Therapists: Did they help you or ruin your life? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 64 Old 01-29-2005, 01:47 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I hope I'm not offending anyone with this question. If so, I apologize in advance.

I started seeing a feminist psychologist several months ago out of desperation (for my marriage). I have never been into the idea since I have a hard time putting my life in the hands of strangers and I don't like other people telling me what I should and shouldn't do. Well...that is basically what is happening to me.

She is an 80+ year-old woman who has BTDT, so I see her as a wise elder who knows what she's talking about. We have a lot in common re: our views on the World and on life. So I have come to trust her. Trouble is, she is helping me to realize that my marriage should have never happened in the first place. I won't go into details, but I am realizing that the only reason dh and I are hanging on is because we don't want dd to grow up how we did.

I don't know what I'm even asking......Maybe for anyone's insight who is willing to give it, to help give me different perspectives? Has anyone here been positively or negatively affected by a psychologist? My head is literally spinning and I feel like I'm losing control over my life.
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#2 of 64 Old 01-29-2005, 01:54 AM
 
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A good therapist will listen to you and help you focus on what YOU want, but shouldn't give you overt advice or flat out tell you do something. I'm working on my Counseling credentials right now, so this is all drilled in my head.

I'm not sure if this therapist has just told you the marriage was a mistake, or if you came to that conclusion on your own with her help???

In general though, a therapist should help you and not hurt you. However, in the process, there will usually be difficult issues to deal with that seem really painful at the time. If you are uncomfortable with anything though, do bring that up with the therapist as well.
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#3 of 64 Old 01-29-2005, 01:57 AM
 
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A good therapist will listen to you and help you focus on what YOU want, but shouldn't give you overt advice or flat out tell you do something.
I agree with this..
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#4 of 64 Old 01-29-2005, 01:59 AM
 
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First off, congrats on the self weaning, way to go Mama!

Second, I saw a theripist for awhile for anger issues and I think she really helped me. I wouldn't go back to her specifically but I would see someone else.

For you, maybe since you two are very in tuned with one another, you and her can brainstorm ways to improve your marraige, sparking new interests, to creat new bonds maybe? I wouldn't want a therapist bringing me down about anything without helping me back up ya know.

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#5 of 64 Old 01-29-2005, 02:00 AM
 
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I agree with the previous posts. And our life and marriage has been greatly improved by therapy.
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#6 of 64 Old 01-29-2005, 02:08 AM
 
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Never had a good expereince personally but I never had good therpists, and I imagine there most be some of worth out there somewhere!

Megan Davidson, Labor & Postpartum Doula, Breastfeeding Counselor, Anthropologist, Mom to August (9) and Clay (4), Partner to Shawn.

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#7 of 64 Old 01-29-2005, 02:13 AM
 
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I personally thought it was a waste of my time.

*Momma to a spunky 11 year old & diva 9 year old
*Proud wife of "The Rock"
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#8 of 64 Old 01-29-2005, 02:13 AM
 
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I had to go see a counselor before I could have gastric bypass and I went back to her after my surgery as I still had issues with food. Just because I had surgery doesn't mean that my deamons have gone away. I saw an actual psychiatrist, but she believed in behavior therapy and not medication. I really enjoyed seeing her. She focused on self talk with me and that worked wonders. I still talk to myself freqently and have her to thank for it.

If you are having problems in your marriage that you can't seem to solve by yourselves then you need some kind of extra help. Finding a caring counselor that you share values with is so important. If you think that she is not what you are looking for then ask him/her for a referral. Just like regualr MD's not every Dr. is suited for every patient. You need to know what your goals are before you can ask for help. Many blesses..
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#9 of 64 Old 01-29-2005, 02:15 AM
 
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I also agree a therapist should never tell you what to do. I got a lot of help from a therapist in my 20s- she was a Jungian therapist and very kind, wise grandmotherly-type. My life improved and I was happy with the therapy.

Being right is not always fair, but being fair is always right
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#10 of 64 Old 01-29-2005, 02:29 AM
 
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i agree therapists shouldn't tell you what to do, but the best therapist i had challenged me and pointed out the "obvious" and even though it was painful to realize those truths about myself, it was one of the best things for me and i am grateful for it.
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#11 of 64 Old 01-29-2005, 02:57 AM
 
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I AM a therapist, and I've been helped by therapy myself. If you are uncomfortable with your therapist, you should see someone different. If your disconfort is with bumping up against painful stuff, that's not a therapist problem...but it IS something to talk about in therapy.

