June 16, 2011 7:09 AM Subscribe
Am I right to be concerned about "The Work", created by Byron Katie, being used it real therapy? How do I diminish the toll of three years of therapy that definately wasn't right for me?
posted by xarnop to Health & Fitness (27 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
If you really like Byron Katie, you might want to skip this question.
I experienced severe PTSD after a traumatic abusive relationship and extreme loss 10 years ago. I went to a counselor that I really liked in many ways but there was a certain part of the counseling that seemed really off to me.
Had I been in a healthy state, I think I would have identified this wasn't working for me right away but since I had already been worked on by an abusive partner (and of course already had issues prior to that) being able to identify belief systems that didn't work for me was not very possible. So I was in this form of counseling for three years. I discovered toward the end of it that I what I didn't like was when my counselor was using something called "The Work" in which you take any negative thought, as questions about it, and then turn it on yourself.
I.e. instead of thinking you were abused by someone else you would then say, "I abused myself" or "I abused the person I previously thought was abusing me."
Other Byron Katie strategies include: We don't need suffering. If you feel a negative emotion you should question it and undo it mentally and no longer have the negative thought or you are harming yourself.
Everything in reality is as it should be. Anything that happens should be seen as good and something to love. If a child dies you shuold celebrate. If someone is abused you should undo your negative thoughts about it and see it as a positive thing. When war happens you should undo your negative thoughts about it and see it as a positive thing.
All experiences that humans go through should be seen as beautiful including the holocaust, war, torture, child death, rape, and child abuse.
Byron Katie has said herself that if she were in the holocaust and someone was throwing her baby into a fire she would say, "Yes throw my baby in the fire! I celebrate reality as it is!"
Another Byron Katieism is that we don't need love and needing love causes abuse. In theory I agree that we don't need love from ONE particular person, so that could be freeing if applied in that way. But the idea that we don't need love from anyone but ourselves seems completely off to me. And that was how it was presented to me. No love. Never need love from anyone at any time, in any way or you are harming yourself. Even if you are a child, don't need love from a parent. If a parent abuses you, you actually abused yourself by needing love from your parent. (These are things Byron Katie has said verbatum.)
I find all of this rather disturbing honestly, and it concerns me that counselors would use these techniques as presented by Byron Katie with people who need to mourn devestating loss, or who are processing past abuse, or who have seen horrific events. On the one hand, I think it would be possible to take some of her methods and restructure them to fit into a healthy therapeutic approach, but left exactly as they are, I think the techniques are in themselves harmful to the human psyche.
We need to grief when we lose a loved one. Sometimes we need to talk about negative events in our past so that we can reprocess them, learn why they happened and learn how to go in a different direction.
During the course of this "therapy" I was basically unable to talk about anything that happened in the abusive relationship I was in because I had to redifine it as not abusive or as me abusing myself and have no negative emotions or thoughts about it or I was considered to be harming myself. That's another thing-- if you have a engative emotion you are the one harming yourself. It is no such thing as pain other than people hurting themselves with negative thoughts.
So basically other than "Stop thinking about that relationship or you are harming yourself" there was no discussion of what happened in the abusive relationship.
It's been really hard for me to undo the toll this has taken on me. Cognitively I disagree with these methods but I still feel inhibited about ever speaking about anything I've ever been through because if I ever let myself think about it "I'm harming myself."
I've done a lot of research on emotional suppression and the brain and I don't think the science is behind Byron Katie's method. I think we need emotions and we need to let ourselves feel them, and we need to process experiences we've had in order to make sense of them and go a different way.
Circumstantially-- applying an emotional suppression technique to emotions that are no longer needed might be helpful--- but applying byron katy to everything completely dysregulates the process of having normal human emotions.
I can say all of this, but I still find it hard to even consider trying a different therapy method and I still feel like having emotions or talking about them is something I should avoid even though cognitively I feel like it's something I need to do. Has anyone faced years of a therapy method like this that was harmful for them, and what kind of therapy (or other suggestions) helped you undo what you feel was harmful about it?
Also, does it sound like using this therapeutic technique in real therapy is something that should be done and occasionally it won't work for some people (like me) or does it seem like an unhealthy therapy technique? People compare it to CBT but it's NOT the same as CBT and it's affects on people haven't been researched at all. that kind of concerns me. Thanks for reading.