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Have you had therapy, did it work, how long did it take, how much did it cost... everything I want to know about therapy but have been afraid to ask

(32 Posts)
cormorantfan Sat 01-Aug-15 00:21:32


I've been told by various disparate people over the years I'd benefit from therapy.

I was just wondering, if you've had therapy

Please don't feel you have to answer everything, or indeed anything at all, if you want to word a brief response in your own way that would of course be just as welcome.

1) Did it basically work. I guess, is your life, or approach to life, better than before

2) Are you glad you did it

3) What type broadly speaking - was it CBT focussed, or psychodynamic, or dialectic, and so on

4) How often does one see the therapist (weekly, fortnightly, monthly, more than weekly) and does this reduce over time

5) What's the minimum frequency you ought to see them to see a benefit (thinking about this from a financial perspective)

6) If you have to stop part way through (e.g. can't afford it) could you possibly be in a worse position than when you started

7) How many sessions, or months (or years) did it take before you saw benefit.

8) How long/how many sessions did it take before you felt you'd derived maximum benefit and it was time to stop (or do you think it would have taken, if you were forced to stop for financial or other reasons).

9) After that, did you stop and feel that was that, or is continuing to see the therapist an essential part of maintaining your 'improved' (for want of a better word) self. Or were you, for want of a better word, 'cured' of the things/thoughts/behaviours that were troubling you.

10) Was there an initial uncomfortable period that got better, i.e. is it supposed to be great from the off or is there an inevitable hump of discomfort to get over. Is this indicative of the extent and type of your problems, or is this indicative that the therapist you're seeing isn't a good fit.

11) Approx how much does it cost per session

12) How did you find/locate your therapist.

13) Did/do you feel uncomfortable with someone else knowing all your problems, almost that it gave them too much power over you, if so did this worry dissipate. Or do you feel this, but is it worth it in the long run for the overall benefits of therapy.

14) If you hadn't had the therapy, where do you think you'd be now/what would you be doing (very broadly speaking, like, I'd still have poor boundaries, or I'd still be in that job I didn't like, and so on).

15) Are there any tangible ways your life has changed for the better (I guess another way of phrasing the question above), say, I wasn't afraid to try x, or some such thing. Or is it more of an intangible thing, like, how I feel in myself. Or, both.

16) Did you have a bad experience in therapy, if so what broadly speaking do you think was wrong and could/should have been different.

17) Do you regret going into therapy and wish you hadn't done it. If so why. If so, are there any tangible ways your life/approach has changed for the worse.

18) Have you not had therapy as you feel you wouldn't benefit. If so why.

19) On reflection, do you wish you had had it sooner, or would it not have benefitted you before the time came for you to seek it.

20) On reflection, in terms of money well spent in your life, how does it rank (best money I ever spent, or ok value for money, or not really worth it).

20a) How many therapist frogs did you go though before you found your therapist prince/princess, and was it worth it.

20b) Is the higher price/age of the therapist a reflection of how good they are (I guess reflecting on greater experience) or is it actually unrelated.

20c) Was your therapist male or female, and did that have any impact (not sure what impact if any I mean but just putting it out there)

Thanks for your help, and for getting to the end of my what has turned out to be literal '20 questions'!! (For that express reason I have renamed questions 21-23) blush

EBearhug Sat 01-Aug-15 01:01:23

£35 an hour - which is cheap, I think, compared with others I looked at at the time - my decision was made mainly on the type of therapy offered, and proximity to work/home (I didn't want to have to travel for hours.) I went for 4 years in total, starting weekly, then fortnightly, and at the end, monthly - plus I also missed sessions for holidays and so on. One thing that worked for me was that by paying for it, I had permission to speak - I wouldn't have been able to talk as I did to a friend, because I'd have felt guilty for taking up their time just on me, especially in the first sessions.

I was lucky, as she was really good - I had previously seen a work-based counsellor some years before, whom I didn't get on with, but this time was fine from the outset. It was talking therapy. I originally went after the death of my mother - but we also talked about my relationship with food a bit, and a lot about work (partly because there were quite a few resonances from how I related to one manager in particular compared to how I related to my mother.)

