What's Wrong With Therapy?

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  • #592412

    Hi.

    I’m a little confused by the attitude to therapy here.

    Why is going to therapy (not physical, occupational or speech, but psychotherapy) so stigmatized?

    I’ve mentored teenage girls who really struggled and therapy helped them find their voice and begin to straighten out. I’ve seen over and over how therapy can help people understand themselves and others better. A therapist is like having a best friend, only better because they can and will force you to see parts of yourself and work on yourself.

    I actually admire people who go to therapy. It means that they realized that they need help, did something about it, and are willing to work on themselves. It shows commitment to self-improvement. Narcissists don’t go to therapy. If you’ve ever tried to convince a teenager to go to therapy and seen the results, you understand how wonderful it can be. Even normal people can benefit from talking over a problem with someone who is trained to spot what’s wrong with their perceptions.

    I can only say this because I’m anonymous, but honestly I would prefer a boy who had, let’s say, a problem with public speaking, got therapy, and is now more sensitive, self-aware, and confident, to a boy who wouldn’t go because of his “reputation” and did not fulfill his potential. Either he has no problems he couldn’t solve with his support system, which is good, or he doesn’t face the problems he has, which is bad. My feeling is that there is quite a large percentage of the latter.

    Am I the only one who thinks like this?

    (Disclaimer: I am going to be a psychologist. So I am biased)

    #698359
    popa_bar_abba
    Participant

    a problem with public speaking

    I was agreeing with you until you limited it to problems like public speaking.

    #698360
    sms007
    Member

    i agree with you %100. i think people get so nervous from it because they automatically think therapy means something is majorly wrong with person. but nowadays therapy has become a more wide spread treatment for smaller issues too (which is good!), but the stereotype remains the same. btw good luck pursuing the field!

    #698361

    popa – Thank you, and of course the benefits are not limited to public speaking; I just wanted to give an mild example.

    sms – Thanks. Do you have any ideas of how people can change the stereotype?

    #698362
    sms007
    Member

    tough call. people get very set in their ways… maybe if people would know more about it, like how it can help anybody. not sure really

    #698363

    SMS I think you are right that people are very set in their ways. It is just such a pity.

    #698364
    superficial
    Member

    First of all, i’d like to object to the statement you made “even normal people go to therapy.” This implies that in general, people who attend therapy are not “normal,” this is false.

    second of all, I myself attended therapy for almost a year. Even though my original issue was taken care of B”h (anxiety) I continue to go because of the benefits. I have learned to deal with all sorts of stresses and challeges in a healthier more productive way. I would shout it feom the rooftops but unfortunately it would sully my reputation. I’ll just say this- If you have a hava amina to go to therapy GO GO GO! You have a world to gain and nothing to lose. Beezras Hashem the Frum world will become as educated as the secular world and accept and even encourage therapy.

    #698365

    Thank you Superficial – I agree with everything you said, and would like to add that I did not mean to imply that most people who go to therapy are not normal. You are very courageous for saying what you just did.

    #698366
    just me
    Participant

    I always encourage newly weds to think about a marrage councelor if they have a problem. Too many people don’t beleive in therapy and dont go until they can’t stand to look at each other.

    I look at a therapist like I would a doctor. There are great ones and bad ones. You have to ask around.

    #698367

    paschabchochma-

    Hi.

    Please see the following related threads on this topic:

    Therapy Stigma

    http://www.theyeshivaworld.com/coffeeroom/topic/the-stigma-on-therapy-etc

    #698368

    Thanks I can only try!

    #698369
    Moq
    Member

    if you will be a therapist, please, be a good one. I have a special hatred for incompetent therapist, because I also believe that therapy often can be so helpful – and I personally saw a couple (a relative) almost get divorced because of a female marriage counselor who quickly became a female ally. They separated (!) and finally figured out that the counselor had gotten them that far. They threw her overboard and saved the ship (different shrink, far better – and a happy ending). They didn’t even need to cast a goral.


    Confused by the attitude towards therapy? It has always been this way – in the secular world as well. And as I said, there are so many bad therapists, who either discovered problems or nod their head for a three years worth of therapy (‘and how did that make you feel? ahha? It’s because of your mother…’) and often , people go to therapists with a “fix me” attitude which stops them from actually with their own issues.

    Though there are many excellent professionals who do excellent work. I have seem a lot of professionals up close, and I have never seen a masters level professional get anything done; it seems like real work requires a doctorate. But that too, it my own limited experience.

