How to pick a therapist?

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Tired out, Nov 12, 2018.

  1. Tired out

    Tired out Active Member

    I know many of you have experience with therapists.
    How do I go about picking a therapist?
    I don't want to just have someone listen to my complaints, problems, short comings.
    I want advice on what to do.
    I need to know how, what steps to take to just let go, if that is what I should do.
    Our son was never diagnosed with anything.
    Manipulator, thief, brat, narcissist?
    I can't go on feeling bad about him forever.
    I have 2 wonderful (grown) children. I have a husband I love.
  2. Smithmom

    Smithmom Active Member

    In my experience finding a therapist you like

    1. Isn't difficult. You're a likeable person with problems everyone can relate to. You're not looking to moan and groan about the same thing week after week, you're looking for progress. You're the kind of client a therapist wants.

    2. A good therapist shouldn't tell you what to do. Run from that person. This is about you finding your path, not following someone's instructions. A good therapist asks you what might happen if....

    3. This isn't about your child's diagnosis or illness. This is about you. What is making you happy or unhappy and how to improve your life. Improving your child's life is for his therapist, not yours.
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  3. skittles

    skittles Member

    I tried many that i just couldnt connect with on a personal basis. Eventually though my anxiety got so bad I was suffering from depersonalization disorder, common in PTSD sufferers. My doctor sent me for therapy for that and I think because this person was a specialist in treating trama it was a different approach to therapy that worked well for me. Instead of focusing on fixing problems we focused on my anxiety and anger related to the emotional trauma ive suffered through an abusive ex, my difficult son and his problems. I learned theres no solution to my sons problems, only in the way i react to them. You may want to look for a therapist that works in PTSD, in reality its what we are dealing with.
  4. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    If you live in a big city, I would go to Jewish Family Services. They serve anybody. They have a sliding scale. They have good people. I would ask for a licensed person who is a permanent employee. I would also not have a problem asking for the gender of person or even the age range, if it matters to you.

    The other way to do it is to go through insurance. They will have a list. Some insurance companies have a place you can call. They have therapists on staff.

    The important thing is to keep in your head that you are in charge. If it does not serve your needs within the first one or two times, cut them loose, and go to the next person. This is the mistake I always made. I got married to them. And then it got that I was afraid to hurt their feelings, etc.

    The person here who really knows about this is SWOT. She has had excellent therapists and has transformed herself and her life through psychotherapy.

    I would go into it with concrete ideas about what you want to change in your life. Concrete results you want.

    There are mothers here who have gone to addiction specialists, people who actually help them to identify and enforce boundaries, and how to work with their kids. RN is one example.

    I don't remember if you are spiritually oriented, but I have gotten a great deal of clarity and I have changed a great deal through spiritual direction. I speak with a Rabbi as often as I can. There are pastoral counselors, too. People that are both clergy and counselors.
    Me neither. That is like staying stuck in the problem. It is good that you know that. This might be one yardstick you can bring. You know what you don't want.
    I let people tell me what to do, and it is a mistake. I think here is the place to figure out what to do. And then once you have a range of options, I would use the therapist to prioritize them and to help you achieve them.

    I never know what to do until the situation is desperate, and then I overreact. I ignore my needs and feelings until they explode. So. I had to face that even though I am a very emotional person, THAT I AM OUT OF TOUCH WITH MY FEELINGS. I don't know how to name them. I don't know how to listen to them. And I realized that I am this way because I had early trauma as a child, and I never learned how to do any of this. I was playing (at life) with half a deck. That I did not any longer want to be estranged from myself. Because this is where answers come from. From listening to ourselves. (And G-d, for those who are believers.) And I am going to a somatic experiencing therapist. Which is more focused on bodywork.

    How is it that anybody else is going to know what you should do? Isn't it us that need to know, based upon our own feelings, knowledge and desires?

    OK. I realize I am always asking what to do. I accept that. But I want to change.

