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What's the point of therapy?

lipstix

Active Member
#1
I am by no means trying to dissuade anyone from pursuing therapy, because I know it does help a lot of people. These are just my thoughts.

So all my life, whenever I've opened up to someone, they always say the same thing: "Please consider therapy." I know that they mean well, but I have always viewed it as their way of making me someone else's problem, someone who gets paid to deal with this kinda shit. And that's where my issue lies. How can a therapist not be patronizing to their patients? I can't see myself being able to open up to a person who I know is only listening because it's their job and they're getting paid. I'll wonder if they hate their job, if they hate me, if they're thinking about what they're going to have for dinner while I'm supposed to be telling them all of my problems.
And can a therapist really understand me, just because they have a degree in psychology? Just because they know how to classify me with a bunch of psychologic jargon and dissect and analyze me, that means they can understand me? Just because a book told them what depression is doesn't mean shit imo. What if I start thinking my therapist is only a therapist to make themselves feel better about themselves?

Am I all wrong about therapy?
Please tell me I'm just being pessimistic, because I might need help of the professional variety. But I can't see myself being able to seek therapy with my current opinions...
 

yozhik

Well-Known Member
#3
Idk what the wrong thread thing means prbly bc I have the technological competence of an 80 year old but I get what you're saying.

My first three therapists I just slipped through their fingers and they did not understand me. None of them were bad people or therapists, and I'm kind of a slightly odd case but still. My current therapist I was literally trying to find as much info about him as possible while I was sitting there because I was like I have no power in this relationship. I was like...wedding ring, lots of rocks, the books are not in any kind of order and when he mentions one he doesn't know where it is off the top of his head, two clocks, no papers on his desk yet he does have a file...he must take notes after-- or he must watch the tapes again, when he mentions trauma he kinda says it in a way that makes you wonder-- what could possibly motivate someone to get a PhD instead of a masters, if not personal experience, drives a prius, likes rocks, psych, prbly politically left...but I came to the realization that I could not look at it like a personal relationship. I had a problem that I couldn't solve. I need a professional problem-solver's help.
DBT was useless to me. To a lot of people it is helpful but it could not help me. I'm in ISTDP right now which is a form of psychodynamic therapy. What my therapist mainly seems to do is call me out on my shit and ask questions that I've never thought to ask myself. And point out things that I didn't know were wrong, like ways of looking at life events as well as find destructive patterns to correct. Sometimes it's shitty. My therapist is the one telling me to chill out with the labels/jargon. I'm over here and I'm like 'how the fuck can I be OCPD schizoid and borderline at once like how' and he's like 'the label is not going to change the problem you already have the information you need to solve it'. Good therapists don't expect to solve anything, they hope to help someone solve their own problems. And they don't think they'll understand on their own but that you can help them.

No person will ever live your exact life. No one will 100% understand. But there are basic human thinking patterns that can be put together in a way that makes sense and understanding the mechanisms that drive them can be helpful. Like, dumb example earlier this week I had a "friend" betray me by lying to my old teacher/friend who I haven't spoken to in years about my current situation, saying that I was just pathologically looking for attention bc I was a failure or something? I was insanely angry for like two days until I was like, what would my therapist say. And I was like well...that teacher I associate with the only two years of my life where I was happy. That friend is personality wise (arrogant, drama-generating, attacking me) like my abusive mother. So I was, I think, perceiving this almost as like a replay of my whole life where another person's pettiness wrecks the normal life I could have had and there's nothing to do about it. So while my "friend" deserves a fair amount of anger, the reason why I can't remember Tuesday, apparently sent a way-too-revealing email to that teacher who I now have to see and am sore from shaking with rage and starving bc Idk if I ate in that time, is because it managed to trigger my anger towards the force that wrecked my life to date. Those two years were my internal safe space and they'd been threatened. I was still pissed for like a few more hours but it was normal, I feel a little nauseous pissed not-- what happened to the last six hours, pissed. I couldn't be as mad at her when I realized half of it was not even at her.

A year ago I would not have done that. Idk what I would have done, angry me is pretty savage. But therapy made me more aware of why and how certain things really piss me off and how they connect. Rage issues is just the first example I thought of, but I do think it goes for everything.

Also a fair number of therapists do have some kind of personal experience. And working in the field also gives you a bit of an idea. Also a lot of people only help people to feel better about themselves, but does that matter if you're helped? Idk
 
#4
Well, you asked me to tell you that you are being pessimistic...so... :)

Honestly though, studying something does give people better insight into it. And yes being able to diagnose is extremely helpful as you can then work on a plan to get better.