    #698370
    so right
    Member

    Moq, what’s a female ally?

    And what do you mean its always been this way in the secular world? It seems to me, in the secular world therapy isn’t considered as embarrassing. Patients meet each other in the waiting room for example. By frum therapists, they generally have a hiding room, not a waiting room – so one patient shouldn’t see who anyone else is.

    #698371
    Moq
    Member

    An Ally; she fought the husband along side her patient. She lost her impartiality (maybe her husband was a jerk too). I’m sure it could happen to a male therapist who lacks professionalism as well.

    The second person they saw – who fixed them up nicely – said it took him another six months to undo the garbage from the first idiot. I think ultimately they saw him for a year and a half, give or take.


    And definetely, it’s more open in the secular world, but usually there still is a stigma. And they are more open about everything, and how messed up they are. We try not to be.

    Again, I think therapy can work wonders – if it’s necessary, and the therapist has real academic credentials, experience, and a real genuine brain. Which means they will cost a lot more. But divorce, I suppose, is more expensive.

    #698372
    theprof1
    Participant

    The problem with the stigma attached to therapy of any kind is that people don’t realize that the person in need is actually ill. There’s a saying in yiddish, if meshuga would hurt, he’d be screaming in the streets. Truth is that sometimes it does get that bad and then it’s quite late. Kind of like stage 4 cancer. Post partum depression syndrome is an age old problem which immediate therapy would help fairly quick too. Many young children can receive behavioral change therapy instead of taking various ADHD etc drugs. Job related stress and tension can be alleviated through therapy. So many types of problems and issues can be treated effectively and often quickly, yet are not because of the stigma attached to any therapy. And this stigma won’t change any time soon. Too bad.

    #698373
    shimmel
    Member

    THe reason why in the secular world therapy isnt something they hide is because in general when they meet each other its the externals that attract them to each other..they dont know the inner person and all his meshugaisen.

    We try to look at the internals of a person,we as around about his middos,character and inner issues a person has ..We are looking to build a stable yiddish home, so we try to take the most stable and normal person possible. So you’re going to argue that a person that went for therapy is stable because they went for help and they are doing well..Well, Y do we need to take something that had issues? i’d rather take the girl/ boy who I (think) Know didn’t have any issues.

    #698374
    apushatayid
    Participant

    “What’s wrong with therapy?”

    Nothing, as long as the therapists hashkafos are rooted in torah sources.

    #698375
    fabie
    Member

    Very well put Moq. Unfortunately I have seen this numerous times. I had a debate with a prominent Rav about this issue as well. He is under the impression that some well intentioned Mashgichim and Kollel wives can usually do the trick. When their is a real problem you need a real professional, and even those have to be checked out well as you mentioned. A relative of mine recently sent someone to therapy, and the husband asked me to check out her professionalism. No academic credentials, and yes she’s become an ally as well. She told me she had Rabbinic Approval, so I asked her who they were, she refused to state, saying that’s none of my business, everyone should ask whom ever they like. If the husband isn’t happy that’s his problem, let him ask his Rav what to do, the main thing is she’s happy.

    This relative’s uncle recently got divorced, and we know both parties well. I really hope some ….. didn’t blunder with them as well.

    #698376
    superficial
    Member

    Well shimmel, well put, your moach is in the Himmel. Your understanding of therapy is juvenile at best. For many people, therapy is about sorting out their relationship with their overbearing mother or domineering father. Perhaps they have too much pressure at work or yeshiva. It’s about learning how to handle life’s challenges and grow. If these are “issues” and “instability” you don’t know what life is about. It’s about conquering challenges. Some people need a mentor or Rebbe or in some situations – a therapist.

    Furthermore, your first assertion is difficult to understand. Perhaps you haven’t thought it through yourself. Is what you meant to say that secular people only care about externals? That’s not exactly what you said and isn’t true anyway. Good luck running through your “stable” life of bliss.

    #698377
    artchill
    Participant

    superficial:

    If a boy/girl wants to have an overbearing mother-in-law or domineering father-in-law whose behaviors caused their own child into threapy, KOL HAKAVOD!! Most people tend to think that such a boy/girl has ISSUES!!

    #698378
    Ben Torah
    Participant

    Most people who had gone to therapy sometime before marriage for issues with an overbearing parent or life’s stresses will not be passing on that information to anyone, including shadchanim and dates, anymore than they would mention their visit to a foot doctor 3 years prior. So generally you’ll never know of it in either event.

