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Getting the most out of therapy

Old 12-08-2010, 06:32 PM
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Getting the most out of therapy

Just went to my first individual counseling session. Felt kind of lost as I randomly blurted out various things about my life with no direction. It was pretty much no dialog, just me airing all the dirty laundry I could come up with. The counselor is very new and doing clinical work...she was provided by the state because I am very low income. I am not sure if it is just her or if it is me, but when she asked me about goals for counseling I drew a blank. I want to give this thing another shot and if it doesn't work maybe try another counselor, but now I am questioning what I am really going to get out of it. I was just sitting there feeling like why am I here. I feel depressed, I feel lost, but what I want...why is that such a difficult question. I don't really know what I want to get out of it I guess. I just feel lost in my life. I am separated from my AH and having a hard time dealing with that and sorting out what to do now that he is attempting recovery for the first time. I grew up with a drug addict for a father and I know that has an affect on my approach to my AH. Many of my friends are/were involved with drinking and drugs and I guess I want out of the lifestyle. I feel like I am doing pretty good on my own and that maybe Al-anon could be enough without the counseling too, but I thought the support of a counselor might also be helpful. Now I am wondering if counseling is really right for me and if it is how do I define goals for myself.
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Old 12-08-2010, 06:36 PM
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Give it another try..maybe think between now and then of a couple of short term goals..therapy is hard and you only get out what you put in..keep trying for a little while
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Old 12-08-2010, 07:05 PM
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Yeah, most therapists will ask for a 'commitment' of at least 6-8 visits before giving up because it just takes that long to develop a rapport and for you to get your story out.

Just from what you've posted I've seen two possible goals:
1) You want to work through your feelings about your AH's addiction/recovery issues and explore how your relationship with your father may be affecting your perspective (?)
2) You want a new direction in your life that may mean letting go of important relationships (?)

That might be a good starting place for you!
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Old 12-08-2010, 07:13 PM
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Crystal,

I sure understand what you are saying. When my counselor asked me for goals, I was astounded. What do you mean goals? He said what do you expect out of therapy?
Well, i dont know. then he said, well next week come in with a few ideas, it is fine that you dont know, most people dont know what they want at first.
so, i went home and came up with a few things i needed help and validation for.
you dont trust drug addicts, which was one of my problems too. my ex and my father were both alcoholics.
maybe ask why and how you can live a different way, look within for validation and not try to get it from someone who is incapable of doing it.

just some ideas of mine.
maybe i need some counseling too.


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Old 12-08-2010, 08:17 PM
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I might suggest that you think about the reason you sought therapy. Why did you go? What are looking for? If depressed - maybe talking about ways to alleviate it. If lonely - thinking up things to do that leave you feeling less lonely. If you feel lost - finding direction and a path for your life right now.

It doesn't have to be complicated - it can be simple and I think everyone goes for some reason and then thinks it has to be more than that as though rationalizing the need.

I think the point of the question is related to the idea that if you don't know where you want to go, how can you access directions and know if you get to your destination. There are many forks in the road and you can always take a uturn.
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Old 12-08-2010, 10:35 PM
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Thanks. A lot more to think about. Why did I seek therapy? Good question with many answers. I guess for one I need a direction at least in my relationship...sounds like a start. Beyond that I guess I will have to think about it. Still not sure the more I think about it that this lady will be ideal for my situation (as she is so new at this), but I suppose giving her another shot or two would be good since comfort takes time.
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Old 12-09-2010, 01:52 AM
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i remember my first two or three sessions, all i did was talk. she didn't really say much.

but i felt better just verbalizing it.

did you not experience any relief in just talking?
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Old 12-09-2010, 02:45 AM
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Maybe it would help you to think of yourself in--I don't know--a year, or two years or something. What do you want your life to look like then, as opposed to now? Be specific: e.g., "I want a nice group of (non-drama) friends, I want to feel happy when I go to work, I want to sleep better, I want to have more energy, I want to look forward to things, I don't want to feel so angry all the time."

