Once in a while someone I am seeing makes the comment in jest, “I must be crazy, I’m seeing a therapist.”
Of course the humor covers an anxiety that there might be some truth to the assessment of being crazy. But, let’s take a look at that. There is a long time stigma about going to see a therapist, but isn’t it a good deal more crazy to stay away from therapy if there is something wrong that could be corrected.
I have heard a number of times “if I am trying to save my marriage, won’t individual psychotherapy make it more likely I will get divorced?”, or some variation of this idea.
The idea is that if a person is trying to save a marriage, they should be seen in couples therapy.
First, no therapist can ‘save a marriage’, that must be done by the two individuals in the marriage. In my experience people have ended marriages for all sorts of reasons, some very sensible ones and some seemingly trivial.
More than ever in mental health and in my experience as a psychotherapist medication alone is offered to treat psychological issues.
Many people receive medication as a first treatment for a psychological complaint and only later on pursue psychotherapy. Many people are not even offered the possibility of psychotherapy as if medication alone will solve the problem. This approach ignores the research that demonstrates that the best outcomes occur when psychotherapy and medication are used in conjunction rather than medication alone.
The earliest psychoanalytic therapy was dubbed the talking cure, but it was anything but just talk.
Breuer, a colleague of Freud, treated a young woman who suffered debilitating spells. He did it by listening to her talk about all that she was thinking and feeling. She called his treatment the ‘talking cure’. She also called it ‘chimney sweeping’ describing how talking seemed to clear out her troubling emotions. This is the earliest example in the history of psychoanalysis of encouraging talking about one’s thoughts and feelings; it is the foundation of psychotherapy today.
When choosing a psychotherapist the quality of the relationship you may have with that professional is more critical than in all other aspects of your health care and well being.