    The other possibility I am thinking about now, I am not sure if you have done this or want to, is Al Anon. This could be an adjunct to the therapist. Now I have been meaning to do this for, say, 9 years. I don't know what my problem is.
    When you say this I am thinking maybe an addiction specialist, which could be a regular therapist like a Marriage and Family Therapist, a Psychologist or Social Worker. Or it could be somebody who works only with addiction. My son went to somebody like this. She had a masters degree. I was not impressed and I ended up blowing up at her unfortunately and embarrassing myself. I am pretty sure that your son is using marijuana at least.

    I think this kind of therapist would be more directive. As in, they would tell you what to do and not to do. You could find somebody like this at your County Mental Health in the Drug and Alcohol Department. They would have good people, I think. But I would not go to County Mental Health for a therapist. They would be both unlicensed and inexperienced. But I am sure that is just a prejudice. Because that is where I worked when I was unlicensed and inexperienced.

    My Pilates teacher told me he went to a guy and was very pleased. He got very attached and he said it helped him a great deal. He is 31. I think I will try him. He is here in my town. And I will pray that my son finds somebody where he is.

    I make the same mistake every single time. I stay with people too long that are not helping me. I think that is key. To know what you want and need and to move on if they are not providing it.

    Finally. I have gotten a huge amount of help from you ladies. Support too. But I have gotten huge help in clarifying where I need to go. I did thread after thread. I got real help. If you look at this last thread I did, everybody had consensus. It is hard to turn away from that kind of thing. That really beefed up my voice and my stamina. It made me stronger. I suggest that, too.
  5. Tired out

    Tired out Active Member

    he needs to see a therapist. I wish, I wish he would listen to someone sane. He listens to people that are stupider and more radical than he is. He listens to what he wants to hear.

    Me. I need to detach.
    The killer is he says his dad was mean to him growing up. Such bull. His dad thought the sun rose and set where that boy was.
    He knocked Dad to his knees stealing form him and accusing him of not liking or loving him. Trying to justify his theft. Now dad says he is done.
    Me. It all breaks my heart and I didn't want baby #3. I was happy and done with 2. #1 was 11 weeks early had a post delivery incident and has cerebral palsy #2 was a week late and a difficult delivery. I was on the pill and had an appointment with my doctor to schedule having my tubes tied when I was diagnosed as pregnant.. we decided it was meant to be. Went through with a very easy pregnancy and delivery and easy baby..the most cuddly lovey baby ever. fast forward to age 13 and a unhappy, bratty kid started to emerge. And here we are today.
    I love him BUT I don't like him 1 little bit. He is manipulative.
    I don't know what to do.
    just delete his number. not answer. let him figure it out. ??
  6. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    That is what I am doing now. But it is bodywork. We talk, but it is not problem-focused or solution-focused. It is focused upon my being able to feel what I feel and to integrate what I feel in my body to what I think and being to act in a more powerful way, with a clearer, stronger voice, as a consequence.

    I love it.

    But I think that I would benefit from a traditional therapist too.
  7. skittles

    skittles Member

    Check if you have any Coda meetings in your area (Co-dependent recovery ) they could help also, im thinking of joining one in my area for some extra support. Co dependency can exist with any type of behavior problems not just addictions, you may find some comfort there without the cost of a therapist
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  8. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    I think there is merit to letting him stew in his own juices. But we all know the mess I am in. I am in no position to give advice.

    The first decision I would make is whether this therapy is about you or about him. What I mean here is this: Is the result you want a change in you, how you feel and behave or is about effecting some change in him? I think I am hearing that it is the first.

    I hear you saying that first and foremost you need relief. You need boundaries that protect you. You need to return to yourself. If he won't conform to a level of behavior that allows him to integrate into the family, then he needs to stay away. That is what I hear.

    Here is my commentary on that: You have so much on your plate. Nobody has the psychic energy to handle all of this together. What you are asking of yourself very few people could do. You need to honor yourself and your needs. You need to protect yourself.

