I’ve been fieldng lots of questions like these lately:
How do you know if your shrink likes you?
What if you think you like your therapist?
Why do psychologists want to talk about your childhood?
Why aren’t people honest with their therapist?
Should you force your spouse to go to therapy?
Here’s the thing. Psychotherapy is not about pleasing someone (your therapist) its about learning about yourself. In effective therapy, you’re going to like your therapist, perhaps even fall in love with him a bit. But your therapist’s going to handle that in such a way that you learn what that tells you about yourself and relationships, not by acting on those feelings. Therapists want to talk about your childhood to enable you to understand the roots of your issues, bringing that knowledge into the present to improve the ways you can cope now. People aren’t honest with their therapist because a) they want to paint a picture of themselves so they’ll be liked, approved of, feared, in control…or b) because they can’t be honest with themselves. Therapy requires great courage, the courage to face yourself with another person. Not everyone’s up to the task.
So why not force your spouse into therapy? Because therapy’s not punishment, it’s a gift to oneself. Because it really isn’t effective if you’re not there, committed to the process. But you can drag your spouse into therapy with you to help you. Maybe, just maybe, your therapist can help you each feel heard and understood, so you can each muster the courage to be real and learn how to listen and talk so you’re in it together.
Copyright © 2009 Marlin S. Potash. All rights reserved.