Q. I’ve been in therapy, briefly, twice in my life. The first time was approximately 11 years ago. I sought therapy then for depression. I was referred to individual therapy once a week plus group therapy once a week. After two sessions with the therapist, I was felt comfortable enough to disclose to her that I was sexually abused by my father form the age of 3 – 11. Her reply was that she wanted to deal with me in the present and not with me the victim. Later that week I attended the group session which is facilitated by a psychiatrist and which my therapist is also present at. After a discussion of some issues by the psychiatrist and some group members, I attempted to discuss my issues with my father and was interrupted by the therapist who stated that I was there to support the psychiatrist and not for selfish reasons. I never went back. About 2 years ago I went to see a different therapist for depression. On our 2nd visit I informed her I was sexually abused by my father. Her only response was to ask what I thought about my life. That was my last visit. Is it me? Am I too demanding or impatient? Now I am depressed again, unemployed and have no health insurance. as you can imagine I am hesitant to try therapy again.
A. I very much understand your desire to stop therapy but please do not stop trying because of a few negative experiences. The sum total of your therapy experiences amounts to little more than a few sessions. There is very good help available but it can be challenging to find. The only way to fail at finding good help is to stop trying.
I have written many times about how to find a good therapist. The best way to start is to either ask others for referrals or to simply get out the phone book and make phone calls to various therapists. Call many different therapists, at least 10. Talk to them on the phone. Ask them many questions. Ask them how they would treat someone with the issues that you want help with. Ask them if they have treated others with similar concerns. The point of the phone calls is to get a sense of who the therapist is and what he or she is like over the phone. Do they seem nice? Did they spend time talking with you over the phone or did they rush the phone call seemingly uninterested in your story? From the therapists that you like over the phone, the next step would be to set up an appointment to meet each therapist in person. Follow this process until you find a good quality therapist that you like and who makes you feel comfortable.
You also said in your letter that you are unemployed and have no health insurance. While you might have fewer individuals to choose from, you may be able to follow the aforementioned method with the therapists at your local community mental health center. The local community mental health centers usually have low or no cost therapy sessions available. Interview all of therapists at the local community mental health center and choose the one that you like the most.
Whatever you decide, please do not give up on finding help. There is help available but you have to be willing to put forth the effort it takes to find it. Giving up now would assuredly be giving up too soon.
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 7 Jul 2008
Randle, K. (2008). Should I Stop Trying Therapy?. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 18, 2013, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2008/07/07/should-i-stop-trying-therapy/