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wundayatta's avatar

What kinds of things did you or people you know want to see a therapist about?

Asked by wundayatta (58367 points ) May 15th, 2012

Sometimes I wonder. Therapy helped me sort out my life when I was so depressed I was ready to die. But now I’m going to couples counseling because my wife wants to, and I don’t really know why. Things are going well. What the hell is a “tune-up,” anyway? I feel like I should be more sympathetic to this than I am.

I know someone who has been seeing a psychoanalyst (Freudian style), for more than 25 years. What is that all about? I sometimes feel like analysis is a recreational activity for some people. Do you know anyone like that?

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29 Answers

Sunny2's avatar

I had a post partum depression that I didn’t want. I learned that I subconsciously resented the fact that, at age 9 or so, I took my mother coffee in bed so she wouldn’t be in a bad mood when I woke her to comb and braid my hair for school. I supposedly expected to be waited on, now that I was a mother. Whatever. One day I wanted to go to an event rather than to the therapist. I was feeling much better. So I quit. I told him that I used to talk to my mother, but I didn’t need her any more either and I went to lunch, or whatever it was, instead.

Blondesjon's avatar

I wanted to see a therapist for the same reasons I wanted to find Jesus and the same reasons I’ve cried. I wanted to know if they would actually make me feel better, as per their advertising.

They didn’t.

I found peace when I realized that my mind and my emotions are uniquely my own and, ultimately, only I can alter them.

jca's avatar

I went once for relationship issues, relationship with with my SO at the time, and once for issues with my relationship with my mom.

JLeslie's avatar

Chronic illness and pain. It mostly centered around dealing with the medical doctors and stresses it put on my marriage, and my extreme sadness at my circumstance. I has some anxiety with it also. I say sadness, because it was not the same as depression I had had before in my teens, it was sadness; mourning. I went to therapy for a while and then stopped. At times I would develop reoccurring nightmares related to dealing with doctors, kind of like a PTSD thing, but I never was diagnosed with PTSD that I know of, and if the nightmares did not let up I would go back to therapy for a few weeks.

As mentioned in my first paragraph in my teens I went for depression.

I also went in college after a bad break up with an SO.

I went three times with an SO because he wanted to go, I kind of thought it ridiculous we were in therapy after a few months. I wound up breaking uo with him, he had anger issues and violent tendiencies.

I can’t imagine beng in therapy for years at a time.

ucme's avatar

I know a couple of women who see a beauty therapist, they’re pug ugly but at least they’re trying, bless ;¬}

Blackberry's avatar

I had a few sessions with a therapist, but it didn’t go anywhere because I never really needed to go. I don’t think I’ve had any significant trauma in my life.

I went because I was recommended after my divorce. The sessions were paid for, so I just had to go and talk about stuff.

Most of the things I genuinely thought were problems, weren’t problems at all. I was just being a bit worrisome, which everyone is. She basically told me I have a good head on my shoulders, and I’m taking the right steps to achieve my goals, so all else is unneeded worry.

I’m glad I went because it was good to know things weren’t as bad as I thought they were.

Blondesjon's avatar

@Blackberry . . . hmmm. interesting. what was your relationship with your parents like?

Blackberry's avatar

@Blondesjon Can I smoke in here?

Blondesjon's avatar

@Blackberry . . . Yeah. Sorry. Not since 2008. Would you like some gum?

Blackberry's avatar

@Blondesjon Winterfresh, please.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I began seeing a therapist after I quit my anti-depressants (prescribed by a PCP) and needed help living. I’ve been seeing him since then but we don’t discuss anything. I also see a hypno therapist. She and I discuss more things, about overeating.

laineybug's avatar

I know a few people who have therapists or psychiatrists for cutting and teen depression. None of them really wanted to see a therapist about it though. In fact most of them hate their therapists.

Aethelflaed's avatar

I know people that have gone to therapy to get over a divorce, to deal with parent/child issues, to deal with grief, for disordered eating, for schizophrenia, for a wide variety of trauma, PTSD, C-PTSD, and other related disorders, OCD, ADD, depression, bipolar, addictions, Austism/Aspergers, couple’s counseling, anxiety, self-injury…

I know some people who see a therapist regularly (though usually not a Freudian – seriously, even in psychoanalysis, Freud is out) because they feel they need a bit more help on a regular basis than they can really ask of their friends and family. Some of these people have more extenuating circumstances, like Asperger’s or bipolar, and some just seem to have a slightly harder time dealing with everyday life. Maybe they didn’t learn to properly regulate their emotions or get some other tool in childhood that others now take for granted. I think, hey, if they’re getting their needs met, and the therapist is earning money, this seems like a great set-up.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@laineybug It makes all the difference in the world when you can chose if you get therapy, and who from. It’s pretty much the same difference as getting to chose if and who you date, versus not getting to chose.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

During my years when I practised as a clinical psychologist, the range of reasons why people were referred or chose to get help was amazingly wide.

Affective (mood) disorders including unipolar and bipolar are very common. One person in five will experience a major depressive episode in their lifetime.

Anxiety-based disorders is another type of problem where people feel unable to do something or are unable to stop doing some behaviour as in Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

Some have formal thought disorders (e.g. schizophrenia) and may be on medication but still require help and support to function in their life.

Substance abuse disorders are another reason why someone might come to see a therapist.

Family or couple based relationship problems is another diverse category of referral reasons.

People who are suffering or have been the victim of child sexual or physical abuse often come to see a therapist.

Someone having difficulty making major decisions about higher education and career choice may see a psychologist to identify their strengths and weaknesses and to better understand their personal style of working.

I’ve worked with couples where one or both partners have psychological problems or traumatic personal histories that they brought into the relationship with them.