    #698379
    shimmel
    Member

    Superficial, you cant be more wrong!! OH SOOOOOOOOOO wrong!! I myself went for therapy and for the simple reason of an overbearing parent.I dont feel there’s anything wrong with therapy, Kol Vechoimer I would encourage everyone that is in need to go get help, It is soo soo important. It helped me Greatly!!. But, I can understand people’s feeling.

    I know y i was there ,I don’t know why the next person is there.. It would make me a bit uncomfortable unless i know the reason and i’m completely at peace with it. The therapy part doesn’t bother me.. The issue they are having is……..

    #698380
    superficial
    Member

    Shimmel: Thank you for your comment. What exactly am I wrong about; please explain. Secondly, i’m glad you received guidance and properly dealt with the challenge that Hashem gave you. Furthermore, you contradicted yourself. In the first posting you stated “i’d rather take the girl that I know didn’t have issues.” In your more recent post you asserted “The therapy part doesn’t bother you it’s the issue” and you claim that if you “knew the issue” you’d perhaps be OK with it. Please get your opinion clear and then we can have an intelligent discussion.

    Artchill: Thank you for your posting. I’m not sure what your point is. Perhaps you meant that people who have challenging familial relationships are unsuitable to be married. Maybe you are correct; that would pasul many many people, however, from getting married. The point I was making was that people go to therapy for very regular, mundane difficulties and receive a lot of help in many situations. Call these “issues” if you want- I’ll call it Life. If someone had a close relationship with a genuine Talmid Chochom who assisted him in dealing with challenges of all sorts- would you also pasul such a person? Undoubtedly no. Have a Gut Yom Tov. I really am curious for you to clarify your position.

    #698381
    SRPsych
    Member

    Speaking from both sides of the “couch”: The way I see it, therapy is stigmatized because people who “need” therapy obviously have something going on that is more than they can handle alone. And it is intangible.

    What I mean by that is: We all have things we can’t handle alone.

    Example: We have a baby boy on a Friday – Mazal Tov! – and we’re a bit stressed about making the Shalom Zachor that night. We might get snappy, short-tempered. So, recognizing our limitations, we accept help from neighbors to bake or pick up stuff for us. We will hire a caterer for the Brit. Nobody looks down on us: “Why didn’t they cook all the food themselves? What’s wrong with them? Why do they need to turn to professionals for help?” L’hefech – people who try to cater their affairs themselves are looked at as the crazy ones!

    But those are “tangibles” – cakes, cups, sodas…things we can see and touch and say – “Oh, yeah, it’s really too much. She just had a baby, of course she can’t be expected to make 40 cakes. Understandable – I’d do the same!”

    It’s the intangibles that scare us. The anxiety, depression, phobias, anger. We can’t see them, can’t quantify them – often don’t actually know too much about them. (A part of us might worry: “Maybe we even have them – and don’t know it!”). And because we can’t get a grasp of what it is we’re dealing with, instead of being as understanding as we were about the need for store-bought arbis for the Shalom Zachor, we shun those who admit to seeking professional help for such “intangibles”.

    Stigmas are most often formed by the fear that stems from a lack of adequate information.

    #698382
    artchill
    Participant

    Superficial:

    If a child feels S-O, SO, SO dominated by a father, that he/she has lost the ability to talk back, (We’re talking about teens here, where the child learns the fine art of chutzpah) to the parent, from my perspective there is little therapy will do for the person.

    Teens are highly unlikely to call a therapist and say they have a problem with a domineering parent. This usually happens AFTER a kid goes off and the family enters counseling to win back the child. Such a child has been dealing with ISSUES, which are more intense that a shoulder-shrugging, “Oh well, that’s life”.

    These parental issues will transfer onto the newlyweds, and can cause catastrophic results. If a spouse is interested GREAT, but kindly be honest about what they are in for.

    #698383

    SRPsych: Thank you I enjoyed that.

    #698384
    superficial
    Member

    Artchill- Your first claim -“from my perspective there is little therapy will do for the person.” Is your perspective worth a dime? Do you know people who went for therapy and were unsuccessful? Have you counselled people?

    Your second claim “teens are highly unlikely…” Granted, they rarely have the resources to call a therapist. Hopefully though more and more yeshivos will employ therapists. In any event, I’m not sure why you assume that people will automatically fall into a downward spiral. I know plenty of people who deal with all kinds of issues that haven’t left them “off the derech.”