    Now I am going to talk out of the other side of my mouth: You know what happened to me when I acted from this place. At first there was relief. For one month I was proud of myself, until I crashed. Now. My son is more vulnerable than is yours. He is older and we have been at this much longer. And you have other kids. You would probably not become as vulnerable as did I. But it is something to think about.
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2018
  9. Smithmom

    Smithmom Active Member

    Find a therapist before you make any long term decisions. In the meantime don't answer the phone. Take time for you.

    I don't know the whole situation. People can re-write the past. They can imagine things. There are false memories.

    I can speak to my own situation. My mother sees herself as a saint. Anyone who doesn't see her that way is just "crazy"from her perspective. This is anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder. But I don't have false memories. She gave me what she needed, not what I needed. Simple example. Two high schools in town. Public HS open to everyone so included kids from rougher neighborhoods. Gifted classes. Other HS religious. Not our religion. No rough kids there. Teachers with religious but not teaching credentials. Religious classes. Gifted? hah! LOL. Enough classes to get academic diploma and pass state HS std tests. Her anxiety was safety. So where did I go to HS? What college did that HS get me into? My fate is mine. Just saying that my needs, wants and my future never came up. Never was a discussion. I was just told where I was going. This isn't about your son. Just saying that I know a lot of kids, my sons' friends, who played sports because Dad wanted them to, not because they did. So our memories as parents, the effort we put into giving them everything we thought they should have, isn't always the same as that of our kids. No, I never stole a penny from my mother. Though I never made her proud either, but for a moment or two when her friends were first to point out my accomplishments. LOL.
  10. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Your husband reminds me of me a little bit. He sounds vulnerable. Tired. You sound stronger in the sense that you are better defended.

    I had a lot of guilt when my son did not thrive as a young adult. And he reacted the way your son is being toward his Dad. He didn't scapegoat me but he gossiped about me to the neighbors and would tell them how I was angry and blew up. (I was in agony. I didn't know what happened to my son and our life together. I was mystified, just as your husband must be.)

    I kept waiting for my son to have empathy for me. Still waiting.

    In our case my son put onto me his feelings about being adopted and drug-exposed prenatally. He blamed me. And I didn't even know him then. So that is one answer. They do this because it functions for them, intra-psychically. Your son for whatever reason cannot handle within himself what he is experiencing. So he is using your husband to do so.
  11. Elsi

    Elsi Active Member

    Just my two cents, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) was more helpful to me than traditional psychotherapy. It is more focused on changing negative thought patterns that are holding you back today rather than exploring past history and reasons for how you got here. Some therapists use a balanced approach that includes a bit of both. CBT has given me a lot of tools for setting appropriate boundaries, letting go of guilt, and stopping the runaway train of worry or self-flagellation. I’m trying to get back to that now after this weekend’s upsetting events. I’m thinking it may be time for a tune up.

    It really comes down to what your goals are for therapy and finding a therapist who uses methods aligned with those goals and who you mesh well with. Copa is absolutely right to say don’t be afraid to change if it’s not working. You’ll know within a couple sessions. A good therapist may take you to uncomfortable places but they won’t leave you there. And others are right to say they won’t tell you what to do. But they should help you discover it for yourself.
  12. CareTooMuch

    CareTooMuch Active Member

    Our therapist focuses on CBT also, and it's a great fit for D and husband and I when we're involved.
  13. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Tired out, you can look at options for therapists in your area at Find a Therapist & Find a Therapist, Psychologist, Counselor - Psychology Today.

