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Is Therapy Useless?

Dark111

FORMER SF SUPPORTER
#1
I came across an article recently: "Why Psychotherapists Fail To Help People Today"

The opening paragraphs set the tone quite accurately:

"Many people who enter psychotherapy today aren't helped at all. Some end up more troubled than when they began treatment. And ironically, some therapists are examples of the kinds of problems they're trying to treat...Many skilled and competent therapists are out there. Moreover, research shows that psychotherapy can be very effective. Either alone, or sometimes in combination with the judicious use of medication. Yet so often practitioners don't help people very much. Some struggle for years in therapy with one practitioner after another, and never seem to make any progress. Others resolve some conflicts, but then are hit with others that hadn't been addressed."

But what I thought the writer really hit the nail on the head on was the following:

"Overall, today's practitioners tend to share in, rather than critique and examine, the social norms, values and anxieties of today's world. Too often, they uncritically accept good functioning per se, and conventional values like power-seeking, as psychologically healthy. This blinds them from recognizing that "normal" adjustment can mask repressed feelings of self-betrayal, self-criticism, and the desire to be freer, more alive. All of those longings can conflict with or oppose parental expectations or the pressures from social class membership."

There are in fact still therapists who work from obsolete theoretical models, which can do more harm than good to patients and to the profession. In those situations, I believe talk therapy is useless. Therapists who also don’t redirect patients to focus on their issues, painful as that might be, rather than on the person who is not in the room, are actually validating destructive narratives — the exact opposite goal of therapy.

One thing that was not at all mentioned in this article, not even hinted at, was money. Sure the expensive therapists can miss the mark too, but in my experience, these €60 an hour therapist are just paid conversationalists. Someone you pay to have a chat with and make your inane babblings seem relevant for 50 minutes a week. I just started therapy with a psychoanalyst. Absolute f*ck ton of money per session but she's the first therapist I've had who actually challenges me very intelligently and is ready for anything. She's probably what you'd call an 'expert'.

My point being, it's not some statistical anomaly that any of you here pursuing, or who have pursued therapy are disillusioned and frustrated by the whole process. And while I'm not at all saying that therapy is a complete dead end and waste of time, and I'm well aware that a person can just have a bad experience due to a personality mismatch, some useful questions to ask yourself as an informed consumer of therapy might be:

~ Do you feel challenged by your therapist to look at yourself, but within a safe, respectful, non-judgmental environment?
~ Do you feel the therapist is capable of "seeing" you; your hidden truths?
~ Do you think the therapist is engaged and interested in helping you, as opposed to treating a diagnostic category?
 

Anonymous ID

Well-Known Member
#2
I think mental health care has a long way to go and you raised a few good issues here. I think therapy can help but personality does come into play. I would rather a peer support worker with experience in overcoming their problems because experience is key. With a peer support worker they are more likely to understand and discuss what worked and didn't work for them. As for talk therapy I believe it can work, however I have been seeing the same psychiatrist for years and still don't feel comfortable talking to them. I'm hoping in the future I can talk over my past traumas with someone.
 
#3
Have you read Maybe You Should Talk To Someone? I am reading it now (ok i got 3/4 through and plan to borrow it again) and I love it. It’s helped me grasp the nature of wisdom. The author is a psychiatrist who is also an advice columnist. She gets into detail about the simplicity of the patient’s desire to get better as a main factor in their success as a patient. I have been in therapy at many different points in my life, I was so young in my first sessions that I was still young when I’d already grown to comprehend there was something deeply intrinsically wrong with me that needed to be identified and erased. I thought this on my own and I was consumed with sad thoughts, always prepared. By the time I was 21 I was a mess, i’d read I Never Promised You A Rose Garden, Like The Red Panda, Prozac Nation, Romeo and Juliet, The Bell Jar, The Awakening, Seymour, Anna Karenina, anything depressive because that was how I identified. It’s only thanks to the careful work of many psychiatrists, researchers, artists, and the internet I discovered interictal psychosis, mismatching my bipolar schizophrenia diagnosis that didn’t quite fit, and traced it to my overlooked childhood seizure disorder. Even if I haven’t had the best luck finding my own holistic dream team, if I had the resources I’d definitely get something out of therapy now at 33.

