Good therapist, bad therapist, indifferent therapist-how to tell from the outside?
March 10, 2012 9:15 AM Subscribe
How do you assess a therapist when it's not you that's going through therapy?
posted by anonymous to health & fitness (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
My husband is bipolar. The mania is long in his past - I've never seen him manic in over a decade of marriage plus several years of friendship - it manifests exclusively as depression and anxiety. After many years of general stability, the past couple of years have involved a lot of medicine changes, a worsening of his depression and anxiety, and, in short, a lot of challenges. He is currently seeing a person who manages his medication, and a CBT therapist.
I'm his primary support and advocate, and I'm having a hard time working out whether or not his therapist is the right one for him, if they need more time (she's been seeing him for about a year). He's very emotional at their sessions, and frequently cries through them. For a time, he wasn't able to remember much of anything that happened at them, although this has improved slightly. He also tends to feel hopeless about whether or not the therapy is actually helping, although he does the homework when I nudge. (Left to his own devices, I think he'd abandon therapy. Deep down, he tends to think of his illness as something he can't really fight back against, or something that can only be helped with medication.) When I ask him if he thinks that he is getting something out of the therapy, he says he's not sure, and doesn't know if he should look for a different therapist or not. I've thought about DBT as an alternative to CBT (a suggestion that was made at one point), but finding one in our city might be a little difficult.
As the person not going through therapy, I'm not sure how to help. Perhaps he just needs more time, but perhaps this therapist isn't really helping all that much - I have no idea how to tell. He's improved, but he's nowhere near stable, although he has developed enough management of his anxiety that he hasn't had a panic attack in about a year which I look at as really concrete progress. The idea of failure and failing is a big issue with him right now, and I think he goes back and forth between thinking that therapy is failing him, or he is failing at therapy. Is there a way to know if his therapist is right for him, or is this a decision I need to leave with him? Are there things I can be doing to bolster his therapy at home? I've considered getting some of the anxiety workbooks and doing them at home with him, together - he'd be more likely to do it if I were involved, and as I suffer from (mild) anxiety myself, the idea of getting some good strategies for coping with it myself is not a bad thing. But I worry about butting into areas where trained professionals are working.