The Idol of Talk Therapy

When you are talking about medication with a psychiatrist, there’s always emphasis on the fact that it may not work, that it may have nasty side effects, that it may take several tries and a considerable amount of time to get it right. That even when you get a good combination, it’s not magic, and it won’t solve all your problems.

So why is it that when talk therapies of various varieties are discussed, there’s no such warning? Talk therapies are presented as a bit of a silver bullet, a method of learning to control your illness so it doesn’t control you, with no potential problems?

Talk therapies have the potential for negative as well as positive effects, but that’s never talked about. It’s talked about as an essential part of the process of becoming well, but there’s nary a word about what to do if it goes wrong. Meds not working? Try something else. Talk therapy not working out? *crickets*

There’s simply no talk at all about what might go wrong, no tools for what to do if it’s not working or causing miserable side effects. Why is that?

Talk therapy is not working out for me. Am I alone in this? I feel like maybe I’m the only one that has had this problem, that no-one says anything about it because I’m some sort of freak that can’t do talk things. Or that I’m at fault somehow, that I’m just not trying hard enough.

Talk therapy has been dragging me down. It makes me feel like I’m really unwell, that my reactions to the world are completely abnormal, that I’m utterly broken. The incessant challenging or deconstructing of everything I say makes me not want to speak, because I feel like every utterance is wrong.

Perhaps it doesn’t come with warning because it works for everyone except me.

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3 thoughts on “The Idol of Talk Therapy

  1. Anna

    It sounds like you’re having a really bad time in therapy, and no therapist should be making you feel this way. Therapy isn’t meant to be about making people feel bad about themselves! What you’ve said suggests to me that the therapy you are going to is not the appropriate one for you, or the therapist’s style isn’t well suited to you, and certainly the therapist should be picking up on this and working to remedy it. The difference between medications and talk therapies is that while not every talk therapy works for every person, there should be one out there that does. Therapy is not really a ‘thing’ like medications are. It’s more like support mixed with a source of information, mixed with a wide range of ways to look at what needs to change in your life (and how to change it). There’s a huge range of therapies available out there, with very different focuses and models. There is always a way to change your life, you just need to find the right way, and sometimes you need to be in the right space. And add in to that therapist factors- sometimes the client and therapist just don’t gel, and a change in therapist may help. Don’t give up on the idea of change because your therapist or therapy is not the one for you.

    Reply
  2. Anna

    And no, you’re not alone in it- plenty of people move through lots of therapists before they find one that matches well.

    Reply
  3. Alison Fursdon

    I just read this post, hence the delayed comment.
    Your Granny did not react at all well to Talk Therapies either, but in the short burst I had some years ago, my therapist was just what I needed to put my world back into perspective.
    Just as people do not always get along in ‘civvie street’, neither do all therapists and their clients ‘gel’.
    Take some time and take a breather, and then check out other opportunities.
    Love always
    Mum.

    Reply

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