An excerpt from the book by Dhyan Shaida (Catherine Auman), ‘Shortcuts to Mindfulness’.
Months went by while I considered leaving therapy. It didn’t feel as if we were getting anywhere. At times my therapist, of whom I was very fond, would say something insightful and I’d decided to stay. Then it’d be back to the same dilemma session after session, we’re not getting anywhere – should I leave?
The answer is yes. Here’s an example of therapy that’s working:
“After having finished therapy, I am more comfortable with a larger range of emotions,” my friend Jaret recently posted on Facebook, “and as a result, my new music is so organic and emotional.” With the help of his therapist, “I was able to watch the traumas change to a more objective point of view and their impact diminished to the point of a lesson learned, kind of like a sign on a road pointing the direction to the next exit.”
Therapy is working if the results can be measured in your life as Jaret’s can. You’ve become creatively unstuck, or you’re better at your job, less anxious, feel better about life and are not in despair any more. Maybe you’re more able to make a decent living, or your relationships have improved, and you feel less lonely. You notice you have increased compassion for yourself and your fellow human beings.
The therapy that I didn’t find helpful meandered all over the place with no seeming goal other than increased understanding and the ability to speak in psychological jargon. Some therapists work to foster insight which is fine if it leads to improved action in the world. If your life’s not working, insight without changed behavior can actually be harmful, cultivating a retreat from life and an attitude of superiority. Some therapists view their job as acting as a cheerleader, which is okay if that’s what you’re looking for, but it would be preferable to learn how to find support in the real world rather than paying someone to be your friend.
You and your therapist need to be able to articulate where you are, where you’re going, and how much progress you’ve made in the time you’ve been working together. If this isn’t happening, you’re wasting your time and money.
Jack Canfield, although he recommends psychotherapy, states in his book The Success Principles that only 20% of therapists are any good. If, like me, you’ve been wondering whether or not your therapy is working, bring up your concerns with your therapist, and see what she says. It might be time to make a switch.
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American-born Dhyan Shaida (Catherine Auman M.A.) began studying meditation and yoga in 1972, astrology in 1980, and explored many spiritual and personal growth paths. She became a sannyasin of Osho in 1985 and lived at the Osho Commune in 1999-2000, studying tantra and meditation. Her distinguished career in psychology includes work in virtually all aspects of mental health. She taught psychology and counseling at JFK University, the University of Phoenix, and The Chicago School for Professional Psychology. catherineauman.com