong feelings/ opinions about such two extremes???? How can someone live like this, wanting to go into 2 different directions, living out both versions but clearly they're clashing.... even if it would work, and I think it could w/ lots of hard work, I can't seem to get to that point of giving it a chance...why am I like this???

Hi Eunoia,

Perhaps this is typical for you to be this ambivalent, not only regarding therapy. If that is so, then make up your mind if you would like to be this way. What is the benefit for you?


Dear Eunoia,

I think that if you ask yourself, "Should I seek therapy?", you have already answered your question with a "yes". People don't ask themselves these kind of questions frivolously. It would be like saying to yourself: "Let's see, I need to go to the grocery store for some eggs, fill the tank on the car, go have a therapy session, and water the lawn." It just doesn't fit into our casual thoughts.

If you are asking yourself whether you need to go to therapy, there has to have been some sort of impetous that brought you to that avenue. Good luck!



it's not a no- lose situation though- I have a lot to lose by going. a lot. and yes, I do have a lot to lose by not going as well. so it's a no- win situation! I can't see what I'd want to find out about myself, I'm already being told I'm worthless, lazy, ungrateful.... I can see the ugly parts of me, what else would I want to see? that those are parts of me but that's it's okay??? it's not okay!!!! I wouldn't be this ambivalent if it were a clear cut situation, if I was actually in a position where I could go for therapy, and I'm not (there are a ton of reasons why I can't go even if I'd want to) if I'd have people to support me through this, if I'd have some kind of indication that there'd be something worth searching for.... as bad as this is, as bad as things are, you get used to them b/c at least you don't have to face yourself- or others. I know that's not really the point of living...

I have gone from not thinking there is anything wrong to thinking that there might be on some level, but not even considering counselling, to wondering whether therapy is an option, to understanding I can't do this anymore, I can't do this by myself, but that I have no choice... I don't expect you to understand as you don't know all of the reasons. It'd almost be better not to have any insight into this, b/c then there wouldn't be the pain of knowing, of the perceived discrepancy btwn my life and what could be, what people strive for....
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