Talk Therapy: Whining is Good for the Soul
Monday, February 28 2011 Kate White
How does psychotherapy work?
Isn't it just self-indulgent rubbish? What could talking ever accomplish?
Talk therapy is basically permission to bitch about anxiety, in a heavily supervised and hopefully well-structured manner.
Seriously, even if it's only with one person in your life, and you happen to pay them: whine, vent, cry, squeal, delight and dream. Then do it all again next week. It's good for you!
When it comes to anxiety, "nothing less" is ever acceptable. Because of course every thought in my head makes perfect sense, except when it doesn't. Except when it's hellishly frustrating and I curse myself silently for ever thinking there's a way out of this maze of panic, choas and disorder.
But wait, I am human, or so I'm regularly informed by medical professionals. Let's say they're right, and I'm not from Mars or Venus as the self-help books tell me:
I think, therefore I am, and I can even think two or more mutually exclusive things for just as long as I like and believe them both equally. I get a set of free steak knives whenever I do;
They'd be the stabbing pains to go with the irrational conviction I can be perfect (and thus, anxiety-free), and have an anxiety disorder, and be fine, and juggle 3 stress balls holding a McHappy Deal, all at same time.
Psychotherapy seems like magic, when it works, but it's not. Talking about and examining the thoughts we have about the world just reveal those mutually exclusive beliefs. Once revealed, the illusion's over; Perception, pattern, despair, denial, anxiety, they can all change.
Anxiety Therapy: It's a a fancy parlor trick
A fancy parlor trick that kicks you in the head for an hour every week. It tends to feel like I've just been mugged and beaten by a particularly well-groomed terrier but eventually, I start to feel better.
The therapeutic relationship is a space to leave whatever you don't want to drag with you into the future.
It's a bit magic like that. Albeit the kind of magic that causes considerable cognitive dissonance. Which is the real, honest-to-goodness tricky part. Cognitive dissonance can be resolved by the mind in many ways but clearly we're hoping for the better kinds, the kinds that will treat anxiety.
Stay tuned, more Thursday.