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how to tell if therapist is a good one
September 17, 2005
8:45 am
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Anonymous
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here's today's thought -

how do I tell if my therapist is going to help me?

My therapist is a licensed counselor.

I went to her knowing I was codependent and she is trained in addiction therapy.

Right off the bat, we focused on my issues with my BF. And my take is that she is validating all my feelings, which I understand, but she is focusing on the "here and now" and almost seems like she feels like the only answer is to get rid of the stress in my life - that being him - instead of evaluating it and seeing if there is a different path.

I brought up my issues with my past, my childhood, my rage, anger and resentment. And her answer was that we can't change it, and we have to just work on putting it behind us and focusing on the here and now.

I realize that the purpose of this is because we can only change the "here and now" and we can only change ourselves.

But I feel like I need someone that goes back to where things started. To where things went wrong. That I need to dredge up all the bad things that happened, so I can look at them, examine them and then put them behind me once and for all. To learn where ***I*** went wrong, so I don't repeat them again. I truly believe that if you don't learn history, you are doomed to repeat it.

She didn't do any kind of anger therapy. She didn't look at my past. She didn't look at my past with my family.

And instead of going back to the begining with my current BF, she picked up ***today*** and ran with it.

the problem is - on my own, I have identified where I keep going wrong and it makes me want to try to work things out a different way with my BF - and she has it in her head that next time I come back, I will have told her I dumped him - cuz in our last session, she had me convinced that it was the ONLY solution. This was based on my inability to tolerate things as they have been - but instead of working on finding ways to help me tolerate them - she jumped to the "if you can't tolerate them, the only answer is get rid of him".

I don't like people who see things as black and white cut and dry...I know there are so many facets of things that I want someone to explore them.

so - how do I communicate with her about this - or decide if she is really the right kind for me? I know that part of me is going to feel stupid for going to her on tuesday and saying "no, I am not dumping him and here is what I learned and what I decided...." and none of it had anything to do with the therapy she provided and MORE to do with what I learned here and in CODA.

September 17, 2005
8:53 am
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mj
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I know exactly how you feel on delving into the past issues that created todays behavior. Some counselors do, some don't.

My last counselor is more like this one. Focus on today. To be honest, I think it was very effective for me. I learned new behaviors today that applied today. It helped save my marriage today.

I am still discovering learned behaviors from my past and I think this is an ongoing journey of a lifetime. My Fourth Step is really helping with this.

Remember, Its your life! You get to create it. You get to make your decisions. Good Luck with your answers!

September 17, 2005
5:14 pm
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lollipop3
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Hi Ali,

I would like to start by saying that there are different types of counselors that are influenced by different areas of psychology. There are humanistic, developmental, social, congnitive, psychoanalytic, etc. etc. Each area of psychology deals with issues in a different way, so the type of therapy you receive would depend on which type she practices.

I personally find it a bit unprofessional that she demand that you end a relationship before you are ready and I believe that you should not feel "shamed" or "embarrassed" that you have not ended your relationship. If she makes you feel uncomfortable in that sense then I would recommend finding another therapist.

However, having said that.....Just be sure that you are not just looking for someone to tell you what you want to hear. Changing from therapist to therapist because we don't like what they are telling us defeats the whole purpose of counseling. Sometimes they tell us the "truth" which can be difficult to face.

As far as dealing with the "here and now", I think (in my opinion) that she is right on the money. To me, it is no different than treating an alcoholic. You can not treat the "reasons" a person drinks until the person stops drinking. As long as the person continues to drink, you can never get the root cause. Drinking is symptom of a disease. You must treat the symtoms before you can treat the disease. Does that make sense?

I would at least discuss this with your current therapist. I believe delving into the whole childhood thing is more of a psychoanalytic approach, which may not be her field of expertise.

Good luck,
Lolli

September 17, 2005
5:21 pm
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lollipop3
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Ali,

I have a question for you.....

You said "she had me convinced (that dumping him) was the only solution. THIS WAS BASED ON MY INABILITY TO TOLERATE THINGS AS THEY HAD BEEN--BUT INSTEAD OF FINDING WAYS TO HELP ME TOLERATE THEM....."

Now, here is my question.....

Why would you want a therapist to "teach" you to tolerate unacceptable behavior?

Just some food for thought.

Love,
Lolli

September 17, 2005
5:34 pm
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Wow, lolli, this is very good stuff!

Please, mj, could you talk more specifically about the behaviors to change for today? Thank you.

I agree, ali, that feeling of black and white and no tolerance for the grey areas does not feel right. Could it be, though, that this person has presented it so that you are pressed into recognizing how you really feel about the relationship? YOu know, that idea that NOT making a decision is actually making a decision? Just a thought.

