How Therapy Works: Several Writers on the Subject

Presented below are some brief articles on the topic of how therapy works. I’ll give some highlights, but I think they’re all worth reading in their entirety.

I. Clinical social worker May Benatar‘s “What Good Can It (Psychotherapy) Do?”

“Therapy is about accessing our inner, innate wisdom, not replacing it with someone else’s.”

Two elements of therapy proposed to be enablers of that “inner compass”:

1. “The magic of relationship”: Researchers who’ve studied all different types of therapy approaches find that it’s mostly about the relationship.

2. Listening: “A therapist listens differently than other people…When things go well, a good therapist hears what others do not, even the speaker.”

II. “My Double Life in Therapy,” by Jessica Ciencin Henriquez, who’s in the process of writing a book called Lies I’ve Told My Therapist

In essence, the writer spins tall tales to her therapist—with interesting results. Some quotes:

On starting therapy with inexperienced therapist, Lawrence: “I’ve never been much of an actress, but in that moment I decided that playing the role of normal and sane would be much easier than actually becoming normal or sane.”

On continuing therapy in this way: “The reality is this: Only a crazy person lies to their therapist, right? But it went on like this for six months – me telling stories, Lawrence responding with doe-eyed amazement. I figured I must have temporarily lost my mind, and unexpectedly, the very person I hired to ensure that didn’t happen was now encouraging this behavior, spoon feeding it with his positive responses…”

III. Related to the above, you also may be interested in John Grohol’s “10 Common Reasons to Lie to Your Therapist” on Psych Central.

  1. Painful or embarrassing information.
  2. Didn’t know it was important; denial.
  3. My therapist will judge me.
  4. My therapist will report me.
  5. Trust and rapport with your therapist.
  6. Lying as coping mechanism.
  7. It just takes time. (that is, to build that kind of trust)
  8. Wanting to maintain a positive self-image.
  9. Transference and countertransference issues.
  10. Fear. (many different possibilities)

Finally, a few humorous quotes about how therapy works (for the writers of these quotes, that is):

Therapy hasn’t really made me feel any better, it just made me understand why I feel bad. Corey Pandolph

i go to therapy to deal with people who don’t go to therapy. Lauren Ashley Bishop

I like to call therapy baggage claim. Aparna Nancherla

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