    I've had 25 years of active therapy over my lifetime. I grew up in a family with mental illness and my daughter, who brought me here, exhibits behaviors that fit mental illness and/or conduct disorders although she's never been diagnosed nor has she had therapy. For me therapy has changed my life in enormous, positive ways. It's given me a safe place to get support, guidance, resources, compassion, empathy, to have the experience of being seen and heard and to find my own balance point within so I could make choices which supported my health and well being. I learned how to have a different response to my daughter's behaviors and choices, how to navigate through difficult situations where I felt stymied, how to discern the difference between enabling my daughter & offering loving kindness, how to accept what I cannot change and how to let go of beliefs, ideas, notions, feelings etc, which no longer served me..... and to find my own peace of mind and my own joy in spite of what the circumstances of my daughters life are.

    For me, it wasn't about talking about my problems, complaints & shortcomings, it was about looking at options I could not see on my own; it was about a safe and nourishing place I could address the painful emotional landscape I was on with a trained individual who could listen to my concerns, & offer me options and different ways of looking at the same situation but with a different perspective. It was often a lifeline in a sea of insanity. I needed that safe place where it was all about that point in time, my life was about everyone else BUT me.

    It's important to find a person whom you feel safe, comfortable and open with. If you don't find what you're looking for immediately, keep looking....this is for you, make sure you are receiving what it is you desire from this experience. Trust your instincts.

    I entered therapy because I wanted to heal, grow, let go of my fears & hurts & to find the life I imagined in spite of all of the challenges life presented. It wasn't always easy, but it was necessary for me.

    There's a saying which I've attributed to the teachers, healers, therapists and angels who've shown up in my life when I needed them the most....."when the student is ready, the teacher appears." I have found that to be true. If a therapist is what you want and you begin endeavoring down that path, I believe the right therapist will appear for you.

    Wishing you smooth sailing in your journey.....sending hugs & love for your wounded Mother's heart......
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  14. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    Im a big fan of CBT.

    I went to many therapists as they tend to quit one place and move to another and I got a lot of help even with having to switch. I had a few rules for my therapists. I will share mine, but you will find you have your own.

    1. First off I wanted therapists my gender, close to my age or older.
    I just didnt think even a gifted 25 year old lived enough life to help me even when I was 25. She would be going by the text book and as you all know, I am very leery of the DSM. If you want to learn about how the DSM adds diagnoses check youtube. It is a vote of hands because there are NO tests to prove a diagnosis. I also wanted somebody focused on issues not a diagnosis although they sll had to mention my mood disorder for insurance. But I preferred to deal with the issues at hand and how to cope the best.

    2. No therapist should scold you or tell you what you MUST do. I came to most conclusions myself and got lots of help from therapists. Hard to explain. They, if good, are like wise friends. And you should feel comfortable telling them even the worst.

    3. They needed to be alert and remember what we spoke of week to week by taking good notes and checking them before our apointment. This saves time and lets you know they are listening. Bart went to a therapist as a boy who always looked as if he were trying to keep his eyes open! I fired him.He wasnt interested.

    I do like specialists for certain issues. I went to a psychologist with the PHD who specialized in adopted people and their families after a little boy we adopted at age six from an orphanage took off from our family in his 20s. I wanted/needed to understand as I was crushed. Two years of weekly therapy explained that by age 6 the person was already formed and that since he had never had affection or love, he could not attach to a family. I learned so helped me with my other adopted kids who came as babies and WERE attached and to this day I am very close to them. Like BFFs. I am wondering if an addiction therapist could help you. Then again a therapist needs to teach you coping skills too, not just talk about your kid.

    I barely go to therapy now and havent gone much since I hit 50 and was busy having such a good life. But I am always willing to go if something overwhelms me and with my anxiety something comes up now and then.

    Remember that a therapist works for you and you can fire anyone who doesnt work well for you.

    One last word. This forum has been awesome to me for MYSELF. I got more out of discussing my abusive family here than from any therapist. I was able to emotionally and physically cut the cord from my family because of this forum. No easy trick since I had a trauma bond to even the deceased people. You will gain a lot here. These are good folks.

    Stick around!
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2018
  15. RN0441

    RN0441 100% better than I was but not at 100% yet


    I also am a big fan of therapy. To me it's a luxury. I believe that those that have enough insight into themselves to seek out a therapist when in need have a good chance at overcoming the trials in life that brought them there in the first place.