September 17, 2005
5:41 pm
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Matteo
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alicat,

First of all you should be at ease with your therapist, and feel comfortable discussing your preferences and expectations.

Good therapist shows you possibilities and choices, doesn't tell you what to do. For her to tell you to break up with your boyfriend is inappropriate.
She should be your guide not your leader. This is your therapy, not her, the choices are yours to make, and it is about your life.
For her to tell you to break up with your boyfriend is inappropriate.

I think your expectation in regards with discussing your past is a valid one. We cannot change the past - of course, but we can understand it, learn from it and heal.

I would discuss my concerns with her and change the therapist if you would not feel comfortable with what she will have to say.

September 17, 2005
5:44 pm
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lol!
OK - don't break up with your boyfriend just because someone tells you so!

Sorry about the mistake.

September 17, 2005
6:01 pm
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Hi Matteo,

I agree that Ali has a valid point in wanting to deal with the past. However, in my opinion, now is probably not the time.

We need to learn to accept and rectify our present situations before we can concentrate on past situations.

I also believe the same about couples counseling. I think it is a great idea AFTER we go through individual counseling for ourselves. Using the same logic as in my previous post.....we cannot fix our relationships until we fix ourselves.

Just my opinion of course but I am open to different ideas.

Love,
Lolli

September 17, 2005
6:08 pm
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guys thanks!

Lolli - my fear that my subconcious desire to find someone who tells me what I want to hear is the fear that makes me question if I am on the money or not, seeing things as they are or not. So I will ride it out and see where she takes me down this road.

I am getting ALOT out of coda meetings, and my own research and this place here. I am not sure where my therapist will take me, but I will see.

I keep trying to rewrite how I feel about this, but it's hard to explain.

the bottom line is, I know she is pushing me to end this because she doesn't believe I can get on with my life until I get the "abuser" out of my life and focus on me. However, I have chosen to stay in this relationship and want to fix my end of it, knowing my BF is working on fixing his end of it. I don't want to be constantly reminded that the only way to make this easier and to recover faster, is to end the relationship and then work on me. I am hoping to get someone that understands that I have chosen the more difficult path and who can help me make choices and decisions based on my decision to stay.

September 17, 2005
6:24 pm
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I also want to know why I act the way I do. See the cost benefit in that. It´s showing up slowly and I think it is because there´s some trust and empathy in my rapport with the therapist. Sometimes a sign is all I get and I trust I know what it means.

Therapy can help but it can be a pain in the b*** too. I´ve been doing it for years. I´ve sat in front of a class with the president of the int´l psyq org. I was lab material for many psyq stud´s who took some time to figure I was only depressed not bipolar and later anxious too. When I asked one of them how to deal with what I was going through he said they didn´t give life advice. I needed to know if I could have some more medication, sleep, what have you. Later I met a psychologist who told me I didn´t have any problems even though I told him about my not so past suicidal thoughts. Now I´ve been getting a lot of advice so I think I made the circle.

What your therapist told you depends on what you told her too. Maybe she needs to know you better. Codependents are some of the thoughest people I´ve met including myself. However to some people, showing weaknesses is being weak and the survival of the fittest is gonna finish with you if you don´t change.

Tell her how far you want to go and ask her if she wants to help you or not...

September 17, 2005
6:26 pm
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Lolipop,

I think this is very individual. Some people might feel comfortable dealing just with present, but others may need to understand what brought them to the point where they are now in order to change it. If alicat feels more comfortable with that approach, it should be her choice, not the therapists.

Regarding the individual and marriage therapy, I think they should take place simultaneously, if both partners are motivated, to check in and coordinate their efforts. Otherwise in some cases the marriage counseling might be not needed anymore, if one of them decides to walk away, as a result of individual therapy. But then maybe that’s for the best.

The bottom line is, what works the best for the client, because this is all about their life.

Take care.

September 17, 2005
6:32 pm
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ryny143
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I just left my therapist bc of the same reasons! I felt that every session was directed to "WHy are you still with him??" and how to get out- none of which was helpful! I guess I'll try again to find a new one.....good luck 2 ya!

September 17, 2005
6:35 pm
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lollipop3
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Ali,

As I've told you, I am one of those people that chose to stay in my relationship.

If I were to tell you all the things we have been through.....drinking, drugging, car accidents, lies, financial irresponsiblity, verbal abuse, etc. etc......you would think I was nuts to stay.

However, I chose to stay while I was in therapy for myself. I began to change and believe me, things got worse before they got better. There were many times that I went to my therapist screaming at her to "HELP ME GET RID OF HIM!!!! I demanded to know what was wrong with me that I would continue to put up with this shit. She always quietly told me that what I was going through was perfectly normal given the situation and assured me of the progress I was making. After all was said and done, he began to come around IN RESPONSE to the changes that I was making. Sometimes that happens and it works out, sometimes it doesn't and the relationship ends.

