Therapy making me feel worse

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Sidney37

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Therapy making me feel worse
« on: November 18, 2019, 07:30:14 PM »
How do you know if your therapist is helping or making things worse?  Iíve gone weekly for a few months.  I feel worse for days after seeing her.  The sessions involve me venting and being upset about the NC with parents, the abuse that led to the NC and some FOC issues.  She says very little and sometimes encourages me to say more (vent more).  She hasnít said anything helpful or thought provoking.  She hasnít  given me any real advice.  She tells me that she canít tell me what to do.  I have to decide everything for myself.  It just feels like an hour of venting that makes me more resentful.

Should  I have homework or is therapy for PTSD/PD abuse just months and months of venting about how frustrating and unfair life is?  I think therapy is actually making me depressed!
« Last Edit: November 18, 2019, 07:32:03 PM by Sidney37 »

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GettingOOTF

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Re: Therapy making me feel worse
« Reply #1 on: November 18, 2019, 09:52:45 PM »
I feel worse after some of my therapy sessions. Itís hard work and you look at things youíve spent your life avoiding.

That said you should feel comfortable with your therapist and the sessions should feel like you are moving forward rather than venting. My therapist always stops me when I start venting.  Itís not productive for me or the session.

A therapist isnít supposed to give you advice. They are supposed to listen and guide, to help you identify your unhealthy patterns and then you choose new healthy ones. A therapist of more of a guide than anything else.

I do sometimes feel resentful of the time and money in some sessions but Iíve been in therapy for years now and I see that those are the times Iím resisting doing the work.

For me I had a lot of learned helplessness and victim thinking from my upbringing and abusive marriage so it took a long tike for me to see and acknowledge that only I could help myself.  For those of us who arenít used to being seen and heard it can take time to build a rapport and open up.

That said you should feel comfortable with your therapist and there are a lot of bad ones out there.

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Sidney37

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Re: Therapy making me feel worse
« Reply #2 on: November 18, 2019, 10:41:44 PM »
Thanks.  I donít feel like weíre moving forward at all.  It really seems like a vent session where I feel worse and more sorry for myself for days afterward.  We donít come to any conclusions other than it seems best that I should stay NC.  She hasnít pointed out any patterns.   The only thing Iíve heard lately is that itís no surprise that I am having difficulty making friends because other parents donít want to make friends with parents of kids who are ďdifferentĒ.  Mine have adhd and anxiety.  I shouldnít plan on making adult friends until they graduate.   :stars:   She claims itís not fair but reality.  Iím not sure I agree. 

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TwentyTwenty

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Re: Therapy making me feel worse
« Reply #3 on: November 18, 2019, 11:15:14 PM »
Sorry you are going through this..

I don’t have a therapist, so I can’t offer much help there, however I do not ‘vent’ or reflect of the past. I purposefully focus on my self worth, the future and my family. I’m not defined by anything in my past, or who anyone thinks that I am.

I know who I am, and I have a great, happy future - because I deserve it.

Anyone that has a different opinion can go to hell.

You are what you eat; so eat happiness, well being and a positive future!
« Last Edit: November 18, 2019, 11:16:47 PM by TwentyTwenty »

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WomanInterrupted

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Re: Therapy making me feel worse
« Reply #4 on: November 19, 2019, 01:30:43 AM »
I've never been to T, so I really don't know what to expect, but I'd like to think it would be more than an hour of me venting.   :wacko:

I mean...I can do that here, for free.  Or I can vent to my  journal or my DH, too - and again, they're free.  :bigwink:

I know your T said she can't tell you what to do, but have you asked for coping strategies?  Tips to help make you feel better?  Advice on how to not get so wound up that you feel badly for days afterward?  Hell, even a good recipe for pot roast would be welcome - I think venting, over and over, about the same thing really isn't very productive, and you'd probably be better off with that pot roast recipe.

If you ask and the T offers nothing, I'd find another T. 

