Quiet in therapy
I was in therapy last year mainly because I have an inability or incapacity to create relationships, and the loneliness was becoming unbearable. It reached a point where I would cry for hours at home every night. I thought if I just ended my life things would be better. My biggest problem is that I've been in therapy for 1 year and I still can't speak in my sessions, which is really bad because in therapy (especially psychoanalytic therapy) you are supposed to say everything that comes to mind. There are painful things about my life that I've blocked in such a way that words just don't come, so I just cry. I spend the whole sessions mute; thinking and words just don't come. I end up getting anxious and frustrated every time.
My therapist seems to think I'm a spoiled child and that I don't speak because I don't care. This is exactly the opposite of what I feel but I can't say that to her. Every time I come home after therapy I feel angry with myself, and have the impression I'm wasting my time, her time, and my money. Part of me wants to quit and just let life take me (for better or worse) while the other part wants to give me one more chance.
What should I do to overcome this difficulty of mine? Is the problem me or the kind of therapy I am in (or both)? I'd be very glad if you answered. Thank you.
The fact that you are still unable to speak during your therapy sessions after a year is a problem. An even bigger problem, though, is the fact that it doesn't seem to you that your therapist cares or has compassion about all that you are feeling, and that you come away from sessions feeling angry rather than feeling that you are making progress. You've invested a lot of time without having any benefit thus far.
There are a number of different ways that you could approach this problem. If you'd like to continue to try to work with this therapist, you could write her a letter in which you explain why you can't talk in sessions, how you feel after sessions and how you think she sees you. You could ask her to read it at the beginning of a session or give it to her to read between sessions. Or you could make a tape recording in which you explain, and the two of you could listen to it together in a session.
It's quite possible, though, that this therapist and/or type of therapy (psychoanalytic) isn't the most useful for you. You could try several different therapists, trying to choose people who represent different types of therapy as well as different ages/genders/personality styles to see if a different person and/or approach would make it easier for you to express what your feeling. If you are worried that you will be unable to speak during the "trial" sessions you could prepare a letter in which you explain some of your background and your experiences with your first therapist and ask the therapist to read it at the beginning of the session. I would strongly encourage you to schedule an initial session with at least 3 different therapists so that you have an idea of how a session with someone else might be different than the sessions you've experienced thus far.
You may also want to explore using something other than talking to express your feelings. Perhaps drawing or using some other artistic means would be an easier way for you to allow your feelings out. Maybe you could write poetry or simply write in journal form. If trying avenues such as those seems appealing to you, you could raise it with your current therapist (again, perhaps in a letter if you feel unable to do so verbally) and see if she is receptive to discussing your drawings/writings with you. You could also ask the same question of the therapists whom you "interview" to see what their responses are.
Ideally, you should have a sense within the first therapy session that the therapist is someone whom you trust, feel able to confide in, and that s/he understands and supports you. A year, in my opinion, is too long a time period for you to still be struggling so much with the actual therapy sessions. I hope that you will explore changing formats with your current therapist or changing therapists so that therapy can help you to overcome your problems. Good luck.
Susan Maroto, LCSW
This question has been answered by Susan Maroto. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker working out of Mount Laurel, New Jersey. She uses an eclectic approach to holistic healing, mind-body relationships, life transitions, depression, and anxiety.For more information visit: http://www.therapywithsusan.com/