Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Carolyn: Sometimes I get frustrated by what seems the default solution to everything: therapy. (Not just you, but our society in general.) This morning I realized that “therapy” is really just code for: changes take time and a different perspective. I suppose sort of like in AA, where your “higher power” doesn’t necessarily have to be God; or losing weight, little changes over time, two steps forward, one step back, carry on. Anyway, thought I’d share.
I think yours is a common impression — but I’d be surprised if anything close to a majority of people sought therapy for their problems. Yet, many people spin their wheels for years on the “different perspective” element of change. Needlessly.
As a rule, I suggest therapy when I see spinning wheels, and skip suggesting it where I see self-motivated progress (though the latter cohort are more likely to seek help: discuss).
Still, good therapists can even help those who help themselves, by serving the basic purpose of listening uninterrupted to a situation (as a client presents it). They can also cut through the distracting clutter of insignificant things people obsess over nonetheless, and see things they might not have pieced together themselves. In the end, it’s more like a strategy meeting than a Jack Handy sketch.
Carolyn: I am of the spinning-wheels category. I keep thinking therapy is what I need but am terrified of taking that step. I hate, hate, hate talking about myself and my feelings. The very idea makes my skin crawl. Did I mention my dislike of talking about feelings? How do I do this?
THERAPY FOR ME?
First, I think you need to connect your deep aversion to opening up with that wheel-spinning sensation. Next, try writing down your feelings, journal-style. Think of it as warming up. Then, make an appointment to say, “I hate, hate, hate talking about myself and my feelings. The very idea makes my skin crawl.” This will be nothing new to a veteran therapist, and it will provide instant framework for your conversation from there. Good luck.
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