I don’t have time to comment on this and the next time I see it I may just be too tired to deal with the advice of people I’ve been seeing for all these years who could give less than a f^ck about me (and I them.) I’ve got Basal Cell Carcinoma so says my GD and I know that smacks of hypocrisy but I always found biology to be an easier science to deal with. So unless you want to come over and look at my cancerous ear cartilage, get off my back.
I’m going to therapy. Why is it taking me so long to feel better?
Ideally, when you started therapy you developed a set of treatment goals with your therapist. You want to have a road map for reducing symptoms and developing coping skills, one that establishes short-term expectations and long-term plans for well-being. Treatment goals must be framed around the urgency of your needs and grounded in a realistic time frame.
Therapy typically moves through a hierarchy of intervention. Critical symptoms such as thoughts of self-harm, hopelessness and despair will be of immediate concern. Physical stability (eating and sleeping well, for example) and social support from others would also be priorities.
From there, you would move on to learning tools to apply to each of your depressive symptoms, such as restructuring negative thinking styles to positive ones, identifying triggers that weaken your resolve, and learning how to self-monitor your mood states.
Generally speaking, I expect people I work with to feel significant crisis relief within the first few sessions. As the work gets more involved, it can sometimes feel like not much is happening because the leaps and bounds made in the early part of treatment take on a slower rhythm. You’re redesigning how you deal with yourself and your world. Like learning a new language, this requires both patience and persistence.
It takes time to get each new skill-set down pat. The techniques may feel awkward or clumsy because you are replacing long-established habits. The thing to remember is that with each effort, you refine your approach. One step forward, two steps back, six steps forward—it’s a stop and start, lurch and leap process.
Another thing to consider is whether you’re being open and honest with your therapist. Are you bringing everything into your sessions that needs discussion? The more candid you can be, the better your treatment will go.
If you’re feeling frustrated by lack of progress, make sure to discuss your concerns with your therapist. Your feelings of dissatisfaction can help determine if therapy needs to be modified, if it truly isn’t helping at all, or if the slowness is part of the expected path of change for you.
My therapist used the phrase “resistance” in our session. What is this?
Though the term “resistance” has a negative sound, the behavior it describes can actually be a good thing!
Your therapist may have noticed that you refuse to discuss or try to avoid certain subjects. Such avoidance is inevitable in talk therapy, and might be seen as an obstacle to treatment. In some psychotherapy techniques, though, it’s a kind of Holy Grail. Resistance shows where your deepest conflicts exist, which means it also signals where a profound breakthrough might occur.
Several studies show that when you and your therapist tackle difficult topics, feelings or thoughts, therapy progresses to the next curative level. Some of the greatest moments in my own talk therapy occurred when I looked at what I was afraid of, what I was avoiding, what I chose to ignore or passively forgot. I recall being frightened to bring up a recurring dream, only to learn it held so many answers to questions that haunted me in my life.
So if your therapist comments on your resistance, don’t see it as a thorn in your side, but rather a rose that requires tender gardening to bloom. Try to be open if your therapist says something like, “I notice every time I mention your work, you change the subject. Let’s look at why this keeps happening.”
When resistance is brought to your notice, you can ask yourself, “What is making me avoid this topic?” “Am I feeling ashamed or afraid?” “What will I lose if I bring this subject up in therapy?”
Making progress in therapy takes courage and endurance as well as passion and practice. But with every painful step comes new insight, leading to the creation of a new you.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Deborah Serani, PsyD, is a licensed psychologist who specializes in treating depression and trauma. She also manages her own depression, which was diagnosed in 1980. Her new book is titled Living with Depression: Why Biology and Biography Matter Along the Path to Hope and Healing.