If, for ANY reason, you don't think this T is a good fit, you have the right to vote with your feet and find another.  You owe the T *no* explanation.  You just ask for your records to be transferred, and that's that.  :ninja:

Just know that whatever you decide is the *right decision.*  :yes:

 :hug:

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gettingstronger1

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Re: Therapy making me feel worse
« Reply #5 on: November 19, 2019, 12:28:42 PM »
I am sorry therapy is making you feel worse.  It is perfectly ok to go see a different therapist.  After you tell your therapist your history with your family, your therapist does need to give you feedback and suggestions regarding your situation.  That is what you are paying the therapist for.  Ultimately how you deal with your family, is your decision, but a good therapist can help give some new ideas and insights on things you hadn't thought of before.  A therapist also needs to help you learn how to set emotionally healthy boundaries with your family.  Before you see a new therapist, interview them on the phone. Find out if they have some personal experience in dealing with personality disordered people etc.  I don't know your situation with your family, and whether you were abused or not, but if that is your situation, it really helps to see a therapist who is a survivor of abuse themselves.  They will then have a better understanding of the dynamics of abuse.  Another resource is to go to Psychology Today and put your zip code in.  A list of therapists in your area will come up.  Look at each therapist's specialties.  Pick a therapist who might be a match and then do the phone interview. 

Another thing that was crucial to me in my healing was gaining knowledge.  Knowledge really is power.  :righton:

 I read online articles and books about personality disorders, smear campaigns, gaslighting, love bombing, trauma bonding, darvo etc. Having knowledge of how to set boundaries and the different types of manipulations helped me deal more effectively with my family of origin. It is also important to work on self esteem because abusive parents often destroy their children's self esteem in order to maintain power and control.  YouTube has some great videos on dealing with dysfunctional families.  At the the bottom of this page you will see Kris Godinez, Meredith Miller, and Little Shamon.  They were very helpful and educational to me in my healing journey.  In some ways they were even more helpful than counseling, because they are survivors too.  The survivors who write articles, books, and do YouTube videos are the ones who really get it because they have been there. At any rate, these are things that are helpful to me.  I hope it can help you and others too.  Take care.   :cool2:

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StayWithMe

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Re: Therapy making me feel worse
« Reply #6 on: November 19, 2019, 01:33:11 PM »
Any therapist who believes that interacting with a specific person is key to your healing is going to be a waste of time.  I had a therapist who took me back to my childhood which was painful ..... but where I do go to next.  My parents are not going to apologize for anything.

Try to identify some problems that you have ie saying no to unwanted requests; dealing with people who are rude to you.  You should be thinking about strategies on how to manage those situations.  Including anticipating when they might happen so that you'll be ready.  Maybe going back in time might helpful or at least interesting as to why you have those problems.  I finally realized that I was often late because my parents made me late for many things when I was growing up and also as an adult since visiting my parents required having a car or else you're begging all the time.  I was treated as if I was unimportant including times when my waiting was not in the safest of places. 

You should try an assertiveness training class.  You learn strategies to avoid behavior that you don't through role play. 

I read here and there that some people have had good experiences with a therapist.  I have not.

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Hellsbells

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Re: Therapy making me feel worse
« Reply #7 on: November 19, 2019, 04:22:52 PM »
Hi Sydney, Iím sorry you are feeling this way. Oddly enough I was at therapy today and kind of discussing similar feelings to yours with my therapist. So she said that it does feel like you can be going round and round in circles as that is the way you Ďunpickí stuff. It can seem like slow progress but you are unpacking years and years of this stuff. We talked about Ďadviceí too, as I keep asking her for advice about things. She kind of explained that a therapists role is to help you find ways to understand your behaviours and learn new strategies. So they help you to be able to make decisions and decide what you want for yourself as opposed for them telling you what to do. To me therapy is like having someone to shine a light on things so that you can see them in a different way, make sense of them and understand how things have affected you, why you feel the way you do, and what to do to act in your own best interests. I think itís uncomfortable because you are dredging up things you have squashed down inside. Not all therapists are created equal though so if you have been going a while and feel Ďstuckí then if the therapist doesnít have any fresh ideas/suggestions for trying some new techniques then maybe itís be worth trying someone new, if you can?