I am grateful and feel fortunate that we 'stuck it out'. My relationship with him now is more healthy than any other that I've had. Of course there are still issues, but we are continuing to learn to comminicate and things have been moving steadily in a postive direction.

I've said it before and I'll say it again.... I, nor your therapsit, nor anyone here can tell you whether or not to stay or to go, only you can decide that.

It is you that are in the situation, not us. Only you can decide IF he is making the necessary changes or not. If you are telling us that he is when he isn't, you are not fooling anyone but yourself.

We are only here to help guide and support you while you sort through all of this and try to make the best decision for you and your daughter.

Love,
Lolli

September 17, 2005
6:41 pm
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lollipop3
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Matteo,

I agree that it is Ali's choice and not the therapists. That is why I explained the different fields of psychology.

I think that she should discuss this with her therapist as this may not be her field of expertise.

I also agree that it is an indivdual issue and that we must decide what is best for us....as long as we are doing it for the right reasons.

Lolli

September 17, 2005
6:45 pm
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Wowo what a story! I'm so happy things worked out. I'm currently in the stage where I want to get rid of him, but I feel so "out of control". Like an addiction , not a relationship. At any point did u leave him? I think I'm afraid to do that, bc I fear his reaction. I'm scared he'll just let me go instead of changing his behavior....

September 17, 2005
6:55 pm
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Lolli,

I feel like we are cosmic twins on some level - if you believe such things.

I think the problem is - I am going to my therapist saying "I have had ENOUGH" and her answer is - then get rid of him, what are you waiting for?????

that's why I feel this isn't such a good fit.

I think you are right in that I need to learn to accept the situation before I can have the strength to dig deeper.

that being said.

I think the only way I found acceptance in the current situation is going back to where it started and realizing how it started.

the reason I believe that's how I came into my acceptance is this -

because I needed to understand if I was dating an abuser - or if this person just has maturity and responsibility issues (and maybe some other issues that can be fixed) - or if this was something "environmental".

I could not accept things as they are now - cuz it appears I am in a relatinoship with an abuser. And based on what I see "today" - all fingers point to the door and the exit sign.

but when I was able to look at where this started - where it went wrong - I was able to see that this is more an environmental situation and that I had my part in creating this environment and that if I fix me, the environment changes and then the whole thing comes around to where I need it to be.

I won't discount his part in this.

he does have his issues.

but when I look at what his issues are - they do not point to him being an abuser. They point to him being immature, financially irresponsible, somewhat emotionally unavailable, as well as growing up in a different "world" than I did - which creates a whole different view of "life" than I am used to.

these are all things that can get better in time. these are all things that can get resolved in therapy if both are willing. these are all things that people have power to change.

if I was with an abuser - alcohol, narcotics, emotional, physical, sexual, addict of any kind - I would have come to the conclusion it's time to get out.

going "backwards" helped my acceptance. focusing on "today's events" made me feel like this was a dead end and made me want out - but the nagging voice inside kept pulling me back.

I want your therapist - the one that says this is normal - not the therapist that says - well, if you want him out - kick him out, and I will expect a full report next week.

as far as couple's counseling - my thought is that since I have to live with this person - my learning to communicate "healthy" with him CANNOT wait. And since alot of our current communication revolves around fixing our relationship, dealing with pain and anger and resentment, learning to communicate with less anger, less defensiveness, etc - that couple's counseling is our only choice. Cuz if we keep battling eachother - because we don't know how to speak without hurting - or react without anger - then we are going to slow our own progress down with the drama of the struggling/strained relationship.

we ARE looking at the option of separating - and him setting himself up on his own two feet, then me joining him after things are better - but it's only ONE option - and today I am choosing to not choose - which is a HUGE step for me - I am enjoying my contentment to NOT decide today - to NOT need results today - to just let this go until I am ready for the answers. that is a HUGE step for me - and is taking a HUGE amount of stress off of our relationships - in the past, my drive for answers would have us fighting about making this happen NOW cuz ***I NEED IT NOW*** - and I want him to respect my needs to have it fixed NOW. I am not doing it and we are doing much better.

so - I am improving - we are improving - and each day is a blessing!

September 17, 2005
7:02 pm
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hey ryny143 -

I think you are in the first phases of the recovery - you got the problem in front of you - have identified the fear and now you need to know where to go with it.

well, I started with reading a few books and all the posts here - and all the responses.

women who love too much by nora roberts and codependency no more by melody beattie.

