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How Effective is Therapy? E.g. Parent Relationships, Insomnia

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John inspired me to write this post.
Whether therapy is effective in working through personal issues like parent relationships.
Many people find writing about therapy to be a taboo topic.

Quote from John Freeman on February 6, 2021, 6:48 am from the thread Strategies for Getting Through Bad Days

Have you already done or considered therapy?

For most of us the biggest source of pain is the unconscious emotional baggage from our childhood and teenage years.

Then it manifests as shame, guilt, sadness, anger, fear, among other things.

I think your strategy is smart. However, as you might know I prefer to tackle the root cause of the problem to get rid of it. That’s what I do for myself and recommend to others.

Facing our fears and killing the dragon.

In the other thread that John talks about therapy for working through relationship issues with parents.

Quote from John Freeman on February 10, 2021, 9:24 pm from Lucio's Journal

PARENTS & US: IT'S A MIX

I personally think that my avoidant attachment style is because of my mom, more than my dad, and because of me.

That second part one should always remember: I am close to Albert Ellis in believing that the past and the parents have been long overblown by psychoanalysis.

That's a deep topic that deserve a beer (or a few) in a pub.

Ellis for example asked a lot of his patients who were blaming their parents for some specific issues of theirs how their brother and sister turned out. A good chunk of the time, their kins either had different issues, or no issues.

That rang a big bell for me because it was the exact same for me: my brother is so different, and certainly not an avoidant, and he probably had a worse mother than I did (younger and less experienced), and a worse father (younger and sometimes away from home).

Yes, but that is the point of systemic therapy. It's about the role you play in the family. It's a complex topic. However, it can still be explained by the family dynamics (siblings play a role too). Indeed, there are many variables at play.

THERAPY

I did consider therapy, and even signed up to "Better Help" once, but didn't go through it.
For a period, I even contemplated whether I should have addressed my mother about what I thought were her mistakes (what do you think about that, by the way?).

I think that just as above it depends on the emotional and psychological maturity of the person. Just like you did with your father if it's important to you to express it, then go for it. However, it's impossible to expect the person to understand, acknowledge, apologize or regret. And sometimes that's what we expect when we enter in communication: to feel hear and understood. And if the person in front of us is not able to do so then the wound stays open. That's why I think it's up to us to close it. Some people never get to talk to their parents again because they died. But they still have to heal anyway.

But even that, never done it.

I guess it's also a matter of "how much does it bother you".

Yes it is.

And since it was more of a nagging thing, rather than an open wound, I never went through.

Still didn't completely abandon the idea though.

Here are my thoughts, so you can see where I stand:

  1. I think most people would benefit from going to therapy (back to your silent majority concept), like 90% of people. It's like learning social skills or power dynamics: you cannot know the benefit if you don't go through it. People can explain to you the benefits they had, the theory, etc. but it's not the same to do it. Also, I think that the limitation of us as human beings as of now is not the technology, it's all the aspects of knowing ourselves: psychology, emotions, self-control. So this is where the growing lies.
  2. It's true: we will do it only when there is no other choice. That was my case: the pain was too big for too long. That's also a common issue in self-development: we don't address the things that we can bear. However, as you noted with the micro-aggressions, the death of a thousand cut is a reality.

So it's your choice. I can only share my experience with you. Despite your statement about overblowing the influence of our parents, which I think is a great topic of conversation, I'm a pragmatic, like you. I'm all about "what works" and reality-based thinking. So the rationale is that in our subconscious there are wounds that were created through the relationship with our parents (one of them often more than the other). These wounds are not accessible to the conscious mind. So, we carry them and they become part of us and influence our thoughts and actions (in a negative way). So, to be able to heal these wounds, I think therapy (also, meditation and psychedelics) are the best tools. Because they are the tools that help us go deep in the mind to heal it.

That is my thinking about it. I think in the future it will be commonplace: to have a therapist will be like having a hairdresser.