It gave me a lot greater understanding of why my mother might have behaved the way she did, particularly in relation to me. It helped me with understanding how I react to certain things. I'm not "cured" - I just have a better understanding of why I am the way I am, and why I react the way I do rather than the way others might. I think I don't get so upset by some things now, and I think I am better at not allowing others to treat me badly. Sometimes. That might just be growing up a bit.

But I am me with my background and issues. You are you with yours. I think you need to think about what you want to achieve from it. Work out what sort of therapy you want - I wanted a talking therapy, because I wanted to have some answers to some of the why questions I had. Other types of therapy might be more appropriate for the sort of person you are, and what you are dealing with. Work out how much can you afford - there's no point aiming to have a years of sessions if you can only afford 6 sessions. Also work out when you will have it - of course, some of it will be down to when the therapist can see you, but I mean - I used to go first thing on a morning, and had an agreement with my manager to come in later that day, as long as I made up the time. There were a couple of times where I had to take a break before I went into work, because it had been a particularly hard session. If you can have it at a time when you can have some time to yourself after if you need it, that would be preferable, if it's possible.

It won't be a magic wand where you are magically better after just one or two sessions, but things did start feeling better after only a couple of sesions or so. It worked for me. It doesn't work for everyone.

Summerlovinf Sat 01-Aug-15 07:24:16

Is there a specific issue or problem that you want to take to a therapist? The nature of the problem could help determine which modality is suitable, although it's also what suits you. CBT has been shown to give quick results and aims to encourage the client to 'become their own therapist' once they learn the tools and approaches. It's been shown to be highly effective for anxiety related problems, addiction and depression. But some people believe that CBT is limited in what it can do for more deep seated, long term issues. Person centred approaches are more about acceptance rather than change and can be useful too. Or, if you get a therapist who is not a purist with one modality or another but blends approaches you might get a good mix. Make sure that you see a trained and accredited therapist, whichever you choose.

Summerlovinf Sat 01-Aug-15 07:27:43

Ebearhug is spot on too saying it's not a magic wand.

Goodbyemylove Sat 01-Aug-15 08:19:19

I have tried counselling/therapy over the years and I didn't really get a lot out of it tbh. I started a thread on here about it and some people said it changed their life and some people agreed it was a waste of money.

I think you are right to research it properly as until that thread I didn't really understand the importance of finding the right type of counselling/therapy.

DeckSwabber Sat 01-Aug-15 08:49:01

I really think it depends what is going on for you.

I have had three sets of counselling over the years, all short term, to do with specific situations.

On two occasions I felt something 'shift' after only a few weeks. Like being able to move things around in my head which had got glued into a particular configuration, or being able to move past an obstacle. So it worked for me, for what I needed.

If you need therapy this will be a different process.

I would suggest you talk to your GP about it.

Intheprocess Sat 01-Aug-15 08:57:18

I think whatever therapy course you go on will work best for you if you really want to find your true self. Personally, I think the purpose is to learn how to form deeper emotional relationships with both yourself and with other people, to learn how to set boundaries and to learn how to ride out the internal storms. Inside all of us is a sophisticated intuitive side which is capable of learning how to be both strong for ourselves and strong for other people, and to do that from a caring place. A therapist's job is to help you find, accept and trust that side of you.

It is very hard work (strangely, not the sessions themselves, which I find very positive despite what other people experience), but is, at least for me, an unavoidable requirement to becoming the person I want to be. I pay £45 a session, and have been seeing a therapist for about 4 months, once a week or once every other week depending how I'm getting on. My therapist is knowledgeable in various types of therapy, not sure which method she uses with me, possibly a variety! I do not always agree with what she says, but I trust her and agree with the aim of her work with me. All I can say is that we clicked straight away... but I really, really wanted change in my life so perhaps that made it easier.

The main advice I'd give is this: be honest with your therapist, be honest with yourself, don't hide anything and allow him or her to bring out your deeper feelings. He / she doesn't know you, but you don't know yourself either. It's a journey of discovery of yourself for both of you, but with your therapist as your guide. Give it a go, and good luck smile

Lottapianos Sat 01-Aug-15 09:03:48

I'm 6 years in and won't be stopping any time soon. I pay £40 a session, see my therapist once a week, found her through googling BACP. Its the most painful thing I've ever done but also by far the best. It has most definitely 'worked' - overall I am calmer, more confident, trust myself more, have detached from some very unhealthy relationships, less angry, depression has lifted, understand myself better, less judgemental of others.

