Psychotherapy: Which of the Three Types is Best for You?

My experience with psychoanalysis has led me to believe that it’s not for everyone. I’ve had a few disappointing experiences with this type of therapy.

With my first analyst, after a few sessions, he constantly cancelled my appointments, and never made an attempt to make a new one. I had to encourage him to see me again. Although he was a psychoanalyst, he did not put me on the couch as analysts do. He had me sit on a chair while I talked. I was so hurt when I realized he decided that I was not going to make a good patient. I knew that from the start because being a shy person, it was hard for me to get started to talk about my problems. I was too inhibited. However, I felt that he could have handled the situation better if he had helped me warm up to him. He was too aloof.

My second analyst had me lie on the couch on my second visit. This was a new experience for me when he told me to free associate. What does he mean by that— cat, dog, wolf? What was I supposed to say to this knowledgeable man who sat on a chair in back of me, smoking away as if he needed something else to do besides listening to his patients.

I was single at the time and had difficulty relating to men. This was one of my problems. How could I start talking about this issue lying there flat on my back and not able to face someone as I talked? Well, after a few more visits with this doctor, when he saw I had a difficult time talking, he gruffly told me that I was not to come back!!!! Once again, I was rejected. My problems with men started with my father and now it is continuing with these analysts.

I did not let my rejected feelings get in the way. I had heard of a psychiatrist who was also a psychoanalyst. The very first time I met him, I had warm feelings for him. I told him of my past experiences with the two analysts, and he assured me that he would never reject me unless something happened to him. He apparently recognized that I was not analytical material, but he did not reject me as the other two had done. He had me sit on a chair and face him as I talked. Yes, it was difficult for me to talk about my personal problems at first, but after many months, I was able to discuss them with him. I learned that I had repressed most of my childhood feelings including anger, guilt, and fear. People repress their feelings if these feelings are too painful to face. Psychoanalysis is good for people who can tolerate these painful feelings. Unfortunately, I was not able to allow my repressed feelings come to the conscious level. They remained in my unconscious.

I really loved this man and was able to open up as much as I was consciously able to. Although I was unable to reach my repressed feelings, I was able, through psychotherapy, to understand my behavior problems. This helped me a great deal.

Once again I was faced with deep emotions in regards to my therapists. This time, it was not rejection as it was with the other two doctors, but a deep remorse. He told me he had cancer of the colon, but he continued to see me as long as he was able to go to his office. He was a dear man, but the day I got a phone call from his wife telling me that he had died, was the first time I could show any type of strong emotions. I cried and cried buckets of tears!!!

Several years have passed when once again I had another experience with psychotherapy. This time it was with a psychologist. I developed anxiety feelings. I needed help. He was also a wonderful, warm therapist. Because of his warmth and understanding, I was able to discuss the various things that bothered me. my relationship with him was great because I felt he truly cared about his patients. We both talked. It was not a one sided conversation that it can be with some types of therapy.

I will now relate some simple information about the three most popular types of psychotherapy:

Sigmund Feud developed the psychoanalytical theory. A psychoanalyst is an M.D. They use the method of free association in order for the patient to be able to relive their repressed feelings These are feelings that remain in the unconscious because a young child cannot always face his /her emotions of anger, guilt fear, etc. Because these uncomfortable feelings have been repressed, an individual can develop behavior problems. Psychoanalysts can help through free association, dreams, and awareness of the patience re-action to everyday life, This type of therapy goes deep into the individual’s psyche and can take years before a patient can be helped. A psychiatrist, who is an M.D. is a psychotherapist who can also be an analyst. A psychiatrist can help by listening to the patient and by the interaction of the two, a patient can be helped. A psychiatrist basically deals with the patient’s behavior problems.

Going to a psychologist is another type of therapy. In general, a psychologist acts as a counselor. They work with adjustment situations rather than psychological disturbances. The aim of counseling is to help the person adjust to a situation rather than treat a specific disorder. A psychologist has a PH.D or an M.A. degree.

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