I agree that a good therapist should never tell you what to do. Advice and therapy are not the same thing. By the same token, good therapy almost always involves some challenge. It should be supportive challenge, IMO, but usually movung through pain involves making some changes, and a good therapist can help you recognize where and how it feels right to you to do that.
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#12 of 64 Old 01-29-2005, 03:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mother_sunshine
Trouble is, she is helping me to realize that my marriage should have never happened in the first place. (

Never "should" have happened? Whose definition of "should"? There is no "magic" person we are "supposed" to marry. And what purpose does that line of thinking serve, anyway? What good does it do to decide you "shouldn't" have married him?

Is he abusive? Cheating on you? If so, that's a different story.

But if not, then what difference does it make whether or not you "should" have married him? You did, you have a child together, and you can choose to work on your marriage, or choose not to.

I probably "shouldn't" have married my dh. But I did. And most days we make it work, and we love each other.

I've seen about five therapists; one was mildly helpful, one was downright scary, one messed up my marriage for awhile, and a couple were in the middle of the road.........not helpful but not hurtful .

"Our task is not to see the future, but to enable it."
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#13 of 64 Old 01-29-2005, 03:49 PM
 
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Well, since you opened up the can of worms, I'll say that in my extensive experience with the psychiatric system, most psychiatrists and psychologists are pathological narcissists. Yes, this is a sweeping statement, but I feel I've had ample enough experience to say it. And it's JMO, after all.

I would NEVER take life changing advice from a shrink. Most of them have very screwed up lives and serious troubles of their own. Many of them are in it for the money and "PLAYING GOD." Most have egos the size of North America.

There ARE nice shrinks out there but they are few and far between. Don't end your marriage until you've detoxed from this "elder and wise" therapist for a good long time. this is your decision, you don't owe her diddly squat.
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#14 of 64 Old 01-29-2005, 03:52 PM
 
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Good heavens. I am so sorry to hear that some of you have had such horrifying experiences. I KNOW there are narcissistic quack shrinks out there, but to say that most of them are pathological, in it for the money, and playing God is just cruel and inaccurate. My "in it for the money" involved over a hundred thousand dollars of student loans and working for literally nothing for seven years while I trained. Now that I have my degrees, I will ALWAYS have a percentage of pro bono cases in my practice. Hello. Many of my colleagues are the most cautious, supportive, sensitive, thoughtful people I have ever met, and ALL of them quiver at the idea that they know better than their clients what should happen in that person's life. I'm really angry reading your post. It's like saying, after working with a standoffish midwifery group, that good midwives are few and far between and that most of them just want to get a look at women's naked bodies. Yowza.
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#15 of 64 Old 01-29-2005, 03:53 PM
 
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I've seen three therapists...one awful ( so I quit seeing her) and two who have been helpful. My dh and I have a fairly bumpy ( used to be very bumpy) marriage, but things are getting better. It has been hard work...but at least with dh I know what I have. I wouldn't even want to start over with someone else at this point. I had a friend who had been married three times. She said you just trade one set of problems in for a new set of problems. No marriage or relationship is perfect and they all require work. Good luck.

"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." -Plato
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#16 of 64 Old 01-29-2005, 04:00 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RachelGS
I KNOW there are narcissistic quack shrinks out there, but to say that most of them are pathological, in it for the money, and playing God is just cruel and inaccurate.
Sorry, you don't know my experiences. If you knew half of it you'd know WHO was cruel and inaccurate. there are countless victims of psychiatric abuse.

If you're one of the nice shrinks out there, no need to get defensive.
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#17 of 64 Old 01-29-2005, 04:24 PM
 
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Mother Sunshine I'm so sorry to hear you're going through this. I don't have any personal experience to offer. It does sound like the best thing would be a marriage counselor that both you and dh can go to so you can see if the marriage can be saved. Unless there is abuse going on I think it's worth giving it a try. What does dh think about this?

Please PM me if you need to talk.
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#18 of 64 Old 01-29-2005, 04:34 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by meowee
Sorry, you don't know my experiences. If you knew half of it you'd know WHO was cruel and inaccurate. there are countless victims of psychiatric abuse.

If you're one of the nice shrinks out there, no need to get defensive.
It would be difficult not to get defensive when one's chosed life path is challenged for its virtues.

Like Rachel, I too practice in mental health. I make very little money, which is fine. (okay sometimes it's not when I'm worried about the bills - point is, I ain't in it for the money!) I do NOT think I'm God and get very nervous when a client puts me on a pedestal. Like all vocations there are whack jobs present, including mental health. What I will offer for *advice* is choose wisely. If your gut tells you this person is not right for you, go elsewhere. If at any time you feel the person is not right for you address it with them. Sometimes through therapy one discovers truths they wish had remained uncovered. A good therapist will support and possibly guide one through this discovery never leaving them without adequate coping skills and support to move through it.