Its very normal for therapy to feel weird or to wonder if you're doing it 'right' in the beginning. Its important to remember there is no 'right' way and that its not a linear process I.e. you may have periods of feeling worse before you feel better. I think of it this way - I used to carry around a huge box of pain all the time. It was too hard to think about it so I just tried to ignore it. Therapy involved taking the lid off my box of pain and examining each item carefully, really facing up to it. This was hard and scary and of course it hurt. A LOT. However, I had professional support with it so I wasn't alone. I now feel that my box of pain lives on a shelf in my house - its still there but I know the contents so they don't scare me so much anymore and I no longer carry them around with me all day.

I first saw a therapist a year after getting out of a violent controlling relationship. I realised I hadn't even begun to come to terms with it and I knew there was something else going on. Turns out my parents are highly toxic and emotionally abusive (I had grown up thinking their behaviour was normal) and had primed me beautifully for a life of depression and misery and being treated like shit. I feel mostly free of them now and am working on healthy relationships of my own.

If you're interested OP, do it. Its by far the best decision I ever made. Good luck x

something2say Sat 01-Aug-15 09:04:57

I had counselling and I realised that it is a route into understanding my self. No matter what the therapist says, it was me that had to leave the room and come back to my life and think / behave differently to get different results.

Joysmum Sat 01-Aug-15 09:07:59

I'm at the start of mine having been only 6 times. It's CBT based but will be incorporating more as from next week as my issues are trauma based and not depression.

I nearly stopped going after the third time as it felt like everything I thought was stable and a rock in my life was being ripped apart with no real ways of my going forwards. I felt worse rather than getting better. Now we've got most of the analysis done, the work will start on trying to put better coping strategies in place and making sense of of why I am how I am and finding my way forwards.

I'm glad I've gone. It's very tiring. I withdraw on a Thursday as its harrowing and on the Friday afterwards I feel shattered.

I couldn't have continued as I had so it was a case of do something or accept the downward slide, I won't accept the downward slide so I'm doing something. It's too soon to say if it's working but I certainly feel better on the whole.

I hope you find your way flowers

shandelier Sat 01-Aug-15 11:22:06

I had hypnotherapy for my anxiety earlier this year, and can't recommend it highly enough. It cost £65 for a two hour session, and that was all I needed after suffering for most of my life. For some people I know they have to go back more than once though.

I found him through my mum who recommended him as she also suffered from anxiety.

All they want to know is how your feelings/mindset is affecting you in everyday life, including physical symptoms, and that you actually really want to change.

I noticed the changes quite gradually, as I did the things which would have normally caused me to experience anxiety. You just suddenly realise "oh, this isn't what used to happen in these situations".

I know the therapist I saw sees people with depression, ocd, addictions etc. He is based in Chorley, but if you're not near there then I'm sure with some research you would be able to find a suitable therapist for you.

No134 Sat 01-Aug-15 11:33:14

Lots of questions! But like other posters, I think some of them are questions you need to answer for yourself.

The therapy type will depend on your issues and your personality type. CBT has a good evidence-base for specific problems of short duration, long-standing issues going back all your life may be better-served by a more analytic therapy type. Your personality will play a part too - there's a thing that therapists call 'psychological-mindedness', ie. are you interested in introspection, in looking at patterns, thinking symbolically or metaphorically? If so that would suggest you might benefit from an analytical therapy style, but if you are the kind of person who likes finding practical solutions, then CBT might be the first port of call.

Duration of therapy will also depend on the kind of problems you bring to the encounter, and how deep you want to go with them - ideally that would be something that you would explore with your therapist.

In terms of selecting a therapist, there's a lot of evidence that the quality of the relationship is more important than the therapy modality used, so really you just need to make contact with potential therapists and see how you get on with them.

