• Quote of the Day
    "Find a place inside where there's joy, and the joy will burn out the pain. "
    Joseph Campbell, posted by Cat Dancer
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What Can a Therapist Do For Me?

What can therapy do for you?
Chances are, if you've been abused, you've been advised to get therapy. A lot of well-meaning people have said that, but something is holding you back. Let's look into the whole concept of therapy in a Question and Answer format.

Q.: What does "getting therapy" mean?

A.: If your body was causing you as much pain as your emotions are now, you'd rush to an emergency room. But for some reason, society expects us to handle our emotions ourselves. That is unreasonable. You need to treat your emotions with as much respect as your physical body. People advising you to "get some therapy" are telling you to find a professional who can help heal your emotional wounds.

Q.: What can anybody do to help me "heal my emotional wounds"?

A.: The analogy between emotional and physical healing only goes so far, but it's still helpful. The fact is, the amount of emotional pain you are feeling is the equivalent of arterial bleeding. If you are in this much pain, you need a professional's help.

Q.: What could a therapist say? What could they do? Could they make it not have happened? Will they make me forget the abuse I suffered?

A.: No. They will help you learn to live with it. To continue the physical analogy, a proper therapist will clean the poison out of your wound so it can heal cleanly.

Q.: How??

A.: It's different for every patient, so I don't have a simple answer. A different analogy might help describe the process. Imagine if you need to...

Q.: It sounds like you're dodging the question. How can it help if you can't give me a straight answer?

A.: Hold on. When you have an infection and a doctor gives you an antibiotic, do you insist that she describe exactly how it kills infection? Of course not. You take the pills and trust. You're not being fair to yourself if you hold therapy to an impossible standard.

Q.: Okay. But can't you give me some idea of what it's like?

A.: In therapy, you do a lot of talking about things that bother you.

Q.: Talking? That doesn't sound very impressive.

A.: That's how you treat emotions and learn behaviors. That's how you learned to read, how to do math, how to do almost everything. The therapist listens to your pain. She trains you how to find new answers to old problems. Over time, your brain learns new ways to think and new paths to travel. Because it's a process, a learning process that you have to travel through, you must experience it to understand it. When you are in emotional distress you also get 'stuck' in destructive thought patterns that loop around and around. Talking about your pain with someone you trust helps break that loop so you can move forward.

Q.: Well, all of this is pointless, because I can't afford therapy anyway.

A.: Actually, you have a lot of available resources.

Q.: How can I find a therapist?

A.: Actually, you have a lot of resources to help you find a therapist. The specifics will vary depending on where you live, but here are some suggestions.

If you have medical insurance, you may be covered for therapy too. A simple phone call to your provider will give you an answer.

Some countries or states have therapists who will treat people who can't afford therapy. Call your local social services department.

There are many agencies that have therapists working for them. These therapists can treat you for free, or charge you on a sliding scale depending on your income. Call your local United Way or First Call For Help for a list of agencies. They may have a waiting list. Ask to be placed on it.

If you are in terrible emotional pain, go to your nearest emergency room. They have psychologists on call. The psychologist can help you with crisis management, and will give you advice about how to find a therapist near you.

Online therapy may be a first step. There are limitations to this method, since it is not a substitute for face-to-face counseling, but it can be a good resource. See On Line Counseling for more details.

Hospital social workers are also good resources. They know all of the programs and options in your area. Describe the problem, and ask for the name of a therapist they would recommend to their family.

Women's crisis centers and agencies can be excellent resources. And they also monitor the cases they refer, so you have a quality control assurance. Call a Hotline and ask for help in your area.

Q.: There's a difference between a psychologist, a psychiatrist, and a therapist, right?

A.: Yes. The difference is in the level of education the therapist has reached, and the ability to prescribe medicine. The important thing is for you to find someone who is experienced in your issues, whom you can visit often, and with whom you feel comfortable. The main point is to start. Because you are a survivor of abuse, rape, or incest, make it clear that is what you need help with. Ask for a therapist with experience in this area.

Q.: What about my pastor, or a marriage counselor, or my neighbor who's a nurse?

A.: There's nothing wrong with going to those people, but they would not be your best choice in this case. You need a specialist. If you needed surgery, you would go to a surgeon, not a general MD.

Q.: What if I go to all this trouble, and I don't like or trust my therapist?

