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Has anyone else decided that therapy is NOT how they will heal?

(27 Posts)
meugler Fri 23-Nov-12 21:27:47

I've recently come to the decision that therapy is NOT the way forward for my healing. I have complex PTSD, anxiety, have had depressions as a result mainly of abuse in childhood. Over the past decade I have kept trying therapy - sometimes stayed with it for around 2 years - but, each time, it ends up doing more harm than good, or certainly feeling that way. I've seen therapists in recognized sexual abuse organisations and with specialism in PTSD as well as run-of-the-mill therapists.

I realize that therapy does help a lot of people and so many people speak highly of it in places like this. However, I really feel it is not for me. It is a little bit hard for me to put exactly why into words, but, partly, it's to do with the imbalance between me and the therapist which feels like another power relationship - and I feel I need to go extremely slowly with talking about what happened to me, ultimately too slowly/ sensitively than any therapist I have yet met. Finally I think the people who abused me were so evil, often the therapist just cannot comprehend this level of evil and I start feeling like the bad person just for sharing it...

I feel relieved, if I am honest, that I am no longer going to continue this search for a therapist that has taken up so much of the last ten years (and so much money too!) I saw a book on Amazon called 'Against Therapy' by Masson, which I want to read.

I just wondered if there's anyone else on here who has come to the same decision but yet continued to heal/ get stronger/ better/ more self-accepting. I am determined still to heal and sure I will find a way as I have great faith in life despite all I have been through. Use to attempt suicide and self-harm a lot, don't do that any more, my main problems are still flashbacks and huge anxiety.

I hope I don't get too many comments here telling me it's my past/ lack of trust/ fear making me quit therapy and I should persevere, as it really is not just that. As I say above, it is more about the power imbalance/ inequality of the relationship and not being able to go totally at my own pace (which would probably take 20-30 years, realistically).

Lozislovely Fri 23-Nov-12 21:34:55

Whilst I haven't been through anything compared to what you have I can honestly say that therapy for my anxiety and depression did absolutely nothing for me.

Maybe I was unlucky with the therapist I had, but found her completely unable to address my issues. At the time I wanted help with my anxiety to which her response was to 'hug myself' when I felt anxious - yeah cos restricting my breathing is a sure fire way to help angry

She kept wanting to bring up parts of my past that I was and am 100% confident have no bearing on my issues, like being raised by a single parent.

I haven't seen another therapist since and am trying to work my way through my problems myself.

Good luck!

Carriemoo Fri 23-Nov-12 21:37:49

i tried the therapy route - the drugs route and the hospital route.

None of which worked

I decided in 2006 that therapy no longer worked for me so i joined a line dancing group (sounds slightly 1980's i know) there was no one there under the age of 30 but I had the best time ever i had something to focus on and something to learn and eventually found a class who was taught by a mid 20's exercise teacher. I made some friends and found that it was the healer of my depression. I eventually got to the point of being able to teach a class and standing up in front of 100 odd people to teach a dance.

My mental health from then has gone from strength to strength without therapy which to me didn't feel like it was doing more good than harm.
I no longer have bouts of depression and self harm and have completely changed my life without the help of therapists. Just the other day my doctor commented how different I am to the person he had to sedate 8 years ago.

Good luck and keep in mind that they are there to help you if you ever do need them again.

I'm interested in why you have only been offered short term therapy? I think one of the real concerns I have of the therapy industry is this drive towards short term therapy - really pushed by the govt in a maximum of 6-12 cbt sessions.

Even in charities I've worked they've only because of cost been able to offer a maximum of 2 years.

There are still some practitioners offering much longer term therapy, it's very common in analysis to go 3-5 times a week while training for about 5 years (much more common in the US) but you would need to find one.

And I really hear what you say about the power imbalance - there's plenty written about this and a good practitioner should try very hard to equalise the relationship and help you to facilitate change without getting in your way, the problem is finding that person.