We could technically apply your thinking to everyone: what if the mechanic/cashier/lawyer/accountant etc hates their job. Some may, and some may hate it sometimes, or some days--they are still human. But they can still be effective, even excellent at their job, and yes "just because" the mechanic studied trained in the field, yes he can understand the vehicle's problem and help to fix it.

People may suggest therapy, not because they are trying to push you onto someone else but because they care and want you to get better. With you going, and maybe understanding more about what you are dealing with, the very same persons who suggested you go, may be able to help you even better.

Also, would someone doing something for free mean they are any better? Could you not say that them being paid may make them try even more to help you see results? After all, if you don't see progress over time, then....you can stop paying. So even if the money is a motivating factor in part for them (they do have to live themselves), it can be a positive motivating factor.

Hairdressers can also be doing it "for the money" but if you get a crappy 'do, they lose you as a client. If you get a great one, you may be back, and even if you decide for instance to chop off all your own hair or you move away and so never need them again (like a therapist), you may recommend someone else.

So....getting paid does not take away from them possibly being extremely helpful. You won't know unless you try, and it is definitely worth a try.
 
#5
I can't see myself being able to open up to a person who I know is only listening because it's their job and they're getting paid
It's really not reasonable to expect that someone is going to devote that much time to you without getting paid, especially when they also have to develop some expertise in treating people. As AlexiMarie mentioned, you pay a lot of different people to do different services. What matters is whether they actually help you. I guess therapy is a little different in so far as caring for clients is often part of being a good therapist, and you can't really pay someone to care.

Maybe some therapists are just there for the paycheck, but I think at least some do go into the field with the intention of helping others. It's probably the same with your counselor at school...she gets paid to do what she does, but if she just wanted to maximize her income, she probably would have done something else.

And can a therapist really understand me, just because they have a degree in psychology?
They may have insight into your problems, insofar as other people have had very similar problems
Am I all wrong about therapy?
Therapy might help you, but it won't necessarily help you. Imho, people benefit from therapy when they have something that they want to express, or their therapist is going to help them learn something.

Some forms of therapy are mostly about just talking about your problems. That can help in some cases, and even just getting out of bed and going someplace to talk to someone for an hour a week can be helpful to some people.

Other forms of therapy, like cognitive behavioral, are more about learning how to calm your mind. If you are primarily there to learn a skill, then whether or not the therapist cares about you, imho, becomes less relevant.

I'd recommend trying therapy out, and maybe try out a couple different styles of therapy and perhaps a couple different therapists. If it works, then great, if it doesn't, then don't let a therapist talk you into getting regular sessions if it is leading you nowhere.

Personally, I never felt like I got that much out of therapy. The best therapy I ever got seemed to help a little, but I also felt that I could spend years and years in therapy and not be any better off. Some therapists seemed like they were there mostly for the money, a power trip, or otherwise put a personal agenda ahead of really helping. Others seemed to want to help, but didn't seem at least, to help that much. [side note...I never tried CBT so I can't give an opinion about it from personal experience]

I'd also add though, that some people seem to just love their therapists and think therapy is great, so I think what you get out of therapy can vary widely.

I feel like acupuncture and traditional Chinese herbal medicine have done way more for me than therapy ever did, which is why I promote it a lot. Even with that though, there is a question of how much benefit your get vs dollars spent. Luckily for me, I've been able to get treatment at a good teaching clinic for pretty cheap.

There's more info about treatment options in my signature links, if you are interested.

Good therapists don't expect to solve anything, they hope to help someone solve their own problems
I think yozhik is spot-on with this
 

Lovetolisten

Well-Known Member
#6
I am by no means trying to dissuade anyone from pursuing therapy, because I know it does help a lot of people. These are just my thoughts.

So all my life, whenever I've opened up to someone, they always say the same thing: "Please consider therapy." I know that they mean well, but I have always viewed it as their way of making me someone else's problem, someone who gets paid to deal with this kinda shit. And that's where my issue lies. How can a therapist not be patronizing to their patients? I can't see myself being able to open up to a person who I know is only listening because it's their job and they're getting paid. I'll wonder if they hate their job, if they hate me, if they're thinking about what they're going to have for dinner while I'm supposed to be telling them all of my problems.
And can a therapist really understand me, just because they have a degree in psychology? Just because they know how to classify me with a bunch of psychologic jargon and dissect and analyze me, that means they can understand me? Just because a book told them what depression is doesn't mean shit imo. What if I start thinking my therapist is only a therapist to make themselves feel better about themselves?

Am I all wrong about therapy?
Please tell me I'm just being pessimistic, because I might need help of the professional variety. But I can't see myself being able to seek therapy with my current opinions...

