Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘How Therapy Helps’

I think it is everyone’s job, everyone’s spiritual job, to clean up the human mess your parents left you and not spread any more dysfunctional hurt around to any other people. So I think it is your job to do your own personal therapy so you don’t continue the mistakes your parents made with you – and I mean this not only with your own children, but first and primarily with your own children. Then with everyone you have contact with in your life.

Another way of saying the same  thing is that I think  it is everyone’s spiritual job to be the best version of themselves that they can be.  I don’t (at all ) mean doing this at every minute of every day, with a perfectionist pressure, but rather to become the best person you can be. That creates  another very competent, moral, high functioning person (in whatever way that is for you), so that you are making your personal best contribution to the world around you. You might  then be the best man in a construction crew – doing very good construction work and  being a good human being, kind, honest and decent, to those around you. Or perhaps you are a lawyer and could be unscrupulous and out to make the most money you can, or you could be  touching people’s lives, or a corporation’s life, with integrity that profits everyone involved. The world and all the people in it, need those of us who are in  the lucky enough position of having the money and time to indulge ourselves in personal growth – to do it.

I realize that doesn’t have to take the form of psychotherapy. But it is one path.

 

Read Full Post »

Taking your most recent fight to your couple therapist is probably one of the least likely ways to get much of anything from couple therapy. The therapist is not there to be a judge and decide who is right in your struggles. The therapist is there to teach you new skills so you can both get the relationship you want.

You need to set goals for what you want your relationship to be and learn the skills to get it there. So many people come in to a  couple session and want the therapist to “fix” their partner. In fact, you need to look at what needs changing in yourself, and if both partners  will do this, real growth and change can occur.  You need to be willing to look at yourself and what you learned about relationships and love from your family of origin and see how that is getting in your way in your current love relationship.  All of this takes time, dedication, a willingness to take risks, and often, frankly, a touch of humility.

If you are up for all of this, you could really improve your relationship.  There are very specific skills involved in improving an intimate relationship, and for some people they aren’t  easy to learn. You will grow personally in couple therapy much as you would if you were in individual therapy. If you are interested in how you contribute to the struggles you have with your partner,  you could  gain  a lot and grow a lot and have a much more loving , close and satisfying relationship –  through couple therapy.

Read Full Post »

Because you are in transference with this therapist. That means, you experience the therapist as if he or she is a parent to you, and all of us want our parents to love and approve of us. Your therapist is a stand in parent to you.

In fact, “working in the transference” means to a savvy therapist , that giving their support, approval , validation, etc, is very healing to their clients. Therapists should know this and do this. I keenly remember how much it meant to me to have my therapist value and like me. I have said that her words were “mainlined directly to the two year old in me.” That was so very healing, and I never forgot it, so I do the same for my clients. I work in the transference, meaning everything I say and do with my clients is with the awareness that I am a stand in parent and have the opportunity to re-parent, to heal, the child within the grown up who is my client.

So what you are asking about is pretty much true for all psychotherapy clients, and the stronger the transference, normally, the stronger the need for a loving parent to give the child within the adult client the esteem building care they needed and can still profit from. I hope your therapist understands this. It is why so many people say that in therapy “ the relationship heals.”

I have other blogs about transference. You might be interested in this phenomena since it effects everyone in therapy.

Good luck to you. I hope you are getting what you deserve.

Read Full Post »

Couple relationships go through growing stages, and although this is a normal and healthy development, it can be painful to experience and  can sometimes make couples question if they should remain together. This is often why couples often come into therapy as they move through the stages, especially when one person is moving into a different stage than their partner is in.
Let’s look at stages of growth of all couples.

Stage 1 is called Symbiosis:  This is also known as  “The Honeymoon Period” – both people are swept up in  the excitement of their romance. “He (or she) has so much in common with me!” “Everything seems perfect”  and “We are so much alike!” Both are ecstatic with the  mutuality and perfection of the other, “How could anything go wrong?” It’s important to have some  time like this to establish your coupledom.