In the interests of full disclosure and in answer to your questions:

1-2: yes, I don't think I'd be here without it.
3: psychoanalytic therapy, three years and counting
4. Weekly
5. Weekly
7. It's not uncommon to feel worse before you feel better. Again this should be something you can discuss in the therapy
8-9. Dunno, I'm still there. But def closer to the end than the beginning
10. It will take a while to get into, like any relationship. But I think you do need to feel a spark of warm/liking/empathy with the therapist from the off (as wiht any relationship)
11-12. I don't pay, it's NHS, referred from my GP
13. No, I don't feel this, I trust her to not abuse the information she has. I think that kind of trust is pretty basic tbh, it would be hard to have a relationship where you were genuinely in doubt about the therapist's intentions. Unless difficulty trusting was part of your problems, in which you would need to be discussing that with the therapist
14-15. I am coping wth life a great deal better, not on medication and not receiving input from psychiatrists or crisis service
16. I have met therapists before who I didn't get on with, or thought were not very competent. But my trust threshold is very high, so I may have been doing them a disservice. My current therapist has had to break confidentiality and involve other services in order to keep me safe, and she managed to do that without the situation feeling in any way coercive, which is a significant achievement.
19-20. Hardest thing I have ever done, but worth it. I could have used help much earlier in my life, but probably wouldn't have been in a place to use it the way I have been able to now (in my 40s).
23. Yes, I think gender has an impact, in the way that all potentially transference-causing issues will affect the relationship. It doesn't have to be a deal-breaker, but it is worth thinking about, alongside other issues that may trigger particular transferences, like the age of the therapist, ethnicity, sexual orientation (if relevant) etc etc.

You sound like someone who has thought and is thinking quite deeply about what is going on for you (while managing to reveal nothing at all!) so on a hunch I'd think you are probably looking for something that will help you explore a little deeper than eg. CBT. Ideally having initial conversations with some potential therapists, or even looking at their websites will help clarify some of these questions for you, and point you in the right direction.

hulawedge Sat 01-Aug-15 13:24:48

1) No, I've had other changes in my life which have improved it but it wasn't down the the therapy

2) I'm glad I tried it rather than dismissed the idea out of hand

3) I've had psychodynamic psychotherapy, CBT, CAT, general counselling

4) Mostly weekly, but for psychotherapy it was intense 3-4 times a week

5) Probably once a week

6) Not really, I never really felt any sense of dependency on them

7) Probably at least two years of the psychotherapy. CAT/CBT not effective.

8) Mine were on the NHS so I just used up the max allocation of sessions. For CAT/CBT/counselling it was 16, for psychotherapy it was around three years.

9) I've not seen most of my therapists after the end of the sessions, except my CAT therapist who works with my CMHT so I had another block allocated.

10) I've always felt a bit of discomfort with therapists, and it doesn't get easier.

11) Free on NHS

12) Allocated on NHS

13) Yes, I didn't feel comfortable with them knowing so much information. I've always kept tabs on my records and what information they hold on me.

14) I don't think the therapy was responsible for changing my life direction in any specific way

15) I'm more analytical about myself

16) I've found that some therapists can be quite prejudiced and ignorant about different cultures, or try to box clients into textbook descriptions.

17) I don't regret it but I don't think it was particularly effective

19) It would have been better to not have to put up with the long NHS waitng lists.

20) I didn't spend any money on it, if I'd had to pay I would have begrudged it.

20a) I've had at least 10 different therapists at different points in my life

20b) The more senior ones (in the NHS) are better, I was stuck with some trainees on a few occasions and they were not as skilled.

20c) I've had male and female therapists. If anything the females were less able to understand me well because I don't fit into most female stereotypes.

hollieberrie Sat 01-Aug-15 16:24:19

Sorry can't answer all the questions as im in Costa and my battery is dying! But will try to tell you what's worked for me.

I sought therapy a year ago after the sudden death of my mum and a very bad break up. My gp referred me for cbt (free on the nhs). I did a few sessions but it clearly wasn't right for me - not the thing for grief I don't think - & the cbt team referred me on for counselling (nhs subsidised, I pay £40 a session).

I did also try private psychotherapy but we werent a good fit (me and the therapist) and also it was much more expensive. It was interesting - looking back at childhood / patterns of behaviour etc - but i found it too challenging for my fragile state of mind and think counselling is better for me as it's more supportive and hand holding sort of thing.

I have a great rapport with my counsellor and it has helped me a great deal. I think time has played it's part but it's been invaluable having her there every week.