You ask good questions and I can imagine hypothetical answers are in the 7.5 to 8 billion denominations.
 
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Kiwi2016

🦩 Now a flamingo, not a kiwi 🦩
Forum Pro
#6
I do think talk therapy is useful...but admit since now all my sessions are over the phone they are not as helpful. As it seems so much easier to gloss over my feelings so more like a conversation rather than a therapy session. But even if it acts as an outlet for venting...it does serve some purpose for me.
 

Aurelia

Over a low sun, undo the undone.
#7
I do think talk therapy is useful...but admit since now all my sessions are over the phone they are not as helpful. As it seems so much easier to gloss over my feelings so more like a conversation rather than a therapy session. But even if it acts as an outlet for venting...it does serve some purpose for me.
Can I just make a point that if tele-heath sessions are not useful to you regarding talk therapy, then it's not talk therapy to begin with that has been helping you. It was mostly having somewhere to be, having a real person listen to your troubles and show empathy that you could take advantage of face-to-face, especially if you say that it's conversation with a real person that has been most useful to you (which, by the way, you can get just as easily on here...except we don't have the intentions of charging you for it). But the therapy itself, as I've always found it, is kind of useless. Just another therapist trying to make an easy buck by wasting time having you talk about how your day/week went, while not taking the time out to do any real work or make any real effort.
 

Aurelia

Over a low sun, undo the undone.
#8
I'd also like to point out that there are some amazingly ingenious psychologists out there, people who do make the effort to help, whatever it takes. Before one judges whether or not a therapist is good/useful, I'd ask myself these questions:

1. Do they challenge me and push me in areas where I need to be challenged or given a little push to begin progressing toward an actual solution?

2. Have they made an actual diagnostical, individualized treatment plan for me (that they've, hopefully, written down), as a unique individual with my own personal issues and problems?

3. Have they made me feel safe discussing whatever it is I need to discuss? Or at the very least, informed me of my rights as a patient and in which instances they may need to break HIPAA laws? So that I know what I can and can't talk about. Although, in my opinion, a feeling of safety means that they give you their word they will not call the police or 302 you no matter what you tell them--and when it comes to it affecting their license and job, which it undoubtedly does, just keep that shit under wraps. a patient is much less likely to actually commit suicide when they feel completely safe discussing their feelings about it (that, or take matters into your own hands if you do feel like they'll really in danger of doing it, without getting authorities involved). It takes a special kind of person to agree to this, mind you, since most of them just care about their own asses more than they care about you.

4. Have they continued to alter your treatment plan according to new needs and issues that may pop up and take priority over the old ones? Or due to previous treatment methods that haven't seemed to be working? In other words, have they made the commitment to not give up on helping you, whatever it takes?

5. Do they employ generic/boring methods of therapy that one can find online through a Google search, such as various CBT worksheets that we've all done a million times over, or are they actually smart and creative about it once they get to know you as a person and figure out more and more what you, as an individual need the most?
 
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Dark111

FORMER SF SUPPORTER
#9
I'd also like to point out that there are some amazingly ingenious psychologists out there, people who do make the effort to help, whatever it takes. Before one judges whether or not a therapist is good/useful, I'd ask myself these questions:

1. Do they challenge me and push me in areas where I need to be challenged or given a little push to begin progressing toward an actual solution?

2. Have they made an actual diagnostical, individualized treatment plan for me (that they've, hopefully, written down), as a unique individual with my own personal issues and problems?

3. Have they made me feel safe discussing whatever it is I need to discuss? Or at the very least, informed me of my rights as a patient and in which instances they may need to break HIPAA laws? So that I know what I can and can't talk about. Although, in my opinion, a feeling of safety means that they give you their word they will not call the police or 302 you no matter what you tell them--and when it comes to it affecting their license and job, which it undoubtedly does, just keep that shit under wraps. a patient is much less likely to actually commit suicide when they feel completely safe discussing their feelings about it (that, or take matters into your own hands if you do feel like they'll really in danger of doing it, without getting authorities involved). It takes a special kind of person to agree to this, mind you, since most of them just care about their own asses more than they care about you.

