Wednesday 23 March 2011

To see a Therapist, or not to see a Therapist?

So. I'm thinking of seeing a therapist (if I can find one that speaks English here). I've never seen one in my life. I've always thought they were bollocks. I've always thought that the way they commonly link one's childhood to their adult behavior was, ... well, for lack of a better term, bull. Doesn't it all come down to an individual's 'choices'? Someone's a serial killer -- oh, but they were abused as a child. Oh really? I know plenty of people who were abused, but they are some of the nicest people I've ever met.

Anyway, my point is, we shouldn't blame our childhood on things we do as adults, because we have a choice. But ..., I've been reading Karen Walker's memoir. And now, I'm thinking things like, "oh, maybe I become cold and distant and seem like a selfish, heartless bitch when someone yells at me because I was ALWAYS yelled at as a child and it's become a habit if self-preservation ?" Then I shake my head and say, "sheesh, don't be ridiculous."
But then I sit down at my computer this morning and have no idea what to write because I can't stop thinking about these, "therapy things." So here I am writing about it. And I want to see a therapist because I want to know what their take is on my horrible cold behaviour. I want to know why I hide myself away and pretend I don't care when something bothers me so much that I want to yell and scream and cry and break things all around the house. (PS: don't worry, nothing bad has happened, I'm just referring to how I am when bad things do happen.)

So, what do you think? Therapy? Worth it?

PS: After receiving a comment on facebook saying that they are offended by this post, I'd just like to say that I KNOW this post heavily generalizes what therapists are all about, and I do respect the profession. Please do not take offense. I am not an expert on clinical psychology and am merely expressing how I'm feeling today. Thanks.


  1. If you find the right therapist that's a good match for you, I think it's absolutely worth it.

    I went to therapy for a while and I often refer to it as the most self-indulgent thing I've ever done. Where else was I able to talk about me (just me) without feeling like a self-centered clod? And my therapist was detached enough from my personal life to give me objective feedback.

    One more opinion thing:
    While the things that happened in our childhood may seem irrelevant and we can "logic" our way out of our behavior,it is our childhood that sets our behavioral norms and expectations. While it need not define who we are, it certainly plays a part.

    If you're curious about therapy, I say give it a try and see what you think. What's the worst that can happen?

    If you ever need to chat, you know where to find me. I love ya, Jess.

  2. Go for it! Sometimes it's nice to have an outsider help you sort through your thoughts.
    My Blog

  3. I personally think it's best not to yell and scream and throw things when bad things happen. It's a sign of maturity to NOT do those things, not a sign of repression imho. Therapy can be helpful if you find the right one and damaging if you don't. Also imho.

    P.S.Any therapist offended by this post is shockingly thin skinned and needs to see a therapist.

  4. My therapist found things inside of me I thought I had buried forever. She saved me. Pure and simple. I would never be writing and sharing if it wasn't for her.

    Try it, it transformed my life.

  5. If you think it will help you then go for it.
    I agree it's always what happened as a child that makes us how we are today,We alone are responsible for our own lives and only ourselves to blame if things don't turn out right.
    There is one thing that happened when I was 16, I saw someone with Cancer.......that wasn't talked about much in those days, but it has had a profound effect on my life. It didn't help much when hubby had it twice, which led to his early passing then my eldest son was diagnosed 4 yrs ago, at the moment he is ok, but what scares the s**t out of me is I have to have smear test every six months as some cells of the cervix are abnormal so will be pleased when April is over, thank goodness I have the A to Z to take my mind off of it.
    Having said all that, as I said go for it.


  6. I’ve been to four therapists over the last twenty years and I’ve not been that impressed with any of them although I have enjoyed the experience of having someone intelligent to spar with. My problem is that I’m already well aware of why I am the way I am – that’s a part of why I write, to work out this crap – and so they’ve never been able to offer me any insights that I’ve not been able to work out myself. Did man get here by evolution or creation? It’s an interesting question but what’s it got to do with the price of butter? I used to think that knowing why was the be all and end all but it really isn’t. And the times I have pushed to find out why I’ve never liked what I’ve found which is where this poem came from:

            EXHUMING TRUTH

            It was there.
            She knew it would be
            if she dug deep enough.
            But she seemed disappointed.

            What did she expect to find?
            Nothing smells very sweet
            this far down.

            28 July 1989

    We expect there to be reasons for everything. Every action has its consequence. But not everything has a reason. That was the premise behind my novel Milligan and Murphy where the protagonists spend the whole book trying to feel comfortable with something they did on the spur of the moment. It’s a priest that finally put into words what I was trying to say when I had him tell them, “There are no reasons for unreasonable things.” You may find an answer but not necessarily a reason. Shit happens.

    I’m not saying you shouldn’t go but maybe you have the tools already available to gain enough insight to either help you become more comfortable being who you are or enable you to modify your behaviour so that you are.

  7. I have to say it's really all about the therapist.

    I saw literally dozens of therapists as a young person, and most are hacks who will push drugs on you or diagnose you so that you can be sent to a treatment center that gives them kickbacks.