Now, the delicate point is to choose the therapist, that's another topic. The keyword is trust. I would also rather go for face-to-face.

I personally have gone for therapy but did not manage to find a good therapist.
So I stopped.
I actually went for insomnia because I thought it was due to stress.
It ended up probably due to lifestyle issues like irregular sleep, lack of exercise, nutrition in addition to stress.

For working through personal issues, I have found meditation, journaling, reflection, introspection to be very helpful.
Meditation especially.

On my parents, I don't think that my relationship with my parents is too bad.
And also they are not the centrepiece of my life anymore and are no longer the primary source of influence.

Therapy is effective as shown by science and modern imaging (fMRI), that is why two whole fields are dedicated to it (psychiatry and clinical psychology). As I said before:  I recommend it and it's your choice.

Quote from Matthew Whitewood on February 14, 2021, 3:17 pm

I personally have gone for therapy but did not manage to find a good therapist.

As I said that is the most difficult part. Ask people you trust or a doctor you trust to recommend you one. Start from there.

For working through personal issues, I have found meditation, journaling, reflection, introspection to be very helpful.
Meditation especially.

These are all helpful tools but they do not replace therapy. Just like masturbation does not replace sex. Or football is not hockey.

On my parents, I don't think that my relationship with my parents is too bad.
And also they are not the centrepiece of my life anymore and are no longer the primary source of influence.

It's not only about your current or past relationship with them. It's about how early childhood experience (and other moments) influenced your brain, your view of yourself and the World. It's mostly about your mental health. Feeling good about oneself is invaluable. That is the main reward of therapy. It helps a lot with feeling good about yourself. From there, life is much easier.

Thanks for the perspectives.

Therapy is effective as shown by science and modern imaging (fMRI), that is why two whole fields are dedicated to it (psychiatry and clinical psychology).

I went to a psychiatrist before when I was a child.
All he wanted to do was prescribe medication.
Little discussion was made.
Probably, as you said, it is challenging to find one, especially when we were a child.

Quote from Matthew Whitewood on February 14, 2021, 3:17 pm

I personally have gone for therapy but did not manage to find a good therapist.

As I said that is the most difficult part. Ask people you trust or a doctor you trust to recommend you one. Start from there.

Thanks for the advice on how to find a good therapist.

For working through personal issues, I have found meditation, journaling, reflection, introspection to be very helpful.
Meditation especially.

These are all helpful tools but they do not replace therapy. Just like masturbation does not replace sex. Or football is not hockey.

I am thinking about this.
I could go for therapy and see how helpful it compares to meditation and other personal reflection methods.
Someone trained specially in psychiatry or clinical psychology would understand from a third-person perspective on how to work through personal issues.

It's not only about your current or past relationship with them. It's about how early childhood experience (and other moments) influenced your brain, your view of yourself and the World. It's mostly about your mental health. Feeling good about oneself is invaluable. That is the main reward of therapy. It helps a lot with feeling good about yourself. From there, life is much easier.

I agree that this is a good topic over a beer.
From the thread that you discussed with Lucio in his journal writings.
Thanks for advising on the positive benefits of therapy.
I appreciate this a lot since you are a trained medical professional and you are sharing your expertise with me on this forum.

One thing I wanted to add here:

POWER DYNAMICS OF THERAPY

Many people find writing about therapy to be a taboo topic.

It's not just that it's taboo, it's also that it can outright emotionally challenging, even scary, to sit there.

First of all, you need to admit a lack or an issue, while most people are trying to deny that issue to others and to themselves.

Plus, you are giving a lot of power to someone else to judge you, to analyze you, to "fix" you.

A therapist, especially if it's bad one, may put a (negative) label on you -you have this, that issue-.

And how are you going to challenge that?

He's the authority, the "expert".... And you're the one who went there with the issue.

It can take some courage to take that first step.

Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?
Quote from Lucio Buffalmano on February 14, 2021, 3:54 pm

One thing I wanted to add here:

POWER DYNAMICS OF THERAPY

Many people find writing about therapy to be a taboo topic.