    #698385
    Sacrilege
    Member

    “I would prefer a boy who had, let’s say, a problem with public speaking, got therapy, and is now more sensitive, self-aware, and confident, to a boy who wouldn’t go because of his “reputation” and did not fulfill his potential.”

    I too would rather a boy who has been “tested” or has worked on himself, and life wasnt given to him on a silver platter. But does that mean that he had to go to therapy? Whilst I agree that therapy is great for those who need it. I dont think that it is something everyone should have on their speed dial.

    “Narcissists don’t go to therapy.”

    Just because I’m in a nit-picking kind of mood 😉

    Assuming that statement is true (I am not entirely sure that it is)Narcissism is a personality disorder, so wouldnt you as a future therapist want to help Narcissists instead of pointing them out and putting them down? They need help as do any other person with a disorder.

    Bottom line is the Frum community has been known to shove all taboo subjects under the rug, hoping to make everything to look like butterflies and rainbows. Lately, thank G-d, there has been a movement to bring many issues to the forefront and I think therapy has been one of them.

    Kol Hakavod to you on your career choice. I am sure that you will find that it is more that just a career, but is a very rewarding experience.

    #698386

    Sacrilege:

    “I too would rather a boy who has been “tested” or has worked on himself, and life wasnt given to him on a silver platter. But does that mean that he had to go to therapy? Whilst I agree that therapy is great for those who need it. I dont think that it is something everyone should have on their speed dial.”


    I agree with you on this – not everyone needs to be in therapy, often wonderful parents, good friends, or mechanchim/mechanchos can help us through difficult time. However, unfortunately, most people today are not blessed with all the resources necessary to give them the tools to overcome challenges without therapy. I have worked in our community in various small ways and was always shocked at how emotional issues are not treated anywhere near as seriously as learning issues.

    Any child who doesn’t read by age 9 would be getting tutoring in our community. What about a child who doesn’t smile or have any friends at age 9? That’s a sign of childhood depression and should NOT be ignored. But we all know that such things are routinely ignored.

    “”Narcissists don’t go to therapy.”

    Just because I’m in a nit-picking kind of mood 😉

    Assuming that statement is true (I am not entirely sure that it is)Narcissism is a personality disorder, so wouldnt you as a future therapist want to help Narcissists instead of pointing them out and putting them down? They need help as do any other person with a disorder.”


    If you do some research on narcissistic personality disorder, you will find that it is true. I know some people with this personality who are quite successful and no one except their children can tell of what it is like at home. It is one of the most difficult things to treat since part of treatment is identifying the problem, and it is difficult to get a narcissist to admit that they’re not perfect.

    In looking for a shidduch, NPD is one of the things you should look for and run away from – someone who isn’t just arrogant, but literally thinks they are perfect, even if they are charming, their needs always come first and after marriage the spouse is shocked that this self-absorbed person is the same charmer that they dated. People with NPD rarely have been in therapy by the time they reach shidduch age, since if they do go, it’s because they were forced.

    “Bottom line is the Frum community has been known to shove all taboo subjects under the rug, hoping to make everything to look like butterflies and rainbows. Lately, thank G-d, there has been a movement to bring many issues to the forefront and I think therapy has been one of them.”


    I don’t know if therapy is an “issue”- it’s a very effective way of dealing with many issues. (If you will allow me to be picky in return 🙂 )

    “Kol Hakavod to you on your career choice. I am sure that you will find that it is more that just a career, but is a very rewarding experience.”


    Thanks, I do.

    #698387
    Sacrilege
    Member

    Pascha –

    “since if they do go, it’s because they were forced.”

    But isnt that true of any REAL disorder, what about a Manic Depressive? During mania there is no way you are going to therapy, they are on-top of the world! And even if they go during a bout of depression, its rare that they stay compliant with their Meds being that they miss the manic episodes….

    Maybe the fact that you dont see to many Narcissists in therapy is because typically, narcissism is an ingrained personality trait, rather than a chemical imbalance and medication and therapy are not as effective as in other pathologies in treating the disorder. (so, yea, good advice, if you can keep away 😉

    The fundemental problem is that we are talking about two very different thing. A. There are people going to therapy for Manic Depression/ Pschytzophrenia/ Aggression… And then B. There ae people who go to therapy because they have a fear of public speaking 😉

    (That may also be why people are off-put by therapy, they automatically assume A…)

    #698388
    Health
    Participant

    Sacrilege – That’s why it takes approx. 10 years to diagnose bi-polar (Manic-Depress), but narcissists will never go for help, because they don’t see anything wrong with them (unless they’re pressured by someone else). BTW, most bi-polar are compliant with their meds, once they know they have a problem. During one class I had, the teacher brought in the movie “Citizen Kane”, to demonstrate a narcissist. It was an eye-opener. A lot of people are baallay gaiva, but narcissists are the epitome!

