Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Is There a Difference in Counseling, Therapy and Analysis?

Therapy is for “The Crazies.” Or for “The Weak;” or, Those Guys that “Have Problems.” --   Or is It?

man standing on rock formation with water falls

Let’s assume this is true.  Is therapy really only for for the severely mentally ill, or socially vulnerable?  If we choose this belief to be true, we create an absolute and minimize the possibilities for the use of psychoanalysis for positive useful power.  Furthermore, we underscore its intent to strengthen the individual to a higher level of self awareness and social awakening that could lead the Self and culture to the greater realms of mankind. Could therapy (or analysis) be the lottery ticket; the gateway; the answer to a better happier richer life? Could it really be that simple? Yes. Yet, simple answers are often not what we wish to hear and sometimes hard to do.
When in social settings, I often tell people “therapy isn’t for everyone.”  However, I usually say this with an agenda to make people feel less uncomfortable when they know I have a Ph.D. in clinical depth psychology. This statement also comes after the party feels challenged in someway and when they make attacking comments, whether direct or indirect, about psychology. Although I believe everyone should take advantage of therapy and therapy should be utilized by all, everyone truly does not need therapy.  This statement of “therapy isn’t for everyone” coming from a psychoanalyst allows for me to be a part of the interaction.  By saying a neutralizer I allow others emotional and defensive walls to lower so that social ease can occur. I suddenly become less threatening to people.  This minimizing of therapy and analysis also allows for the person who only knows about therapy from TV (or without having the personal experience) to have more inquiry without feeling judge - or, eek! Analyzed.  As an analyst in Los Angeles therapy can be a status symbol; but, for the most part seeing a therapist is, sadly, still attached to a weakness.

Is there room for discussion about the other population in treatment and how they can be supported. This is the population who represents the emotionally healthy, the successful, the carefree free spirited types, the focused no non-sensed, the “no time for extra unnecessary activities in my life” types, the role-modeled leader, the perfectly balanced.  Why are they in treatment and how are they using their therapy (or analysis)?

To understand how and why healthy functioning people use therapy we might benefit from understand the difference and definition of psychotherapy and analysis terminology within psychology.  In short we will have a difference of opinion on what a therapist represents; as well as, what meeting a therapist represents.  The general idea is that counseling might lean toward coaching and advice tendencies, and perhaps advocacy for the client. It might be more specific and direct toward a determined goal and can be short term.  Counseling might often be directive. Therapy, on the other hand, might have some of these qualities but it primarily provides a container for safety as people work toward change in their lives with the help of a listener who is not an advice giver perse; but, someone who is non judgmental and provides empathy and perhaps skills to manage thoughts and behavior for change.  This might be more collaborative (or directive) in helping with behaviors and change. Analysis is where one might embrace a different experience that works through thresholds. Analysis is a deeper rooted engagement that allows for more cathartic enlightenments that might manifest over time. Thus? The payoff is often greater. Here is where the epiphany occurs. This work focuses on the deeper layers within the back of the surface. Underneath.

two icebergs under cloudy sky at daytime
Most therapy sessions works on the tip of the iceberg and the cold waters surrounding the iceberg. Analysis ultimately includes exploring for the 90%. The mass of the ice that is underwater - which we never see. Too cold. Too heavy. Too dense. Too massive. An analyst helps you dive in the waters underneath so that you can see the mass; and, occasionally you are supported by getting inside the center of the iceberg without breaking or thawing the content. Analysis is a different relationship. Often long term. In some cases, multiple times a week. In a 2008 Psychology Today article, Ryan Howes, Ph.D., concurs my thinking in stating “Some people come to therapy to gain a deeper understanding of self. The unconscious often is the master of our lives in that it might often work as a protector. That protector might also work as a harmful resistant to change that might generate a productive different life. So, it is often safer to go the “therapy” for a few months to work on anxiety or bereavement or a short term problem.  Additionally, it might be too foreign to go past the tip of the iceberg because that might be opening up old memories and scars and wounds. Moreover, analysis might force change. And who wants to do a major overhaul of your emotions and beliefs? If you have managed to get along this far why go back? Why go back in time and dig up old stuff! The answer is that this “analysis stuff” leads to growth, inner work, inner perspective, depth, clarity, and a fuller self. Many of us just do not want to deal with this: At least, just not now. So, I get it. Doing therapy is hard. Doing analysis is like going back to school, but worse!  A lot easier to buy a self help book or go to a meditation workshop. Less intrusive. How many of us go to the gym or do some type of workout? How many of us had the former 6-pac; or, know we need to exercise because of our health? We know what we have to do but we just don’t do it. Well if we know how to take care of our physical well being and we don’t; then, it is clear that we are going to fall short with our mental well being.

people raising their hands during daytime

So, therapy is not for the crazy.  Everybody doesn’t need therapy. However, everyone could benefit from analysis and therapy.  The healthy and vibrant and happy in the world might use analysis as a reflection of positives for their self growth and social and individual awareness. To go through life in a direction that fulfills is a higher functioning goal.  Yet, can we all go through a type of process that promotes change within ourselves and within society and within our culture and within our global construct?

Photo by Blake Cheek on Unsplash
Photo by Danting Zhu on Unsplash
Photo by Andrei Lazarev on Unsplash

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