Ok, so moving away from therapy you have clearly found out other ways to help yourself and it would really help to focus on them, seek out further ways you can help yourself and continue doing that smile

ReallyTired Fri 23-Nov-12 21:44:15

I think a lot depends on the type of theraphy. The problem I found with any kinds of councelling is emotional dependence. For me the theraphist becomes a quasi sort of mummy and sub conciously I revert to being as emotionally dependent as a two year old. I find that the transference issue to be more of a problem than the original problem.

However I believe there are effective theraphies that are short term and aren't painful. I suggest you try self help books to see what kind of theraputic approach would work for you. CBT is excellent as it gives you practical strageries for coping in the here and now.

This books explains quite well by most theraphy approaches are a crock of shit.

Talking ad nauseum about the past makes you more stress and raises the corisol levels in your blood. The increased corisol makes the chemical imbalance in your brain worse. Hence some theraputic approaches are shit.

NanaNina Fri 23-Nov-12 23:06:42

Therapy is not for me either M - I spent 3 months with a therapist whose orientation was pyscho dynamic and she spent most of the time trying to delve into my past to unearth some buried trauma that wasn't there! I was going twice a week and it was costing me £90 a week. What was happening that I was building up to my 2nd major episode and finally gave up as she was definitely making me worse. A week after finishing I was on a pysch ward for 3 months and I think this wouldn't have happened if I had not been messing about with therapy while my symptoms were getting worse and worse. I actually think she was quite abusive and I certainly didn't feel safe with her as she encouraged the power imbalance and talked to me like I was a child.

It is imperative that you feel safe and comfortable with the therapist (I learned this through bitter experience)

M I know you are done with therapy but there is a therapy used specifically for PTSD called EMDR ( you will need to google it as I always forgetwhat the letters stand for) It sounds a bit strange but it's to do with eye movements and de-sensitisation in cases of PTSD. There is no need to give details of what happened to you, that's not necessary - apparently just saying you have childhood trauma is enough for a therapist trained in this therapy to be able to help. There was a MN on here - a very wise woman nick named madmouse and she had been sexually abused as a child and was a lawyer and she spoke very highly of this therapy, as others have occasionally on this thread, though I think it is not a widely known therapy. Some therapists include EMDR as an area of expertise. You may not feel like seeing any therapist again (and you do definitely need one with whom you feel safe) but googling EMDR might be worth a try.

Millie2013 Sat 24-Nov-12 10:42:09

I think it depends on the type of therapy and how it suits the presenting issue(s), the place where the client is "at" and most importantly, the therapist and your relationship with them.

I have had hours/days/weeks/years of therapy in the past and although it kept me alive and relatively together, it was not until I met my latest therapist that something clicked. I think this was due to the place I was at in my life (I was more receptive to it than I had been), but most importantly, it was because from the first session, we just got on so well (in an appropriate therapist-client way).

tabbycat15 Sat 24-Nov-12 14:39:55

I've had lots of counseling & psychotherapy but I just find that I just tell them everything, get upset then seem to reach a dead end. No one seems to know how to help me. I had a horrible childhood & suffered anorexia & depression. I see a psychiatrist for my medication but I think I have just reached a point where therapy just doesn't help.

I saw my last psychotherapist for over a year. She explained reasons as to why I felt like I did but I never seemed to resolve the issues why I had gone there. I wasn't getting anything out of the session in the end. I've found with all the people I've seen when I've said I didn't want to continue they have been a bit nasty & off with me. It's made me think that they were only in it for the money. It has really put me off. It's not as if I haven't stuck it out for long enough. I just don't seem to be given ways on how to deal with my past.

meugler Sat 24-Nov-12 21:50:22

Thanks for all your replies, I am glad I am not the only one who has found therapy doesn't help. I am obviously glad if it has helped you but I need to face the fact that it isn't for me - regardless of type of therapy as I have tried many, different times, including long-term therapy - so thatI can get on with healing in different ways.

SpecialAgentSpade Sat 24-Nov-12 22:42:53

I realised that I will never heal/get better.

i hope you manage it, i truly do.

ReallyTired Sat 24-Nov-12 22:48:44

I think is sad to think that you will never heal/ get better, although I can see where you are coming from.

