Monday, January 30, 2012

Whats the Diff? How To Tell an Average Therapist from a Great Therapist

I get it! 

Looking for "help" to heal from dysfunction or abuse in any degree shouldn't be as hard as it is. Sometimes we can spend years in "therapy" wondering just when we are going to "get" it....
whatever "it" is. 
Sometimes we wind up in situations where it doesn't seem to be working out but we are afraid to leave because we might wind up in just another bad situation.
Sometimes these not-so-helpful therapy relationships don't feel....
quite right
but we don't know
whats wrong. 
Other times we hang in there because we are being told that its not working because, well...
we aren't working it.
And there is a balance to understanding when we are avoiding our issues or if the relationship isn't helpful.
Learning how to know if a therapy relationship is a good fit seems sooooo
But the truth of the matter is - there are a LOT of well-meaning people out there who are really unqualified to help trauma survivors heal from the invisible wounds that get in the way of creating our "best life".
And I've been mulling over just how do we begin to identify and access the kind of help that is actually helpful vs the years that can be lost in an unhelpful and sometimes unhealthy ''theraputic' relationship? 
And I came up with what I think is a good place to start.
Check it out...
The difference between an average therapist* and a great therapist?
The former will keep you as long as the insurance pays.
The latter ones focus is to help you learn to live without them.
The former will tell you that a treatment failure is because of something you did or didn’t do.
The latter  won’t blame you for treatment failure. They might tell you its not working out – but they won’t need to make their lack of expertise your fault.
The former doesn't seem to have a plan for you to get where you want to go or they make the plan and you are supposed to be "compliant" to it.
The latter will involve you in making a plan to get where you want to go and invite you to discover your own process and help you find you way along the way.
The former may tell you things or make implications that lead you believe you can't be ok without them.
The latter will tell you can and will be ok without them.
The former may tell you that therapy will take a lifetime (residual income is a nice perk).
The latter will be able to tell you that therapy can be a tool when needed but is not necessarily a lifetime commitment. 
In the former you may be told to call when in crisis.
In the latter you may be taught how to get through crisis.
I'm sure there are more indicators that I could come up with but...

I'd like to hear what you've come up with to be able to say "I"m in a therapeutic relationship that feels safe, I feel validated, I'm learning something about myself, I know my goals, the path I will take to get there and I can see I'm making progress".
Leave your notes in the comments below....
And then go rock your world today:)
Always always ALWAYS.....admiring your spunk!


*"therapist could as easily be doctor, psychiatrist or social worker - or even a friend or family member. 

Ya...sad but true....helpers sometimes are not so helpful but they aren't the problem....its up to us to figure out what kind of help we want and then its up to us to know how to move on when its not working. 

Truth hurts sometimes, huh? 

Sorry. :(

The good news?!

This empowers us to leave that place of perpetual victimhood that keeps us stuck in that place of perpetual powerlessness and become our most powerful and amazing self!


NOW you can go rock it! 

I'm seeing that spunky side of you again....:) 

 Seek Knowledge, find Wisdom, live your Truth!



Anonymous said...

Currently reading "Against Therapy" and this is just as scary as reading Jung, Freud and Reich writing about their patients.

So ROT: does it feel like therapist is trying to force me to believe something or denying reality or blaming me if treatments don't work. Do they appear to give a shit about me or are they on some sort of power trip? Can they admit to guesswork and fear.

Sometimes you get the feeling that trauma is contagious and it's also your fault. Yeugh!

Unknown said...

I hear you Mike; the thing that makes this makes sense for me is to remember and recognize when helpers are on a power trip what they are doing is working out their own issues - in my life.

Learning to see it is the first step to getting past it and learning to not try to keep working things our when things can't be worked out.

Good share! Thank you!

Interruption said...

This is the Creator/God (my beliefs) speaking to me today. This could be my story. I was with a therapist for twenty years and could not leave eventhough it was more painful and damaging to keep going. Then I was blessed with a new teacherand inless than two years,I have grown in leaps and bounds. I have left an abusive husband of 33 years, buying a condo, taking yoga,volunterringfor CASA,went to a Gala by my has been a wonderful albeit scary ride, but i am feeling better snd stronger every day. DO NOT STAY STUCK IN A THERAPUTIC RELATIONSHIP WHERE YOU ARE NOT MOVING FORWARD...IT IS A SIGN TO FINDANOTHER ONE. SORRY ABOUT ALL THE TYPOS...DONT HAVE TIME RIGHT NOW TO TURN LAPTOP ON.....LOL PEACE

Unknown said...

Interruption....that is great news to hear that you are finding your power and your freedom. And - I'm sorry you were stuck in an unhelpful therapy relationship for so many years. The bright side for me was when I was able to look back on that experience as a lesson to "see" the unhelpful dynamics so I didn't repeat it again.

Congratulations on finding your "best life" and thank you for sharing the journey!

Susan Pease Banitt, LCSW said...

Susan, I'm so glad you addressed this topic. I am a therapist (retiring soon) who has often seen people with less than stellar experiences with therapists in the past. I would add, find a therapist who believes you and in you, who laughs and is knowledgeable in trauma and especially dissociation. Please check out my blog on healing from trauma at - in it you will find many helps towards healing! Blessings, Sue PB

Unknown said...

Hi Susan and welcome to A Journey!

Its great to hear from someone like yourself on these issues and thank you for sharing your ideas! Yes! The ability to laugh is huge as is the idea of "do they believe me?". Too often - the doubt and denial can be subtly perpetrated by the helpers who have learned to judge vs listen.

Great stuff and thanks for sharing your link!

Gianna said...

this is an important topic! and you bring up some very good things to think about when finding and evaluating a therapy relationship...

Mike! I read "Against Therapy" many years ago's a wonderful book! I was in therapy at the time with a not so wonderful therapist.

What I've learned from therapy was in spite of the, it did teach me many great things, but not in the way it's supposed this point I can find humor in that.

Unknown said...

Hi Gianna...yes....I think there are many who can see in hindsight that the lessons we learned in therapy was in spite of it. I'm really sorry you had this experience and glad we can have this conversation. It always helps to know we weren't alone in this kind of experience I believe.

Be well and great to see you!


Anonymous said...

Sorry i have not commented till now, i have been reading your blog for a whilst now though. It has turn into part of my morning routine.

Anonymous said...

Your blog has turn out to be component of my everyday routine, i am thrilled when i discover a new post of yours on my rss reader, just thought i would let you know. thanks

Unknown said...

Good to hear! Thank you!

Unknown said...

Thank you for letting me know! Glad to see you here!

Anonymous said...

I had a therapist like what you described in the first one. Most of them fit her. I am with one who does say if I need to talk to call, but she never tells me to call her in crisis she just says if you need to talk about something with the trauma and it is not on the day leave a message then we can discuss it in therapy and we have to do phone therapy due to my surgery. It is kind a cool she is helping me even though I am not able to pay all the time. She is investing her time into seeing my traumatic times get healed more so I won't feel so stressed by it. I hope that my PTSD eases as the year goes by so I feel better sometime soon. It has been a long time since I really smiled and when I did it was because I am helping myself as best as I can. Trauma is not set in stone as to healing processes so I take it one step at a time.

Unknown said...

birdie - good to hear you feel you are getting what you need :)