Should I find a new psychotherapist?
January 9, 2012 11:38 AM Subscribe
I think it might be time to start seeing a new therapist. My current therapist disagrees. So now I'm confused. Convince me that I'm right.
posted by chameleon to human relations (39 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I’m a 38-year-old man (gay, if that's relevant) and I’ve been seeing my current therapist for just over 11 years, far longer than any previous therapist. I feel like I’ve done therapy "right" -- I’ve talked to death about my issues and my past, I always try to be honest with my therapist about my thoughts and feelings, including my thoughts and feelings about her, and I try to explore topics that make me uncomfortable. I try to put it all out there in therapy. I like her as a person and we have a nice rapport. At this point I feel I have a great deal of insight into why I am the way I am.
The thing is, I still can’t seem to change the way I approach my life or my issues. My issues are basically: chronic dissatisfaction with my life, overthinking, excessive fear about life, some discomfort about sexual issues, occasional thoughts of despair, being too hard on myself, lifelong inability to find a meaningful career, indecision over whether to end my relationship with my partner. (I realize there is a parallel between that last one and this particular AskMe -- whether or not to end a particular relationship -- but I put it last because I think it's a symptom of my issues rather than a core issue itself.) A lot of my problems seem to have to do with the way I was raised, but whenever I ask my therapist, “How do I get over my past?” her response is always, “By continuing to talk about it.” Okay, but I’ve been talking about it for 11 years. Whenever I ask her how much longer this is supposed to take, she never has a solid answer.
She seems pretty traditional in her therapeutic orientation -- she likes to talk about Freud, she's interested in my nighttime dreams, my childhood, etc. But that approach doesn't seem to be working for me as well as it used to.
She says I have unquestionably changed for the better over the years. Fine, but I'm still not where I want to be and I'm doubting whether she can get me there. My goal is to lead a reasonably happy and fulfilling life and I am not there. I don't want to still be feeling this way when I'm 80. I think it's time for a new approach.
I recently got a recommendation for a different therapist and I made an appointment with him. When I told my current therapist about this, she was displeased. She seemed irritated that someone else would "disrupt our 11 years of work." She also analogized it to the desire to have an affair -- i.e. escaping from the hard work of a particular relationship by starting a new one -- which frankly I was insulted by, because I have thought about this on and off for a long time and have brought it up with her several times over the years. It's not like this is a whim.
Over the course of my conversation with her, she became more resigned to the idea that I was going to at least check this other therapist out, but she still didn’t seem happy about it or think it was the right idea.
So far, I’ve met with the new therapist once, and I’m intrigued enough to meet him once or twice more. He seems less "Freudian," not as intently focused on exploring my past and my dreams. He says those are somewhat important, but he is more focused on the here and now. He also seems more interactive; when he asked me a question and I started to ramble, he actually cut me off and tried to direct me back to the question, unlike my current therapist, who I feel indulges my tendency to overthink.
Also, he is a gay man like me, so working with him might give me new perspectives on things that my current therapist, a straight woman, might not be able to provide.
I don't yet know whether he can provide what I'm looking for, but I think I need a new therapist regardless. I just feel like I need a fresh approach, even if I’m not sure what that approach should be.
I am continuing to see my current therapist right now but I want to make a decision pretty quickly because I don’t want to pay two different therapists.
Am I right here?
What are some other things I should think about in trying to decide?
(Or is this whole question a symptom of my tendency to overthink?)