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MamaDryad

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Re: Therapy making me feel worse
« Reply #8 on: November 19, 2019, 09:33:54 PM »
Disclaimer: I've only just started therapy, but I've done a lot of reading to prepare.

A lot of people find that for PTSD, talk therapy is less effective than some other modalities. If you felt a strong rapport with your current therapist, I'd suggest asking her whether she's trained in anything more action-focused, like CBT or DBT. As it is, you might want to consider seeking out someone who specializes in trauma and asking them at your first session what they offer besides talk therapy.

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GettingOOTF

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Re: Therapy making me feel worse
« Reply #9 on: November 19, 2019, 11:18:27 PM »
Mamadryad that’s a great observation. I’ve been in talk therapy for a few years. I’m finally at the point where I’m digging into my upbringing and what that drags up. I now feel the need to work on my trauma / c-ptsd symptoms. I am currently transitioning away from my therapist. I credit her with saving my life and showing me what’s possible, but I need something different to take the next step.

We have been working on this and I will move from weekly appointments with her to once monthly while working on other aspects of my healing.

I am beyond grateful for my therapist and her support and focus on my healing. Many therapists wouldn’t do what she is doing in terms of the continued support after I said her approach wasn’t what I needed.

I was so against therapy when I started. I remember asking what the difference was between her and talking to friends over drinks other than the cost. She said that she was someone who would listen and be an impartial guide. At the time I thought that that was a wishy washy bs “therapist” thing to say. Turns out it was exactly what I needed.
« Last Edit: November 19, 2019, 11:24:26 PM by GettingOOTF »

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illogical

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Re: Therapy making me feel worse
« Reply #10 on: November 19, 2019, 11:19:06 PM »
I think hiring a therapist is like hiring a personal trainer, except they are a "mental" personal trainer.

One of the first questions a personal trainer will ask is, What are your fitness goals?  What are you trying to accomplish?  Run a marathon?  Get into shape?  Adopt a healthier lifestyle?  What, exactly?

I think you need to set your goals with a T, just like with a personal trainer.  What are your goals?  Do you want to maintain NC?  Do you want to try to balance a relationship with your enD and your PDm via VLC?  Are you okay with your children still engaging with your PD parent?

Secondly, are the goals you set realistic?  If your goal is to run a marathon, what kind of shape are you in?  How old are you?  Have you ever run?  What  is your timetable?

With a T, are the goals you set realistic?  Have you researched PDs enough to know that relationships with them are one-sided?  Do you except you will have a relationship with give and take, or compromise-- when in reality this isn't likely going to happen?  Are you mentally able to withstand the ostracization that comes with going NC?  And The Smear Campaign?  And the many, many lies?

So once you set your goals, and assuming you've done the research so they are realistic, how qualified is your T?  Are they well-versed in PDs?  Or is their expertise in "family counseling"?  I don't think you can expect good results from a T that is not familiar with PDs.  It's sort of like expecting you will be able to meet your fitness goals with someone who is not very trained in the field.

If you have done your homework and are in touch with a T that is trained or skilled in personality disorders, and if you have communicated your goals to them, and if those goals are realistic, I think it's their job to help you try to reach those goals.  That's what you are paying them for.  If they are not able to deliver in a timely fashion, probably time to move on to another T.   :yes:
"Applying logic to potentially illogical behaviour is to construct a house on shifting foundations.  The structure will inevitably collapse."

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Sidney37

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Re: Therapy making me feel worse
« Reply #11 on: November 20, 2019, 09:15:11 AM »
Thanks all.  I think I need to discuss goals with her again this week.  We discussed it at the beginning.  If we don't see eye to eye, I think she isn't a good fit. 

Getting OOTF says that she was concerned that it wouldn't be more helpful than talking with friends.  That's exactly what this feels like.  I vent to someone I don't really know for an hour.  She asks questions just to clarify who I'm talking about and then at the end she tells me that she feels sorry for me, but this is how it is.  Things with my parents are never going to change.  Things with my lack of social support aren't going to change.  I thought therapy could help me find different ways to deal with it.  She just makes me feel more hopeless. 

