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Author Topic: When to dump your therapist?  (Read 2769 times)

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Offline Buckmark

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When to dump your therapist?
« on: May 07, 2007, 09:31:46 AM »
Hi Folks,

I could use some opinions about when it is appropriate to "dump" your
therapist and find a new one.  About 3 months ago I started seeing a
therapist, due to some rather intense problems I've been having with
depression.  But I don't really feel like it is helping so far -- not at all.

I feel like I've been quite honest and specific about what some of my
concerns are (sex, HIV, intimacy, family relationships, etc.), but I sense
as if my therapist is always "re-directing" these discussions in ways that
seem rather general.  To him, it's always about me needing to build
closer relationships with people -- ok, yeah, I got that.  Not that I'm
asking him for detailed answers, but maybe some specific insights, and
just some frank discussion and an outside perspective. 

I feel like I am butting heads with my therapist, and it is not productive.
Of course, I'm mindful that I could be pushing myself away and avoiding
issues, though I don't know what I am avoiding.  I also realize that a
therapist isn't intended to be a friend.  I'd be fine seeing another
therapist, thought it's a pain to have to start searching for one again, and
to start fresh all over again with someone new.

So I need to benefit of your experience:  When have you found that it is
time to "move on" to a new therapist? 

Thanks,

Henry

"Life in Lubbock, Texas, taught me two things:
     One is that God loves you and you're going to burn in hell.
     The other is that sex is the most awful, filthy thing on earth and you should save it for someone you love."
- Butch Hancock, Musician, The Flatlanders

Offline redhotmuslbear

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Re: When to dump your therapist?
« Reply #1 on: May 07, 2007, 09:48:52 AM »
I feel like I've been quite honest and specific about what some of my
concerns are (sex, HIV, intimacy, family relationships, etc.), but I sense
as if my therapist is always "re-directing" these discussions in ways that
seem rather general.  To him, it's always about me needing to build
closer relationships with people -- ok, yeah, I got that.  Not that I'm
asking him for detailed answers, but maybe some specific insights, and
just some frank discussion and an outside perspective. 

Henry,
From my experiences with talk therapy, it seems that you may have gone into the process with expectation that no therapist may be able to meet.  Specifically, trained therapists -- as opposed to psychiatrists who are MDs and can put you on drugs -- exist to help lead patients to the discovery of solutions/answers/remedies, not to push answers at them.  A therapist can only surmise what's really going on in your mind and in your life, while you have the most intimate contact with it.

Not to put the rap on you, though.  During or prior to your initial session a therapist should be advising you of how the process works, unless you say you've done therapy before and s/he runs with an assumption that his or her process will be the same.

Cheers,
David
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Offline BT65

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Re: When to dump your therapist?
« Reply #2 on: May 07, 2007, 09:55:32 AM »
Sounds like you need to know "how" to build or re-build relationships.  Just be honest, as honest as you can.  Let the therapist know your expectations.  Don't be in a big hurry to dump the therapist without being totally honest with him/her.  See how that works! 
Peace-
Betty
I've never killed anyone, but I frequently get satisfaction reading the obituary notices.-Clarence Darrow

Offline keyite

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Re: When to dump your therapist?
« Reply #3 on: May 07, 2007, 10:10:33 AM »
I think a good place to start would be to bring up these concerns as directly and honestly as you can when you next see your therapist. He is not a mind-reader so if you don't let him know it isn't working for you then he can't do anything about it. Give him the chance to respond and/or adapt.

I saw a therapist for a while, and we worked well together, but too often I felt he played too passive a part. For me to be able to unpick issues I'd already endlessly mulled over I really needed some outside input. I needed to be challenged in my thinking. Not to be led to a 'solution' but rather be encouraged to break out of stuck thinking. So I told him that and, to his credit, he modified his approach for the remainder of the period we saw each other. Any therapist worth their salt would.

