Do you have faith in your therapist's sense of certainty?
posted by mild deer to human relations (21 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I have been seeing my therapist for six months. It has taken me a long time to find a therapist that I felt comfortable with. I consider him intelligent and wise. My gut feeling is that he is a rare, great therapist.
Long-standing issues I've brought into therapy include: my relationship with parents, life growing up, sibling relationships, exes, physical health issues, friendships, depression, emotion regulation, and living in a new city. Most of my problems, however, revolve around how I grew up (and the scripts I inherited), and my relationships with men. This therapist works with slightly more men than women, has been practicing for over 20 years, supervises new therapists, and leads various types of DBT groups. Much of my trust for him is based on his experience working with men and DBT groups.
A month ago, I lost two important people in my life. (On top of losing five important relationships last year.) The first person was a married friend, Adam, who said he loved me. Adam also confided that he had a terminal illness and had enrolled in a clinical trial. He said he wasn't planning on sharing any of this information with his wife, family, and close friends. Finally, he said that one way I could help him improve his chances of survival, according to his team of doctors, is to have sex with him. I said I could not. After 3 months of talking about Adam in therapy sessions and providing "data" (e.g., emails, records of conversations, etc), my therapist stated almost matter of factly, "I think Adam is lying."
My impression is that therapists do not usually make such strong statements or evaluations about other people in the patient's life. Or do they? It has been almost three months since my therapist has said this and I am still having trouble "believing" that my friend Adam is lying.
The other person I lost was a friend, John, I had started dating a few weeks before I began seeing my therapist. John couldn't meet my needs for emotional connection. At the beginning, he said he didn't want to love anyone, and he didn't want me to love him. Towards the end of the relationship, I had many nights where I couldn't sleep and was dealing with the fallout with Adam. I asked John for support, but it was minimal. However, John revealed that he would love me unless he did something about it soon. I began to find myself loving John, too -- and didn't tell him until after he broke up with me. (Much more to the story, of course, but I will only provide basics for the main theme of this thread.)
During the relationship, I felt like John was using me for sex. My therapist said, "I don't think that's what's going on at all. I think John cares deeply for you, but he doesn't have the skills to be with someone who has strong emotions."
My therapist said that I handled the break-up very well. My therapist also said that, given the circumstances in John's life, there will likely be a reconnection because I didn't burn a bridge. Also, my therapist expressed strong certainty that John's ex will leave this country. I tried to remind my therapist that John's ex might leave, and he said kindly, but firmly, "No, she will leave. And John's landscape will change when she does."
For the most part, though, my therapist does not make strong statements about much. He is good at listening and not judging. (I've had therapists in the past who judged my behavior right off the bat, or diagnosed other people in my life without asking more questions. This therapist is definitely a question-asker and data-collector.) I am trying to keep in mind that this therapist has worked with enough types of people to "see" what is really going on -- and sees things that I am unable to see right now, being stuck where I am.
Thus far, my therapist has only stated three or four things strongly in a prophet-like way, which he seems to want me to know as fact. With most other things, he points out how there is uncertainty because of the many variables involved.
My many questions:
-How do you take your therapist's own certainty about things in your life? Or better yet -- how do you take your therapist's certainty about what will happen in the future?
-Do therapists have this certainty because they see certain things play over again and again and again in their patients who share key qualities?
-Do you revel in the certainty as part of the therapeutic process?
-Do you wait for more data coming in from your own life?
-Do other therapists have some supremely solid insights that we, as patients, really can't see at the moment?
-Have your therapist's insight proven to be true over time?
-Do you have experiences where your therapist was dead wrong about their predictions?