These are some of the reasons why people came for psychological help while I was working as a clinician. My interests in certain types of disorders drew me toward clinical research where I work for the rest of my career.

I derived benefit from the help of other clinicians before, during and after my career. The more someone understands what psychologists and other mental health professionals do, the more reasons they might find to seek out such help in critical situations and phases in their life.

JLeslie's avatar

@Aethelflaed Maybe @laineybug‘s friends don’t want to get better? I agree it makes a big difference to be able to switch therapists to one you like, but if the teens are forced into therapy, if they aren’t willing particpants it is tough to help them I think.

filmfann's avatar

I have gone to deal with rejection issues, following my step-daughter moving out when she was 15.
I also went to deal with sleep problems following an automobile accident.
During the 2nd one, my therapist wanted to explore my issues with my former boss-from-hell.

blueiiznh's avatar

I have known a few people who went (and needed to), but did not follow the guidance or use the tools that were provided to help them function. I suppose that is either recreational use or just not accepting that they should follow the recommendations.

Mariah's avatar

I first sought therapy during my first attempt at college; I was dealing with being sick on my own without the help and support of my parents for the first time.

I also got therapy when I wasn’t coping well with The Long Year of Many Surgeries.

And I got therapy when I went back to school and had surgical complications and was looking at a very real chance of having to have a permanent ileostomy.

I’ll seek therapy again if I get bad news at my medical test later this week.

Ho hum. At least I have crazy good coping skills after all that.

Bellatrix's avatar

In my previous marriage I went to see marriage guidance counsellors a couple of times.

My second husband went to see a counsellor after his previous long-term relationship ended so that he could learn from his mistakes. He also deliberately chose a female counsellor so he could understand things from a woman’s perspective.

I went to a counsellor to talk about my birth family and problems I was having with them.

Nimis's avatar

I actually went to a therapist because things were going well.

Realistically, it was the only time I’d probably go see a therapist. The chances of me asking for help whilst in the thick of things is probably nil.

It’s easier to stay on track than trying to find your way back to it.

augustlan's avatar

I went twice for depression/dealing with my childhood hell/PTSD. Later, I went to get help with panic attacks and overall anxiety. My ex-husband and I went to marriage counseling twice, attempting to save our marriage. Each of these were short courses of therapy, some as short as two visits. I’ve also gone to one visit with my anxiety therapist, long after those issues were under control. I was having a major issue with my mother and the therapist helped me face what I needed to do to resolve it.

downtide's avatar

I went to a therapist to try to deal with crippling, chronic depression. It didn;t help a bit.

augustlan's avatar

To those that weren’t helped by going to a therapist: I’m curious to know if you tried another therapist after the first one didn’t help you? The first one I went to was no help to me, either. It often takes a few tries to get the right one for you. That, and trying different medications, if you go that route. I just hate to think of anyone suffering for longer than they need to. :(

downtide's avatar

@augustlan I tried three therapists altogether, and didn’t have any success with any of them. The NHS would refer me to one only, the other two were from a mental health charity. There wasn;t anything else I could afford.

Medication was mostly successful, but the biggest success of all was when I stopped trying to force myself into a female role, and just be myself.

ETA: Actually I am officially still seeing a therapist but this is a speciallist gender therapist who is guiding me through the transition process. They have to make sure I’m sane before allowing me to transition, and they’re available if I have any worries or concerns. So it’s not really to “fix” anything, it’s just a necessary part of the process and a gateway to treatment.

wundayatta's avatar

@downtide Your story reminds me of what I think makes most of us unhappy—and that is trying not to be things we are. For me, I was depressed. Almost the second I stopped fighting being depressed, I stopped being depressed. Weird.

But most people with issues think they are supposed to be one way—different from the way they are. They try and try to be “normal” and the more they try, the clearer it is how much of a failure they are at being normal. Once you label yourself a failure, you just feel worse and worse. And it really is as simple as accepting yourself as different and deciding you don’t have to be normal. That takes off so much pressure and pretense and makes a huge difference, I think.

People relax. Lighten up. Stop trying. Stop pretending to be normal. They are who they are. They are happier for being who they are. Next thing you know they actually do appear to healthy and normally happy and their weirdness is just a minor eccentricity.

augustlan's avatar

@downtide and @wundayatta I concur. Therapy actually really helped me because my therapist told me I didn’t need to be who I thought I needed to be, in order to be happy and loved. She helped me immensely, just by encouraging me to accept and embrace who I actually am. Huge weight off my shoulders!

wundayatta's avatar

Right now, there are several people I care about very much in my life, including my wife, who think they need to be something other than who they are. It kills me that these wonderful people expect themselves to conform to some standard that just isn’t them. I can see how it hurts them to try to be “normal” in whatever particular way they then they should be different.

I recently asked a question here about being normal, and it is clear to me that most people think they are different. Being different is, in fact, normal. It is also clear to me that trying to conform is killing people. Literally, in some cases, such as when the differences are enough to make the attempt to conform create so much stress, the person gets mentally ill.

It’s never worth it. Better to lose a job than to die of the stress. That’s why my wife quit working.

But society puts so much pressure on us, and many of us crack under the pressure, all because we can’t imagine accepting ourselves as we are. In the end, it may come down to accepting yourself as you are, or dying. Short of that, it is accept yourself as you are, or living miserably.

I fought to be someone I wasn’t for years, and it took me decades to throw in the towel. I don’t know if it’s possible to accept yourself as you are until your back is to the wall, but I hope people will consider it long before they put up with the amount of misery I see so many people putting up with.

Nimis's avatar

@wundayatta I believe that the real you exists along a spectrum of possibility. That usually includes both weird and normal. People are rarely just one or the other.

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