How Can I Help My Therapist to Push Me?

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Q. I seen my T for a year and a half. Our relationship is great. We have a lot of therapeutic chemistry. She has helped me so much on my journey to healing. I appreciate her every day!

Right now, I’m in a rut. I’m being tormented by nightmares and flashbacks of my past. Every time I have one it’s a little bit strong of a nudge telling me to talk. This is not a new problem for me and she is well aware of it. But I’m not sure she knows how overwhelming it feels to me and how desperately I need to get it out of my system.

I have asked her to push me but she doesn’t know how and I do not know what tips to give her to do so. I just know I need something – I need her not to back down when I try to “run” from the problem. How do I tell this to my therapist in a way she and I can apply it together in her office so that I can continue on my healing journey?

A. I am glad that you like your therapist. The fact that the two of you get along so well may be in part what has helped you heal so well.

It is possible that your therapist is having difficultly fully understanding your current psychological situation. It may be that she is attempting to adjust and push you but for whatever reason she is missing the mark.

My concern is that possibly your therapist cannot offer you much more therapeutically, at least at this stage in your recovery. Maybe she is at her “limit” as to how much she can help. Sometimes therapists can help with situation-level issues but when the therapy moves beyond this, some therapists lack the ability or skill to deal with deeper and more complex problems. I worry that this may be your situation.

Perhaps she is only having difficultly helping you through this one situation. What you can do is ask your therapist for a referral to another therapist who might be able to help you with this issue. Maybe your therapist knows someone she likes and trusts who can help you. This does not mean that you have to stop seeing your therapist but rather you can see the person she refers you to in addition to your therapist. It does not have to be something that is long-term but just long enough to help you end the nightmares and flashbacks. In this situation, you, your therapist and the new therapist can all work in tandem.

I want to also note that it is unusual to have a client asking for help for how she or he can assist his or her therapist. It is more often the case that it’s the therapist asking about how he or she can help his or her client.

What matters most here is that you find someone who can help you reduce your suffering. It may take you seeing another therapist temporarily but it is worth it to feel better. This does not mean you have to stop seeing your therapist nor does it mean you are betraying her in any way. It would only mean that you are doing what is necessary to help yourself.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 2 Jun 2008

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2008). How Can I Help My Therapist to Push Me?. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 20, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2008/06/02/how-can-i-help-my-therapist-to-push-me/

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