Calling my mom would be cheaper.
October 17, 2008 2:30 PM Subscribe
I'm not getting a much out of my cognitive-behavioral therapy. Do my therapists suck, or are my expectations just too high?
posted by anonymous to health & fitness (16 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
So I recently decided to seek some mental-health help for chronic issues I've been having with procrastination, anxiety, depression and unproductivity. Based on the research I did, it seemed as though cognitive-behavioral therapy would be a good approach; I think I'm a fundamentally sane person, but I have lots of bad mental habits and issues with self-control that weren't being fixed by my own best efforts. I thought CBT would offer a stepwise, research-based way of thinking myself out of those un-useful patterns and starting to develop better habits-- kind of like personal training for the brain.
Since then, I've been to two therapists who claimed to be CBT-oriented, and I'm wondering whether I just picked poor specimens, or whether my expectations for this form of therapy were too high. The first one basically sat and chatted with me, occasionally detouring into bigger philosophical discussions/debates or little autobiographical vignettes. He occasionally gave me direct advice about my life ("Well, it seems like you should stay in your grad program...") and dispensed little nuggets of chicken-soupy wisdom ("You know, love always means taking a risk"), but never gave me any homework or did any exercises or, you know, worked on anything.
After two sessions, I left Therapist #1's practice and signed on with Therapist #2; we've had four meetings to date. She's less pompous than T1, but still not especially helpful: essentially, we talk about my life, and she offers the kind of sensible suggestions I've been getting all my life from people more organized than I: Try getting on a schedule! Break your tasks down into little pieces, then do them! Don't wallow in regret over past failures; move forward! It's all great advice, but honestly, if I could have achieved any of those things just by willing myself to do so, I wouldn't be seeking therapy in the first place. I know nobody can do my work for me, but I was hoping CBT would offer some sort of ladder of steps I could climb to help me become able to keep to a schedule, or to move on from guilt and regret-- in other words, a sort of manageable couch-to-5k program, not just a big sign saying GO RUN THAT MARATHON.
I know folk here speak highly of CBT, so I was hoping someone who's had success with it could comment on my experience. Is what I'm getting a good representation of the cognitive-behavioral approach, or should I seek out yet another therapist? And if the latter, any hints on picking someone better this time?