Offline Buckmark

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Re: When to dump your therapist?
« Reply #4 on: May 07, 2007, 10:26:51 AM »
Quote
David said:...it seems that you may have gone into the process with expectation that no therapist may be able to meet...

That's part of what I'm trying to figure out -- am I expecting too much, too soon
from therapy and my therapist.  As I stated above, I certainly know that he can't
give me the answers, but only help guide me to help myself find the answers in me.

I think what I am most frustrated over is that our conversations often go in
different directions, topic-wise.  Long awkward pauses, etc.  I've told him this.
But have also frequently given him the benefit of the doubt, as he is the professional.

Quote
Betty says:[/i]Sounds like you need to know "how" to build or re-build relationships ... Let the therapist know your expectations.

That's the thing, I'm not sure I even know how to build a relationship with a therapist.

It is time to discuss again my expectations of therapty with my therapist.

Keyite has also voice a similar suggestion to approach my therapist with this.  For this reason alone, I'm glad I posted here.

Thanks,

Henry




"Life in Lubbock, Texas, taught me two things:
     One is that God loves you and you're going to burn in hell.
     The other is that sex is the most awful, filthy thing on earth and you should save it for someone you love."
- Butch Hancock, Musician, The Flatlanders

Offline Bucko

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Re: When to dump your therapist?
« Reply #5 on: May 07, 2007, 11:17:34 AM »

I feel like I am butting heads with my therapist, and it is not productive.
Of course, I'm mindful that I could be pushing myself away and avoiding
issues, though I don't know what I am avoiding.  I also realize that a
therapist isn't intended to be a friend.  I'd be fine seeing another
therapist, thought it's a pain to have to start searching for one again, and
to start fresh all over again with someone new.

So I need to benefit of your experience:  When have you found that it is
time to "move on" to a new therapist? 

Thanks,

Henry

Henry-
As someone who has spent many years in various relationships with various therapists, I can perhaps give you a different perspective from the other posts here.

If you are uncomfortable with the therapist's approach you need to say so. Remember, this relationship is strictly for your benefit, not his. You need to be very specific as regards your needs and expectations as well as your goals. If you feel as though the therapist is unclear as to what you need from the sessions, then you need to be more clear. But if you feel as though you cannot trust him, get a new one.

This is thorny because if one of the goals is to learn how to develop relationship skills better, then perhaps developing a successful relationship with your therapist is something that needs to be worked on. But if you feel in your gut that he'll never "get it" or is unwilling to adress your concerns, then look for a new one.

Brent
(Who has had many therapists who worked out well and many who didn't)

Blessed with brains, talent and gorgeous tits.

The revolutionary smart set reads The Spin Cycle at least once every day.

Blathering on AIDSmeds since 2005, provocative from birth

Offline Peter6836

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Re: When to dump your therapist?
« Reply #6 on: May 07, 2007, 12:47:26 PM »
Henry,
Dump your therapist. You do not owe him anything. If there is no connection and you do not feel that you are benefiting from the therapy it is time to change. Three months is long enough for you to know if the results you are getting are beneficial. It may have nothing to do with him or you it is just that the two of you are not connecting. It is not your job to get him on track. It is his job to find out where you are and lead you down the road to personal growth. Thank him for trying to help and find a new therapist that you can move ahead with.
Go out and proactively interview therapists and find one that is on the same track that you are on. There are many different types of therapy as well. Find someone that uses different methods of therapy. I found that my last therapist who used a cognitive approach it turned out being a mind game, which by the way I think I won.
As with anything, take charge of your mental health just as you should take charge of your physical health.
You deserve to feel better about your life and enjoy it, find someone that can help you develop the tools to do just that.
Peter

Offline sweetasmeli

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Re: When to dump your therapist?
« Reply #7 on: May 07, 2007, 03:09:15 PM »
Hi Henry
I personally think, more often than not, we instinctively 'know' if something isn't working for us. If you feel like the therapy is not helping at all and that you are "butting heads" with your therapist, then you are probably right. But maybe it's not just about finding another therapist, maybe its about finding another type of therapist.

I personally found talk therapy just had me going round in circles with my issues and feelings and not doing much to change them. It helped me offload but didn't help me change very much in terms of my behaviour or attitude, not long term anyway. I needed tools to help me actually change the damaging patterns I kept repeating and talk therapy didn't provide that.

Not that I'm asking him for detailed answers, but maybe some specific insights, and
just some frank discussion and an outside perspective.

If you're looking for specific insight and frankness, I think you may find Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) more preferable. It has proved to be the turning point in my life. It was very pragmatic and to the point. We didn't spend too much time talking about feelings etc. I simply explained the things I wanted to change and over an intensive course of 6 one-hourly sessions, my therapist helped me to recognise and apply the tools I needed to change my whole perspective towards things. And, no word of a lie, it has turned my life around.

You have to be prepared to work at it though. It takes being able to be honest about who you are and what you want. It involves a lot of daily practice to apply the new skills provided: lots of reading, changing patterns and it requires a turnaround in attitude. CBT is based around the principles of positive thinking and having a realistic approach in life. It also requires you to take personal responsibility for everything you think, feel and do.

CBT does work. It is a therapy commonly used to treat depression, anxiety and phobias. But you have to believe it will work and be prepared to include it as a part of your daily routine, until it no longer feels like you're practising but just doing it naturally.

Melia
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Offline bear60

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Re: When to dump your therapist?
« Reply #8 on: May 07, 2007, 03:43:58 PM »
"Go out and proactively interview therapists and find one that is on the same track that you are on. There are many different types of therapy as well. " quote Peter....
.................................................................................
I think this is excellent advice, but you can always do this with your current therapist to see if you are wrong about him/her.  Lay out what you are looking for and what you want to achieve in therapy and if you get a zero....answer, then you know its time to move on.
Poz Bear Type in Philadelphia

Offline Iggy

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Re: When to dump your therapist?
« Reply #9 on: May 07, 2007, 08:30:51 PM »
Henry,

I disagree in a small way with just about everyone who has already posted because not I nor anyone on a message board can tell you whether what is going on in the therapy sessions is working or not or why.  Your therapist may very well be right about the direction he is pursuing and you just don't understand how it is all connected outside of knowing it in your head....which is a big difference than getting it.

Conversely you therapist just may not get it or you and no amount of time is going to fix that.

The problem here for anyone to make an evaluation is that we are not in the room with you two and can't possibly say if your therapist is worth continuing with or not. 

In my situation, I saw my therapist twice a week for several months before I started to feel like things were changing and It wasn't until a while after even that when I realized the changes that were happening begun a long time before I was aware of it because it was a slow but serious process.

A friend once wrote me and said that there are two periods of change in our lives - the fast, awe inspiring and almost dizzying change where things seem to be happening so fast and we seem to have whole worlds collapse and reborn in a short time....and then there is the slow, quiet almost imperceptible change where we don't even recognize anything is happening but at the end of a period realize that the most dramatic and structural changes to our very being have taken place.

If you have ever been in therapy prior to this current period, my advice is for you to think about the time and see if you felt things were moving in a direction that helped you and ask yourself why - based on those answers you will have a better way to know if this therapist is right for you.

If you have never been in therapy before then it may be worth trying two things - being upfront with your therapist about the feeling that there is no momentum in what is happening in your sessions and having a consultation or two with other therapists.

Trust yourself in this process.


Offline Buckmark

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Re: When to dump your therapist?
« Reply #10 on: May 07, 2007, 09:26:31 PM »
I'm very grateful to those of you who responded today.  This was timely, because I had
an appointment with my therapist this afternoon.  The best I advice I got from many of
you is to tell my therapist my concerns -- which is exactly why I did. 