    But ... there are exceptions. I met two therapists in my life who were beautiful people, had a brilliant understanding of the human mind and the human heart, and really touched my life.

    I still don't totally trust shrinks, but like all people, there are good ones and bad ones.

    You should contact my friend Sarah Fine, she's a writer and a psychologist, and she's very smart. Her blog is:

  8. When I was going through a hard time my last year at college, I went to a counselor and a psychiatrist. It was okay, but I didn't really see where it helped. We'd just sit there and stare at each other until the person asked me a question and I answered. I guess I'm not the opening up type of person. So for me, I didn't see where it helped. Of course, they can be used as sounding boards and sometimes people need those to figure out things. I didn't feel that they gave advice much, but tried to let me come up with the solution myself. Different people have different experiences, and I agree it is finding one that works for you and you feel comfortable talking to.

  9. I think whether therapy works is dependent on a number of factors.

    1. the competence of the therapist
    2. the receptivness of the patient
    3. the relationship the two have together.

    I do believe that a person's backround affects their future behavior. But I also believe we inherit traits of our personality from the moment we're born into this world. So how much is nature and how much is nurture is a much debated question. And I don't pretend to know the answer.

  10. do what Matt said--and someone was offended by this post? Really???

    Me say they need to get a little tougher skin. Sorry, offended person. (They're probably even more offended now! ;o)

    I saw a *counselor* once b/c I was having anxiety attacks over my brother who was living in Atl (I was in Indy) and he kept calling for me to come there b/c he was losing his shizz. I had a 4 wk-old nursing baby and couldn't go. I guess I kind of over-reacted.

    But she helped me put it all in perspective. And my parents went. It wasn't what he wanted, but... well. yeah.

    ((hugs)) <3

    (and don't let 'em drug you all up. I mean, unless you want to do that. xoxo)

  11. Our childhoods really do affect who we become/how we behave as adults. In becoming conscious of our past, we are able to better live in the present and (to some degree) control our future. And I also agree with Angela, some traits are genetically imprinted.

    If you find a therapist and you don't click, don't give up. Keep looking until you find the person you are comfortable with. You may have to try out several before finding a fit. Rather like finding a nice comfortable pair of shoes.

  12. i've never seen a therapist, but here are my 2 cents.
    I'd give it a try. If it doens't work, it doesn't work and you're not any worse off.
    But if does help you feel better or anything, well, why deny youself the chance at that?
    Hell, i think i might have just convinced ME

  13. ...and i apologize for my typos...

  14. I guess it depends on which way you look at it. Some things are deeply ingrained and knowing they are there may help you make the choice not to act in a certain way. I was abused as a child and thus have a hard time looking people in the eye when talking to them. Knowing where it comes from gives me a chance to consciously choose to look people in the eye when we are having a conversation.

  15. As a therapist myself, I would obviously recommend you try one out, but as a human being, I can say I have always benefited from therapy myself, although I don't think long-term services are that beneficial. 6 months, a year perhaps, if you enjoy it, more than that I think it stops being what people need it to be
    (unless you really just want someone to talk to, a function most of us have family and friends for).

    To be fair, I think it helps a lot of people, but not everybody. Even though I'm a therapist, my husband says he would never go to one, and he insists it would not help him. I respect that.

    One of the greatest indicators of success in therapy is knowing what you want to work on. If you can come in and say, "I want to see a therapist because I want to know what their take is on my horrible cold behaviour. I want to know why I hide myself away and pretend I don't care when something bothers me so much that I want to yell and scream and cry and break things all around the house", just like you did in your blog, your therapist should be able to help you with that. If you come in vaguely and the therapist has to go "fishing" for what you want, he or she may not be able to come up with much with which to help you.

    Also, who you go to makes the difference. You don't really need a psychiatrist or a psychologist, a counselor or a marriage and family therapist would be most approriate (and counselors and therapists aren't qualified to medicate, so thats not a part of their treatment with you).

    Lastly, some words to look for: Strengths-based, solution-focused, cognitive-behavioral are all current, short-term evidence based styles of therapy you can look up on the internet and decide if it sounds like it could be helpful to you. More long-term, in depth therapy includes terms like psychodynamic and depth psychology, which call a lot more on "traditional" interpretation of client's conscious and subconscious thoughts. I prefer the short term therapies myself, but that's my opinion.

    Good luck deciding if this is the sort of help you think could be beneficial to you. Go with your instincts, and know you have a right to ask to be referred to a different therapist if you and your therapist just aren't "clicking" after a session or two. A "good therapist" shouldn't be offended by that.

  16. I've never been to a therapist but know people who have and were pleased with the experience. I say like Sarah, go and it if helps you're better off. If not, well, nothing lost. It's really not good to bottle things up and explode when a negativty triggers something. Yes, our childhood affects us. Anyway, a shrink should be a qualified 'rent a friend.' Good luck!

    To the person who was offended by Jess's post: Get a life!

  17. I agree with Carolyn - try to find someone who will be helpful and will help you identify the source of a specific behavior and then a solution to handling that behavior. I think therapy is successful when it helps us understand our reactions and deal with them effectively.

