Post # 1
I just read a post regarding counseling it made me think about my experience. I posted a while back that after 2 years of problems my SO is on board and agrees it’s time for counseling…YEY! Ok one step done.
We decided I will do the “shopping” and go ahead and start counseling and he will join sometimes later.
I’ve done a bit of research in my area, and been to 5 session with 2 counselors. So far…nothing like I expected.
I thought getting help was actually “getting help” like I say something and the counselor analyzes the problem and tell me what’s going on. I guess I might be influenced by what I see in the movies or on TV where the shrink will say something very moving, to the point and there is progress going on.
The first lady I saw, I felt like I was subtly being judged a bit (she wasn’t saying it directly but she made me feel that way). I felt like I told her about my marriage and she’d measure it with an “average” yardstick. For example (and sorry for TMI) I told her we get intimate once a week and I understand my SO has a lower drive and a demanding job but in the future I hope we can plan for a lifestyle that allows a bit more. Her response made me feel like my SO had a “problem” and that we would work on it. I was hoping she would be the middle person between me and SO not come in to tell us we had to work to get to the society’s average.
The second lady I decided to choose someone that shared similar background with me and my SO hopefully so that I wouldn’t have to try to explain the cultural difference me and SO that I myself am having a hard time understanding. She seemed nice and I’ve seen her 3 times but…I don’t feel anything.
I feel like I do all the talking, I run out of things to say, keep repeating myself, she asks 1-2 questions throughout the 50 mins and she only responds with a nod or “I see”. A lot of awkward silence the conversation is not really smooth.
Can anyone share some experience regarding counseling? What are realistic expectations? Am I supposed to feel something during or after these sessions? I don’t know if I should keep going to see this lady and pay another $80…
Post # 3
When deciding what counselor to see, it’s important to find out what kind of counseling they do, what their qualifications are, etc.
A basic outline –
psychodynamic is the traditional relationship counseling. It deals with traditional psychotherapy and addressing the problems you both have, and how those negatively affect your relationship.
humanistic therapists take a step back – they won’t tell you what’s a problem, because they want you to get your emotions and feelings out, they’re more of a guide.
behavioral-cognitive therapists deal more with the undesirable behaviors, i.e., fighting, nagging, emotional shutdown, etc, and help you address the problem and find ways to cope, problem-solve, etc as well as acknowledging positive behaviors and building on them.
That’s very, very basic, and I recommend asking your chosen psychologist or counselor more. Don’t be afraid to shop around, but know what you’re looking for. Good luck, and remember that counseling can’t fix everything, but it can definitely help.
Post # 4
Thank you for your reply @lilyfaith! I guess from meeting those 2 ladies I have a bit of a clue what I don’t want. Maybe I should shop around more. When I read the profile of all the counselors in the city, it gets really overwhelming I don’t really can’t tell how to compare. I went to 3 sessions with this same lady just because I wanted to jump to the part where problems get fixed. But after reading what you wrote I think I need to look around more.
Post # 5
what type of counselors are you seeing? There are counselors specific for marriage and relationships that might be more helpful if that isn’t who you are currently seeing.
Post # 6
I was disappointed by the counselor I saw too. I guess I should have shopped around. My best “therapist” has been my Network Chiropractor – when I talk about problems I get all worked up about them, but the chiropractor helps me relax and lets me decide how to move forward independently. I’m not a big fan of someone I don’t know offering advice that I realize right away just doesn’t fit my situation. You don’t mention what your problems are (probably elsewhere on the board) but sometimes tension between two people is the result of one person having to work on themself, and perhaps even feeling guilty about their own flaws. For me the chiropractor is a lot better at helping me be a better, more forgiving person, and Fiance will begin going the the chiropractor soon. [you have to try Network Chiropractic to understand it – otherwise it sounds really hocus-pocus-y and touchy-feely and even stupid]
Post # 7
I agree with everything lilyfaith wrote–it’s helpful to ask your therapist what perspective they’re working from. That should help you understand what to expect in the sessions.
Also, just a note on your sessions with your last therapist, in which you say there are lots of “awkward silences”–silence is an important counseling tool, and I know in my program, we were trained to sit with the silence. It’s definitely awkward (for both the therapist and the client!), but it’s important to think about WHY it’s awkward and why you feel like you need to fill it up with repetitive conversation. You can try bringing up those questions with your therapist as well. I’m not saying anything for or against that therapist, just that the fact that there are awkward silences isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Post # 8
Unfortunately, sometimes you have to shop around for counselors. Some will talk to you over the phone initially to see what you are looking to get out of it and give you a sense right then and there how well they’ll fit with you. I ask questions like “Do you have experience with…”
Any good counselor I’ve ever seen has been interested in setting goals for the counseling near the beginning of me seeing them. That way we know what we are trying to work toward.
