Sunday, April 22, 2012

Good Timing, Times

Wow, do the New York Times gods read my blog and respond accordingly?

I really like what the author says here:

Many patients need an aggressive therapist who prods them to face what they find uncomfortable: change. They need a therapist’s opinion, advice and structured action plans. They don’t need to talk endlessly about how they feel or about childhood memories. A recent study by the National Institute for Health and Welfare in Finland found that “active, engaging and extroverted therapists” helped patients more quickly in the short term than “cautious, nonintrusive therapists.”

I think R probably falls somewhere in the middle, as he definitely sets goals and is very behavior-oriented, but I've also somehow been able to get away without making a whole lot of progress food/weight-wise.

Thoughts? How long have people been in therapy, and how did you know when it was time to call it quits? I suppose eating disorders would qualify as "severe psychological disorders," as the author says, that require years to manage. Maybe I'm just being impatient.

I swear I do other things besides read the New York Times.


  1. Very interesting.

    Long and convoluted anecdote to answer your question:
    I did a few short (one 4 month, one 5 week) stints in therapy as a teenager that were useless for multiple reasons, many (but not all) of which were my fault. I finally got serious about it in late 2007 (and saw that psychologist for 18 months, until I had to move away for grad school), so we're looking at a span about 4.5 years now, but with about a year's break while I was away doing research. I saw a therapist plus a dietician for a year when I started grad school, then a gap year, and the same d. with a different therapist over the past year. Kinda messy I guess. My life is so incredibly much better after those years of treatment than when I started, though.

    Shorter and probably more interesting anecdote:
    At one point when I was so frustrated with my slow progress, I asked my undergrad therapist (who absolutely saved my life) how long she typically sees an EDer before they are "done", whatever that means. She told me she usually sees ED patients for an average of 2 years, but that could be constrained by the fact that she saw mostly college students that move when they graduate. Although maybe that is balanced out by the early drop-outs of people who don't really recover. I was SUCH a slow starter in recovery, which is probably why I got fired by both of my therapists as a teenager, but I think that is typical for something like an ED, especially for adults vs young teenagers that can still be somewhat forced into compliance. I can't imagine why H. didn't fire me halfway through 2008 when I was still being such a pathological ED-bot, but I'm glad she didn't. Okay this anecdote was not actually shorter, sorry.

    It can be so painfully slow, but just like any journey, having an un-fast start doesn't mean you'll never get to the end.

    I think I'm going to show this to both my dietician and therapist this week, would be interesting to hear their comments. I wonder what R would think of it, especially in the context of your case? I can't start my day without the NYT, btw so don't be shy about it. ;)

  2. By the way, I just discovered you can revert back to the old Blogger interface (for now at least), it's an option on the settings tab. Just FYI since we commiserated about this earlier this week.

  3. I think it's a tough balance for therapists, between encouraging that uncomfortable change, and not being intimidating about it.

    I had an assessment done for counseling when I was 9, and I just lied through my teeth and never had to go back. I lied and manipulated my family for the next 10 years about how I was doing; I didn't want to see anyone. I didn't see anyone again until I was in college and things were really starting to spin out of control. I would have stuck with her forever, we really clicked, but I graduated. When I got to my MS-university, I started seeing a counselor there, and felt just so-so about it. I feel like she was too easy on me, though that may have been my responsibility as well to push forward more. She was also close to my age, which seemed awkward to me. I started seeing someone through the university at my PhD-university and I didn't click with him at all. It was painful. He seemed very passive and I didn't feel like it would help me progress at all. I found myself lying to him and losing any desire I had to work on things. I decided to try a private counseling center in the city and found someone who I work well with. I have a tendency to get freaked out when I feel like I've shared "too much" and stop calling, but I stuck it out with her and I couldn't be happier.

    Maybe after the short break from R because of schedules, you can address some of the concerns with him? It sounds like it's been a decent relationship between you, but it also seems like there are some concerns that need to be addressed, or it might be time for a new therapist if it's just not going to work. I'm not sure that was at all helpful (lol), but those are my two cents. Good luck, and I hope you can find some good, solid help to keep moving forward!