Maybe since I've already decided to go NC and don't plan to change, there isn't anything she can help me do.  Everyone I know said therapy would help with this transition.  Help with the loss and grief.  I feel like going NC is having both parents died at the same time.  I thought I needed help to process that.  Do people go to therapy for help with the emotions after NC? 

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GettingOOTF

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Re: Therapy making me feel worse
« Reply #12 on: November 20, 2019, 10:26:33 AM »
I stopped therapy and went back after I went NC with my siblings.

Once a week for a few months is really not enough time to see major results. You have a life time of feelings to work through. Feelings you are skilled at avoiding as you needed this skill to survive. No one who goes NC with their parents had a non-traumatic childhood.

I don’t know you and can only judge the situation based on what you post on this thread. Your situation resonates with me as I felt many of the same things you mention feeling, so I will say this: like me it seems like you are resisting the process, it seems like you expect a quick and easy fix. Therapy only works if you are willing to do the work and accept that only you can make changes. You (one) needs to listen to the therapist, acknowledge one’s role in where they ended up in their life and be willing to make hard changes they don’t want to. My role was that I avoided feelings, I had no boundaries and I let people take advantage of me. I was very passive on my life and I had very few interpersonal and social skills as anything I did as a child that got noticed was punished. I learned to be a people pleaser and a victim, that was my identity. It took years of therapy for me to be able to see this and make changes. And I felt horrible during most of the process. It’s not easy unpacking the things that make us who we are. It’s it easy to look back and see that our parents didn’t care for us the way they should have. And it’s really not easy coming to realize all the opportunities we missed out on because of how we handled things.

A good therapist will not push you to look at things you aren’t ready to.  It seems to me that the issue is that deep down you don’t want to be in therapy. Again, I say this as that was how I was. None of this may be the case for you, but if you were my friend venting over drinks this is what I would tell you.
« Last Edit: November 20, 2019, 10:29:38 AM by GettingOOTF »

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illogical

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Re: Therapy making me feel worse
« Reply #13 on: November 20, 2019, 08:14:32 PM »
... I think I need to discuss goals with her again this week.  We discussed it at the beginning.  If we don't see eye to eye, I think she isn't a good fit. 

I do think you need to be aligned as far as goals.  I also think that your T works for you, helping you to achieve those goals.  It's important that you be the one to set those goals, though, as it's your life and, ultimately, it's what you want to accomplish here.

... I vent to someone I don't really know for an hour.  She asks questions just to clarify who I'm talking about and then at the end she tells me that she feels sorry for me, but this is how it is. Things with my parents are never going to change.  Things with my lack of social support aren't going to change.  I thought therapy could help me find different ways to deal with it.  She just makes me feel more hopeless. 

It's true your parents are likely not going to change.  But you can.  You can absolutely change your response to the situation. 

As far as your lack of social support, I'm a little unclear what your T meant by your lack of social support isn't going to change.  You can control who you let into your life.  You can shut out your parents, or go VLC.  You can do the same with FMs or extended family members who unwittingly get caught up in the drama.   So you control who you let into your life and who you decide to spend your time with. 

If your T is saying that you will likely be ostracized by your extended family and friends, yes.  It's very possible that many in your extended family will align themselves with your PD parent and shut you out, thereby leaving you with lack of support.  But you also have the ability to make new friends, construct a new "social support" network.  Yes, this takes time, but there are many opportunities out there to make new friends and acquaintances. 

From what you have posted, your T paints a very bleak picture about your social opportunities, and I don't agree that "that is the way it is and there's nothing you can do about it."  No.  Absolutely "No".

Maybe since I've already decided to go NC and don't plan to change, there isn't anything she can help me do.  Everyone I know said therapy would help with this transition.  Help with the loss and grief.  I feel like going NC is having both parents died at the same time.  I thought I needed help to process that.  Do people go to therapy for help with the emotions after NC? 