Stage 2 is called  Differentiating: After a while things happen  that show you are really two different people. Maybe you don’t really like watching  football, and that he has no interest in riding horses. She thinks you are “too” left leaning and liberal and you’ve been proud of that. It’s disappointing and hard to take for the one who wants to feel exactly alike and perfectly suited ( the one that is still symbiotic). It may feel liberating and factual for the differentiating  partner. Here indeed is trouble in paradise. As it happens, one partner  starts feeling restless or smothered. It seems like hanging out with old friends would be so nice.  Doing that sport, hobby (or whatever) that’s been neglected in spending so much of your time together – starts to look appealing.  This is a time when couples often show up in a therapist’s office.

Stage 3 is called Practicing: This is when the couple are both “trying out” being their separate selves while still being connected as a couple. They spend time apart doing separate things. They take the risk to  say they disagree and speak their differing opinions. At this time they are often dealing  with the risks and struggles of dealing with each other’s different needs and preferences , and it is a time of immense personal growth.

Stage 4 is called Rapprochement: This is when the couple is comfortable going back and forth, going away and coming together, returning to each other with ease and intimacy.  They come back to each other refreshed and happy to be connected deeply again.  Their trust is  secure in the other. The each are supporting the other’s self esteem.

Being able to see what stage your relationship is in can be reassuring and useful. Often one person is a little ahead of the other, and pulling their partner to come along with them.  When going  through these stages gets rough, couple therapy is often what is needed.

Good luck with each other! Love is a wonderful thing to cultivate at all it’s stages, and much too precious to neglect or loose.

Read Full Post »

This article is going to list a number of suggestions about how to do your part of the work necessary to making your therapy a success.  My list will be more or less in order of what needs your attention, but after the numbers 1 through 3, you can determine the order of importance yourself.

  1. Decide if this therapist is a very good choice for you, or not. Notice if you feel comfortable with this therapist, if you “click” with her/his personality.  Don’t settle if you just don’t really like this person, or if you get the feeling she/he doesn’t much like you. Also ask yourself if  this person is a good choice for you in terms of knowledge, experience and competence in whatever  areas you need.  For example, if you know you are going to be doing trauma work, don’t let some young therapist “learn on” you.  If she/he hasn’t got trauma training and experience, look elsewhere.  If you think this therapist is a really good fit but later change your mind, reconsider the fit. Also look into my article about negative transference, which I won’t go into here, but is often why people leave their therapist when they would have gained more by staying.
  2. If one of these areas is weak, I recommend you keep looking for another therapist who can fill both requirements for trust building ( personality and knowledge).  You can, of course, go through the process of speaking your mind to the therapist and asking them to improve whatever it is you find them lacking, but this will likely only lead to the therapist’s growth, and not yours.  I don’t think it is a good idea to  bolster the therapist ( as you may have had to do with your parent(s)?)  Therapists  don’t get to learn on the job while you are paying for their help. You deserve to have a therapist who is ready to go with you, and to be the leader in the therapy.
  3. Once you’ve made your choice and are building trust, get engaged with your work. Getting engaged means thinking along with the therapist, answering questions thoughtfully , bringing up thoughts you have about yourself that pop into your mind, and  saying when you think the therapist is going in the wrong direction, or going somewhere you aren’t ready for, etc. etc. Engaging with your whole self, thoughts and feelings, and speaking of them so the therapist  knows for sure what your reaction is to whatever is going on, is probably the most helpful thing you can do to get the most out of your therapy.  Your thinking along with the therapist and saying what occurs to you makes for  two brains working instead of one. And your brain knows you!  I have clients who are interested with a passion about what’s going on in session and are deeply involved,  and others who honestly believe that if  they show up and listen, that’s all they have to do “to get better.”  There’s nothing further from the truth.
  4. The issue of trust is significant.  It may take you awhile to trust the therapist enough to speak up about what you are thinking, or cry when you feel tears, but if you aren’t ready and aren’t ready and this goes on for weeks, either bring this up or go find a different therapist. . Therapists are trained to tune in to their client’s and it’s their job to help you feel at ease by letting you know you that are interesting to him/her, and that you are accepted as you are. If you continue to feel less than comfortable with the therapist as a person, it could be the wrong therapist for you, or it could be something from your history that could be addressed successfully.
  5. Remember the therapist is hired help.  It’s the therapist’s job to reach you, whatever level of emotional intelligence you are at. The therapist needs to explain things so you understand. You don’t have to impress them, or not hurt their feelings, or be concerned how you express yourself. The therapist is supposed to come to you, where you are in every aspect, not the otherway around.

