Psychotherapy is Hard Work...Why Bother?

Psychotherapy is Hard Work...Why Bother?

Patricia Thornton, PhD

Patricia Thornton, PhD

Patricia Thornton, PhD specializes in the treatment of anxiety disorders and OCD. She practices in New York City.

 

Psychotherapy is Hard Work...Why Bother?

Share
No
psychotherapy

In my first meeting with new patients who struggle with OCD and anxiety, I explain that the type of psychotherapy I practice, Exposure and Response Prevention, involves encouraging them to feel uncomfortable. It’s a type of therapy that they will not particularly “enjoy,” but it’s a therapy that will hopefully get them back to enjoying their lives.

When I lay down the groundwork for our work together, I tell my patients, “My goal is for you to not need me…as soon as possible. I’ll help you to have new experiences that are likely to change the way your brain works. And then I’m getting out of your way so you can experience life from a different vantage point. But it’s going to require really hard work.”

My patients sometimes plead with me to make the hard work of this type of psychotherapy easier. After I’ve challenged them to expose themselves to something they’re fearful of I’ll hear, “You know this is really, really hard!” And I answer, “Yes, I know. This work is really, really hard! It’s difficult because you are rewiring your brain to tolerate uncertainty, anxiety, yucky feelings, and intrusive disturbing thoughts. You are going to feel really uncomfortable. Remind yourself why you want to do this hard work.”

How do I encourage my patients to try this therapy and to stick with it? At the outset of therapy I ask them what they have lost by struggling with anxiety or OCD. I ask what they’ve done in the past to ease their symptoms and how successful that was for them. And I ask them to envision what their life would be like once their symptoms are no longer controlling them. What would they be able to do that they are not doing now? I ask them to write these goals down and to keep these in mind, and in hand, as they do the work.  For OCD sufferers and those struggling with any type of anxiety disorder, there is an overwhelming pull, dictated by anxiety, to keep doing maladaptive behaviors in order to avoid being uncomfortable. If a patient has the drive and vision to have a freer life and a belief that it can be achieved, then they are more willing to allow themselves to be uncomfortable and engage in the hard work of psychotherapy.

Patricia Thornton, PhD

Patricia Thornton, PhD

Patricia Thornton, PhD specializes in the treatment of anxiety disorders and OCD. She practices in New York City.

 

Use of Website Blog Commenting

Use of Website Blog Commenting

ADAA provides this Website blogs for the benefit of its members and the public. The content, view and opinions published in Blogs written by our personnel or contributors – or from links or posts on the Website from other sources - belong solely to their respective authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of ADAA, its members, management or employees. Any comments or opinions expressed are those of their respective contributors only. Please remember that the open and real-time nature of the comments posted to these venues makes it is impossible for ADAA to confirm the validity of any content posted, and though we reserve the right to review and edit or delete any such comment, we do not guarantee that we will monitor or review it. As such, we are not responsible for any messages posted or the consequences of following any advice offered within such posts. If you find any posts in these posts/comments to be offensive, inaccurate or objectionable, please contact us via email at communications@adaa.org and reference the relevant content. If we determine that removal of a post or posts is necessary, we will make reasonable efforts to do so in a timely manner.

ADAA expressly disclaims responsibility for and liabilities resulting from, any information or communications from and between users of ADAA’s blog post commenting features. Users acknowledge and agree that they may be individually liable for anything they communicate using ADAA’s blogs, including but not limited to defamatory, discriminatory, false or unauthorized information. Users are cautioned that they are responsible for complying with the requirements of applicable copyright and trademark laws and regulations. By submitting a response, comment or content, you agree that such submission is non-confidential for all purposes. Any submission to this Website will be deemed and remain the property of ADAA.

The ADAA blogs are forums for individuals to share their opinions, experiences and thoughts related to mental illness. ADAA wants to ensure the integrity of this service and therefore, use of this service is limited to participants who agree to adhere to the following guidelines:

1. Refrain from transmitting any message, information, data, or text that is unlawful, threatening, abusive, harassing, defamatory, vulgar, obscene, that may be invasive of another 's privacy, hateful, or bashing communications - especially those aimed at gender, race, color, sexual orientation, national origin, religious views or disability.

Please note that there is a review process whereby all comments posted to blog posts and webinars are reviewed by ADAA staff to determine appropriateness before comments are posted. ADAA reserves the right to remove or edit a post containing offensive material as defined by ADAA.

ADAA reserves the right to remove or edit posts that contain explicit, obscene, offensive, or vulgar language. Similarly, posts that contain any graphic files will be removed immediately upon notice.

2. Refrain from posting or transmitting any unsolicited, promotional materials, "junk mail," "spam," "chain mail," "pyramid schemes" or any other form of solicitation. ADAA reserves the right to delete these posts immediately upon notice.

3. ADAA invites and encourages a healthy exchange of opinions. If you disagree with a participant 's post or opinion and wish to challenge it, do so with respect. The real objective of the ADAA blog post commenting function is to promote discussion and understanding, not to convince others that your opinion is "right." Name calling, insults, and personal attacks are not appropriate and will not be tolerated. ADAA will remove these posts immediately upon notice.

4. ADAA promotes privacy and encourages participants to keep personal information such as address and telephone number from being posted. Similarly, do not ask for personal information from other participants. Any comments that ask for telephone, address, e-mail, surveys and research studies will not be approved for posting.

5. Participants should be aware that the opinions, beliefs and statements on blog posts do not necessarily represent the opinions and beliefs of ADAA. Participants also agree that ADAA is not to be held liable for any loss or injury caused, in whole or in part, by sponsorship of blog post commenting. Participants also agree that ADAA reserves the right to report any suspicions of harm to self or others as evidenced by participant posts.

RESOURCES AND NEWS
Evidence-based Tips & Strategies from our Member Experts
RELATED ARTICLES
Block reference
Other New Content
Block reference
Blog

As with many other physicians, recommending physical activity to patients was just a doctor…

Webinar

Exposure therapy (“exposure”) is the most effective psychosocial treatment ingredient for…

Article

ADAA's professional members play a key role in providing resources and treatment and research…

PERSONAL STORY

I remember it like it was yesterday. My first panic attack. I was 8 years old, and I felt like I…

Advertisement