Hi lipstick,

I work in healthcare, and I can relate to you.

Yes, non therapists think that suggesting therapy to someone struggling will fix things. What they don't realize is that not all therapists are the right match. Therapy works, when the therapist is right for you. Since therapists are human and have their own specialities, it's not uncommon for a client to feel like a therapist isn't helpful. Just because someone has a degree doesn't mean they will get you as a person. I have met therapists, who have said and done some questionable things. These therapists don't represent all therapists. Every job has it's good apples and bad apples.

You are not wrong with your opinions. Some people have those thoughts, and I can see why people feel this way. But, I will say that there are good therapists, who truly care about their clients. I have experienced a huge difference with a therapist that gets me versus one that's not that good. A good therapist helps you come up with your own answers and respects you, veruss being patronizing.
 
#8
Thanks for all your replies guys. It was all very insightful. I think I'll give therapy a shot. I know my college offers free therapy for students so maybe I'll try that. I'll keep in mind everything you guys have told me. I'll let you guys know if it works out for me... Thanks again!! <3
I hope therapy helps you and you start feeling better.
 

lipstix

Active Member
#9
I scheduled an appointment with a 'counselor' at my school's free counseling center. I've only ever heard about students going there when they're overwhelmed with stress about school or bad breakups and stuff like that, so I'm kind of afraid my counselor might be out of their depths with me. Wouldn't it be funny if she tells me "Please consider therapy" el o el... I'm getting anxiety just thinking about it. I'm most afraid, though, that I am going to end up skipping the appointment. I did it once already. I can't even open up to friends or family, how can I open up to a stranger?
I'm assuming he or she is going to ask me "Why are you here?" and to that I don't know what I'm going to say... If I don't know what to say, will we just stare at each other in silence? "Come back when you're ready to talk about all your problems with me." I wouldn't come back at all.
This feels like preparing for a job interview except instead of selling my best features I'm selling the cold hard truth about myself that I've never shared with a real life person before... I'm quakinggg with nervousness.
 
#10
I can imagine your nervous state. It is a brave thing you are doing reaching out for help. Have you set reminders for yourself for the appointment? Do you mind saying when it is?

You can use the "prep" time, to make a note of the main things (even point form) you are dealing with or would like some help with. So, if worst comes to the worst and you don't feel able to orally answer the "why are you here?" question, you could pass the note for a starting point.

I think therapists have different styles, and may be used to gaps of silence at times. It's okay to say that you are nervous about even being there. Some may try to ask questions, but I think writing something in brief could help you know what you want to 'cover', or have as a backup.

Like doctors, and other professionals, they do sometimes refer to others if needed: this is not a bad thing at all. It would just mean going into even better hands to get best help. But she may be able to help.....we'll know soon. *fingers crossed*

I'm so proud of you for taking this first step. :)

In some ways it could be "better/milder" opening up to a stranger. You don't have to share a home with them/see them every weekend etc, so maybe you can look at it that way: a safe space.
 
#11
I've only ever heard about students going there when they're overwhelmed with stress about school or bad breakups and stuff like that, so I'm kind of afraid my counselor might be out of their depths with me
If they are a licensed social worker or therapist, they should be qualified to deal with depression, ptsd, and a range of other problems.
It may be that you've only heard of people going there when they're overwhelmed with stress or dealing with bad breakups just because these are among the few socially acceptable problems to have. People probably go to see the counselors for mental health issues all the time, they just don't say that's why they're going.

how can I open up to a stranger?
I guess we are, or were until recently strangers, and you managed to open up to us, so maybe you'll be able to do the same with the counselor. I think often times it's easier to open up to a stranger, especially if you know it's in a safe, confidential setting.

I'm assuming he or she is going to ask me "Why are you here?"
Yeah, they'll probably ask something like that, or "What can I help you with today?" or "What brings you here today?".
I don't know what I'm going to say..
I think it's perfectly fine to say, "I need to build some trust with you/I need some time before I feel comfortable talking to you about my problems".
It's also ok to just say, "I have depression and ptsd, and it's making it really hard for me to live and stay in school". If in the moment you feel like just letting it all out, it's ok to do that, and it's also ok to wait for a while before you do that.

You might want to try calling the counseling office and tell them that you are having anxiety about your appointment. You also might be able to arrange to have a brief meet and greet with the counselors available, so you can pick the one that you like best. It may also be possible to pick the gender of the counselor you get, if that's important to you
[side note: the degree that you get to pick may depend on how many counselors they have available and their work load.]
 

lipstix

Active Member
#12
I can imagine your nervous state. It is a brave thing you are doing reaching out for help. Have you set reminders for yourself for the appointment? Do you mind saying when it is?

