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stardust's avatar

What are your thoughts on psychotherapy?

Asked by stardust (10520 points ) May 3rd, 2011

I’m particularly interested in the response of those who have experienced psychotherapy, but the question is open regardless.
Do you find therapy to be cyclical in nature? i.e. you address something, work through it with a therapist, try to process/integrate it, but it crops up again and again. What are your thoughts on this?
Do you think it’s easier to live your life without analysing the various traumas humans experience?
Do you think your issues can ever be laid to rest? Or do you believe we can learn to accept them and live with them?

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13 Answers

JilltheTooth's avatar

I have found therapy to be useful because an objective eye can be valuable for assessing issues that I’m too close to. I’ve been helped immeasurably by someone who can not only see where I’m blocked in regard to recognizing my problem, but giving me insights and advice in how to change my own perspective. I haven’t found it to be cyclical, as I try to stay aware of how I’m thinking when the outside stimulus would have, in the past, caused me feel or react in a certain way.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

I found psychotherapy to be very helpful, because it helped me realize I was a total co-dependant doormat, and a constant sheep. Thus was born my alter ego: Crabby Abby, and I have never slipped back into the doormat or sheep mode.

dabbler's avatar

Partly the answer depends on what you want out of it. Any practice that gets you to soul-search can lead to personal growth and discovery as well as problem solving. If you get into dream-work for example there are possibilities of discovery
For problem solving I think your description is good, results require some integration cycle.

Kardamom's avatar

I think psychotherapy can be very helpful. Sometimes people simply can’t solve serious problems on their own, due to lack of knowledge, lack of support from friends or family, not having useful insight or simply because the problem they have is something based on deep seated fear or OCD or post traumatic stress (meaning: something they can’t shake by themselves and they need a professional to help them).

It’s not for everybody, but it can be very helpful for people who have tried “winging it” “drinking” “falling into a deep depression” and “hoping” that has not worked for them.

atomicmonkey's avatar

I’ve never been. I’m sure it’s great for some people, it’s just not for me. Not that I don’t have my issues, but I like to deal with them myself.

tranquilsea's avatar

I’ve found psychotherapy to be life saving.

My experience with “issues” is that they keep coming up so long as there is work that needs to be done on them. I think I’ll be done with therapy when those issues are a part of me without looming large in my life or sneaking up on me and terrifying me when I’m not paying attention to them.

iLove's avatar

as with @tranquilsea I have found psychotherapy to be life saving also.

It is extremely cyclical in nature, but in a forward moving motion, not a stagnant cycle.

My issues were extremely painful to deal with and my therapist helped me with EMDR to get through the most traumatic of them.

Just to give you an insight, my issues ranged from being raped at age 5 and 16, having a mentally ill mother who accused me of prostitution and drug use at age 13 (I had never done either), and severe abuse witnessed between my parents.

I feel if I had continued to bury these issues, I would not be having more satisfying relationships now.

Issues still come up, especially in personal relationships. Psychotherapy doesn’t explicitly solve those issues, it helps to identify those behaviors I exhibit when I feel scared (for me, it was running away or absorbing in overt sexual behaviors) and to better deal with them.

The largest part of this puzzle was the connection I had with my psychotherapist. She came highly recommended by a friend, had a general concern (which I know is not part of the relationship between doc and patient) and worked with me on a sliding scale so I could afford to actually see her enough for it to make a difference. In addition, she admitted she was learning Buddhism and that was quite important to me.

In my opinion, the following are the following non-negotiables when it comes to therapy:

1. You must be completely, totally, unabashedly honest about __everything__.
2. You must commit to going at least once a week in the beginning.
3. You have to find someone you really feel comfortable with, on all levels.
4. You have to do your homework. Write, observe, be aware. Understand what you are learning from the trusted person you are opening up to.
5. You have to give it a minimum of 6 months. Really. Based on my personal case above, over a year – two years has been the breakthrough point.
6. You have to be willing to change, despite the discomfort it may cause you in the process.

I don’t think for me personally it is easier to live my life without analyzing and dealing with this stuff. Its closely related to PTSD , where sometimes people who bottle up traumatic events have their issues manifest elsewhere, often in physical or mental disease or disorder.

Finally, I think it is about accepting the issues. I cannot change the abandonment I faced due to my parents’ state of consciousness when I was younger, but I can forgive them and know that they did the best that they could. And that is mighty helpful for releasing anger, frustration, inability to have intimacy and close relationships.

Meego's avatar

Psychotherapy is not for me. I prefer to deal with things on my own, I’m not going to get into it but I’m against therapy.

Kardamom's avatar

@Meego what would you suggest for a person who has tried to help themselves, asked friends and family for help, has delved into drugs and alcohol, has tried “working things out on their own” but still can’t seem to overcome their problems?

What would you suggest for a person that has suffered from post traumatic stress from being in a war, being raped or having been raised in a severely dysfunctional family, or someone who suffers from OCD or someone who has severe depression? Just curious about what you think they should do?

augustlan's avatar

It saved my life, or at least the quality of my life (along with medication). That said, I find traditional ‘analysis’ is mostly outdated. I prefer a much more real-world approach. Quickly get your issues on the table, figure out how they’re negatively impacting your life, and find ways to stop them from doing so. There’s usually no need to delve into every nook and cranny of your past for ten years, anymore. I’ve been in therapy a few times, for short periods of time, and once for a longer period of time (but still not terribly long.) Each of those times helped me with one aspect or another of my life.

JilltheTooth's avatar

My experiences parallel @augustlan.‘s My therapist uses some Cognitive Behavioral Therapy techniques that are very effective dealing with specific issues I’ve had. It’s a very sensible approach for many things.

atomicmonkey's avatar

If my earlier comment sounded dismissive, I just want to add that although I’ve never felt the need to undergo any psychotherapy, I have also never had any major traumas or mental illness in my life. I would totally jump on the couch if I were to go through any horrifying (or even slightly inconvenient) trauma. I might still decide that it’s not for me, but I would give it a shot. I’ve been very lucky so far in life (a few Dad-beatings and witnessing the deaths of loved ones aside.)
Very glad that it has worked so well for you guys. Hugs all ‘round!

Meego's avatar

@Kardamom what do I suggest? Well considering I’m not a doctor I would guess it’s what ever the person decides, that’s how it has worked for me, along with alot of inner strength. Look Ive had a really shitty life, I’ve been addicted, I’ve been sexually molested by a doctor, my family was very dysfunctional, everything you mentioned up there was my life..except for being at war but my life has felt like war. When I was finally getting life in order as I lost my husband and the fight In the hospital with his 50 family members who all wanted me to cut the cord was war. It really could be taken that way. I chose to open my eyes stop fighting myself and everyone else and let the drama fade I have chosen to forget all bad times and remember the most valuable times with my husband and daughter. To be honest my body and mind craved structure and stability and balance with peace and without it I’m more a wreck. I had to figure that out, with my husbands help we investigated what was the best ideal situation for my personality coupled that with the right pills and I found my focus. My husband was my sanity. Now that he’s gone I hold my focus for him because that’s my way to honor what a truly beautiful angel he is. As for any one else I’m not sure.

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