Also, my current counselor has in her intro packet that she does not recommend that someone come in to talk about a relationship without their partner, and that it can cause more stress or damage to a relationship than help. She recommends people come in together from the start.
I know you’ll find someone good if you look a little more. Good luck!
Post # 9
@amariem, I look up counselors that list “relationship issues” in their specialties. They mostly are Clinical Social Worker/Therapist with an LCSW or LMSW (I’m not even sure what it means).
Is that the right catagory?
@rachelss, our main problem is communication and fighting “right” I guess. But your right the tension causes different effects on both of us and we might need to work on our problem individually as well as a couple.
@hilsy85, I never knew that! I guess it feels so weird to me when I tell the therapist something and she just keeps staring at me. I feel pressured to keep filling up the silence until she has something to say. Asfter a few times it gets uncomfortable because I don’t feel like I’m having a conversation.
I guess I don’t feel any help of just “talking” to someone. She could be a great therapist but maybe this is not just my style. It’s good to know that there are many approaches out there though so maybe I can keep looking.
@Vonnegurl, that’s a good point. I’ve seen my therspist 3 times and we’ve never talked about goals or how we’re working to get there.
I guesss for some reason I feel obligated to keep seeing this therapist and just play along to see how she works things out. But from what you all pointed out maybe I should look around a bit more. I felt like I was responsible for giving her ashot at what she does but I’m not liking the results or sessions so far so maybe it’s time!
Post # 10
I would agree that you should shop around more. I ran into the same problem when I went to counseling with my now ex-husband (see, that is clue #1 right there).
I was looking for outside advice on what was going on and how we could work towards fixing it, or at least making it manageable. Instead, from one therapist I got a lot of judgemental remarks (yes, he is an alcoholic, we understood that part already), and from the second therapist I got a lot of “Well, you are already doing everything I would recommend for you to do.” Neither was helpful and I eventually gave up.
I would also recommend looking at male vs female therapists. For my ex, at least, he was sexist and couldn’t really respect a female therapist. We would leave the sessions and his remarks were, “She clearly doesn’t know anything.” That wasn’t helpful. He needed an older male in order to be accepting of what was going on.
Post # 11
If your problem is communication is it isolated to you and your FI? I bet it isn’t. Poor communication with people you work with can be easier to ignore – you just get annoyed, maybe don’t talk to them, and move on. Working on my own ability to be open with people and not be afraid of what they might say or bothered by what they do say has helped me a lot. I also think it’s really important to be the best person I can be and everything else will follow from that.
Post # 12
I’d love to contribute to the discussion. I am actually in school to become a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT), and we specialize in families, couples, and even individuals. In the field of Marriage and Family Therapy, we believe that all problems stem from and are perpetuated by other, underlying issues. We don’t care so much (depending on what theory you use) about the past, but more so on the current problem and possible things that are maintaining the problem. I highly suggest that you and you SO see a MFT as opposed to a counselor. Counselors, psychologists, social workers, etc. all deal mainly with individuals and are trained to think of a person being the “problem,” whereas MFT’s see unproductive ways of communication and certain behavioral patterns as the problem. So, hypothetically, if you are having communication problems with your spouse, why would you see someone who only sees YOU? You would need to go with your SO/FI/etc. to a MFT who will talk to you about what happens before, during, and after your fights, in order to help you figure out what is really happening. I hope this helps, and feel free to ask me any questions if I did not clarify things. Therapy is a GREAT idea for couples having any issues, but you do need to do your homework and have an initial phone conversation with the actual therapist (not just the secretary) before making an appointment. Hope I helped a little!
Post # 13
As a psychotherapist myself, I wanted to chime in and reiterate what @Vonnegurl and @lsaunde said about seeing a therapist together. It really doesn’t work very well to have only one part of a couple show up for therapy first. There are several reasons why, but one of the most important is that by the time your fiance comes he might feel like you’ve already “teamed up” against him. instead you two should go together to meet with someone. A licensed Marriage and Family Therapist is probably the most appropriate for you, and I would also try to shake whatever expectations you have from what you’ve seen on tv or in movies. The reality is that no therapist can fix things, they can only help you two work together towards improving your relationship.
Also, here’s a little cheat-sheet as to what those letters after the name mean: PsyD or PhD means this person is a clinical psychologist or counseling psychologist with a doctoral degree. LCSW is a licensed clinical social worker requiring a masters degree only. Be very leary of someone who uses titles like “life coach” or “mediator” as these titles don’t necessarily require any specialized training.