You can use the "prep" time, to make a note of the main things (even point form) you are dealing with or would like some help with. So, if worst comes to the worst and you don't feel able to orally answer the "why are you here?" question, you could pass the note for a starting point.

I think therapists have different styles, and may be used to gaps of silence at times. It's okay to say that you are nervous about even being there. Some may try to ask questions, but I think writing something in brief could help you know what you want to 'cover', or have as a backup.

Like doctors, and other professionals, they do sometimes refer to others if needed: this is not a bad thing at all. It would just mean going into even better hands to get best help. But she may be able to help.....we'll know soon. *fingers crossed*

I'm so proud of you for taking this first step. :)

In some ways it could be "better/milder" opening up to a stranger. You don't have to share a home with them/see them every weekend etc, so maybe you can look at it that way: a safe space.
That's actually a great idea, thank you. I'm going to write something up and if worst comes to worst and I do freeze up, I hope I don't feel too awkward to give them something written. It would be great if I could see it as a safe place... Hopefully I can. I appreciate your words, thank you.

I don't know the date or time yet, I'm still waiting on the email. But I'll take your advice and put a bunch of alarms for myself!

If they are a licensed social worker or therapist, they should be qualified to deal with depression, ptsd, and a range of other problems.
It may be that you've only heard of people going there when they're overwhelmed with stress or dealing with bad breakups just because these are among the few socially acceptable problems to have. People probably go to see the counselors for mental health issues all the time, they just don't say that's why they're going.


I guess we are, or were until recently strangers, and you managed to open up to us, so maybe you'll be able to do the same with the counselor. I think often times it's easier to open up to a stranger, especially if you know it's in a safe, confidential setting.


Yeah, they'll probably ask something like that, or "What can I help you with today?" or "What brings you here today?".

I think it's perfectly fine to say, "I need to build some trust with you/I need some time before I feel comfortable talking to you about my problems".
It's also ok to just say, "I have depression and ptsd, and it's making it really hard for me to live and stay in school". If in the moment you feel like just letting it all out, it's ok to do that, and it's also ok to wait for a while before you do that.

You might want to try calling the counseling office and tell them that you are having anxiety about your appointment. You also might be able to arrange to have a brief meet and greet with the counselors available, so you can pick the one that you like best. It may also be possible to pick the gender of the counselor you get, if that's important to you
[side note: the degree that you get to pick may depend on how many counselors they have available and their work load.]
Thanks for being so informative. You have a point, if someone found out I went to the counseling center I would probably lie and say it was just because I was feeling down about a grade or something. And if nobody found out, I wouldn't even say I went there at all. Sometimes I forget that other people are hurting too and it isn't just me... I have to do a lot of rewiring in my brain about that.

It was very easy opening up to you all mainly because we're all anonymous and behind computer screens (and you're all very nonjudgemental and understanding). Opening up to someone face-to-face will be a whole new ball game for me... Hopefully my counselor won't mind if I don't look at him/her the entire session cus that might help.

Ideally, I would like to just tell my counselor everything straight up, but I think I will have to tell them I need time to get comfortable. God, I hope don't end up crying. I cry at awful times like that. I know a counselor expects tears, but for me it would be a disaster.

In my mind I've always pictured the counselor as a woman. I think I'd struggle even more if it was a man, lord... I know someone who went there for counseling and said it was easy to switch counselors and that her first counselor didn't work out for her. I don't trust myself to be able to try again if it doesn't work out the first time for me... I'd really, really have to push myself.

Thanks for all your responses! <3 I'll keep you guys updated.
 
#13
I think I'd struggle even more if it was a man, lord... I know someone who went there for counseling and said it was easy to switch counselors and that her first counselor didn't work out for her. I don't trust myself to be able to try again if it doesn't work out the first time for me... I'd really, really have to push myself.
In that case, you might want to contact them and insist that the counselor is a woman

Hope that your appointment goes well! :)
 

lipstix

Active Member
#14
I haven't heard back from the counseling center yet. Usually they get back to students in two days. I think the counseling center might be closed in the summer, which is a bummer... I'll try to get myself in order on my own until it opens back up again. Thanks for all of your encouragement. :)
 

lipstix

Active Member
#15
I haven't heard back from the counseling center yet. Usually they get back to students in two days. I think the counseling center might be closed in the summer, which is a bummer... I'll try to get myself in order on my own until it opens back up again. Thanks for all of your encouragement. :)
Scratch that. I emailed an administrator of the counseling center and she scheduled me for next Monday June 5th at 1 PM. Happy and nervous!
 

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