I think that with any long term health condition maximising quality of life is more important than a cure. I have found books more useful than any councelling. I also benefited from doing a course with the local mind network. For example learning relaxation techniques was more useful than "woe is me! I shall sit on fanny style councelling."

In some cases medication is the best way of maximising quality of life. I believe its worth doing a depression/ anxiety questionaire to see whether medication or theraphy is making you better or worse.

quirrelquarrel Sun 25-Nov-12 14:03:31

Richard Carlson (normally I hate self help books, thought I'd give his "Stop Thinking, Start Living" a try, still hated it) talks about this, that the trend for wanting to keep going through things in your past isn't helpful and that you should just keep your chin up, not think about things and move on. Unfortunately he doesn't really go into the psychology of it, but it did make me think how we're pushed to be orientated towards all the analysis, and that any suggestion that we should ignore our past seems to be unhealthy and bad....

NanaNina Sun 25-Nov-12 14:57:57

"keep your chin up" FFS - I am someone like many other posters on this thread who hasn't found therapy to be at all helpful. In fact I think one therapist I went to was a bully and caused me emotional harm at a time when a major episode of depression was building up. BUT I think anyone who uses a phrase like that is a tosser. It's almost as bad as someone telling you to "pull yourself together" when you have severe depression.

The Carlson bloke is seriously lacking in insight, as individuals react in very different ways to issues through their lifespan, from the earliest days, to the dying ones. Many people on the MH threads have suffered sexual abuse in childhood or some other kind of trauma, and they do try to "block it out" and for some it works, but for others it doesn't and they need help and support.

You say that he doesn't really go into the "psychology" of it and even though all our thoughts and feelings have a psychological base because we are bio-chemical individuals, there is clearly NO pyschological theory attached to his comments.

Wonder if he has ever suffered any trauma or mental illness - probably not!

quirrelquarrel Sun 25-Nov-12 15:24:09

He doesn't really evolve his point all the way through or offer any pointers for positive action. More reasons why I really didn't like it.

I remember my music teacher telling me very seriously to talk about what was going on and not bottle it up. I had no idea what she was talking about and dismissed it as psychobabble. Now I'm not in a good position and I wish I'd tried to understand so I wouldn't have all this baggage.

NanaNina Sun 25-Nov-12 15:57:37

QQ - do you want to say anything about your "baggage" on the thread.

I think some people are saying they will never heal and I think this depends on how you perceive "healing." I don't think any of us can "get over" "move on" or whatever from traumas that we have suffered, or bereavements etc in the past. That isn't possible. I think the best we can hope for is that we can unravel the past in some way (with a therpaist who you can trust) or by a therapist who has expertise in the EMDR I talked about earlier on seems very successful) and that it loses some of it's potency and the memories can become more manageable and we have some strategy for coping with the nightmares, flashbacks, whatever.

meugler Fri 30-Nov-12 20:50:05

Just checked back in here to see some more replies - thanks. Over the last while I have decided I am not, at least for now, going to go for any more therapy that encourages me to go back to my memories. They do come up from time to time and the best I can do is allow them space and healing, as far as I can, when they come up, with crisis support if necessary. I am going to see a kind counsellor who is really just there to have a chat with me, not focussed on moving forward/ healing etc just to acknowledge what I am going through day-to-day. That I do find helpful.

I also think it depends how you define 'healing' if you say you will never heal. I don't think I will ever get over what happened to me completely but I do hope I will nonetheless be able to be relatively at peace in my life and enjoy it - all this going over things to me was too terrifying and destabilising.