Then you could enlist your therapist's aid in moving from point A to point B.
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Old 12-09-2010, 07:29 AM
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sounds all pretty much like my experience. I was so depressed and hurt and anxious and confused that when I first went to therapy I couldn't have stated any goals, what did I want? who knows? I wasn't in touch with my wants, I was competely unaware of them.

I wanted to feel better. or to stop feeling the way I was. That is about as far as it went.

I focussed on a particular goal; to manage my anxiety, blurted lots of stuff out, mentioned a bit about living with an extreme chaotic drama, in fits and starts. ANyway, soon it began to take shape, get more direction, most times I had no idea walking in what I would talk about. I never ever ran out of stuff when in there though. Sometimes I couldn't talk about it, because it was too painful, but there was never nothing.

My initial goals were not what we worked on mostly, they are not set in stone. She was an excellent counsellor, and I got an enormous amount out of it.
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Old 12-09-2010, 09:23 AM
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Originally Posted by naive View Post
i remember my first two or three sessions, all i did was talk. she didn't really say much.

but i felt better just verbalizing it.

did you not experience any relief in just talking?
I remember going to a very nice "motherly" woman back when I was in the "thick" of it with my axw. Man I didn't know which end was up I was so stuck and confused.

I'd picked her mainly because she was on my insurance plan, and she was close to my office. I had to go during work, on the down low, from my then aw.

I don't believe she was particularly experienced with alcoholism, because when I would relate the latest weeks "side show" to her, she used to just look at me like I had two heads. I remember at the end of our sessions, she would just pat me on the shoulder and shake her head and say, "Hang in there". Ha.

Funny, I felt kind of sorry for her, because she was so far out of her league with all the drama/chaos that was my life. I told her at the end of one of our sessions, "Don't worry, just having a place to spill my guts for an hour every week is pretty helpful to me."

After the wheels fell completely off and we were in the CPS system and I'd been "sentenced" to Alanon by a judge, I quit going to her because things began to change, and I wasn't so "paralyzed" any more.

But I was grateful for all the hours she just listened quietly. A year or so later, after I was out and had custody of my little girl, I called her to let her know we'd made it safely to the other side. She sounded grateful for the update.

Thanks and God bless us all,
Coyote
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Old 12-09-2010, 09:51 AM
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Originally Posted by naive View Post
i remember my first two or three sessions, all i did was talk. she didn't really say much.

but i felt better just verbalizing it.

did you not experience any relief in just talking?

Yes, I did feel some relief in talking and that is really what I went to do. I just felt thrown off and unprepared to set any goals... I am inexperience with counseling so I don't really know what to expect. Maybe just someone to talk to could be an initial goal now that I think of that. I guess like coyote too I also felt like I was out of this ladies league and she seemed nervous to me. I felt like I was just talking chaoticly and not getting any feed back, but maybe that could be good to. I guess a little more time will tell.
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Old 12-09-2010, 11:39 AM
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Crystal,

I think it's a very strange situation we put ourselves into when we go to counseling. Two of my kids have commented on it this way: "So -- we're supposed to talk about the things that are so personal we can't talk to anyone about it... with a stranger who gets paid to listen????"

And that's how I've felt in counseling too in the beginning. (I tell my kids that we pay professionals to do stuff for us all the time without being suspicious that they're "only doing it for the money" -- from fixing our cars to fixing our teeth, so why not our emotions/behaviors?)

For me, it's not a "OMG, I clicked with this person IMMEDIATELY!" kind of situation. I need to "warm up" to a counselor, just as with other people I meet. I can go into a doctor's office and talk about the most embarrassing intimate physical problems, but with a counselor, it takes time. It's like getting to know someone a bit, feel comfortable. And I, like you, spent probably the first 3 visits just VENTING because there was so much that needed to come out.

I also think, from the counselor's point of view, that before s/he can start giving you tools or helping you structure (or restructure) how you think about things, s/he needs to know you better. And listening to you vent is probably a great way to do that.

So don't give up yet, would be my advice. Give it time.
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