CBT questions: Can cognitive behavioural therapy work for me if I've tried it twice without success? Don't feelings happen before thoughts? Aren't some beliefs deeper than rational thoughts can change? What if you don't have the will to do homework?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (30 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Headline summary: male, 36, low self esteem, fear of rejection, fear of intimacy, never had a girlfriend, no close friends, never had sex, burying my head in books, very lonely, sexually frustrated; economically functioning but missing some essential human capacities and experiences.
I've tried CBT twice, first when I was 28, then again when I was 35, neither time was beneficial. The first time it seemed like I was getting wise advice but didn't make use of any of it in practice.
The second CBT attempt was 3 sessions when we spent the whole time discussing theory of CBT without me being persuaded of how it worked. That therapist gave me the name of her mentor whom she thought would be better, but a year later i still haven't called her.
Between 32 and 35 I spent 3 years at talk therapy ('integrated therapy') once a week, which gave me some insights starting from a very low base (knowing what feelings are, knowing that awful feeling is called loneliness, understanding causes are self esteem problems and fear of rejection) but didn't change how I felt or what I did, and I just got too frustrated with the lack of improvement and quit.
So for the last year, no therapy and no improvement.
I'd like to do something about how I feel and how I live, I don't want to take drugs, I have this 'lead' of a recommended therapist, I know there's published evidence CBT works and I know non-directive talk therapy didn't do a lot for me. But it is expensive and I'd like to know there's a decent chance it will work. SO my questions are:
(a) Can my thoughts really control my feelings and beliefs? I can control my actions with thoughts, but I can't stop the feelings with thoughts. for example, if something is said that hurts me, I can know it's not intended to hurt, I can know I shouldn't be hurt by it, I know it's absurd to be hurt by it, I can (almost) act as if I'm not hurt by it, but it still hurts and I'm still in pain. Also, beliefs seem deeper rooted than rational thoughts you can argue at a rational level with someone until they have no more answers, but that won't change their fundamental beliefs (that's my experience of politics and religion anyway): my belief in my own worthlessness and my belief that rejection will be very painful are pretty fundamental.
(b) CBT takes 'work': what if your problem is that you don't want to do that work? Whatever I think the work might be, I don't want to do it: I don't want to talk to strangers, to put myself in vulnerable positions, to do lots of small talk with random people, to get some rejections. Also, I don't see the point of writing a journal of things I should think when that's honestly not what I do think, and even if I could think it, as I said above, that wouldn't change my feelings. It seems to me that such therapy can work if you are 95 per cent of the way there already and just need a little push to get you over the hump. I do want to get better and do want to give it my courage, effort and ability, but what if I don't have the courage or discipline in the first place?
Have I misunderstood something about CBT?
Have you tried a few CBT therapists and then found one that did work?
Am I a bad candidate for CBT and if so what would you suggest?
Have you tried another form of therapy that worked in less than three years?