Should I stop seeing my counselor after being told to see someone else?
March 18, 2010 1:59 PM   Subscribe

Should I stop seeing my counselor/therapist? New to all this, not sure how this all works. This is my first time really going to therapy, so how does one determine if who you are seeing is helping you?

I've had a rough time these last six months, which included legal troubles and getting fired from the job. The lack of activity made me very depressed and I started seeing a male counselor for some talk therapy. I got a new job, so I am a little happier that way, but there are still issues.
Since I'm on some medication, i have also seen a psychiatrist, who has recommended that I see someone else (female social worker counselor) who she said is good at handling my certain issues. (Dr. thinks my problems are anxiety with being a young adult, I'm 25). I always thought my issue was more depression, but am noticing I am very anxious as well. I went to see her because my dosage was too high and making me into a zombie.
This is my first time really going to therapy, so how does one determine if who you are seeing is helping you? Sometimes I think I could get more out of it...I like my counselor, but I think I'd rather have someone who questioned me more instead of agreeing with me since I am used to being judged and questioned by others (due to upbringing and career choice) These folks are all in the same hospital area, so I wouldn't have to go anywhere new. Just got new insurance too, that should be fun to figure out.
posted by greatalleycat to Human Relations (16 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
It sounds like you a perfectly normal human adult with life concerns. Get close friends. Have late night heart to heart sessions. You don't need a counselor to do that.
posted by lakerk at 2:11 PM on March 18, 2010 [2 favorites]

Have you seen any improvements in the area you're seeing the therapists for? I've seen a few and I knew things weren't working when, after a few months, I'd done all the activities/suggestions/etc and I hadn't made any progress.
posted by biochemist at 2:13 PM on March 18, 2010

First, bring up what you think with your counselor. Their job is to help, not to judge, and if you need something that they can't give, they'll recommend you see someone else. Most likely she'll be able to change her technique with you -- nothing is set in stone, and what works for one person doesn't for another.
posted by iarerach at 2:15 PM on March 18, 2010

Are you allowed to ask her what her plan is for helping you and what her thoughts are during a session?
posted by anniecat at 2:17 PM on March 18, 2010

Response by poster: I still feel depressed/anxious, while I am better off than a few months ago, I just have the feeling I'm stuck in neutral while my peers are moving on. I'm hoping to get my own place soon if my job keeps working out.
posted by greatalleycat at 2:23 PM on March 18, 2010

All self-favoriting about not needing therapy aside, if there's a counselor who's better-suited to dealing with adjustment issues, you'll probably want to at least give them a visit and sound out their techniques-- if someone's a domain expert and you can just go, why bother with a counselor whose expertise isn't as good of a match?
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 2:44 PM on March 18, 2010 [3 favorites]

I've seen a few different therapists over the decades, but never saw a really good one until recently. I think that if you're not sure that a therapist is the right match for you, he or she isn't. You can go for one visit with someone else and see if you click.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:48 PM on March 18, 2010 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: What's a domain expert? I think I do need the dealing with life expert, am too hard on myself.
posted by greatalleycat at 3:19 PM on March 18, 2010

I suggest you print this out and take two copies to your next therapy session. That way you and your therapist can discuss your concerns.
posted by Carol Anne at 3:29 PM on March 18, 2010

I agree with corpse in the library, if you're not sure, you can do better.
posted by Salamandrous at 3:34 PM on March 18, 2010

When I got divorced from my ex-wife I started seeing a psychiatric nurse and a clinical social worker to deal with the anxiety issues it stirred up. Before I started it, a good friend who had been through years of therapy, gave me the advice to make sure I have a good connection with whomever I see and move on if I didn't.

Long story short, I found both through my employee assistance program. I hit it off with the psychiatric nurse. The clinical social worker I didn't like. I asked the nurse who she recommended and found that I was a much better fit with the new clinical social worker.

Finding the right person means that you aren't worried about who you are talking to. They're a sounding board; they work to be on the better side of you (meaning the side of you when you feel better). Honestly, they say things friends wouldn't say. They are someone with whom you have no contact with outside of sessions - meaning that there is no chance of things being misconstrued, accidentally told to someone they shouldn't be and otherwise they are your therapist.

If there's no connection, ask for a recommendation from your current social worker - they aren't trying to make money off you (well too much) - they are trying to help you feel better. Carol Anne has a great piece of advice. If telling your social worker you aren't comfortable with them isn't a comfortable thing - then you definitely have the wrong social worker.
posted by Nanukthedog at 4:07 PM on March 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

I've had four stints of therapy in my life, of varying lengths. What I learned after the first (meh) and second (okay) ones was this -- audition therapists. Seriously. Get a few recommendations, make a single appointment with each of them, and see if one really stands out, or you feel that "click." Some therapists even have a set-up where your first visit is free, but if you choose to come back, then you pay for the first visit as if it were a normal visit.

Honestly, my last two stretches of therapy (1993-1996; 2009-present) were/are with therapists who really, really help me, because I didn't just stick with the first one I went to, or even the second or third, if they weren't the right one.
posted by tzikeh at 5:20 PM on March 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

Oh - and don't just get recommendations/referrals from people in the profession; ask your friends. They know you far better than any medical professional does.
posted by tzikeh at 5:21 PM on March 18, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks, I feel more comfortable about just setting up one appointment and seeing how it goes. However, I'm waiting to see what insurance will do. i'm at a point where I don't know what I need or want, so I don't really trust my own opinions alone.
posted by greatalleycat at 7:13 PM on March 18, 2010

Yes, this is something to discuss with your current therapist. It may be that the way he does counseling (preferences, the theory of counseling or development he follows, personality) doesn't mesh with you.

It is legitimate to ask your therapist about the treatment plan he's suggested for you - if you are using insurance, he probably has to file a treatment plan. Also, have you discussed your goals for your therapy with him? In my field (mental health counseling), we are all about the goals. You and he should both know why you're spending an hour together every week or two; if neither of you have goals for your work together, or your goals differ from his, there is little fruitful work to be done.
posted by catlet at 7:09 AM on March 19, 2010

In case help is still needed, this short New York Times article ("How to Figure Out When Therapy Is Over," by an M.D. & psychiatry professor) helped me when my first therapy experience went from "desperately needed" to (a year later) merely "interesting but not particularly helpful."

I think what "The corpse in the library" posted above is sound: "I think that if you're not sure that a therapist is the right match for you, he or she isn't. You can go for one visit with someone else and see if you click."
posted by gohlkus at 8:25 PM on April 9, 2010

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