I would say more, but I have a dd who wants a story read.

edited to add: When I spoke of advice, I meant that was the only time I would give advice which is right at the beginning and even so it is put as a responsiblity the client holds to decide whether I am the right fit for them or not.
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#19 of 64 Old 01-29-2005, 04:37 PM
 
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I've been to a few, and some helped, some didn't, but none made it worse.
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#20 of 64 Old 01-29-2005, 04:52 PM
 
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(((Michelle)))

I am a therapist (tho, not currently practicing) and have been in counseling and therapy (group and individual). The right therapist for you may not always say the right thing or be perfect, but they should be someone *you* are comfortable with, because then you will listen and trust them. Also, good therapy can be like taking a part a car engine. It can be a mess for awhile, but you need to stay long enough to put it back together. I wish you the best and I am here for you, too.

~Joan, Happy mom to 2 beautiful kiddos, one new puppy and 2 lovely felines
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#21 of 64 Old 01-29-2005, 04:59 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by meowee
If you're one of the nice shrinks out there, no need to get defensive.
I'm not defensive. I'm angry-- both that you were willing to use your experiences to write off an entire profession AND that you have been treated so poorly as to make you think that most psychologists are crazy.
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#22 of 64 Old 01-29-2005, 05:15 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you all for your responses (and thanks Brianna and Joan for your kind words). Every post is helpful to me, even the ones that offend others. I really do appreciate all openness and honesty here, to help give me perspective and look at all possible angles.

I don't take divorce lightly. It's not something that I want for my dd especially because I know how it feels to not have your Mom and Dad love each other and in the same home. So I want to do everything I can to avoid it. My therapist is telling me that studies have shown that children of divorced happy parents are better off than children of married parents who are not happy. This thought has opened a window for me and my head is now spinning with confusion and conflict as to what would be right for dd.

There is love there. There is just a lot of built-up resentment on both sides, it makes the love hard to get to.

Thanks again for all your help. I appreciate all your openness and honesty.
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#23 of 64 Old 01-29-2005, 05:16 PM
 
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i agree with A&A about 'meant to be" kinds of thinking. i think thats a dangerous line of thinking because we are not omniscient and its impossible to tell with complete objectivity, WHAT we are "suposed" to be doing. that said, i think intuition is important and all. but also realise alot of the old school feminists have the thought that marriage is generally opressive and for women to be independant they should get out. it might be true in some instances, esp. if there is abuse, but if its just alot of not getting along and bickering and stuff, that can be worked on and fixed if both partners want to. i have thought my husband was the wrong person for me many many times. the first year of my marriage was me thinking that! so i know the feeling. but i feel truly liberated now that i have figured out a way to be independant and happy while maintaing a repectful marriage...i am not trying to be cheesy or put down your experience, it is really what mine was. it has taken a couple years to get to this place though and we are still working on it.
i had to realise that DH cant be my main source of happiness, and now i do more art and write again and do alot of htings that i stopped doing when we were first married and had a baby, and my life has been transformed.

as far as shrinks, they have been really really helpful to me, but i have also had soe mediocre ones i quit going to cuz they jsut seemed sort of non helpful, but not any that rearranged my whole view of my life...
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#24 of 64 Old 01-29-2005, 05:23 PM
 
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i think we cross posted . i just read your post. and i wanted to say that this:
Quote:
She is telling me that studies have shown that children of divorced happy parents are better off than children of married parents who are not happy. This thought has opened a window for me and my head is now spinning with confusion and conflict as to what would be right for dd.
raises a red flag in my mind! she is essentailly influencing you to consider divorce by telling you those facts! maybe thats true for some kids, for some families, but i find that my marriage is so strong now that we have gone through hell and come back! we are much stronger for it and i am happy we can give that to our son ( so far) ...just more of my 2 cents. i am sorry you are going through this but i think she might be crossing an ethical line. who says you would be a happy divorced couple/ the issues wont just disappear if you live in separate houses. maybe you do need to be divorced, i dont want to influence you either! but just offering another side of that
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#25 of 64 Old 01-29-2005, 05:29 PM
 
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"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." -Plato
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#26 of 64 Old 01-29-2005, 05:44 PM
 
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I am a therapist and I am well aware there are many in my field who came here rather than face their own demons. Mostly I find many of them nice to talk to but not really very effective. I of course am the exception... ok- that makes me the narcisistic one, right? Ok-IMHO, many individual therapists have no training in Marriage and Family Therapy (which is my masters degree) and should refrain from relationship work, including seeing both people as they often makes things worse. I think years of focusing on individual happiness has led to increases in divorce and much of what this group would call inadequate (mainstream) parenting. Marriage and kids require sacrifices, but not your soul. Research (don't you love how easy it is to throw that around) also shows that people are about as happy as they know how to be. This means, for most people 2 years after a happy event, or 2 years after an enormously stressful time, we go back to our own baseline of happiness. So I don't encourage divorce as a solution for much. Find out how your partner interferes with you taking care of your own happiness, or I fear, like most people, you will just find yourself in the same boat 5 years down the line. I don't think divorce is great for kids, but it won't maim them for life. But most of us learn our greatest lessons by fighting through the challenges in our life and boy doens't marriage offer lots of those.