It's not just that it's taboo, it's also that it can outright emotionally challenging, even scary, to sit there.

First of all, you need to admit a lack or an issue, while most people are trying to deny that issue to others and to themselves.

True. To both: mental health is taboo (what does it say to you about this topic? Sex? Death? Yes, problem of maturity). To undergo therapy, you have to be at the point you don't care what "Society" thinks and just want to have a better life.

Plus, you are giving a lot of power to someone else to judge you, to analyze you, to "fix" you.

That is not at all my experience. That might be your fear. But that is not what therapy is. Yes you give power to the other person. But you give them power to mirror you. Also you give them power to be a father/mother figure so you can fix your relationship to your inner parents. That's what matters the most to heal what is inside you.

I would say that I'm not sure I trusted someone more in my life than my therapist. And it was well-placed trust. Since I never encountered such respect, I was blown away. I still am. This person was a treasure for me and I'll always be grateful for his help. But I don't see it as "he fixed me". He helped me fixed myself. Therapy is empowering. It's not like someone is going with a hammer and a wrench in your brain. It's more like it allows for a safe space to look at your inner wounds and have the opportunity to heal them. And you can stop anytime. Nobody forced me to go there. I was eager to go there because each time I went, I came back lighter and happier. Also angry at all the emotional abuse and neglect that I took unknowingly, being a child. But you cannot be aware of this until you do it. If you have emotional challenges as an adult, then I would say that there is a 99% chance that your emotional needs were not well taken care as a child (by your parents). The good news is you can heal. 

Also, I don't know how many times I heard: "my parents were not that bad". Well, that is part of the defense mechanisms. That is why I never challenge this assumption, usually. But since we're on such a forum, here is what I think: I don't believe it 1 second. I think people that say that are exactly the people who are unaware of the hurt they have inside. But the human mind is well designed: you can go your whole life without knowing. But your capacity for happiness will never be as high as it could. That being said, I never said that your parents (of you both) were monsters or whatever. Actually, it's not even about them. It's about you. The question you have to ask yourself is: based on what John said, do I think I could benefit from therapy? (from a good therapist of course).

It's a choice you have to make for yourself.

It can take some courage to take that first step.

That is why I am very proud to have taken it. It took me a lot of courage to sit there and admit my shortcomings. But that is the gift I had chosen to give to myself. I have only one life. It's not my fault I had such parents. Why should I suffer for the rest of my life because of them? That was the motivation to do that. To give myself happiness. I chose happiness and peace of mind.

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Lucio Buffalmano

When I was young, my wallet felt the pain as well in addition to the fear.
I went ahead but was unlucky to meet a bad therapist.
Or it could be my fault for not doing sufficient due diligence beforehand.

Now that I am more financially stable, I should give myself more gifts.
Therapy could be certainly one of them.

John, I thank you for sharing your personal experience and medical perspective on therapy.
It is valuable, and I appreciate this.

I would say that I'm not sure I trusted someone more in my life than my therapist. And it was well-placed trust.

This is interesting that you can trust a therapist more than a close friend.
That's what I heard from other people's stories as well.
I think that it's the professional approach and no-strings-attached nature.
They are trained to be objective, detached and guide you through your personal issues.

based on what John said, do I think I could benefit from therapy? (from a good therapist of course).

The answer is yes for me.
I think that it can benefit me.

Also, I don't know how many times I heard: "my parents were not that bad". Well, that is part of the defense mechanisms.

I think I have defence mechanism when it comes to my parents.
I have tried to work this through myself, but a therapist probably can help me to do it better.

Quote from Matthew Whitewood on February 14, 2021, 4:41 pm

Now that I am more financially stable, I should give myself more gifts.
Therapy could be certainly one of them.

I think it is a great opportunity for you to use money in this way. It's the best investment you can make. Much better than material possessions. Even better than travel (that's me saying this). Would you feel comfortable to disclose your age range? You said several times: "when I was young". I'm curious but respect your privacy.

