My Therapist

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But what if it had been something of a more seismic nature? What if the searing private grief of a therapist stops them doing the right thing in the interest of their client? This is what happened to Ruth Hartland, a trauma psychotherapist who is the protagonist in my debut novel. The book not only opens the door into the secret world of the therapist and client, but also explores the all-consuming nature of maternal grief.

Ruth is bereft. She is looking for her missing son, and as it turns out, her new client Dan, is looking for a mother. Ruth knows she should refer Dan to someone else, that she is unable to offer containment or objectivity. The first mistake she makes is not referring him to a colleague straight away. The second is offering him more than the standard number of sessions. And so it goes on… Each time she crosses one of these invisible lines, it raises the stakes and becomes harder to pull back.

These small transgressions have a domino effect, until she loses all professional focus, setting in motion a tragic chain of events as her feelings about her son and her patient become fatally muddled. This is the world of fiction and in my experience, transgressions like this are very rare. But therapists are human beings. They have lives outside the therapy room. They have to manage sickness, bereavement, separation and the ill health of loved ones. Sometimes their lives can be as crumbling and as fragmented as those of their clients. Sometimes these stresses make it hard to help others.

Also, most experienced therapists have been through their own rigorous therapy and so have a greater level of self-awareness for situations that might render them vulnerable. I was lucky enough to have a supportive supervisor and team, and also had insight into my personal situation. Ruth, my character, does, too, but on account of her longing for her son, she chooses to ignore it.

I have often thought back to that session with Annie in the early days of my career. It showed me how identification with a client could very quickly take the work off course. It was a valuable experience and one that taught me more about the importance of therapeutic boundaries than I could have ever hoped to learn from a text book. Bev Thomas now works as an organisational consultant in mental health and other services. Topics Life and style Self and wellbeing. Reuse this content. People experience life through their senses. Our individual sensory experiences—while rooted in the common soil of our evolutionary heritage—are shaped by our genetic makeup and life experiences, both of which are unique.

Thus, while on some level we are all in this together, on another, to paraphrase Lilly Tomlin, we are all in this alone. Which is to say, how you represent and process the phenomena of the world may be quite different from how I do so. Good therapists know that to understand the client, they must understand her subjective experience.

Not just her circumstances, but what the circumstances mean to her.

List: Things I Wish My Therapist Would Say to Me But She Never Does - McSweeney’s Internet Tendency

In other words, good therapy accepts that while, for example, your mother is in all likelihood an average person by objective measurements, she is special to you, because of how she is represented in your subjective world. In fact, both parents and therapists are less powerful than they and the world believe they are. All therapy, in a fundamental sense, is self-therapy.

If therapy is to work for the client, the client has to work for the therapy.

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As the old joke goes: How many therapists does it take to change a light bulb? Answer: Two or three, but the light bulb has to want to change. And yes, humor belongs in good therapy. Good therapy engages clients on multiple levels. Then, good therapy will also facilitate learning—new insights, new ways of thinking, of communicating with others, and managing emotion.

Developing feelings for your therapist is actually pretty common

Check Psychology Today's directory of therapists for a professional near you. I completely disagree with the idea of that therapist take too much responsibility for the failure of therapy. In my experience therapist are all too happy to blame clients for all failure. If the therapist has no responsibility whatsoever then what the hell are they getting paid for? Therapists fail clients all the time and if a therapist feels bad about that I say good. You need to ask the therapist questions about how they work, what their training and experience has been.

The first session should be a working session-not just history taking- the good therapist asks questions or reframes things for you to think about-and don't be afraid to tell them they're wrong. You should feel that they are focusing and listening to you-intently-no BS "advice"-not therapists job-nor empty phrases of reassurance. The therapist is your guide to your own mental terrain, so they have to get to know it. There are many badly trained and inexperienced therapists out there-trust your gut instincts-not the academic background- you are not making friends- you want to know if this person can expand your feeling and thinking and the barriers that keep you locked into patterns.

It does not belong in mine. I do not see a therapist to entertain them or play with them - that I do with my friends and people I know and like. The therapist falls into neither of those categories for me. It ain't show biz. My partner and I are in "emotionally focused therapy," which focuses on attachment theory. I actually feel good after leaving therapy. It's hard work emotionally, but it's definitely worth it. The relationship is the 'patient', and aligning oneself on one side doesn't do the relationship any favors.