Good luck and it was so brave of you to share all this. It is certainly a tough subject for many.

Maureen
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#27 of 64 Old 01-29-2005, 05:45 PM
 
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i am not a therapist, i'm sorry that some have had such horrific experiences with them. sadly though, that does not occur just with therapists but with people of all professions.

mother_sunshine, you need to listen to your inner voice. my concern is that you are in a relationship with a man that is not inspiring or supporting you, he is not behaving in a loving way if he is putting you down. and regardless of any study, i think that it is obvious that if you stay in a relationship where your self-worth is determined by someone else, you are modelling the acceptability of that to your children, both in how your daughter will relate to herself and modelling what a future relationship will be for her. i just think that in a relationship you deserve to have a kind of relationship that helps you shine, that brings out the best in you.

that being said, i have been through something similar and really didn't realize until our marriage ended and i went through some counselling and self-growth. i don't want to sound unsupportive or uncaring by any means, i think that in relationships we need to take responsibility and claim ownership of what is going on and if your husband is putting you down and telling you that you are not good enough, then gratefully you do have the power to stop that and tell him enough is enough. please stop choosing to accept less than what you deserve.

just my 2 cents, hang in there!!
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#28 of 64 Old 01-29-2005, 05:45 PM
 
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Michelle~ long before I saw your picture, I thought you were one of the most beautiful women I had met from reading your posts. You have so much kindness, openess and love, not only for your dd, but for life itself. I am sorry you ever felt otherwise. You have taken on the challenge of hsing with such trust and a postive outlook. I admire you.


~Joan, Happy mom to 2 beautiful kiddos, one new puppy and 2 lovely felines
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#29 of 64 Old 01-29-2005, 06:47 PM
 
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Okay, I've been mulling it over and reading what Joan said () and I realize that perhaps I am being defensive. (thank you Joan) I think it stems from feeling lately that I almost have to be ashamed to say I'm a therapist because of the reactions I get. So rarely is it a positive reaction. I could go on, but that's not the point.

Michelle I'm sorry. In reacting I missed the core of what you were communicating. That you are in pain and confusion. I was at a running store yesterday and asking about some difficulties I was having with my shoes. The guys comment was, "always remember you are an experiment of one." (He was referring to me talking about some research out there). I guess that would be what I would say in your shoes too. The research is out there, but who's to say what applies to you. Find what your path is... I like what Joan said about it being messy in the middle.

Something to consider. Perhaps someone other than your individual therapist would be better for a marriage therapist? I find it hard to imagine that despite your dh seeing her now that he won't think of her as "your therapist," and that may make progress difficult. Not to mention it may be impeding your progress now? I say this as a *friend* not a therapist, just my thoughts if I were in your place.

I admire you for beginning this difficult and scary journey. Again, I'm sorry I missed the ultimate message.
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#30 of 64 Old 01-29-2005, 09:50 PM
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So, on the "never good enough for him" issue, does he actually say this? Let me give you an example. When I wear a new outfit or cut my hair, I expect dh to say I look GREAT! And sometimes he won't even notice the new outfit or haircut. So, *I* start feeling insecure and perhaps not "good enough." But dh never actually called me ugly or fat or anything.

Does your dh actually TELL you that you're not good enough?

What I've read about children and divorce is:

If there is a lot of fighting, yelling, screaming, slamming doors, etc., then yes, kids will probably be better off with divorced parents who don't scream and yell.

BUT.........if the parents are just QUIETLY unhappy, and there is very little yelling, screaming, etc. going on, then the kids won't have seen a divorce coming and it will hit them like a ton of bricks. So, my point is, you could be unhappily married and still have kids who are very, very happy with their family arrangement.

And I've seen 17 year-olds who are absolutely devastated by their parents' divorce; I don't think being older necessarily makes a divorce easier on kids.

There was a point in my marriage where I was going to leave my dh........because I was becoming an absolute shell of a woman and didn't want to have my daughter see that kind of example. But, things are better now and we are working on our marriage. So, I can empathize with you either way on this.

Feel free to PM me, as well.

"Our task is not to see the future, but to enable it."
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