Read Full Post »

In my practice I have met people who have been in therapy for childhood sexual abuse, but have not been able to set it behind them and get fully involved with their lives.

There seems to be 3 stages of healing from this horrific crime against you as a child: (1) Being a Victim,  (2) Experiencing Yourself as a Survivor, and (3) Becoming The Person You Were Meant To Be. Let me explain what I mean:

When you are a Victim, you are reacting and suffering from the effects of the abuse. You may or may not be fully aware of what happened to you as a child.  You are strongly effected by the abuse and it has left you with a myriad of issues. These include problems with relationships and trust, sexual dissatisfaction, substance abuse, low self-esteem and more.  You may or may not have been in therapy, but you haven’t resolved the the pain and effects from the past.

When you are a Survivor you most likely have had a good bit of therapy. You are proud of yourself  and you deserve to be. You have worked courageously to own your  life, you have gained quite a bit of self understanding and confidence.  You have made progress and have a right to be proud of it.  Survivors are  warriors and stand tall.  The truth of your abuse is a fact of life, and a pretty conscious one. You may find yourself telling people about it,  feeling righteously angry that this injustice was done to you. And you have every right to feel this way.

But you are not over the abuse, it is not in your past, yet. It is a present, daily fact of your life and you are conscious of it every day.  “How can I not be?” you might demand, “Don’t you understand  how devastating that all is?” What I am saying, very gently, is there is another place to be with the truth of your abuse. You can get past being enraged and involved in what it did to you.  You  can get on with the rest of your life and be primarily involved with new challenges and self actualization: becoming the person you were meant to be.  At this stage of your healing you are invested in your life now as it unfolds before you.  I find myself saying to others when they ask about my family of origin: ” I didn’t have a normal childhood. But it’s OK, I don’t live there any more.”  You are truly finished with the work of your abuse  when you “don’t live there anymore”.

I wish I could say that the sexual abuse is no longer at the core of your personal growth as you continue on with your life.  It is.  You may wisely recognize that today’s problem or stuck place is stemming from what happened to you in your past. You might go back to a therapist to deal it.  But you don’t identify yourself as  a survivor anymore.  Now you are more involved in things like learning to be more assertive and getting the respect that your deserve at work, or raising your children better, the normal problems and growth areas  of regular life.

Your childhood abuse isn’t a life sentence.  Joyfulness and  deep satisfaction are  out here for you.  If you haven’t found them, keep looking.

Read Full Post »

Recovering from Childhood Sexual  Abuse

Common Beginning Questions:

I think I might have been abused but I’m not sure. Does that mean that I probably was?

Not necessarily, but maybe.  In a way, your job is the same whether you were abused or not:  I would recommend you get into therapy (with someone who has experience with survivors of sexual abuse and who clicks with you) and do the therapeutic work about what ever is interfering with you having the life you want now.  If there was any abuse, and you are ready to deal with it, it will come up into your conscious awareness and you can address it.

What does it mean to be ready to work on abuse? 

Readiness has to do with being in the right place, internally and externally,  so that when you find out the reality of your own abuse,  you will profit from the therapy work and not be unduly  beaten down by it.   Abuse that you had to repress (forget happened) is likely the experience from your childhood that was the most destructive to your self-esteem.  Being ready to deal with this and having it be a healing experience takes readiness.  Left to your own devices, you  very probably won’t remember anything you aren’t ready to deal with.  This is why I don’t use hypnosis with my clients who want to remember what happened to them.

So being “ready” to work on abuse means that  the relationship you have with yourself  ( your internal environment)  is strong:  Your resources inside are lined up PRO YOU. You spend more time supporting and validating yourself than putting your self down.   No matter what else,  in the end you basically like yourself, enough anyway, so that you can help yourself through this process.  You can remember painful things that happened to you and heal from them rather than being over whelmed or  becoming self-destructive.   The good news is that once you are through this work,  you will like yourself,  love yourself,  more than you ever have.

What is this “outer environment” part?   This  could be about relationships and if you have good support, for example  being  in a good relationship or out of a bad one. It can be about finances and when you have the money for baby sitters or transportation or the therapist’s fees.  It is probably also about timing so that you can afford an occasional day off  when you truly need a mental health day.  Therefore  it’s probably not when you are a single parent of young children and working part time and going to school at night.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »