Tuesday, June 3, 2008

the talking cure

The therapist always wants to hear about my dreams. "So, I'm wondering," he says, drawing out the word to an inordinate, hissing length, "whether you've had any dreams lately." I chance a look at the clock on the bookshelf and tell him about the dream where I was a spy driving a minivan down the Trans-Siberian highway or the one where I was buying ill-fitting sundresses at an open-air flea market or the one where I was committing perjury in front of a congressional subcommittee on energy policy.

The therapist listens and offers an interpretation, which, to my ears, nearly always rings false. I describe a dream about finding a suitcase full of cocaine and he says, "It sounds like you'd like to escape from reality." I describe a dream about my niece's birthday party and he says "It sounds like you feel that Mattea is something to celebrate."

Now, I realize that the blame for my inability to accomplish anything useful during therapy rests squarely on my own shoulders. When a therapist asks what my goals are, I say that I have no idea. When a therapist tries to establish a friendly relationship with me, I figuratively slap away the outstretched hand. "Do you think we have a good rapport?" asked one therapist but, oddly enough, didn't seem very happy when I responded "Not especially."

I'm self-aware enough to see that repeatedly failing at therapy represents a safe way of expressing my hostility towards my mother, the psychiatrist. But knowing that isn't the same as stopping myself from doing it. Moreover, I've found that my attempts at therapy tend to rapidly degenerate into something very much like repeto-therapy -- a technique that I seem to remember being featured long, long ago in The Journal of Irreproducible Results. As I recall, it went something like this:

Patient: Look, I don't know what to do. I'm having a lot of trouble concentrating. I'm not sleeping well. I feel just so incredibly depressed and like there's absolutely no hope for me.

Psychiatrist: It sounds like you feel hopeless.

Patient: You got that right. So, do you think it would be a good idea for me to start taking some kind of medication?

Psychiatrist: It sounds like you're wondering whether it would be a good idea for you to start taking some kind of medication.

Patient: Exactly. So, what do you think?

Psychiatrist: It sounds like you're asking me to tell you what I think.

Patient: That doesn't answer my question at all. Why are you repeating everything I say?

Psychiatrist: It sounds like you believe that I'm repeating everything you say.

Patient: What the f*ck is going on here?

Psychiatrist: You sound confused.

What's your experience been? Have you tried therapy or avoided it? Have you found it to be a valuable venue for personal exploration and growth or a colossal waste of time and money? And what do you think my dreams mean?

edited to tidy up a few grammatical errors/typos that were driving me stark raving mad.


Wibbs said...

I've never posted here beofre, but thought I would chime in about therapy. I've been for years and years with variable results. I went for depression when I was in middle school/high school. I had a wonderful therapist who really helped me see how I was contributing to my pain, and identified things that were situational that anyone would be depressed about. Then in college/post college I had a string of freaking awful therapists. Then I finally found a great cognitive-behavioral therapist. That has been the only thing has helped me. I know why I am screwed up...I don't need to hear anymore about my infertility, my parent issues, trust issues etc. I needed a plan and tools to help myself. I guess my assvice is to keep trying new techniques and new therapists until you find the right fit. I don't really believe dream analysis is very useful...

Anonymous said...

Yes yes yes! I interviewed about 8 therapists when I lived in a different city 12 years ago and I hired the one with whom I clicked. (I believe the answer that led me to hire her was an enthusiastic "yes" when I asked if she considered herself a feminist.) 10 years ago, I moved to a different city and I STILL speak to her weekly for phone sessions. She is that good and has saved my life more than once. The ill-fitting dress dream means you don't feel comfortable in your body. The perjury one means you don't trust yourself. The suitcase full of cocaine means you feel that your good luck is always counterbalanced by bad. The niece one means you love you niece. The trans-siberian highway one means...uh...you're cold?

Bon said...

growing up far outside the Woody Allen world where therapy seemed so damn self-aware and glamourous and urbane, i used to fantasize that someday i'd get a therapist and actually sort myself out. mmm. i tried to find some kind of grief counselling in the month or so after Finn died. not much available here...i ended up seeing a pleasant volunteer lady who told me all about her pregnant daughter-in-law and otherwise said, gee you must be sad. which was, ummm, true, but the first part was less than helpful. cured me of fantasizing about therapy, though.

i dreamed i was chainsmoking whilst holding onto a suitcase of illegal cigarettes the other night. i didn't quite know how i'd gotten there. i have no clue what it all means, except maybe you and i have odd subconscious relationships to suitcases.

Which Box said...

Struggling with this right now, particularly given the job(less) situation which might mean a switch in health insurance, and sure as hell means I can't see the person I had been seeing, who takes no insurance at all.

I've heard so many people say therapy has ben the best and hardest thing they've ever done, and I ...just don't get it. I wish it was. And maybe I havent found the right therapist? I don't know. I wish I did.

And your anonymous commenter hit the dreams right on the head, I think.

thailandchani said...

Well, frankly, I think most of them are hacks. Occasionally one comes along who has a sincere desire to help and typically all they can do is listen and empathize - the same way a good friend would do.

The active listening method you showed here makes me want to swat someone! Repeto-therapy, indeed!

For the most part, talking to a good friend, someone you consider to be wise and decent, is far better than talking to most therapists who are really little more than cultural apologists.

Furrow said...

I absolutely did NOT copy you when I posted about dreams today on my blog, and I'm envious that your dreams sounds more interesting than my TV viewing options.

I had a wonderful therapy experience in college at the university women's center. The sessions were free for as long as I wanted, and I got a lot out of it. Nine years later I went back to the same therapist, now in private practice, and it sucked. She had completely changed her approach. I don't feel like starting over with anyone else, so I guess I'm done with that.

Eva said...

As you know, I recently wrote about my therapy experiences, so you know how I feel. I do think it has its uses (it did help me in some practical ways) but it's not for everyone or everything.

As for the bit with your mom, yeah. But also it can be really hard to find a therapist that's right for you.

I think dream analysis is total bullshit. You gotta find someone with a nice pragmatic approach. And with a sense of humor.

Eva said...

Oh and--you know, you can interview them (for free) on the phone? Well in some areas.

Aurelia said...

I've had awful therapists, including one who hid from me in a bathroom stall when I was late for an appointment and ended up acting like I was the problem.

But a few, a select few, were brilliant and helpful and you just may have to date a few more frogs before you find your prince charming.

As for the mom issue, yes obvious, but maybe you should make sure you find someone who isn't a Doctor, like a psychologist? And try a type of therapy that doesn't require the same kind of rapport, like EMDR.

I know I've mentioned it before, but you don't need to tell the therapist every detail of the issue to succeed, so it may work.

Anonymous said...

I have spent hours and hours in therapy. I have done just about every different type of therapy you can imagine. I had a great therapist when I was a teenager and she taught me many tools to figure things out on my own. I might still get down and depressed, but I can usually figure out why.

Your dreams - I would say the dress in an open-air flea market means you are worried about being exposed. As in someone finding out about the surrogacy right now. I could say a few things about the cocaine dream, but won't post them here.

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Anonymous said...

Ok, is anyone else having problems with blogger double and triple posting comments, or is it just me?

K @ ourboxofrain said...

My parents sent me to my first therapist when I was 7 or 8, and I am still afraid to ask them why. I spent my sessions arranging the same dollhouse over and over again. I think I was supposed to act out relationships with the dolls, but I was always more interested in the layout of the furniture. And, sadly, that was probably my best therapy experience.

I saw a variety of people after my parents' divorce, culminating with the guy who asked me repeatedly and forcefully if I ever wondered if my dad (my custodial parent) abused me as a little kid (I had expressed discomfort at having found my dad's hidden porn collection). That was the end of therapy until college, when the person I saw thought meds would be the easiest course of action, ultimately landing me in the hospital in the throws of a suicidal-feeling-inducing anxiety attack (that I thankfully recognized for what it was). So I've never really been 100% sold on therapy.

All that said, I was a peer counselor in high school and in college and got my degree in psychology.

Tash said...

Like Bon, I always thought therapy was some elitist luxury, aka the Sopranos. Now that I'm in it (still am) I can honestly say: I have no freaking clue. Some days it's helpful. Somedays I feel like I need another therapy session to unpack my therapy session. Some days I feel she's insightful; others I feel she picks up on obvious code words and doesn't analyze them very thoroughly (aka, The Simpsons). I'm in a place now where I'm actually trying to figure out what the end game is: when do I know I can leave?

My dreams are usually anvil-y obvious: anxiety, anxiety, anxiety. If I'm lucky, sex. Otherwise I also put them on my blog and see if others can sort them out.

Melissa said...

I have been in psychoanalysis for the past several years (four days a week, lying on the couch, the whole bit) and was in regular therapy before that. It has definitely been worth it for me. I've learned a LOT about myself, my family, how to figure out what I want, and how to get it.

Honestly, you sound way smarter than most of your therapists. A good therapist wouldn't be fazed by your attempts to brush her off, wouldn't give pat one-sentence analyses of your dreams, and wouldn't just parrot your words. I would keep trying (interviewing them is a great idea, by the way) until you find someone who doesn't make you roll your eyes.

thordora said...

I've been to many doctors and therapists-my personal favorites are the one who told me at 13 she knew just how I felt, and the one recently who said I wasn't sick enough for her to see me. Maybe the problem is that they were all covered by provincial insurance...


My experiences have been hit and miss, and generally not very helpful. If you're self aware and read a lot, you'll come to a lot of the same conclusions. The only thing I ever liked was having someone not involved to talk to,

LAS said...

I have tried therapy, oh 3 or 4 times and I have failed every time. And it's my own fault. I am about to try it again - why? Don't know. Cause I can't live like this I guess. I am desperate. Every time the therapist asks me a question, I say, "I don't know." "How are you feeling?" "I don't know." Eventually she asks, "do you actually not know, or are you just not telling me?" I say, "I'm not telling you." And then I quit. The last time the therapist made all these suggestions about ways to change my life and I said, great idea, thanks, and I didn't do any of them. She eventually said, "wow, it's really amazing the way you just brush off my suggestions as if they don't mean anything and then act like you really don't care." And that was the end of therapy.

Now I am going to try it again.

Mrs. Spit said...

Hmm. I have gone for discrete things, like when I had some issues sorting out what I wanted to do in life, what to do after Gabriel died.

I find that I solve most of my problems myself, so I'm not particularly sure that paying a therapist to listen to me did anything more than pay someone to listen to me, whether they wanted to or not.

Which on a day like today, when I feel old and tired and not particularly loved, seems like one hell of a good idea.

And I don't think I'm making any sense about this any more. No help over here.

Maggie said...

I don't think that I am much help on the therapy front, since I have never been. But I know that for some people, the ability to have someone else to talk to that wasn't a friend/family member/significant other is worth its weight in gold. And for others, it's just not their cup of tea.

I'm really not much help on the dream front either, as my dreams are as close to reality as it can get. Which really isn't as much of a cool thing as it sounds.

sweetsalty kate said...

I went to a therapist twice, maybe three times - she'd just sit there scribbling on her clipboard (hangman, maybe?) and mumbling "Hmmhmm, mm hmm..." and then at the end of the hour she'd say, "And would you like to come back again next week?" and I'd be left there like, "Well, when is the 'therapy' going to start? Or is this just it, me venting and you scribbling notes?"

I do think it's got a lot to do with finding the right person, as others have already said.

So far, blogging better for me than I suspect therapy ever would be. But what I worry about now is some of the more festering stuff that I can't write about. How I'm going to siphon that shit off, I have no clue.

I've actually been tempted lately to try something a little more... unusual, inspired by a friend who lost a baby and went for spiritual counselling. More along the lines of healing touch, and souls, and (shhh...) a medium. It sounds completely weird and new-age, but I'm curious because it can't hurt. Just someone to talk to who has convictions about why we're here, about the point of all this damned humanity. Right now, a conversation like that strikes me as more stimulating than therapy. I'd rather spend $100 with someone like that and actually tease my imagination in a comforting way than spend the same to sit on a couch in front of a head with complementary ears attached but that's otherwise full of tumbleweeds.

If course if I ever do it it's going to be secret, and I'll use a fake name and wear a disguise. I was thinking Pink-Panther-as-Quasimoto.

At least your subconscious is giving you something to chew on - I don't dream at all, at least not that I can remember. I wish I did.

painted maypole said...

my husband and i did marriage counseling for a while, but it didn't work very well because he has too much training in counseling and so spent more time critiquing her in his head than actually trying to solve problems. Months later I would be like "why didn't you mention this when Dr. X was asking us about ______" and he would be like "well, the way she phrased the question...." ARG! we did manage to muddle through it on our own, thankfully, and we're still married. :)

Monica said...

My first experience with therapy was awful. I was in high school and he told my mother I was "hostile". This was after I screamed at him because I had to wait an hour to see him. I told him he wasn't worth waiting ten minutes to see. I love the bereavement therapist I saw after losing Jimmy, but he would never entertain my dreams and their meanings, so I'm jealous. I do love those good therapy sessions.. when you leave with a therapy high. Those sessions make it all worth it. All my dreams are the Cassandra type. Apparently I feel impotent.

Libby said...

I think I need therapy, but my level of inertia prevents me from researching and/or instigating it. Reading your post I was remembering my college roommate and her book, "Zolar's Encyclopedia of Dreams." This provided many entertaining mornings when we'd look our dreams up - the interpretations were so specific they were hilarious. Hmm, I may have to get another copy - it's on Amazon for 75 cents. Cheaper than therapy, anyway.

Clementine said...

I rarely remember my dreams, so whenever I do recall one I run to the free online dream dictionary for analysis. I'll try to find the website I use and email it to you--it's funny but actually kind of insightful.

Re: therapists, I saw someone near you years ago who was awful, but I've had other therapists over the years who have helped me a lot. I'm going to start seeing someone new in a couple of weeks for work stress, but if I don't click with her I'll find someone new in a flash. I agree with one of your commenters above, too--this therapist doesn't seem like he's challenging you. For what it's worth, here's a weird quirk of mine: I prefer LICSWs to psychologists.

B said...

Well - here's my two bobs worth.

I've seen a psychologist for a very long time now who is an excellent family counsellor. She is very skilled and experienced and scores - on the whole - an A.

I saw a psychiatrist as well at the recommendation of my GP and it was all in all, a waste of time. Old fashioned in style, you know, freudian couching sort of stuff, and "so you are angry" bull shit. Even though he was actually much younger then my psychologist his techniques were a bore to say the least and he ... well... missed the point somewhat.

My psychologist - well she breaks the rules some what. She hugs me sometimes when all i need is a safe place to cry, she tells me stories from her own life as examples of different ways to look at things, she cries with me on occasions, she calls a spade a spade when i am indulging in self pity or negativity, but most importantly, she treats what I say as precious. She doesn't take it for granted that I tell her the deepest darkest bits, she sees it as a priveledge and treats it as such. Which it is. As well as being what I pay her for.

Which beats the kind of interaction you describe where the whole exchange ends up disappearing up it's own arse - so to speak.

Maybe go for a different technique if this one is clearly not working for you.

I've found this a helpful starting point for all things psychological


CLC said...

I go to a therapist. More days than not, I don't think it helps. She can't bring my baby back, so it seems futile. But I keep going thinking that one of these days I might really need her.

And I see a shrink too for the Z. But she has pissed me off both times I have been there. I am thinking about stopping it altogether.

flutter said...

I have been through my fair share of therapists offering up a myriad of different therapies from the absurd to the absolutely fucking stupid. Then, I walked into the office of my current therapist..and it was different.

No blaming my father for everything, no shifting responsibility, no asking me to take on anything that isn't mine. And a sense of humor! Leaps and bounds and practical techniques to help me get my head out of my ass.

It really is amazing

loribeth said...

I have seen a couple of therapists/counsellors over the past 10 years. i find it helps sometimes to have that neutral third party perspective on thing. We went to see a social worker who specializes in infertility, grief & couples therapy when we were trying to decide how far we should go with treatments, & again when we reached the end of our agreed limit & were facing a childless future (& I started having anxiety attacks). Only a couple of sessions, but she was amazingly good at zeroing in on the issues & getting us on the same page with an action plan.

A year or two later, I started having anxiety problems again, & a friend recommended a psychologist who did seminars for her law firm on stress management. I thought I was going to see her about stress & anxiety, & we wound up talking mostly about... infertility, loss & grief! She was a very nice person & very sympathetic, but her main approach was to try to dig out the childhood roots of my feelings. I wanted more concrete advice.

Finally, dh & I went for couples counselling awhile back through our company's EAP. I'm not sure what the woman's qualifications were, but I enjoyed her & she had some good suggestions for us. So I've been fairly lucky, but I agree, sometimes you have to try a few different therapists before you find one you can "click" with.

Melissia said...

I saw my first therapist at 14, with my mom. She was literally on the edge, so I had agreed not to go live with my aunt if she would agree to counseling. We went for 3 sessions, during which the counselor told me hello and then spent all of his time trying to talk my mom down. She figured it out and then we stopped going. My second experience lasted much longer and helped me deal with the turbulent childhood, alcoholic father, bipolar mom, etc, etc. So it was a very healing experience. I also learned that not everyone grows up in a family where one speaks with subtitles and subtexts and annotations to "good morning", and that my husband actually meant "good morning" when he said "good morning". That was a revelation to me and made my life much more enjoyable. While I am still able to recognize the undercurrents in life, they no longer worry me unnecessarily. I can use them if I need to, but no longer obsess about them. So therapy worked for me and validated that my mom and dad were both pretty nuts, something no one will really validate to a child, and will actually tell a child is not accurate which can mess with a kid's mind.

Lisa b said...

I am really trying to give therapy a good try. Basically I share your attitude and am trying to take enough deep breaths in a session to avoid slapping away the offer of help.
I think it is a colossal waste of time and money but I haven't quit yet so maybe I'll change my mind. My therapist seems particularly upset by mention of deadbabies or children. So I'm trying to work through those issues first. She thinks my issues are really about my mother and keeps trying to change the subject but I'm not having that.
See if you can make yours cry. I'm not sure if mine is faking it or not.

Hannah said...

I was placed in therapy for the first time in the fourth grade. Since then at various times I have tried four other therapists. I have never found them useful - they never actually give me any tools to help me resolve anything. They love to hear the saga of my childhood, they always make a big deal about the stuff that actually doesn't bother me and they ignore the stuff that does, and in the end I just feel pissed off for wasting money. I also end up feeling like a colossal failure because therapy doesn't seem to do anything for me and I'm great at blaming myself for things.

Monica H said...

I've seen 2 grief therapist and I like them both. But I ususally go with my husband and he just talks about misc. shit that doesn't pertain to grief. (He drives me crazy!)

I bring him with me because I think he needs it, and he talks about things that cause him anxiety. I think he needs to get these thing out, but not with a grief counselor. He went to a therapist a few years ago that would sit there, take notes and nod her head. I refused to let him go back to her- I could do that for free.

My MIL used to go to a therapist (in the same office as the nodder above) who told her she needed to stop talking about herself. Can you believe that!

Melissa said...

My husband and I tried couple's therapy about a year ago. I thought it was ridiculous and a waste of time. It just made me realize that therapists are not miracle workers and are not any smarter than you are. It was very disappointing.

On a side note I never realized your mother was a psychiatrist. I suppose it is true that psychiatrists are more screwed up than most of their clients then. I can't believe all the crap your mom has said and put you through.

Rebecca @ Clumsy Kisses said...

I had a really bad experience with counselling when I was 18. I had a baby cousin who died aged 2.5 when I was 12. He was like my brother, tbh, but this therapist made me feel like I was overreacting to his death. I couldn't stand her. I'm about to start bereavement counselling and I'm not really looking forward to it.

When I dream about drugs I always think it's because of the fear/thrill of the illegal.

thirtysomething said...

I have had one experience with therapy. I felt so small sitting there on the therapist's Big Couch that I literally ran for the door after my 55 minutes were over. Couldn't tell you the first thing we talked about. So, nope, not a good experience and one I did not repeat. I took my oldest son for therapy during the immmediate time following his father's disappearance, but it helped so little that I decided we could do that talking at home and for free. So, all in all I haven't found therapy to be anything but expensive and time consuming.

Over the past few years I have used books for personal exploration. I made a vow to read whatever title came across my path, deciding that if it was recommended, there must be a deeper reason. It has been quite a journey, one of self-surrender and digging deep emotionally for sure, which can be quite painful.

Now, for your dreams...no clue. I have wierd and intense dreams sometimes and I would love for someone to be able to help me figure out what my subconscience is trying to tell me. So, if you find anyone who can really interpret dreams, let me know!

cinnamon gurl said...

I haven't done the kind of Therapy where years are spent trying to figure out why I'm so fucked up. I did the shorter kind with a counsellor where we said ok, I'm fucked up. How can I be less fucked up. And THAT was really helpful. I had a great experience and I really liked my counsellor. It probably helped that I did it through my EAP so it was free.

My experience with a psychiatrist sucked - he was just a pusher and I didn't want drugs.

I'm lousy at dream interpretation.

slouching mom said...

most of them are terrible.

but a select few are geniuses.

it's a matter of finding them.

Kirsten said...

Niobe - a delurking psychologist here. I wanted to chime in and say that I totally agree with your other commenters that it is a matter of "clicking" with your therapist, finding one who fits you and your style. The active listening ("it sounds like you...") approach is not one I use, because it drives me insane (reminds me of "I know you are, but what am I?"). I'm a fan of the Cognitive-Behavioral approach (pragmatic), with some psychodynamic-existential thrown in for deep thinking people (why am I this way? How to I conceptualize my life?).

I don't do much dream interpretation - only when a client says, "I had this dream, what do you think it means?" I usually tell the client some of the schools of thought on what dreams mean, but the approach that seems to make sense to most of my clients is to recall how you felt when you woke up from the dream - angry? sad? happy? The emotion may be the message.

You can count me on the pro-therapy side (with the right therapist), though I am admittedly biased!

Anonymous said...

Niobe, I am a long time reader of your blog, but this post touched me for personal reasons. I felt I had to write to you. I am sorry that your experience with therapy has been difficult.

I read your writing because I can relate to the way you cope with your emotions. I am still in the process of sorting through my own grief and anger, and I found that while I used to think of myself as emotionless or numb, in reality, my emotions are very intense, and I cope by avoiding acknowledging them. This is a subconscious thing that I developed while I was a young girl with a much younger brother, and living through the intense drama of my childhood. Of course, what happens as you may very well know, is that those strong emotions don't go away when I subconsciously avoid them, they simmer and burn and leave me feeling tired, drained, hopeless and angry. I am starting to realise this now and attempting to work through it.

I feel that if you were to find a therapist/psychiatrist who would be gentle and open, and who would allow you some space first, so you felt less angry about the whole thing, and then let you choose what you wanted to talk about/not talk about, you would find it easier to let your guard down. I feel you need someone who is patient, consistent, NOT pushy, and able to withstand the full force of your emotions when you do let them out.

You appear to be very self-aware Niobe, but seem like you are not sure where to go from this point on. I don't presume to know the answer to that, but can tell you that if I were to talk to the "old me" before I started to work through my own stuff, I would tell her to not give up hope, that life does not have to be a continuous disappointment or a constant battle.

No two people are alike of course, so I may be completely off base about hoping you may relate to any of this. But I sincerely hope you find some peace...skf

crunchycarpets said...

I find therapy to be rather one sided and probably just saves my friends from the verbal diarrhea that spews forth from me...

I blab and they nod and that really seems to be it...

I am not sure what I get out of it really - I am self policing and self aware and generally already KNOW what something means or what is going on.....but being aware has not yet offered up some miracle cure

Catherine said...

Never tried therapy...not because I don't need it, but because I don't want it. Admitting you have a problem is the first step, right? But really, I'm too much of a control freak to have someone else try to "fix" what's wrong in my brain. So I hammer away at it myself...bit by bit...word by word...hoping to put humpty dumpty back together again.

Elizabeth said...

I've been in theraphy three times over the years for various periods of time and am currently seeing a therapist so I can have someone to talk to since my friends and family don't seem especially eager to listen to me rant and rave about IF. Sore subject.

Anyway, I never really found it all that helpful until this therapist. We are addressing my self-esteem issues as well as some family issues. It sounds cliche that we discuss my mother, but, well, we are. And it's been enlightening. I feel validated and like I've grown a bit.

I think what is interesting about the three dreams you mentioned is how incongruous they all are. Why would a spy be driving a minivan? Why would you buy ill-fitting sun dresses? It makes me think there is something out of place or a lack of comfort with which your mind is concerned.

kateypie35 said...

I have gone to therapists several times in the past, mostly for depression. I didnt have much success with therapy until I found my cognitive therapist at the Beck Institute. I already know what my problems are, I just want to know how to get through my days without slipping back into depression. Cognitive therapy really helped me identify my negatively patterned thoughts..learn how to break the cycle, learn how to redirect myself when I am falling back into destructive habits/thinking. I havent gone back to any form of psychiatry since completing cognitive therapy...but I still use the tools I learned often. I am not sure if I believe in the traditional "couch" therapy - I felt that all I did was babble on, and all the therapist did was say "hmmm, and how did that make you feel?".
About your dreams? I dont think they mean a durn thing...i usually dream weird things when I eat too much spice or some old meatloaf.

Casey said...

Just a few thoughts:

1. You are probably much smarter than all of your therapists have been, and therapists don't tend to like that.

2. You don't sound like you really want someone to help you, and therapists don't really like that either.

3. The above two points don't have to be problems as long as you are willing to do all the therapeutic heavy lifting on your own.

4. I don't actually know what that means, but it sounds good, doesn't it?

docgrumbles said...

I am one of those psychologists who thinks dreams are just a products of non-meaningful neuronal excitation from the rise in cortisol that occurs in later stages of sleep.

Sounds like you have a psychdynamic or maybe a humanistic therapist - a more cognitive thnerapist would be more straightforward.

Therapy is only ever as effective as the rapport one develops with the therapist.

Kami said...

I have tried it. The first person was really nice. Pretty much let me talk and told me I was normal.

Then I tried hypnotherapy. No dream interpretation (kind of silly, I think), but really good at helping me change the way I feel / think. She won't stand for the "poor me" thoughts. Well, she will, if that is what you need at the time, but then she will say, "Can you tell yourself that it wasn't your fault? or whatever.

I recently had two really good session that I hope have made a big difference in how I feel about a DE baby. I will post about them soon.

I think your dreams mean whatever you think they mean.

Anonymous said...

I've had three therapists. The first one ignored me when I told her about a traumatic event in my childhood in our very first session. I stopped with her when she started telling me about the problems she was having with her husband. Because everyone in my family had always ignored what had happened, I thought that was normal... until after a difficult breakup I went to a good therapist who told me that it was not normal to ignore these events. I stopped seeing her when I went to grad school. I saw my last therapist for 3 years and it was helpful. It was most helpful towards the end when I could finally let my guard down and really tell her how I felt. This helped me a great deal. I then stopped therapy when I left the country to be with my boyfriend ( who is now my husband). My therapist didn't think it was a good idea to leave but I left anyway, which was me playing out some kind of issue I had with my mother I suppose. About 2 years later, when I googled her name, I found she had written a paper with me as the subject. It was about patient/therapist relationships. Reading the paper was kind of spooky but also kind of helpful and interesting. I could finally see into her mind and get an idea of what she thought of me. She had identified with me and was playing out issues of her own in her head whilst she listened. Do you think your dreams mean anything?

Anonymous said...

I'm having to post as anonymous because sometimes my blogger account won't accept my password, but my blogger name is Excavator.

It sounds like your bar is high for what will ring true from the therapist who will be credible to you. And you shouldn't accept anything less than that ring of truth.

There is something I don't like in the question of what the "goals" of therapy are, but I suppose it's valid to have an idea what you're looking for.

There are a lot of different approaches to therapy, and this website illuminates them by showing how each approach would treat a similar 'problem': http://www.nwtherapynetwork.com/about_therapy.html

Perhaps therapy isn't really what you need. Perhaps you're getting what you need here, in expressing your true thoughts authentically and receiving support while you heal from your most horrific of losses, your two precious babies.

I think of therapy as awakening from patterns of experiencing the world that keep me stuck in experiences that don't work and leave me miserable. I'm fortunate to have the support of a therapist who can be a strong mentor for me in seeing what I do that has cut me off from my true self. I feel my life, inner and outer is much richer for it.

This particular approach to therapy does see dreams as messages from the unconscious. That said, I think a satisfactory use of your dreams would need a more intimate acquaintance with you.

I hesitate to comment on the beauty of your writing, because I'm aware of at what cost to you it comes.

I'm so sorry for your loss.

Emily said...

Therapy has changed my life. I have been in and out for many years. My father is a psychologist, but despite my antipathy towards him, I have had very productive therapy.

Perhaps you should see someone who is not a psychiatrist. A Psychologist? Social Worker? Group therapy?

THerapy is mostly about you, not so much about the therapist. Maybe you should try Flutter's therapist...:)

Andrea said...

I have had unhelpful experiences and helpful ones. The helpful experiences were basically when I was so far out, so at the end of my rope, that I knew it was either accept help and change or fall down and never get up again. For me, I know I found it more helpful to talk to a professoinal than a friend because it was a transaction, a market relationship; I feel more comfortable making demands on people when I'm paying them. That's my thing, it probably is not true for most other people.

Otherwise, I've actually found the conversations sometimes are not the most helpful thing. The most helpful thing is watching my own brain work during the conversations and seeing what I'm doing, then talking about that. It's doing some of the heavy-lifting myself, as Casey said, which I prefer because even still I'm not really comfortable accepting help from people.

missing_one said...

"It sounds like you " need to look for a therapist that 'gets' you.
My two cents.

also the cocoaine dream I would have interpreted as wanting to get caught for something, wanting to say that even though you were clever enough to get away with it, you ended up getting caught anyways. (actually i think this is a motif with you based on the spy dreams and the perjury dream)

And the dream about your neice, i think is more about wanting your own birthday party as a kid or it could be about wanting a daughter to throw a birthday party for.
The ill fitting sundresses is maybe wanting to buy maternity clothes...

just sayin'

Therapy can be good, with the right therapist. It sounds like maybe you need to do some shopping....going to therapy for the sake of therapy i don't think will do a hell of a lot.

samill said...

I had counselling when my father was ill with cancer - good as a place to cry and offload.

I had psychotherapy for a couple of months recently. It helped to a point - it helped me untangle why I was feeling quite so bad about my situation and helped me see different ways of looking at it. There came a point though, when it started to annoy me (it's always about your goddam childhood!) so I've stopped going.

I do yoga for therapy and meditation. It brings out stuff to the surface but it will just give you the emotions to process and let go. If you want to know what event produced the emotions, how and why - well I found psychotherapy did that.

JoC said...

I haven't had much results with standard therapy.

This last year I seen a cognitive behavioural therapist and it has made a world of differnce. We started on the issue that bothered me the most and went from there. It didn't matter where it started, just what it is doing for me now (what function is it serving) and how to replace that with something else. Helped me let go of a lot of my self hatred to see these problems as having a function.