Psychodynamic Therapy Nov 2, 2011 19:11:55 GMT -8
Post by Susan Peabody on Nov 2, 2011 19:11:55 GMT -8
From The Art of Changing by Susan Peabody
Some people move easily beyond a difficult childhood and just naturally make peace with it. Others will have to really explore what happened to them because they are haunted by the past. In her book, The Drama of the Gifted Child, Alice Miller puts it this way:
Experience has taught us that we have only one enduring weapon in our struggle against mental illness: the emotional discovery of the truth about the unique history our childhood.... In order to become whole we must try, in a long process, to discover our own personal truth, a truth that may cause pain before giving us a new sphere of freedom. The damage done to us during our childhood cannot be undone, since we cannot change anything in our past. We can, however, change ourselves…. We become free by transforming ourselves from unaware victims of the past into responsible individuals in the present, who are aware of the past and are thus able to live with it."
Psychodynamic therapy is a mixed bag. Sometimes you have a good therapist, and you get a lot out of it. Sometimes you have an inadequate therapist and it’s a waste of time. But, nothing ventured, nothing gained, and if you’re not satisfied with your progress in your support group, then giving therapy a try might do the trick. The individual attention and intuition of a therapist can untangle a lot of mysteries. And change always begins with the truth.
Of course, therapy is a slow process, especially if you just sit there and talk. What makes therapy work is acting upon the insights you get from a good session. Furthermore, your therapist is not going to wave a magic wand and change you. You have to do the work.
One day I told my therapist that I was unhappy with the progress we were making. "What do you mean we?" he said. "Well," I mumbled, "isn’t this a team effort?" "No," he said, "You’re the one that has to do the work. I hold the flashlight; you chop the wood."
I was shocked by this statement, but it was the beginning of a change in my attitude about therapy. I realized my therapist wasn’t going to fix me. I had to start doing things differently if I wanted to change. The following story explains how therapy helped me change.
As long as I could remember, I had been angry with my mother--both as a child and as an adult. Once I had a dream in which I was so angry at my mother that I was paralyzed. I couldn’t move. I opened my mouth to scream at her, and the words got stuck in my throat. Later in the dream I was talking to my father, and he told me that my mother was pregnant. I went into a rage. Then my mother appeared and I screamed at her, “You are going to do to another child what you did to me?” I was so angry I woke myself up.
I didn’t tell my therapist about the dream right away. Instead I went to my mother. I wanted to process my feelings about my childhood with her, so I asked her a lot of questions about what was going on in the family when I was young. Mom just stared at me. She didn’t want to talk about it. “I don’t remember,” she said. I was livid. Not only had she neglected me as a child, and exposed me to the parent who had abused her, now she was impending in my attempts to get better.
When I finally talked to my therapist about it, he said something interesting. He shrugged his shoulders and said sympathetically, “Oh, she couldn’t do it.” I stopped dead in my tracks when I realized that he didn’t say "she wouldn’t do it.” He said she "couldn’t do it." What a difference a letter can make. I suddenly began looking at my mother in a brand-new light.
It took time, but eventually I changed my mind about my mother. A change in my feelings quickly followed. Then I started treating my mother differently. I changed. Our relationship changed.
This is how therapy is supposed to work. You uncover things. You process your feelings. Your feelings change. You treat people differently. You change. Your relationships change. Then you repeat the process all over again. [/color][/font]