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Featured Discussion: Sharing Your Experiences of Therapy

Discussion in 'EC Monthly Spotlight: February 2021' started by HM03, Jan 27, 2021.

  1. HM03

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    This month, since quite a few members have gone to therapy or have considered going to therapy, the staff team thought it would be beneficial to discuss our experiences in therapy.

    A couple years ago I went to therapy to tackle an issue, and by the end of it tackled *several* issues. It was an extremely positive experience and helped get my feet back on the ground during a tough time. Having a safe, confidential space also really helped me gain the confidence to start coming out!

    I was really fortunate to have a competent therapist (since too many of us know there are a lot of terrible therapists out there!). Looking back, the green flags that quickly come to mind:

    *I knew next to nothing about the therapist and nothing he said alluded to his opinion on anything (politics, what he thought I should do etc etc). A good therapist very VERY rarely talks about themselves, and only when it’s relating and beneficial to the client.

    *He never gave explicit advice. It was always something we worked towards rather than just given.​

    So EC, what was your experience in therapy like? What are some red flags and green flags to look for in the therapist?
     
    #1 HM03, Jan 27, 2021
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 11, 2021
  2. quebec

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    HM03 .....I've only had one therapist and I am very thankful for him. I came out here on EC in December 2014 and didn't come out face-to-face to anyone until I met him (therapist) for the first time in December 2015. It was a long year through which EC helped me survive. When I met him I was so ready to finally tell someone that I quickly lost control of my tightly held emotions. I came out to him through a waterfall of tears and sobs...I think that was the real beginning of my healing. Since then He has helped over some pretty significant "bumps" in the road. It's has been the combination of Empty Closets and my therapist that have helped me accept who I really am and to learn to love that person. I know that a therapist doesn't have to be LGBTQ+ or even specialize in LGBTQ+ issues to be able to help a queer person, but my therapist is a gay man and has gone through so many of the same things that I have. I can only speak for myself...it has been easier to talk to him knowing that we have some shared experiences. After five years of talking to him almost every week, I have come to the place where I value the hour or so we talk each week as a time that I don't have to guard my speech, a time that I can be me and talk to another gay guy about things that are common to us. As much as I'd like to say that I've now got my life completely together...HA!...there are still times when I so need his help to get over something that has shot me down. I live with one foot in the closet and one foot out. I choose to live this way for my own reasons which do put me in the crosshairs of problems at times. When I can't work through them, I know that I can talk to him and that really does help. I really have no red flags...hope this helps! :old_smile:
     
    #2 quebec, Jan 30, 2021
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 11, 2021
  3. Spartan 117

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    Thanks for sharing your experience. I have never been to therapy, though I don't doubt that I could benefit from it. I've heard that everybody can benefit from therapy, not just those who are going through extreme emotional distress.

    I look forward to reading other people's responses!

    I know that finding the right therapist for you can be a bit like finding the right medication - there can be a bit of trial and error involved until you find the right match that's going to help you.
     
  4. BradThePug

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    I've had mixed experiences with therapy. I had a really good therapist in college, but when I graduated I could no longer see her. So I went for years without going to therapy. When I got a new therapist, I really liked him. But he had to retire suddenly due to medical issues. I did not like the replacement very much. I had a therapist at work for a while due to some trauma I experienced at work, but I reached my limit on seeing her. So, I am in the process of getting a new one. That got delayed a bit by covid though. I'm not a huge fan of the remote sessions. I understand why they are necessary, but it just does not feel as personal to me. I have been able to work through a lot of things when I have had good therapist. If you feel like a therapist is not a good fit for you, then you can search around to find somebody you can have a better connection with.
     
    #4 BradThePug, Feb 11, 2021
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2021
  5. Mysteria

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    I've been in therapy since sixth grade off and on, and I'm forty now. What I have found (and these are unpopular opinions but there is research on them):
    1. Therapy can make you worse instead of better. It's like medicine; you give it a while to get through the initial side effects and kick in but then if you're still not happy, asking why is extremely reasonable.
    2. Therapy is more effective when it is goal driven, either with the goal of learning specific skills (cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, etc.) or with the goal of working on certain issues (depression, your relationship with your mother, your feelings around your LGBTQ identity, etc.). A therapist should not have you just talking with no mutual goals in mind and no direction for your therapy. They're not your best friend and it's not coffee hour.
    3. You have the right to request a new therapist at anytime
    4. A therapist should not tell you things like what religion to be in, who you should be with, etc. It's one thing to say "Your job as a music teacher seems to be causing you a lot of stress and aggravating your depression. Have you considered other options?" It's another to say "You know, someone with your issues and your qualifications should not be a music teacher."
     
  6. chicodeoro

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    My experience of it is two-fold. Firstly, a 10 session stint doing cognitive behavioural therapy back in 2008. This was prescribed via the NHS at a time when I was deeply unhappy. As usual with the NHS in the UK it took months and months to come through, by which time I was starting to feel more on top of things anyway.

    To be blunt I found it useless. It seemed to me to involve a great deal of finger wagging, which was really not suitable for me at the time.

    Fast forward to 2020 and in the wake of the realisation that I'm trans I asked my doctor for therapy specifically for people in my position. Nine months later I'm still waiting. In the meantime I went private and have found someone who seems to be one of the few LGTB-focused therapists in London still seeing clients face to face. (The idea of revealing intimate details about my life to a stranger via a screen seems completely bizarre to me. I'm baffled that anyone would do this and pay for it when you can use a helpline anonymously for free.)