John, I thank you for sharing your personal experience and medical perspective on therapy.
It is valuable, and I appreciate this.

Happy to help.

This is interesting that you can trust a therapist more than a close friend.

That's what I heard from other people's stories as well.
I think that it's the professional approach and no-strings-attached nature.
They are trained to be objective, detached and guide you through your personal issues.

Yes, always remember: what you are looking for is a healer. That is what we do. Our professions moved in the direction of technicians with technology. But at the core, the archetype we incarnate is the healer. The healer heals. He/she is not concerned with judging you, looking good or whatever. Just like the artist creates. We can either be lost in our egos or be incompetent. But our role, our mindset should be the one of the healer. That is our purpose. As healers, we are dedicated to the well-being and health of the people we care for. We take it very seriously. But not all people have this deep in their soul. So you should avoid them. Look for a healer, not a business man. You will feel it. But first ask around for recommendations.

based on what John said, do I think I could benefit from therapy? (from a good therapist of course).

The answer is yes for me.
I think that it can benefit me.

So now you face a choice: will you do it or not? That is the conversation with yourself you cannot avoid from now on. That is the price of awareness: now you know. From conscience to action. Challenging but possible

I think I have defence mechanism when it comes to my parents.
I have tried to work this through myself, but a therapist probably can help me to do it better.

Everybody does. But not everybody is aware of it. Yes, that is the point: to see our lives (including our parents) as they are.

This one is for you:

"What lies behind us, and what lies before us are but tiny matters compared to what lies within us." - Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Cheers!

Also, I don't know how many times I heard: "my parents were not that bad". Well, that is part of the defense mechanisms. That is why I never challenge this assumption, usually. But since we're on such a forum, here is what I think: I don't believe it 1 second. I think people that say that are exactly the people who are unaware of the hurt they have inside.

I agree with you.

And I'm keenly aware of that.

Still, just as for the aggression scale, there are different levels to "quality of parenting".

Considering that there are enough parents who ridiculed, demeaned, abandoned, beat, failed to provide, or physically abused their children, I think it's still fair to say "my parents are not that bad" for parents who don't score a "10" in the "poor parenting scale".

That is not at all my experience. That might be your fear. But that is not what therapy is. Yes you give power to the other person. But you give them power to mirror you. Also you give them power to be a father/mother figure so you can fix your relationship to your inner parents. That's what matters the most to heal what is inside you.

Thanks for this John, huge thumbs up, I like your approach and mindset a lot.

As a matter of fact, I'm going to adopt it.

POWER DYNAMICS OF THERAPY: WHY WOMEN FALL IN LOVE WITH THERAPISTS

"Fix" might have been an unfortunate expression, but I maintain that there are major power dynamics at play with a therapist.

Entrusting someone with our most personal stories emotions is a major act of vulnerability, and vulnerability has a lot to do with power dynamics -the emotional aspect of power dynamics-.

The therapist role can become a strong judge figure -might add it to that article, by the way-
Especially when he plays up that role, and it takes a strong personality to put the client first, rather than his own feeling of personal power -and that is why it's so important to pick good therapists-.

And that is why it takes courage -more courage for men than for women, I'd suspect-.

In my opinion, the many times that women fall in love with the therapist -and aspect of transference-, is because the therapist has so much power and influence over them -that's actually an overlap with the Stockholm Syndrome-.

Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?
Quote from Lucio Buffalmano on February 14, 2021, 5:47 pm

Also, I don't know how many times I heard: "my parents were not that bad". Well, that is part of the defense mechanisms. That is why I never challenge this assumption, usually. But since we're on such a forum, here is what I think: I don't believe it 1 second. I think people that say that are exactly the people who are unaware of the hurt they have inside.

I agree with you.

And I'm keenly aware of that.

Still, just as for the aggression scale, there are different levels to "quality of parenting".

