Dr. Romance writes:

As a therapist, I have worked with many clients who had been going to a previous therapist for years, and getting nowhere. Some therapists just listen and sympathize, but will not challenge a client to move through and past trauma and stuck places.

If talking to friends and family, or even your therapist, doesn’t help you move on past old traumas, let go of toxic relationships, or move through your grief and emotional pain, it’s time to get some effective therapy.

Your therapist should help you:

  1. Look at your hurts and pain: When you’ve been hurt, betrayed, abandoned or suffered loss, whether it was in childhood or more recently; like most people you probably want to avoid those feelings. A competent therapist will help you face the anger, hurt and fear you’re avoiding. Helping you move through these feelings will help you heal a lot faster and more completely.

    2. Learn to soothe and calm yourself: When something bad happens, many people use the stimulus to scare or punish themselves. This makes the whole crisis worse. When you’re upset, you need to be able to calm yourself down and comfort yourself. A good therapist can teach you these skills.

    3. Look at past traumas from a new perspective, taking yourself out of the victim slot and helping you see yourself as a survivor who can thrive: Traumas often produce Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) with symptoms like: agitation, irritability, hostility, hyper-vigilance, self-destructive behavior, social isolation, flashbacks, exaggerated fear, severe anxiety, mistrust, insomnia or nightmares, emotional detachment, unwanted thoughts, depression, loss of interest or pleasure in activities, guilt, or loneliness. These disturbing symptoms can be relieved if you work with a therapist who understands how to treat PTSD.

    4. Help you learn from past mistakes so you won’t repeat them: It’s easy to develop harmful behavior patterns, which are repeated mindlessly. A good therapist can help you look at these and change them.
    5. Teach you skills and tools for getting through life better: Life and relationships require a lot of skills, like good communication skills, reassuring other people, and getting and staying organized. A good therapist can help you develop the skills you may be missing.

    6. Figure out what happiness is for you: It’s common for people to being organizing their lives according to what others want them to do or what they think others believe about them. This doesn’t lead to happiness. A good therapist can help you discover what will really make you happy, and create a plan to achieve it.

    7. Show you how to achieve what you want in life: If you haven’t been able to attain goals you want to meet, a good therapist can help you create a road map for meeting your goals, and help you figure out how you’re getting in your own way, and fix it.

    This may involve:

    1. Hearing things you don’t want to hear: The truth can set you free, but it may not be what you want to hear. A therapist shouldn’t care about being nice to you, but care about your healing enough to tell you the hard truths.

    2. Realizing your own mistakes that led to the problem: It’s natural to want to blame other people, but your power lies in being able to look dispassionately at yourself, figure out what you’ve been doing wrong, and changing how you approach things. A therapist can help you get a clear view of your own responsibility in what has happened.

    3. Learning to forgive and let go: Hanging on to a lost love, nurturing your anger at someone, or holding a grudge holds you back from moving on. A competent therapist can help you learn to protect yourself from future hurt and learn what it really means to forgive.

    4. Growing up emotionally, so you see parents and others as the fallible humans they are: As small children, we see our parents and certain other adults as very powerful, and the only possible source of love and safety. We take whatever they say very seriously, and we may carry whatever messages we got from them from a lifetime. When we learn how to see them as fallible people, and take back the power to determine our own opinions, we become more emotionally mature and more in charge of our own lives. A good therapist can help you do that.

    If these things are not happening, talk with your therapist. If the therapist isn’t receptive, it may be time to find someone new.  "Guidelines for Finding and Using Therapy Wisely"  can help you find someone who will save you stress, time and money by really helping you to heal.  It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction will show you what's involved in healing PTSD and childhood dysfunction.

    It Ends With You

    For low-cost counseling, email me at tina@tinatessina.com

Author's Bio: 

Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D. is a licensed psychotherapist in S. California since 1978 with over 30 years experience in counseling individuals and couples and author of 13 books in 17 languages, including It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction; The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again; Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting About the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage, The Commuter Marriage, and her newest, Love Styles: How to Celebrate Your Differences. She writes the “Dr. Romance” blog, and the “Happiness Tips from Tina” email newsletter.