What Good is Therapy?


From 1983 to 2000 I went to therapy pretty consistently, changing cities three times and therapists far more than that (due to circumstances not my dislike of the person I had). I had quite a variety of experiences and I never really judged one as being better than the other because I never felt I could judge. What criterion should I use? How I feel? How my life changed for good or ill? I can’t say my life changed much under any of my therapists except due to things that would’ve happened anyway. I can say that my first therapist oversaw my picking up and leaving home to move to a new city, and maybe that was a real, tangible result. It probably would’ve happened anyway though due to other circumstances, but it didn’t hurt to have the therapist to talk to about what was happening, and help get my mind and feelings around everything.

But it intrigues and bothers me to think that my therapist was my friend, a friend I paid for. Did that make him/her a mental and emotional hooker? It has sort of bothered me over the years that I have found my closest and most honest relationships with people who bill me. I don’t find anything morally wrong with that. But it’s unsettling. Is something wrong with me? Why do I not regard relationships as such that I can talk about these issues with my friends and family? Why do I assume these relationships are not right for these sorts of personal realities? I don’t know the answer to this but I suspect it has something to do with a denial of reality and/or death. But no matter.

I left therapy in 2000. My therapist was retiring and I just felt it wasn’t necessary to find a new one. Things were going amazingly well for me then. Many things I’d wanted and worked for were coming into fruition. So I left it off and went onward. What happened? The recession hit and much of what I’d worked for was lost. In a year from leaving therapy my straights had practically reversed themselves.

That was the fault of circumstances but I wonder if I’d still been in therapy if I might’ve navigated those circumstances better. Probably. But would it have changed the outcome ultimately? I don’t know.

I’ve only gone back to therapy once since then and that was to facilitate a prescription. I didn’t much like the therapist. I felt hostile towards her. It has been my feeling lately were I to return to therapy on a regular basis, it would be in kind of a snarling fashion. I would throw anger in the face of my therapist, challenge his/her credentials, make assumptions about their personal life, do basically what Matt Damon’s character did in “Good Will Hunting”. Nice, huh?

And why? I think because I would want a friend as Damon’s character ultimately found by starting from his real point of anger and defensiveness which is what I feel is my reality and has been for some time. Perhaps since my last therapy and the tumult of my life that came after. Not to mention the last ten years.

The point is though I still want emotional connection. I do. But it’s not as easy as just wanting it. You have to get there with work. I guess that thing that makes therapy valuable is the therapist understands that and can help you do the work of finding that place where those emotions, those fears, hopes, anger, what-have-you actually rest.

It would be nice if I could do that in real life but as of yet I haven’t figured out how. Until then I guess therapy is a pretty decent option.

Now whom do I target for this aggressive military campaign?

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