    Is it helping? Yes, in that I don't feel as close to another breakdown as I did when I started. Is that worth £50 a week? Probably, though it irks me that I have had to do this. Unfortunately, I live in a country where GPs dole out antidepressants like sweeties because they are only allocated 5 minutes per patient and the idea that everyone should be able to access therapy for free on the NHS when they need it, not years later, currently seems to be an utterly impossible dream.
     
  7. LostInDaydreams

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    @chicodeoro I had a similar experience with an NHS therapy service, though more recently and it was only six sessions. Like you, I was already feeling much better by the time I called to my first appointment.

    For anyone able to be completely open and honest in the first appointment, then there might be some value to it. For me, I shared more with each session, which changed the advice and exercises that they were giving me. I expect that it also depends on which therapist you are assigned to. There wasn’t the option of choosing when I used that service.
     
  8. Aspen

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    I've had two therapists in my life. The first was my senior year of college, because I was dealing with a lot of anxiety about my sexuality, my relationship with my then-girlfriend now-wife, and what I was going to do after graduation. It helped a little but not as much as I hoped because we were only allowed to see the university counselors for a short time. Once the sessions ended, though, they suggested that I join the group therapy. I stayed in group through the rest of the semester and I'm glad that I got to have that experience. It helped me more than anything else to get through that time.

    The second I started seeing in March 2020, right before COVID hit the U.S. (timing, right?) We're mostly working on my anxiety--which has been incredibly difficult during the events of the past year. It is helping immensely, but until I'm no longer fearing for my life, it's hard to work on any goals beyond surviving.
     
  9. C06122014

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    I’ve had experiences with two therapists, one I had when I was a child following my parents divorce and then I have one now as an “adult”. Both experiences have been relatively positive. Although my most recent experience has been very positive it’s also been pretty impactful. I have been fortunate enough to have had access when I needed one after a moment that was incredibly difficult for me several months ago. My employer has paid for my (at first) biweekly then monthly sessions since right around June which I am thankful for. With that said I recognize that therapy is not something which has been made readily available in this country to others which is terrible especially considering I completely believe it should be something made available to people in order to address the trauma that inevitably happens over the course of our lives. I’m working with my current therapist on addressing some of the issues that developed as a result of my parents divorce and the absence of my father from my life until VERY recently. I fully intend to continue seeing my therapist for as long as Ned will see me lol because I believe that it can continue to help me now. If I learn one thing about myself and am able to have more successful relationships as a result, I consider it a win.

    edit: I realized after posting that I am still working now through the same issues I was all those years ago with my first therapist...but I don’t think I was ready then to put in the work and I am now! Anyway, please if you have access find a therapist because we all have things we would benefit from talking through :slight_smile:
     
    #9 C06122014, Feb 13, 2021
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2021
  10. Hawk

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    I've had a couple therapists in the last few years. The first therapist I went to see I found was quite... cold and closed off, and I was never comfortable opening up to them. I only had one session with them, and that's all I needed to know that there wasn't going to be any progress with this person. The second therapist I ended up seeing was a lot warmer and I felt much better sharing my issues with them. I've been seeing them for a little over a year now, and they've really helped me deal with my thoughts and worries.
     
  11. Loves books

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    I went to a therapist and I wasn't getting anywhere.After a couple of sessions she cancelled a few sessions and I just had enough. I tried to see one at my college when I was pretty sure I’d had a panic attack. It was over an essay. Deciding not to do it calmed me down but wasn’t conductive to a college education. I got some man when I would have preferred a woman, who told me I was a pessimist, which I knew, but couldn’t help me with my panicking issue. I had one visit with a psychiatrist at my college who told me she thought I had an anxiety problem. I haven’t seen anyone in years.
     
  12. Spartan 117

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    I’ve also experienced NHS cognitive behavioural therapy, for a health condition that I have - and like you, I found it very unhelpful and condescending!

    However, I guess I saw it more of a system of managing illness rather than therapy to help me feel better mentally. Mostly it seemed to revolve around making sure I didn’t lie in bed all day doing nothing, something I realised long ago wasn’t a good idea for my well-being, so it seemed pretty surplus to requirements.

    To top it off, I was legally required to complete the course before the government (at the time) would consider giving me money for sickness benefit. So it felt vaguely threatening as well as condescending.
     
  13. Euterpe

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    In my 20’s I saw an NHS counsellor for anxiety and depression. I think I only went for 2 sessions. I can’t remember whether I even mentioned sexuality issues. The lady I saw seemed thoroughly disinterested. I felt she saw me as just another young woman with mild depression. My loan horse got me through it in the end- my four legged friend was way more effective, and she couldn’t even speak!
    A few years later, things came to a head though, and I needed help. An acquaintance offered me free counselling (she was fully trained, over qualified in fact, but worked in a slightly different field) She was fantastic, very professional and supportive. I did a lot of meditation too and had friends who were reiki practitioners who helped me.
    I’m in a position now where I could do with speaking to someone again. A friend has suggested EFT, some people dismiss it as rubbish but others can’t praise it enough. I do have access to a few sessions of free counselling through work, so I might try that first. I’ve developed so many ways of coping now though (meditation and running etc.) that I find it really hard to ask for help.
     
  14. bogwitch

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    I have been in therapy for more than a decade, and most of my experiences with therapy have been really positive, it helped me when I was younger to learn social skills that didnt come naturally to me, and in my tweens and teens to handle anxiety and depression. I'm still in therapy now, doing it over zoom.

    Overall, my experiences have been positive, I don't think I'd be able to handle the things that have happened to me without therapy. Having someone to talk to and work through my problems with is so helpful.