  18. Personally, I think you are smart enough to see a bull spreader when you see one, so not my two cents. My two cents is the fact that you realized this part of you on your own is a form of self therapy. What you need is the guidance to make positive changes with this knowledge.

    Anyway we are all here if you want to throw a letter at us through cyberspace :)
    Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

  19. Therapy can be very useful. The trick is to find the right therapist. The wrong therapist can do more harm than good. Your gut instinct will tell you if someone is right or not. If it is the first meeting or the third and you feel it is not right then walk away. A good therapist does not necessarily trawl through your childhood although there is no doubt the source of most of our wounds are there. Therapy is painful and emotionally, psychologically and physically demanding so if you do it pace yourself. You won't get through it faster with more sessions. It has its own hermetic process. If you feel a need to stop and take a break do so. This allows your psyche to process slowly what you are doing. I have done some therapy, not a lot, but there are times when having someone who has little emotional baggage in your regard and who is completely on your side, is invaluable.
    I found that if I did say a session a week or fortnight, that after five or six sessions I needed time out and I took it. Good therapy puts you in touch with your subconscious Self and helps you to learn about who you are at core. Much of what we are is programming, put in place in childhood and the process of growing up necessitates we recognise and replace as needed, that programming. I also found astrology helped enormously in terms of me understanding me.
    We are all different and that is why there is no one size fits all in therapists. I sought out people who could relate spiritually and mythically to the path I was on because these were terms of reference, or languages which gave deeper meaning to what I experienced. Just some thoughts. Follow your instincts and do it if you wish and feel it is right and stop when you feel you need to.

  20. Whoever got offended over your post needs to just relax, perhaps prescribe themselves something, take two and call themselves in the morning. I've been through therapy and unless you can't discover the answers on your own, therapy is a good way to help you change if that is truly what you want to do. Even if you just want to recognize the "Why" of your behavior, you should treat it like research for a story. Use every option available to you to get the answers you need. You don't have to make a huge commitment to it, you can stop when you feel like you have had enough or have learned enough tools and skills to continue on your own. But a little therapy never hurt anyone and while we do make choices to be the way we are now, we certainly are shaped by our past events. If you hadn't gone through the things you did, made the choices you made, you would not be the person you are today. Everything happens for a reason.
    Good luck my dear!

  21. Just like every other profession, therapists come in a wide variety of competency-levels and orientations. I think your questions and concerns are legitimate, and I think you've gotten some pretty good advice. I'll just add that there are many kinds of therapists you could go to who don't really care about your childhood so much, or at least, have no interest in focusing on it. Trauma and early experience are what we call "distal" causal factors. Those experiences are NOT what causes adult problems. Rather, those early experiences get filtered through a lot of "proximal" causes--like the person's current thoughts and behaviors. So many therapists--those with behavioral, cognitive-behavioral, and family systems orientations, for example--focus on that (because, frankly, research shows that's more effective.)

    If you decide to go to a therapist, ask questions. After you explain why you've decided to give it a try, ask what kind of treatment they'd provide. Ask what kinds of things you should expect to change, and why, and what the implications of those changes are. You are a partner in the therapy, not a passive recipient. You should know where the ship is headed before stepping aboard.

  22. Yup, what Sarah said.

    I think therapy is useful, if you're working with a therapist who is knowledgeable and who you feel comfortable with. ;)

  23. Sorry Jessica catching up. Went back and dang... book trailer, I thought it was a music video GREAT job. Since we have just started communicating I did not know what your book was about... sounds very interesting :)

    Have a great week end...
    Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

  24. I think we're all bound by the past until we become cognizant of the ways it's affected us. Once we realize the way we've developed into what we are we then can pinpoint the obstacles we have to overcome to become who we want to be. We all need to go through that and self-reflection is important to anyone who wants to grow as a person.

    For some people therapy works in helping to achieve that, with some it doesn't. You've gotta find your own path to enlightenment, sometimes it comes from talking to a therapist, other times it comes from talking to the bartender. The important thing is that you keep trying to improve yourself.

  25. hi miss jessica! yikes i cant think how someone could be mad about your post. my brother alex does therapy and he helps lots of people. i hope you could find some one you could talk to. i did when mommy died and it was a big helper for me. you could always talk to me when youre feeling down. :)
    ...lots of love and big hugs from lenny


“I'm using my art to comment on what I see. You don't have to agree with it.” ~John Mellencamp

“Allowing an unimportant mistake to pass without comment is a wonderful social grace” ~Judith S. Marin

“I don't ever try to make a serious social comment.” ~Paul McCartney

“I'd make a comment at a meeting and nobody would even acknowledge me. Then some man would say the same thing and they'd all nod.” ~Charlotte Bunch

“Probably what my comment meant was that I don't care about the circumstances if I can tell the truth.” ~Sally Kirkland

“We're not going to pay attention to the silliness and the petty comments. And quite frankly, women have joined me in this effort, and so it's not about appearances. It's about effectiveness.” ~Katherine Harris