Good luck OP. I'd recommend it but it's definitely not a miracle fix. I still feel shit, just not as shit as I think I would've felt without it!

RonaldosAbs Sat 01-Aug-15 16:24:44

I had therapy for an eating disorder and PTSD type things/anxiety.

I can't answer them all but (sorry these aren't in order)

- Yes, It worked 100%, I moved on completely and to be honest forget that I ever had those problems unless prompted. To the point where one of DDs friends had an eating disorder and I actually said "god I can't imagine what that must be like" before remembering.

- I went twice a week for 4 months

- I luckily found a great one right away

- £50 p/hour

- We mixed it up with regards to type of therapy.

- My life changed for the better in every single way, as I said, the problems vanished and I didn't need to actively fight them, I was lucky enough to reach a truly "recovered" state.

- I wasn't uncomfortable at all but I really, really wanted to change and had no issue handing myself over, I dedicated myself to recovery completely.

- Price depends on location and qualifications

- I learned coping mechanisms that soon became automatic (look up neuroplasticity for more on this kind of thing).

- I found her through a friend (this was way back in the day).

The success of therapy and time frame depends on many things, a colleague of mine had PTSD, she was recovered within 6-8 sessions of EMDR, while other people need a year or so, it's like asking how long a piece of string is in terms of time frame. The "theraputic experience" is different for everyone.

I had a wonderful experience overall.

notrocketscience Sat 01-Aug-15 18:20:45

If it is trauma based then try EMDR. This works. It was first designed for Vietnam soldiers with PTSD.
Find a good therapist though, you need some one good. Are we allowed to name people here?

avocadosarentmiddleclassed Sat 01-Aug-15 18:59:34

It's amazing, I would recommend it if you commit to the process it's great good luck

WellWhoKnew Sat 01-Aug-15 21:59:44

Lordy...if you're that hyper-analytical, you don't need 'therapy', you need a psychologist. And a a hypnotherapist. And a great tax-savvy accountant.

That costs a lot more. Around £200+ per hour per specialist. Budget £400 plus if you want credible. Per professional.

What is it you want to achieve for yourself?

At £400 per hour, all of us can give you our time of day.

However, for us to answer the questions for your dissertation, would you mind doing your degree honourably. And say so.

That way, I'd happily support your research. But, please, don't treat me like a fuckwit.

I'm divorced. And degree-educated. In fact, if I wanted to be supercilious, I'd point out that you're patronising.

I'm not evidently supercilious.

cormorantfan Sat 01-Aug-15 22:23:10

Thanks wellwhoknew, now i really feel shit about having no money and no job and no friends, and now I'm a liar too, so that's great.

I'm going to keep that in this post so I can address everyone else with a calm mind in my next post.

No134 Sat 01-Aug-15 22:28:59

WellWhoKnew - That's really unkind. The OP asked some very detailed but not unreasonable questions, no-one's forcing you to answer them if you don't want to, but there's no call to be nasty.

Lottapianos Sat 01-Aug-15 22:33:01

WellWhoKnew, if you're looking for a bunfight, maybe look somewhere else eh? There's no reason to believe that OP didn't start this thread in good faith so take your nastiness elsewhere

cormorantfan Sat 01-Aug-15 22:43:52

To everyone else, thank you so much for replying.

Some phrases really stick out for me.

Before I get to that, I don't really want to make this thread all about me.. but why does anyone really post in relationships? I guess I don't want to skew responses towards me, and just hear the unbiased overview.

I've posted in relationships before under a different ID, and also in SN chat.
To abbreviate the story, wellwhoknew got one thing right - part of my degree was to do with psychology (many many years ago). I posted in relationships because of the less than a handful of relationships I have left in the world i wasn't being treated too well and couldn't see it. everyone else i've pushed away over the years.

Part of me has been wondering about ASD or PDA and other developmental things looking over the course of my life. I don't see how I could have got to this point without something being rather 'wrong' with me. By wrong, I mean, so different to everyone else. Then again, maybe it's just awry thinking compounding itself over the years. So first of all there's that.

Then the problem with having a bit of undergraduate psychology is I've read all the books and the articles and feel like as a result it wouldn't 'work' on me. I don't trust anyone to know more than me about me. Sounds stupid saying it. Then I don't like the idea of someone knowing all my innermost thoughts and record-keeping on it too, as hulawedge mentioned.