4. Have they continued to alter your treatment plan according to new needs and issues that may pop up and take priority over the old ones? Or due to previous treatment methods that haven't seemed to be working? In other words, have they made the commitment to not give up on helping you, whatever it takes?

5. Do they employ generic/boring methods of therapy that one can find online through a Google search, such as various CBT worksheets that we've all done a million times over, or are they actually smart and creative about it once they get to know you as a person and figure out more and more what you, as an individual need the most?
That's why I included questions people should asked in the OP. Thanks for adding these ones.
 

Dark111

FORMER SF SUPPORTER
#11
I am of the opinion that, no, therapy is not useless. Some therapists, however, are. There are great, challenging therapy methods out there that do make a difference if employed properly by the right person.
Of course there are some good therapists. I didn't dismiss all therapy as a complete dead-end and not to even bother with it. It was posed as a question because I've come across many people who are struggling to find good therapists or who have spent a lot of time and money on the bad ones. I wanted to understand why that is. Everyone is quick to jump on the client as the time waster, not putting the work in and all that. What I'm finding is that it's not always so black and white.
 

Aurelia

Over a low sun, undo the undone.
#13
Of course there are some good therapists. I didn't dismiss all therapy as a complete dead-end and not to even bother with it. It was posed as a question because I've come across many people who are struggling to find good therapists or who have spent a lot of time and money on the bad ones. I wanted to understand why that is. Everyone is quick to jump on the client as the time waster, not putting the work in and all that. What I'm finding is that it's not always so black and white.
Yeah, the client is not always the time waster, that's for sure. It's clear that a lot of them absolutely suck and shouldn't have gone into the field. And in case there is any misunderstanding, I wasn't saying you were discrediting therapy as a whole, either. Obviously, you wouldn't have posed the question the way you did if you were.
 

Kiwi2016

🦩 Now a flamingo, not a kiwi 🦩
Forum Pro
#14
Can I just make a point that if tele-heath sessions are not useful to you regarding talk therapy, then it's not talk therapy to begin with that has been helping you. It was mostly having somewhere to be, having a real person listen to your troubles and show empathy that you could take advantage of face-to-face, especially if you say that it's conversation with a real person that has been most useful to you (which, by the way, you can get just as easily on here...except we don't have the intentions of charging you for it). But the therapy itself, as I've always found it, is kind of useless. Just another therapist trying to make an easy buck by wasting time having you talk about how your day/week went, while not taking the time out to do any real work or make any real effort.
I didn't mean it in that way...as my therapist does "push me" but I am not as proactive about it as I was when we met in person. Not sure if I'm explaining it properly.
 

Dark111

FORMER SF SUPPORTER
#15
I didn't mean it in that way...as my therapist does "push me" but I am not as proactive about it as I was when we met in person. Not sure if I'm explaining it properly.
I think @Aurelia makes some good points there so would like to understand what you mean a little better.

It has been argued that phone calls are simply impersonal. When communicating with someone, we read their body language and facial expressions. We can even be influenced by their style of clothing or even just the way they cut their hair. All of these aspects influence how we process information and help us form our opinions. In a phone call, these influences are lost in the transfer. You have to make judgments without seeing the other person's reaction. It's also been found that the accuracy of perceiving affiliative behaviors is higher when interacting in-person.

When you say that the current format(over the phone) of your therapy sessions makes you less proactive than usual, I'm wondering when you're not physically in the same room as your therapist, does that take some sort of "pressure" off you to respond a certain way? Or is that the "pushing" your therapist does is less effective because over the phone certain behavioural cues are missing?
 

Aurelia

Over a low sun, undo the undone.
#16
I didn't mean it in that way...as my therapist does "push me" but I am not as proactive about it as I was when we met in person. Not sure if I'm explaining it properly.
Proactive about what, though, exactly? What has your therapist suggested you do that you haven't been as proactive about? Because when I realize that their suggestions aren't going to help me, I'm not proactive about it either.
 

Innocent Forever

Still innocent!
Staff Alumni
SF Supporter
#17
@Dark111 @Aurelia I think you'd make a great therapy team. Can I be your first client?