JustFabulous Fri 30-Nov-12 20:52:53

I have had counselling and seen a few different people and even with their fancy pants qualifications they didn't have a clue about anything I told them. I have accepted no one will ever understand me and just plod on the best I can.

dottyspotty2 Sun 02-Dec-12 12:50:21

I have been in counselling on and off over the years stopped 17 years ago, but went back to it in november last year after disclosing to police and reporting my not so dear brother.They got me into rape crisis which comtinued infrequently until April when I thought I was ok but I am now in private counselling and have been weekly since July after I hit the wall again best thing for me. The thing that has helped me heal was his conviction early last month he was sentenced to 16 years on friday.

meugler Sun 02-Dec-12 19:23:42

That is good news dottyspotty2 (the conviction).

munchkinsoup Sun 02-Dec-12 20:23:56

I've had quite extensive experience of therapy - my longest was a very intensive period of 2 years psychotherapy, 2-3 times a week on the NHS. I've also had briefer periods of cognitive analytical therapy, CBT, plus bits of counselling here and there (all on NHS or through college services).

Some of it has brought insight to me but none has really addressed my key issues. So, I don't think it's just the type of therapy. I really think that therapy just doesn't work for some people.

The best solution I've ever found for me actually is just finding a like-minded group of friends (sadly lacking at the moment), being in a better position financially, and/or being in a positive, respectful relationship. I really think the NHS might as well fund the cost of socialising, online dating and a decent level of benefits as that's had a much more positive effect than those years of therapy, which must have cost thousands!

meugler Sun 02-Dec-12 21:04:14

Yes munchkinsoup, I totally agree - kind friends are gold-dust and struggling financially is definitely a major trigger for illness.

Hope you find your group of friends soon - I hope I do too; the ones I had are now spread around the world so not as good (though still valuable by email, etc)

44SoStartingOver Sun 02-Dec-12 21:12:38

A loved one had counselling for PTSD. The first counsellor actually did more harm than good.

The second started the healing process within the first session. He also advocates counselling for a limited time. Talk about it, deal with it, then get on with life. Constantly revisiting damaging times is not helpful in his opinion. If therapy takes years, then it is not working.

Sadly both were qualified, members of the right bodies and looked good on paper plus both had recommendations from people we knew.

However, the helpful one is absolutely gold standard in his field and very expensive.

But it has worked.

I really hope you find what does work for you.

Shakey1500 Sun 02-Dec-12 21:22:53

Yes. I had anti d's (bad reaction), hospitalisation and therapy. None worked for me and I made the descision to walk away from it all and manage my depression myself.

I still have depression, I let it be a part of me because to try and pretend it's "gone" forever and deny that it is part of my make up would be futile.

It rears it's head infrequently now. I attribute any negative thoughts to other factors wherever possible (and I've found it possible 99%) of the time. I will put any depressive feelings under a different heading.

"I'm feeling like this because I happened to sleep particularly badly last night"
"I'm feeling like this because I'm worrying about xyz"

etc etc.

I'm very happy with how it works for me.

orangeandlemons Mon 03-Dec-12 21:28:28

I have had 2 rounds of counselling and 2 rounds of cbt. None of them worked. Am about to start my third round of cbt mindfulness.

Ad's work v well for me. I have given up hope on therapy and just tend to think long term medication now. I found counselling just made me dwell on stuff too much and cbt whilst appearing to be good didn't actually make any difference at all. In fact one of the sessions was for anxiety caused by just having too much to do. The therapist kept trying to make me take up a hobby to feel better. I just felt more stressed as it was something else to be squeezed in.

itsthequietones Fri 14-Dec-12 23:44:31

I started counselling for ptsd back in June. Initially I did feel better, but it seemed that once one issue was resolved another began, or grew in significance. I began to hate talking about the issues, I'd do anything to avoid it. On my last session the therapist hit on a real sore spot, then pushed some more. She did realise what she'd done but it was too late, I lost trust in her and didn't go back.
I had one session of hypnotherapy last month and the ptsd has gone - no more darkness, fear, panic attacks, bizarre reasoning, suicidal feelings, the pain has gone. I didn't have to tell him anything about what caused it, just how the ptsd felt to me. I was still gettting triggered by a couple of things so I've just had another session for that. I haven't tested it out yet but as I have just read through this thread and many others on MN tonight without getting triggered, I'd say the signs are good. It did cost quite a bit as he is one of the best, but I would have paid far more to get my life back.
Whatever you decide to do OP and PP's, I truly hope that you find the path that brings you healing.

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