No doubt the barrier to that is trust issues, and obstacles such as me feeling I'm investing my secrets in the therapist and by ultimately just being their client it feels like a form of rejection before I've even got in the chair.

I guess what I'm worried about is really the above paragraph. If I am a can of pathology, I've kept it well lidded and don't know how I'll be able to cope knowing someone else knows.
Then I'm worried about - there are so many strands to the knot I'm in, if some are unpicked, if the lid flys off it'll be awesomely terrible.
Then I'm worried about, as I say, I've read all the latest books on all the things I think are wrong with me and if I can't figure it out who's to say anyone else can.
Then I'm worried, what if we get six months in, I've bared my soul, I run out of money, I'm stuck. At the end of the day I'm just another client to this therapist. It feels like so much to plate up to another human being to potentially be rejected by them.
Then there is the developmental stuff. If it is suspected, how much will it cost to assess? What can anyone even do about it now, with me as an adult??
Then there is the final thing - if these kinks are basically my personality, all I am or have to offer to the world, then if they are straightened out in therapy who or what will be left.
Does anyone feel so poisoned - not poisoned, let's call it, replete with maladaptive thinking - meaning, I know that my thinking is maybe not like it should be, but at least I've evolved my own coping mechanisms, and maybe to untumble it is more than I or a therapist could deal with - in that scenario is it better to go with the status quo.

I phrased it as 2(3) questions because that is how my mind works, about everything, all the time, so I end up never doing anything and just hovering as I consider all the angles, in excruciating detail. I thought it was better to get them out on to typing than let them circulate in my head for another 10 years so I am sorry if I offended you wellwhoknew

Janethegirl Sat 01-Aug-15 22:44:13

Can't remember cost as it was many years ago, but it was to do with an eating disorder I had.

After many weekly sessions with no real improvement I found out that his basic qualification was a half arsed science degree which he then had done further qualifications to become a 'counsellor'.
Fuck that for a lark, that was enough for me to sort myself out. A useless half baked science degree that he couldn't use even for teaching!!! What a fucking waste of space he was!!!
That fixed my issues overnight grin

No134 Sat 01-Aug-15 22:54:24

Cormorant, that sounds really hard. flowers

I really recognise what you say about not trusting someone to know more than you do about you. What I would say, though, is that if you can find someone you trust, it can be an enormous relief to be able to acknowledge that you don't (have to) have all the answers yourself, and that you are as entitled to struggle and to ask for and receive help as anybody else.

And tbh, however much you know about yourself, if you can enter into a therapeutic relationship with someone you respect and trust, of course they will be able to offer a different perspective on that, by virtue of not being you. If your own perspective was providing you wtih all the answers, you wouldn't be thinking about therapy in the first place.

But you do need to find the right person, otherwise it's very easy to talk yourself out of therapy, on the basis that you don't trust any of the people you've met to be able to help you, when actually that just means you haven't found the right person yet. I also think (based on my own experience, but possibly also on what you said) that there is a certain protective defensiveness in feeling that nobody else will be trustworthy enough to help you - it's a little thought loop that protects the ego from taking the risk of change, I think.

cormorantfan Sat 01-Aug-15 23:06:48

Thank you No134, what you say resonates.

I have got myself into a thinking pickle. I found someone I liked the look of - it wouldn't be an exaggeration to say, about 6 years ago - but she is very much at the top end of pricing. I go back and look at her website a couple of times a year. Then I have the obstacle of getting there - it is not far, but I don't find journeys easy at all. Is it a sensory thing, or what, I don't know. Then there is the clamp of obligation/expectation of even 'weekly appointment' or 'practising' (somehow) the contents of the session as applicable to real life, which - I may well not have PDA or anything like it, but something in me - just kicks against and rebels against it and almost knows I would find a way to sabotage the relationship/evade the obligation of turning up or, conversely, find a way to say what the therapist wants to hear, which is my default approval-seeking mode which most people seem to accept is my true personality, but really it is just another mask.

Sorry, I most certainly don't mean to burden you or anyone with my problems, just the typing of it all out here may be 'helping' in whatever way so please don't feel obligated to respond.

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