One person can be right some of the time, but not all the time. Both members of the couple should feel they are heard and that their opinion matters, no matter how disagreeable it is to the other partner. For me, the criterion is quite simply whether the condition is improved by the therapy to a worthwhile degree. If not, the "therapy" isn't therapeutic - it is a waste of time, money, effort and the usually unavoidable nervous stress.

If I Tell My Psychologist About a Crime I Committed, Can I Get in Trouble?

A good therapist also registers and considers the client's temperament. Especially if they are HSPs. In addition to point 5 , good therapy requires a loving relationship defying the boundaries between therapist and patient. Yes, a professional relationship needs to be maintained and the highest form of integrity should be expected. However, without a loving relationship between therapist and patient, we cannot get into the deepest core of the patient's soul. A good therapist understands that there is a limit to where Psychology can bring us.


In order to truly get to the depths of our soul, the next step after Psychology is Spirituality. By no means do I imply religion when I am talking about Spirituality. A deep, spiritual relationship transcending Psychological barriers will heal the deepest parts of our shadow. This is me speaking, not only as a graduated Psychologist, but also as a 'patient' myself, still in the process of doing extensive therapy. In fact, I do not believe one can ever stop doing therapy, not until we die. There is always more to learn about ourselves, always Please find a good therapist.

Your post is downright scary if you are, in fact, a therapist yourself. I hope you do not overly encourage your own patients to take a shortcut to "perfection" via suicide. Too bad Flips comment is the common answer when spirituality is mentioned in context of an evidence-based science..

I think you'd be the right kind of psychologist for me! Should therapy absolve one of life responsibilities at the expense of family, especially children, in the guise of giving permission to be happy because the client "deserves" happiness? Sounds like your wife wants to leave you and you are trying to force her to stay, and find someone to blame for it.

The truth is that she has a perfect right to leave you and the only person any adult owes anything to is their child.

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But when those children come with an ex partner who won't stop trying to control someone and trying to force them to stay somewhere they are utterly miserable, sometimes the children suffer. Let her go, move on, build an amicable parenting partnership with her.

Get yourself some therapy to understand that people are allowed to be happy and being happy sometimes means not being with a partner they don't want to be around. That's just life. It's great to see so many people with a chip on their shoulder and zero education on the subject feeling free to keep commenting anyway. Cue screams of outrage and shrieking, hysterical attacks.

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  • No, not all opinions are created equal. You're allowed to have an opinion, others are allowed to tell you that you are completely wrong. I had no chip on my little shoulders before bad therapy, I sure as hell do now. I am ok now, but the first 6 months after, I felt pretty crumby, to use an old slang term. I did attempt therapy again and found myself far less trusting and still wanting to give my money to someone who cares, not an educated loser. Good therapy can be found, but the time and money spent looking for it is not great.

    There are ways to help yourself. I found spirituality too late, but better late than never. I only went back to make my wife happy. I was done with therapy. I say to each is own, but great therapy is worth looking for. I only had to say it didn't work well and I could weed out those who are better from those who would not be better for me. Good therapy is positive most of the time. Some need more positivity than others but therapy that is only negative prob will not being a lot of results. I think this started good but the author made things simple and really left out depth. From the time I was 18 years old to the time I was 39, I thought therapy is important and helpful.

    After dealing with no less than 5 therapists who were not right..

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    I can tell you the respect is gone. If you cannot say you are sorry, if you must almost always be right, if you talk about your children's sex life, if you flat out lie, if you are unprofessional, and the list goes on, you will not have my respect. We know longer pretend. I paid for help, was ready for it, and didn't get it. I showed up on time or early with an open mind, rarely cancelled, tried and succeeded at being pleasant and got very little in return.

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    • Some could say I was a victim, well I am no longer a victim. Let them who have lost their shit, first do their own thing! If we don't, let things slide, we won't have our shit together! I have no need to do a therapist any favors. I pay the therapist. I assume they can take care of themselves.

      Therapists are masters at blaming the client. We can learn a lot from reading here. Therapy is very different from one therapist to another if you know how to find good therapy. Good Luck with it. My former plan had so many generalists that finding a specialist was beyond challenging. Professional counseling by licensed therapists Schedule a time to talk with a therapist by phone, video, or online messaging.

      Get Started. Let us do the hard work for you. Get matched to a directory of professional, licensed therapists. Choose who is best for YOU, not best for your commute. More convenient than traditional therapy. Phone, video, and chat sessions Message your therapist between sessions Write out your experiences as they're happening Have sessions from the comfort of your own home.