Abandoning Therapy

I am glad to be writing about something other than COVID 19. I feel like my practice is cruising along at the usual pace. I am  still using a Telehealth platform.  Each week I still see the same number of patients. I have had a few people drop out but I don’t think it is due to the pandemic. Sometimes the clues are there. They were never fully in therapy. I probably should have done a better job pointing that out. As a therapist I have to look at my own hesitation to do so. What was I avoiding by not saying something about the irregularity of our work?  Frequently a patient will blame it on erratic schedules, but I know most of my patients come the same time each week despite having unpredictable schedules. Not coming to therapy or not making it a priority is what we call resistance. It is a psychological term that other wise means to avoid. Sometimes patients come in to therapy if their love relationship is failing or a mother and son have stopped talking. They think the therapist will cure the ailment much like a doctor treating a virus. I cannot make someone’s relationship or marriage better. I cannot help a mother and son to start talking again. What I can do is listen and empathize with how hard what they’re dealing with has become. I encourage them to look at themselves and their own behaviors in the relationship which hopefully leads to deeper work.

Women and Men Behave very Differently

Frequently I will be seeing someone and I might suggest they consider couples therapy as well. It’s a gamble when I do that. In couples therapy the relationship is the patient. Sometimes because the patient thinks if the relationship gets better than the therapy need not take place. Nothing could be further from the truth. Unfortunately, I see this more often with women than with men. Women as a group carry much of the responsibility of relationships working out than men. Women socially tend to define themselves by their relationships. Men usually define themselves by their work.

Leaving Before the Therapy is Finished

When people leave therapy without discussing it, I usually see a pattern. One pattern is not wanting to schedule an appointment until they know something about their work schedule. My hope is that they come back in and then I can point out the behavior of leaving. Sometimes they will tell me that is true and other times they might deny it and actually may not be aware of it themselves. Either way, staying put (as we all know currently) is really hard sometimes. If the self work was left unfinished then the problems will come back. I might get a call to resume or they might start seeing someone else. Either way is OK with me. My hope with all my patients is they end up with the lives they want.