Going NC is a major event.  It's a measure of last resort.  It's like "I've tried and tried and tried to have a relationship with my PD parent, but it's no longer sustainable.  I realize that there really isn't a 'relationship' there, in the normal sense of the word.  They just take, take, take and I give, give, give.  I'm not putting up any longer with this abuse and I'm going to forge my own path in life.  Period."

So yes, there is a grieving period that you didn't get the parents you should have gotten.  An acceptance that life isn't fair.  A final giving up-- with NC-- of the frail hope that things will change.  These are all bitter pills to swallow.

I go back to my other post to you, Sidney37, that if you don't think you are getting your money's worth with your therapist, it's time to call it quits.  That said, make sure you have realistic goals here, that your therapist is on the same page with you, and your therapist has had experience dealing with abuse victims of personality disordered parents.

You might consider taking a break from therapy, reading and researching PDs and the grieving process, and see how it goes on your own.  My own personal thoughts are that Ts are great if they provide you with guidance as how to navigate the rough waters you are currently traversing, but if you are feeling like your T is an impediment, rather than a "coach", ditch them and go it alone for awhile-- at least until you can find someone who is a good fit.
"Applying logic to potentially illogical behaviour is to construct a house on shifting foundations.  The structure will inevitably collapse."

__Stewart Stafford

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nanotech

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Re: Therapy making me feel worse
« Reply #14 on: November 20, 2019, 08:49:03 PM »
These questions you are asking here are important and relevant. 
Put these concerns to your therapist.  See whatís said.
 Thereís an assessment period.

When I had therapy, my therapist took a long time before she began guiding- Iíd started to wonder too, but it was fine. 

They really have to soak up ALL of our stuff first.

Then she started to give me the tools to work with. Advice too, and validation.

Itís hard coming to terms with it all. My therapist turned out to be marvellous.

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Fortuna

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Re: Therapy making me feel worse
« Reply #15 on: November 21, 2019, 03:32:32 PM »
   The only thing Iíve heard lately is that itís no surprise that I am having difficulty making friends because other parents donít want to make friends with parents of kids who are ďdifferentĒ.  Mine have adhd and anxiety.  I shouldnít plan on making adult friends until they graduate.   :stars:   She claims itís not fair but reality.  Iím not sure I agree.

Seriously? Ah...no.  Making friends as an adult with kids is hard. We are all so very busy, but it's not in any way because your kids are different.  :doh: When I moved to a new state I had to try really hard to get myself to talk to people at all. At first I made myself talk to one new person each day and one person I'd talked to before through the first half of the school year, then I started volunteering at the school. Now I have lots of school parent friends and many of them have kids that are 'different' from anxiety, to being non-binary, to autism/learning disabilities. Having kids that are different doesn't matter, at least not if they are actually friends. I'd read your therapist the riot act on that one. And if that is the advice they are giving on friend making, I'd wonder on all other advice too.  Good luck with forming friendships.

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moglow

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Re: Therapy making me feel worse
« Reply #16 on: November 21, 2019, 07:59:53 PM »
I meant to answer a few days ago but squirrels got into my head and took me elsewhere! This is basically what I was thinking, but I think Illogical stated it better than I:
Quote
I think hiring a therapist is like hiring a personal trainer, except they are a "mental" personal trainer.

One of the first questions a personal trainer will ask is, What are your fitness goals?  What are you trying to accomplish?  Run a marathon?  Get into shape?  Adopt a healthier lifestyle?  What, exactly?

I think you need to set your goals with a T, just like with a personal trainer.  What are your goals?  Do you want to maintain NC?  Do you want to try to balance a relationship with your enD and your PDm via VLC?  Are you okay with your children still engaging with your PD parent?

Secondly, are the goals you set realistic?  If your goal is to run a marathon, what kind of shape are you in?  How old are you?  Have you ever run?  What  is your timetable?