I also found a coda meeting and a therapist.

the only thing I can tell you - the running thread in all our thoughts is - YOU CANNOT CONTROL OR CHANGE HIM. You can only control and change YOU. And there is a very good chance he may choose to let you go and not change - but then you have to choose - do you deserve better than this bad relationship or do you want to accept it and then find peace within it?

one thing I know I struggled with was - the thought that I can't accep thtis - I don't like it - and I don't want to be hurt anymore - so does that mean I have to leave him? and people kept telling me that I can either accept it and find my own peace, outside of him, or I can leave him and find peace on my own. But that HE is not going to make me happy and peaceful. So I kept thinking my only answer is I have to leave. But that isn't the answer, not now anyway. Cuz I kept looking for answers and didn't stop. The answers for ME. Nobody could give them to me, they had to come from within me.

now - that being said - there is some cut and dry thoughts in that if you are in a physically abusive relationship - the smartest thing is to get OUT - to protect your physical well being. But getting out is scary and nobody can make you do it. But of all the black and white things that can be said - getting out of a physically abusive relationship should be the first priority - working things out LATER - after the abuser shows progress in changing himself should be second priority. Protect yourself is number one.

keep sharing with us - it has helped me IMMENSELY.

September 17, 2005
7:03 pm
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Hi ryny,

Yes, I did leave him.....3 times.

Here is our (shortened) story....

We dated briefly when we first met 4 years ago. It didn't work out and I broke up with him. He was very persistant about us "remaining friends" which we did. Several months later, we tried again and due to his drinking, lying, etc. etc. we broke up again.....still remaining friends. Over the next year and half we became best friends. He always treated me like a princess. He would stay at my house if he drank too much and was always respectful of my boundries. Never even tried to kiss me.

About a year and a half ago, he was in a really bad way. He had hurt himself at work and used to time out of work to become a full blown alcoholic/drug addict. He was so far gone at that point that I didn't even want to be friends with him anymore. At that point he became very upset and begged me to give him another chance. He said he "needed" me, which kicked my codependecy into high gear. He promised me that he would do whatever it took to get me back....that he loved me, that he always loved me and that he would NEVER do anything to mess it up again. What was better than that???? I was going to save him and spend the rest of my life with my grateful best friend!!!!! A codep's dream come true. LOL (although it really wasn't funny)

Needless to say my fairy tale did not work out as planned. Nothing changed execpt the fact that now that he had me, he no longer treated me like a princess. It went from bad to worse, so after 3 months I ended it again and told him that not only was our relationship over but if he continued to drink I never wanted to see him again....period.

Here we are today.....he (we) have been sober for more than a year. He quit drinking, moved to another state to get away from that lifestyle, returned to work, and is "slowly" working on fixing his destroyed credit. We have worked on our communication skills and he no longer resorts to verbal abuse to get his point across.

I believe that our relationship is getting healthier everyday as we continue to move in a postive direction.

Due to my own experience, I am a firm believer in....if is meant to be, it will happen.

You must do what is right for yourself and do not let fear make your decisions for you. You are worthy of love and respect and it is up to you to make sure you get it.

I hope my story helped.

Love,
Lolli

September 17, 2005
7:18 pm
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Hi Ali,

I wouldn't say NOT to do couple's couseling. As I said to you before, although I think it is like the chicken and the egg scenerio, if he was willing, I would go for it.

Having said that, I also want you to know that couples therapy is not the be all, end all of your relationship.

My b/f absolutely REFUSED to go to counseling, even though it was HIS idea in the first place!!!!

He went one time....put his spin on things and then refused to go back so he wouldn't have to answer for any inconsistancies. BUT....I continued to go by myself and eventually (although it probably took longer), he did eventually come around and changed in RESPONSE to me changing.

I learned to communicate more effectively. I learned to stop engaging in arguements. I learned to not take things personally.....and in time he began to respond to that. Our arguements became few and far between and I'm happy to say we haven't had a "fight" in 3 months.

Although he was not "open" to therapy, he did want to have a better relationship, so perhaps in the grand scheme of things, that's all that matters.... I don't know.

I don't have all the answers. I can only speak from my own experience and hope that it helps.

Love,
Lolli

September 18, 2005
9:38 am
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thanks lolli!

I think that we both realize that it's too easy to put a "spin" on things in individual counseling - and not learn to communicate cuz our counselors have their own agenda as well.

in my case, I see it happening - I tell my side - and her answer is to get rid of him...maybe it's because of how I have approached the problem, what I have said and how I have said it - but I don't see how it's going to help me be better in "any" relationship, if the answer is always "leave" if you aren't happy.

that being said - I don't think couple's counseling is the magic pill either. I just think it's another step to discover if this is salvageable or not.

if we explore this last step together and come up with the idea that it's not - then we tried EVERYTHING.

thanks for the input - and i am glad things worked out for you even tho he didn't do therapy...that's a great step and very unusual results.

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