Friday, September 25, 2009

Therapy Forever

Is it wrong? I have pondered this question recently. I have done a lot of reading on the whole therapy thing in the past year and from therapist to therapist you get different opinions. There are those that take the approach that certain problems ‘should’ only take two (or one or five, etc.) years to resolve and if the problem isn’t resolved in that time well then something is wrong. I read a book recently where the author had endured years of sexual abuse at the hands of her mother’s boyfriends and her therapist indicated to her that it should only take two years to resolve (or whatever word is appropriate here). Two years of therapy for ten years of sexual abuse that resulted in (among other things) dissociative identity disorder? Damn, that’s some good therapy. What if she wanted to get into other things also? What is this, we’re here to fix the DID and move on? Here’s your new toothbrush and dental floss kit, out you go now dearie.

I have to say – if I had walked into my therapist’s office, related what I thought to be my reasons for being there and she told me that it should all be resolved in two years (or one or five, etc.) then I’d feel a hell of a lot of pressure to make sure that my ‘issues’ were ‘resolved’ to somebody’s satisfaction in those two years and if they weren’t well them somebody must surely be a complete failure. I wonder who that somebody might be.

In addition none of this takes into account how open the client is willing to be among other things. Being one of those clients that is disinclined to blurt it all out in a hail of gunfire I simply don’t get this idea of time limits.
Now let me just state that I understand that there very well might be appropriate endings, time to move on, with or without a therapist but I have to say these time limits really make me uncomfortable.

I am not in love with my therapist although I am certainly quite fond of her. I don’t feel any kind of excessive dependency on her, in fact I try like hell not to be dependent on her at all which may be some therapists idea of a problem but I’m good with what we’re doing. And who knows, maybe that will change someday but right now I think she’s a good fit for me and I kind of like what we’re building here. I suspect she finds me a bit of a challenge - I cannot help that but she places absolutely no pressure on me whatsoever and it simply has to be that way for me. And it’s going to take as long as it takes and I’m ok with that. And she is too.
Given the confrontational, oftentimes harsh family environment I come from - if you had a problem boy you'd better say in fifty words or less and you'd better get over it in twenty-four hours or less because didn't nobody have time for your problems - I really like having a place to go where I can get rational, thoughtful, patient, kind and accepting responses to the things I want to discuss. And I get to be confident that I will be challenged in her gentle way when the need arises and how often do we get this in life? Rational, thoughtful, patient, kind, accepting confrontation. And no time limits! I never knew it could be this way.

And if I want it to be this way for a good, long time is there something wrong with that?


  1. I think that putting time limits on therapy is ridiculous. We all heal at different rates. However, I do think that some people stay in therapy way too long while avoiding the real issues. The therapist should be skilled enough to see that this is happening and make appropriate recommendations.

  2. If you're avoiding real issues then sure maybe its time to move on or move out but I simply cannot see what's wrong with keeping a therapist for as long as you want. You simply do not get in real life what you get from a good therapist. Unless of course you happen to be surrounded by friends who are good therapists... or all of your friends and family go to therapy also and everybody learns what you learn and everyone magically becomes hopelessly and eternally functional and loving and caring and concerned only for you and you return in kind. Actually that sounds a little boring.

  3. jss,

    I can't tell you how much I agree with, and identify with your ideas and feelings in this post.

    The idea of putting time limits on it is absurd... Therapy is like a walk that can change direction at any point. The destination can't be known until you have got there.

    That's how it seems to me, although I am struggling with the idea of endings and when enough is enough at the moment.

  4. I sense you are contemplating a premature ending. Perhaps a short break, two, three weeks or so might be a consideration. I have found that in those times when the therapy anxiety levels start rising that the opportunity to walk away and not have to think about it for a couple of weeks lets me relax a bit and allows a feeling of readiness to move back into it. Just a suggestion.

  5. Thank you for your wisdom.

    I'm not sure of anything at the moment... And I don't know whether an ending would be 'premature' or not...

    I'm thinking about the suggestion.

    Thanks jss