I've seen a few therapists over the years, usually more to get me through an immediate situation than anything long range. By far the most effective did just that - they asked and talked to me about what I wanted or needed to do *for me*. I can't change mother and venting about her frankly gets real old real fast plus dredging up a lot of old bones I'd rather not. Having a more focused plan on what I needed to do for myself was very helpful. I never had boundaries and it was time to make them, figure out what was and wasn't acceptable for *anyone* in my life and how to stop the unacceptable. I shut down when I should speak up, needed to change that. I never ever told her no or held back information without a battle royal, I had to face that in reality there was nothing she can do to me anymore. And I was lonely, painfully lonely at times - what could I do to change that, expand my circle, stop making excuses and/or cancelling plans at the last minute.
"Expectations are disappointments under construction.Ē  ~ Cap'n Spanky

Stop Stinkin' Thinkin'!

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Sidney37

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Re: Therapy making me feel worse
« Reply #17 on: November 22, 2019, 03:51:54 PM »
I've thought about how to respond to this.  While it might be the experience of others that they resist the process of therapy or are looking for an easy fix.  I've been in and out of therapy for various more immediate issues for over 20 years.  Most all of those therapists have been very helpful.  Unfortunately, when it is recommended that I listen to this therapist, that's difficult to do, because she has very little to say at all.  I literally vent for an hour and she says that she'll see me next week.

It struck me that after writing this and thinking about the situation that DH and I are culturally very different than the people where we are living.   We're the same race, but grew up in a different area of the country with a totally different culture.  The therapist was born and raised here.  She seems to be relying on this major cultural difference to insist that I am not going to find friends where I am - no social support.  I was talking about the isolation I was feeling with the NC, a husband who works out of town quite often and  2 kids with very low levels of special needs - think nerdy, quirky, with adhd and some social anxiety (from living  a place where we culturally don't fit).  No autism or anything severe.  She insisted that it's the case everywhere that if you have quirky kids, you can't make friends with a any parents of "normal" kids because they don't want to be friends with you!  That's the culture where I am and part of why I'm feeling so isolated.   I thought maybe she'd go through the list of trying a class, joining the PTA, church, volunteer work ,etc.  Nope... just it's not fair, but don't plan on making any friends here till your kids graduate.  Go visit your old college friends across the country.   :aaauuugh:  I guess it's good that she was up front about it.  Maybe my bigger issue is where I'm living and not the therapist!!

She also insists that she's treated daughters of PDs, but she keeps on insisting how bad she feels for enD to the point that it's starting to make me feel guilty. 

I went for EMDR, but after 3 months we haven't started it yet.  Is that typical?  I guess I'll talk to her about a plan, because right now, I'm feeling more and more frustrated every time I leave her office. 

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theonetoblame

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Re: Therapy making me feel worse
« Reply #18 on: November 22, 2019, 04:31:13 PM »
I've been to talk therapy and psychoanalysis and didn't find either very helpful. When I was still reeling with some some of the trauma talking about it definitely made it worse. One bit of good advice I received once was that "learning how to direct my attention away from the negative memories may be more helpful than continuing to revisit them". This makes sense from a neuroscience perspective, reliving memories strengthens the connections in our brains that support the memories, learning how to stop reviewing them will in turn weaken these connections and make the memories less intense.

CBT and DBT are interesting, I fall more on the side of brief solution focused interventions at this point. I never really stick with a therapist for more than 6-8 sessions anyway as they're expensive and I usually reach out when I'm in a particularly difficult spot.

There is also movement within some public funding models to support solution focused interventions as they are more cost effective while also having some evidence of outcomes. Here's a website with more info about the approach https://solutionfocused.net/what-is-solution-focused-therapy/
« Last Edit: November 22, 2019, 04:38:05 PM by theonetoblame »

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StayWithMe

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Re: Therapy making me feel worse
« Reply #19 on: November 22, 2019, 07:34:01 PM »
I remember a friend telling me that her husband was not happy with therapy.  He wanted more interaction from the therapist.  HE concluded that the sessions were like staring matches.  I fault the therapist for that.  Maybe the T can collect their fee for the session, it doesn't solve the patient's problems.