He was very receptive, and even thankful that I brought this up.  I outlined my goals and
expectations, and asked him to explain his approach and how he could help me work towards
my goals.  Overall, I want a more "directed" approach (directed sometimes by me, as well
as him), not just sitting there talking about my feelings and experience week after week.
He felt he could accommodate this, and that my expectations were not unrealistic.

Overall, this was one of the most productive meetings I've had with him, so I am
inclined to stay with him for at least a few more weeks.  I think it was cool of him to admit
that he had underestimated how important some issues were to me.  And it was very
professional of him to say that if I didn't feel that I was making progress, then I should
absolutely do what I need to do, including see another therapist.

I'm still frustrated by how long it seems to be taking to make progress.  I know that change
can take time, but when one is hurting, it seems like an eternity.  I think it is also interesting
to note some of your different views on types of therapy (e.g. cognitive behavioral).  I guess
everyone need to find the approach and therapist that works for them.

Again, I'm quite grateful to everyone who responded.

Regards,

Henry
"Life in Lubbock, Texas, taught me two things:
     One is that God loves you and you're going to burn in hell.
     The other is that sex is the most awful, filthy thing on earth and you should save it for someone you love."
- Butch Hancock, Musician, The Flatlanders

Offline DanielMark

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Re: When to dump your therapist?
« Reply #11 on: May 08, 2007, 07:14:30 AM »
Henry,

Any therapy that's worthwhile is going to take time, and lots of it.

I'm glad you decided to discuss this with your current therapist. Complete honesty is the cornerstone to making progress.  Otherwise, itís just spinning the wheels. Give this some more time. If eventually you see itís not going to work, then is the time to shop around.

Daniel
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Offline carousel

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Re: When to dump your therapist?
« Reply #12 on: May 08, 2007, 10:09:55 AM »
For me, the time to change therapist is when they become part of the problem.  When I get angry at what they say and feel that we are going over old stuff.

I think it is one of the frustrating things about therapists, you wish they had the solution and could make it all better.

It's helpful to be transparent with the therapist if things are not going well.  No point in bottling up these feelings.

I'm not sure how directive a therapist can be.  Part of the process is helping you to find a way of you moving forward.  I was wondering if therapist were to be more directive, what sort of things would you like them to say. 

I've been seeing my current therapist for about three months.  I am hoping that therapy will begin to wind down in a month or so.  The frustration is always that I want to see big changes, evidence that things are different, when in fact the changes might be more subtle, maybe more about my outlook.  I certainly feel calmer and am looking towards to the future with less dread.

Good luck.

Offline Andy Velez

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Re: When to dump your therapist?
« Reply #13 on: May 08, 2007, 08:40:55 PM »
Henry, I suggest you tell your therapist as clearly and as simply as you can how you're feeling about the therapy as it has gone so far, what you are dissatisfied with including with him/her. If you can, be as clear as you can about what you would like out of therapy and what isn't happening that you want.

You're entitled to a straightforward response. Once you initiate this kind of conversation I would also suggest you set a time limit, i.e. I'm going to continue coming for the rest of this month or whatever you think is a reasonable time to explore the situation. In other words, enough time to really explore various aspects of what you're talking about without simply quitting on the spot.

Now, I hasten to add doing this is not a waste of your time and money. Exploring what isn't working and doing it in this kind of cooperative way can be very useful for you. It might cause a shift for the better in your relationship. If it doesn't then you will have had some good and courageous practice at doing your best to make the relationship work. That experience wil stand you well in working with someone else, and indeed in any relationships including romantic.

A successful therapy iin part is built on the combination of the right patient with the right therapist.

And again, work at being as specific and as open as you can in what you have to say. You have nothing to apologize or explain. Just tell your truth the best you can.

You're entitled to have a good working alliance with your therapist just as you need to have with your doctor.

Good luck with this challenging situation.
Andy Velez

 


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