A.: That happens. Don't let it stop you. Find another therapist. If you ask the same people for help in finding a therapist, tell them why their first recommendation didn't work. That will help them come up with a better suggestion. The most important thing is to keep looking and keep trying. Some people go to four or five therapists before they find the right person.

Q.: And this will really help me?

A.: Yes. This world is filled with thousands of people who can tell you therapy helped them. Please try it. Nobody deserves to hurt.
 

dark

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Great article, indeed.

I've tried therapy once for a few sessions due to the abuse from my father (verbal and physical, not sexual) and for sibling deaths -- brother (cocaine overdose 1987) and sister (cancer 2003) at the rip age of 43.

Maybe I didn't give it a change, but the therapist was new to the profession and it seemed I was helping her do her job more than I should. I bailed and never went back.
 

David Baxter

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The fit of therapist to client may be the most important aspect of therapy. If the fit isn't there, it doesn't matter a whole lot how skilled the therapist is.

But that's a reason to find another therapist - not to give up on therapy.
 

Halo

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I couldn't agree with you more David. I have been through my fair share of therapists until I have finally found one that I fit with. Although I wanted to give up on therapy altogether, I didn't because I never knew when the right one was just around the corner....and he was :)
 

dark

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The fit of therapist to client may be the most important aspect of therapy. If the fit isn't there, it doesn't matter a whole lot how skilled the therapist is. But that's a reason to find another therapist - not to give up on therapy.

Well, I had one bad experience about 4 months ago and haven't been motivated to explore others and/or go back to the same therapist. She just took notes and never offered insight and/or problem solving techniques. For reasons unexplainable, I seem to be doing much better without and dealing with the cards dealt. I just have heavy bouts of depression occasionally; nothing that immobilizes me though, but it's rough every year around the holidays which are over, thank God!
 

David Baxter

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Well, I had one bad experience about 4 months ago and haven't been motivated to explore others and/or go back to the same therapist. She just took notes and never offered insight and/or problem solving techniques. For reasons unexplainable, I seem to be doing much better without and dealing with the cards dealt. I just have heavy bouts of depression occasionally; nothing that immobilizes me though, but it's rough every year around the holidays which are over, thank God!

My first therapist was kinda like that. Worse, I came in one day and said I wanted to talk about X and his response was no, that wasn't the issue and we needed to talk about Y. I stopped going pretty quickly after that.

I should add that I had been a therapist myself for many years at that point and X was an issue about one of my sons which was front and center in my mind at the time. It may not have been the reason I originally consulted that therapist but it was an issue that was stressing me out and one I needed to deal with. I don't mind saying I was p****ed off by the response.

Interestingly, I went to see someone else and told him that story and his response was, "Of course. At the moment, the issue with your son is the landscape of your life. Of course you need to deal with it, no matter what other issues there may be for you to address, because you aren;t going to be able to focus on any other issues until you come to some resolution of this one."

Needless to say, I stayed with that guy. :)
 
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it's well worth it to keep looking for someone who's a good fit. you need someone who truly listens to what you are saying and with whom you feel you are in capable hands. it may take some trial and error, but finding the right therapist can make all the difference in your life.
 

dark

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Interestingly, I went to see someone else and told him that story and his response was, "Of course. At the moment, the issue with your son is the landscape of your life. Of course you need to deal with it, no matter what other issues there may be for you to address, because you aren;t going to be able to focus on any other issues until you come to some resolution of this one."... Needless to say, I stayed with that guy. :)

Sounds like you received the "expected" advice you were looking for. I seem to be doing OK without for the moment; my situation is usually isolated during the holiday season, January and early February, when both my siblings died. I go through the same depression/drill annually. The sun is out here (finally in Seattle) and things are good!

it's well worth it to keep looking for someone who's a good fit. you need someone who truly listens to what you are saying and with whom you feel you are in capable hands. it may take some trial and error, but finding the right therapist can make all the difference in your life.

I've stopped looking for the moment, plus my insurance doesn't exactly pay for this type of treatment which is a major concern. I may try again in the future.

I hate the fact the US in particular doesn't recognize mental illness generally speaking; it's disgusting.

Thanks you all for the concern! :confused:
 

David Baxter

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Sounds like you received the "expected" advice you were looking for.

No, you misunderstand me. I wasn't even looking for "expected advice". I was looking for an opportunity to discuss something of great concern to me. The first guy told me he wasn't going to discuss it at all. The second guy said by all means let's look at that issue.

As a bonus, the advice I got from the second guy as to how to approach my problem was excellent - and it worked.
 

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