    I needed therapy due to my son's addiction and issues relating to that that were effecting me in a horrible way. I found someone that specialized in addiction so she was able to give me an unbiased advice on what was really going on with him and with me as a result of that. She taught me that boundaries were okay. That he needed them too. That it didn't mean I didn't love my son. To the contrary. It was BECAUSE I loved him. Setting boundaries is hard work.

    To me a good therapist helps you find the tools within YOURSELF to deal with what is troubling you. It's a professional that will give you empathy and support and show you how to find your own self-compassion. I needed to learn how to detach for my own emotional survival. It was hard work but one day I was there. I saw my thinking start to shift slowly. It happened so slowly that I did n't even realize it.
  16. Smithmom

    Smithmom Active Member

    The replies here have made me think about my own therapy history. My experiences have all been with sliding scale clinics. I never had the luxury of selecting someone by age or gender. But interestingly it was a male 25 yrs or so younger than me who was my favorite. He was somewhat more than 25 but not a lot.

    A good therapist doesn't talk about themselves. It's not about them. It doesn't matter if they're married, have kids, share your hobbies, etc.

    CBT is valuable to most. It wasn't to me. Probably mostly because I was aware of my emotions. I could monitor my reactions. I wanted to address issues, not monitor my feelings and reactions to events. But its all in the way its done. The psychiatric resident who tried to teach me CBT as therapy spent the 45 minutes trying to get me to do a daily log and then talk about it. Perhaps without the forced log CBT would have been helpful as therapy. I don't recall how long I lasted with this, maybe 5 weeks.

    To me therapy is like meeting a friend for a cup of coffee except for the fact that the entire discussion is about me. I want the therapist to listen. The agenda is something like this:

    I give a general idea of what happened this week and what issue I want to talk about. Maybe 5 min.

    He tells me what he wants to talk about. This is something we talked about previously that he has new thoughts about. FYI in a clinic the therapists have a weekly group mtg when they can share problems they have with clients. This is all within confidentiality and was a huge bonus for me. I can't stress how valuable this is. I stated an issue in my history in passing that my therapist found extremely disturbing. Its just fact to me so I didn't anticipate his reaction. He took this to his group to decide to tell me his reaction. This is maybe 5 min.

    Then the rest of the time is about my issues. The therapist directs the discussion by asking questions. Eg I describe my interaction with my son last week. He asks why I said x. Then he asks what would have happened if I said y. But this is not confrontational, not an inatruction or suggestion. Its something I respond to and then move on. Its later that I think about y. So the following week I say that I thought about y and maybe y or z would be something I'll try next time.

    To me this is what therapy should be.
  17. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    If you want to learn about CBT, which for me was about how to stop castastrophizing and to relieve my depression and anxiety, I highly recommend the book Feeling Good by Dr. David Burns. This helped me to learn how to stop panicking about what will happen in life and to calm down. It helped a lot when I needed it. You can learn a lot judt by reading it and that is only $6.00. Nice bang for your buck.

    Most of my therapists waited for me to speak about what was on my mind and followed my lead in the topic. I was good with that. That works well for me.

    You have to find who you are comfortable with. That is the bottom line. Some of my favorite therapists were from a sliding scale clinic. I go to one now and hug my therapist every time we part. I see her once a month and she is is great match for me.

    My very top favorites were not from this clinic though...they were the CBT and Adopton Psychologists, both men. Yes, men. My rules are not steadfast. The Adoption Psychologist guided me through a very hard time in my life. He was the kindest person and he didnt mind teaching me things about a child's early developing brain, adoption in older children and attachment disorders and I understood him. This helped me see that my son was unable to attach to any of us and that this had happened before we met him. A six year old is not an infant, like my other adopted kids had been. I stopped blaming myself. But he was a specialist and most of mine through the years were not specialists.