    #698389
    popa_bar_abba
    Participant

    I wish we would be able to discuss something on the mental illness spectrum which is less serious than Bipolar, yet more serious than a fear of public speaking.

    It is in that gap that most people who are in therapy exist.

    By suggesting that anything worse than a fear of public speaking is akin to Bipolar, I think we are contributing to the stigma.

    (Well, of course you could argue that the suggestion is that anything less serious than Bipolar is on the level of public speaking, but that is equally absurd.)

    #698390
    Midwest2
    Participant

    Poppa –

    Something in our community which is not trivial and unfortunately widespread is anorexia/bulimia. Eating disorders, especially, but not only, among girls, have become fairly common, and unlike other problems, such as bipolar disorder, eating disorders can literally kill.

    Our mania for size 2 girls and the anxiety/control pressures our young people face make this a top-ranking hazard, just as important as the “heavy-duty” disorders we usually think of.

    Paschabchochmah – ask around among your friends. I’m sure you’ll find one or two (or more) with this problem. Pay special attention to it during your training, and you’ll be prepared to help so many of our young people.

    Being a good therapist is right up there on the mitzvah-list with being a good doctor. The therapist is actually doing chesed, and the mitzvah of v’ahavta l’re’eicha by giving good advice. R’ Zelig Pliskin is the epitome of this approach, which is both professional and Torah-dich

    #698391
    Health
    Participant

    Midwest – “and unlike other problems, such as bipolar disorder, eating disorders can literally kill.”

    You are mistaken about Bipolar and death. This comes from medical info called ADAM:

    “According to a long-term 2002 study, bipolar patients had higher mortality rates from suicide, heart problems, and death from all causes than those in the general population.”

    #698392

    sacrilege:

    1. You are correct that bipolar people in the manic stage will not go to therapy, but their behavior eventually makes normal functioning difficult to impossible and they usually are diagnosed sooner or later.

    However, not every real disorder is as obviously debilitating. Just like, Ch”v lehavdil, people can have infectious tuberculosis and not realize it until it suddenly worsens and they need serious treatment, (I’m using TB because it’s less sensitive than other examples), narcissism affects every part of a person’s life and harms the people around them, but as long as they are successful (which they often are) they can’t be forced to go for help and will permanently damage others lives in order to keep up the appearance of their perfection.

    As for REAL disorders: Everything is a REAL disorder, but people can have different levels of illness. Narcissism is in the category of Personality Disorders. Bipolar Disorder is not a personality disorder, it is a chemical imbalance that can be corrected with lithium for many people.

    Just because something can’t be treated with meds doesn’t make it any less of a real disorder. Being a disorder doesn’t excuse the person for their actions; it means that they show a known pattern of symptoms. Narcissists are typically happy with who they are, but everyone else has problems with them! Also, schizophrenia for example is a very real disorder, but very difficult to treat – many people do not respond to medications.

    I may be mistaken, but I am under the impression that by definition, personality disorders do not respond to medication.


    The fundemental problem is that we are talking about two very different thing. A. There are people going to therapy for Manic Depression/ Pschytzophrenia/ Aggression… And then B. There ae people who go to therapy because they have a fear of public speaking 😉

    (That may also be why people are off-put by therapy, they automatically assume A…)


    (That’s a cute spelling of schizophrenia – I like it.)

    I think whoever said that most people fall in the middle is right. Most people don’t have a full blown mental disorder, but need the support they haven’t gotten from parents/mechanchim/friends. This is the type of therapy that people refrain from getting due to stigma.

    #698393

    Midwest2: thank you for the chizuk.

    Eating disorders is really one of the scariest things in our community. Hashem Yishmor.

    Is Rabbi Pliskin a clinical therapist? I thought he was a talmid chacham with amazing psychological insight.

    #698394
    Sacrilege
    Member

    Pascha –

    (That’s a cute spelling of schizophrenia – I like it.)

    I actually dont really understand English, I just speak it 😉

    #698395

    sacrilege: u have a pretty fancy name for someone who doesn’t understand english…

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