Self Help Now: A community blog

Dr. Jacqueline B. Sallade offers ideas for maintaining your mental health.

Watch Out for Bad Therapy

Written by Dr. Jacqueline B. Sallade, Community blogger | Jul 6, 2014 9:03 PM

Another unfortuate woman told me that her therapist of 2 years advised her to try real hard not to feel her anxiety, to fight it, to use mind over matter and make herself take charge. Meanwhile, her crippling anxiety prevents her from going out without others and living normally. She's not improving at all. Doesn't her therapist realize that trying not to feel is the worst approach. It's like trying not to think of a purple elephant or trying to go to sleep when insomnia takes hold. Anxiety and other negative feelings are harmless. Well-adjusted people feel them fully and they pass. People who fight feelings or escape from them get worse because panic builds or the methods of escape are harmful, becoming habitual and habit-forming in the worst sense. Stress begets stress.

On the other hand, relaxation and feeling fully at the same time conditions the emotional self, just as physical exercise conditions the muscles. Shame on the therapist who doesn't know this simple fact of life.Too many "professionals" just offer support and encouragement, just like family members or friends with no psychological training, collecting their fees for years, while their patients struggle and stagnate.  

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