There are so many useless therapists and many great ones. And many many who can only deal with their skillset.... like the counsellors who are trained to listen and not guide (which I believe good friends can give the same) like the CBT therapists which we can do the worksheets on our own.
I've only ever met one such great therapist (which didn't work out for cultural reasons) as described above. Most therapists, even those highly trained, only go so far, don't do 'hard work' - yup I'm quoting, ask you why you're asking them for therapy if xyz, and those who are really good usually don't have space. Doesn't make therapy useless or impossible. Just hard to access.
 

Kiwi2016

🦩 Now a flamingo, not a kiwi 🦩
Forum Pro
#19
@Dark111 and @Aurelia this may be more than you wanted to read...so apologize in advance...

I think @Aurelia makes some good points there so would like to understand what you mean a little better.

It has been argued that phone calls are simply impersonal. When communicating with someone, we read their body language and facial expressions. We can even be influenced by their style of clothing or even just the way they cut their hair. All of these aspects influence how we process information and help us form our opinions. In a phone call, these influences are lost in the transfer. You have to make judgments without seeing the other person's reaction. It's also been found that the accuracy of perceiving affiliative behaviors is higher when interacting in-person.

When you say that the current format(over the phone) of your therapy sessions makes you less proactive than usual, I'm wondering when you're not physically in the same room as your therapist, does that take some sort of "pressure" off you to respond a certain way? Or is that the "pushing" your therapist does is less effective because over the phone certain behavioural cues are missing?
I do think that it takes the pressure off of me to respond as one thing I continue to struggle with is truly expressing my feelings/thoughts as I have done all my life for the "greater good" of others whether it be my parents (mother passive/high anxiety/early onset dementia) mostly my father (controlling to an extreme with depression/possibly bi-polar - both are dead now so guess that should be moot, friends or even my husband. I so easily can put myself in their shoes to see their perspective that I diminish my own to the point where I simply can't ever express them. My therapist does push me but as we don't have that essential eye contact it is so easy for me to brush it off and not acknowledge/give voice to my true thoughts and feelings and as the say "say all the right things. I really only do it through private diary entries here and an occasional post here. As others are experiencing so far worse circumstances/challenges mine seem insignificant. He does continue to push me and believe perhaps I am taking baby steps.

Proactive about what, though, exactly? What has your therapist suggested you do that you haven't been as proactive about? Because when I realize that their suggestions aren't going to help me, I'm not proactive about it either.
My therapist wants me to be more proactive about expressing my feelings/thoughts...such as anger from when I was forcibly retired, or my father's actions (stalking, lies he told his friends, threats to friends and places where I worked-leading to restraining orders, never acknowledging/meeting my husband of 20 years etc)/inactions (long story of the current absolute chaos of his estate and financial affairs). But instead I look at it from the larger perspective. For my former career it was yes there was validity to some of their statements so I couldn't fight it or in the case of my father he was clearly a very damaged dysfunctional person who failed to take true responsibility for his choices and who raised me to be independent but simultaneously with the adage "guilt is the gift that never goes away" which are the sacrifices my parents made for me as an only child irreparably impacted the quality of their own lives to the point that believe neither were ever happy.

Not sure if any of the above makes sense...in sum I guess I am a very stubborn passive people pleaser who lacks self-assertiveness as that has been and continues to be my coping mechanism for my life ....so that is what my therapist is trying to help me over come. So I think that not having in person sessions which are also now spaced out over several weeks instead of every week I can't seem to get a good momentum going as if not in person he only hears my words and so since I don't have the capability of expressing through my words what my true feelings/thoughts are there is something lost in the translation.
 

MisterBGone

SF Supporter
#20
@Kiwi2016 We're not grading on a curve here. . . Whatever brought you here, or lead you to sign up on such a forum - that's good enough! : )

A couple of casual thoughts on the topic of discussion: If you don't believe that it will work for you (talk therapy); it probably won't.. "the mind is a very powerful thing!" ; )

And what might be suggested in its place? Or are we best to accept failure, defeat of this debilitating disease/condition/whatever you want to call it - in the absence of completely satisfactory (or to the point where we can function without too much turmoil) medication regime?

I can't even see the screen as i type thanks to the sun! I'd close the blinds, but that seems to me to be too insurmountable task on this given day... (for the record i am not now medicated or in therapy of any kind!)
 

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