Considering that there are enough parents who ridiculed, demeaned, abandoned, beat, failed to provide, or physically abused their children, I think it's still fair to say "my parents are not that bad" for parents who don't score a "10" in the "poor parenting scale".

Definitely. And it makes sense. However, from my point of view, I would give it more credibility if the person has made the difficult work to look at their parents and their relationship to them. So they could have a somewhat critical view of it. I think it's you saying it from a point of view of detachment. But most people say it with the intention to defend their parents. But against what? That proves that's it is a defense mechanism. They feel their parents are being attacked whereas the intention is to recognise their flaws. So it shows that their is still the childish mindset "my parents have no flaws (so they never hurt me". And this is what is unproductive and prevent the healing. To be an adult is to recognise our parents are humans and made mistakes. So we can forgive them and move on, etc.

I think both mindsets exists: the mature one: "my parents were not perfect but not the worst" and the immature one: "don't criticize the ideal image I have of my parents!"

That is not at all my experience. That might be your fear. But that is not what therapy is. Yes you give power to the other person. But you give them power to mirror you. Also you give them power to be a father/mother figure so you can fix your relationship to your inner parents. That's what matters the most to heal what is inside you.

Thanks for this John, huge thumbs up, I like your approach and mindset a lot.

As a matter of fact, I'm going to adopt it.

This honours me. If I can pass on the gifts I received, this is what success looks like to me. So thanks for your trust: it means a lot to me.

POWER DYNAMICS OF THERAPY: WHY WOMEN FALL IN LOVE WITH THERAPISTS

"Fix" might have been an unfortunate expression, but I maintain that there are major power dynamics at play with a therapist.

Yes, there are. It is part of a successful therapeutic relationship. You transfer the power your parents had (but in reality still have) over you to your therapist for the duration of the therapy.

Entrusting someone with our most personal stories emotions is a major act of vulnerability, and vulnerability has a lot to do with power dynamics -the emotional aspect of power dynamics-.

100% And that is where the power lies. See how highly I spoke of my therapist? That is because in one if not the most vulnerable moment of my life, he accepted me. And this moment will stay in my mind as it is emotionally very powerful. That is the mirroring I was talking about: I was ok (you know what I'm referencing). It might have been the first time in my life when an other saw me as ok. So he gave me the power to see me as fully ok. I realize it now.

The therapist role can become a strong judge figure -might add it to that article, by the way-
Especially when he plays up that role, and it takes a strong personality to put the client first, rather than his own feeling of personal power -and that is why it's so important to pick good therapists-.

100%. That is why ethics and self-development is so important for healthcare professionals. Human beings deserve the utmost respect.

And that is why it takes courage -more courage for men than for women, I'd suspect-.

Yes, there are more barriers for men to open up as they have to challenge many self-assumptions (self-frames) that are actually unhelpful. The (false or made-up) "male" construct they have in their mind is actually preventing them (us) from the human part to grow. When you'll grow in your own humanity you will grow as a man, that is obvious to me now.

Off-topic

That's the thing with masculinity we are men. We don't have to do anything to be men. That's another fallacy to control us. But this is another topic.

Off-topic

In my opinion, the many times that women fall in love with the therapist -and aspect of transference-, is because the therapist has so much power and influence over them -that's actually an overlap with the Stockholm Syndrome-.

Yes, but Stockholm syndrome is more negative. The transference effect is considered in psychiatry as a necessary evil for the psychiatrist to do his work. You give them power over you and the therapist accept this power temporarily to help you heal. Then you take back this power and go back to your life. There is no way around it so far with the current technology. You must trust the therapist to help you get better. So you will trust their intention. Without that, no therapy is possible. It's a willing act for your own sake. Not the same as Stockholm the syndrome.

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Lucio Buffalmano

Yep, great great stuff here.

Deserves a link from "Ultimate Power", I think.

Thank you Matthew for starting it, thank you John for enlightening us.

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Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?
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