    For me, with regular therapists, when I am talking about my issues (I rarely talk about my kids or my husband) I do tend to want a female. Everyone is different and there are exceptions.

    Remember if you don't like your therapist, you can leave. Never stay with one who doesnt get you or you dont like.

    Good luck!
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2018
  18. Tired out

    Tired out Active Member

    funny you say read
    My sister told me B should read that book. I guess I need to get it and read it. ..oh wait... I went to check my kindle and guess what book is on my nightstand --yep-- Feeling Good. I bought it when sis told me to get it. I will halt reading Harry Potter (my stress relief) for the up-teenth time and read this.
    What do I want out of therapy. I want to let go. I am not sure if I am a bit of a control freak or if I am just trying to keep stress out of our house.
    I told you I can still see B's bank deposits, withdrawals. So far when his rent is due he asks me to meet him at the bank to get him a cashiers check for his rent--so far every month he has been short and I have made up the difference--he knows I will--he is manipulating and I know that. You say, "why the bank check, why fill in the $s he is missing?" for me bank check is free, fill in the extra $s because I need (for my own sleep) to know he has a place to live. I don't want him to want to come back into our home but I want him to have a place to live. Do I say anything to his dad about this? Absolutely not. dad is stresses too much with work and the thought of what B did in the 1st place.
    However I am deciding (I think) at this point I want to be done with his manipulative tactics. I want to quit thinking about him, where he is, what he is doing, if he paid his rent, if he made his car and car insurance payments. His snotty texts to me last night was a nail in the coffin for me.
    He had a full time job and a part time job which filled in the gaps financially. He quit the part time job , he said he was sick of taking up the slack for the guy he followed on shift that left stuff for him to do. To me, he is there getting paid just work get your paycheck, pay your bills, period. I don't know if this is true or if he got fired or if he just quit, he is lazy. either way he needed that money to have enough to pay his bills. His dad works 6 to 7 days/week, I work 24/7 taking care of physically disable son. Why should I fill in his gaps when he is an able body and can have a second job himself to fill in the gaps? I know that when he stole the stuff out of our bedroom he also went through our file cabinet. He saw Dad's retirement accounts, or bank records etc. My personal thought is that he is figuring we have plenty and we can help him. The last time I saw him I said to him, "I know the way you look at things we have plenty of money so paying your bills shouldn't be a problem to us". He said, "well you have lots and when Dad retires he gets a big payout"
    I said, "you are short sighted. that retirement money has to see us through 20+ years and take care of your disabled brother. We aren't dipping into our retirement to pay your bills. "
    That was a little over a week ago. Maybe he thought he would give it one more try with the car payment?
    Quite honestly between you and me. IF it was just a car payment and not the laziness, blowing money that I don't have a clue where it is going (cash withdrawals), manipulation. I would probably make the payment, But there is too much else involved.

    I want to figure out how not to be bullied and manipulated.
    I want to detach from him. I'm not sure if that is the right term.
    I want him to know that when he decides to own up to the lies he has told that we will be here.

    Sorry for the long post and run on sentences. I was doing pretty well with all of this until last nights texts. I don't know why he brought up Thanksgiving and Christmas.
  19. Smithmom

    Smithmom Active Member

    Detach is just a word like any other. Means different things to different people. Not being bullied and manipulated is enough of a therapy goal.
  20. Elsi

    Elsi Active Member

    Isn’t it funny how they see things? I don’t talk about my financial situation with mine, because they also seem to think if I have money in the bank it should be no problem to give it to them. I’ve realized since they are short term thinkers for their own lives - not looking ahead further than tonight’s dinner and cigarettes or tomorrow’s due date on the rent payment - the concept of planning for retirement or having and emergency fund is them. Every day is an emergency in their world. Tomorrow is too far away to think about.

    I’m glad you are working on detaching. Developing and holding firm boundaries and not allowing yourself to be bullied are excellent therapy goals.