Therapy breakthroughs.. How do they actually help?


So you spend a lot of time and money talking to a therapist… You have behaviors/reactions that adversely affect your life… Therapist figures out its a traumatic event… How does that discovery help you change your behavior/reactions?

In: Other

It’s kind of like when you’re in the car and you hear this insane rattling that’s driving you crazy. So if you find the source, you or your mechanic can fix it! You can move the annoying thing, fix it, or get rid of it–in therapy you would learn how to kind of undo that thinking. Like, how you would counter the negative thoughts that would leave you feeling a certain way to lead you to making choices that weren’t good for you.

In the sense you’re talking about, it normally doesn’t.

Identifying a traumatic event makes for great drama, but it ultimately doesn’t really matter much in terms of how you behave/react in the modern day because you can’t change that past event – all you can do is change your current behavior/reaction.

In terms of changing your current *reactions*, it’s mostly a matter of just slowing down and recognizing where that reaction is coming from so you can deal with it intellectually rather than simply reacting emotionally. It’s a matter of continually forcing yourself examine *why* you’re doing something rather than simply doing something.

Behavior is harder to adjust and normally involves ‘tricking’ yourself in various ways. Let’s say you want to lose weight. Instead of jumping into a comprehensive diet and exercise program that up-ends your entire life, you’re better of starting with something really simple. For example, instead of your morning latte, you simply change to drinking black coffee. This is an easy change that almost anyone can make and will start your down the road.

Therapists can also serve as reinforcement for such changes. Think of the difference of keeping to an exercise regimen working with a trainer vs. working by yourself. If you’re not feeling up to it one day and you work by yourself, you skip the workout. But if you’re working with a trainer, you are – in some sense – responsible to that trainer and you drag yourself out of bed because of that responsibility to another human being.

If part of your regimen of addressing such changes is to review your actions, having someone who keeps you focused on regularly performing that review can be helpful.

A breakthrough could focus on the client’s own work. For example, you have negative self talk and when you make simple mistakes, you think, “I’m an idiot”. A therapist works to help you change that negative self talk into something more positive or neutral. So instead of making a mistake and thinking your an idiot, you start thinking “everyone makes mistakes”.

For me, personally, I don’t want to speak for anyone else, but for me…. it helps to talk about it. To understand why I react the way I do in certain situations – the root of where it comes from.

As an example, I was tazed and robbed and it took a long time before I could leave my apartment in the evening and go to the store or get in my car, etc. Talking to someone about it + time + support around me, has helped me to take steps and move forward.

Breakthroughs are the bells going off and the understanding of why and where it comes from. Regarding another traumatic experience – I didn’t even remember it had happened until I started to really peel back the layers of my life.

Once I understood or saw, I could then place reactions into my present day and see where and why they happen.

Continuing therapy, I can bring up present day scenarios and work through what my mind and body have already been thru, the anxiety of what its afraid it may go thru again, prepare, let go, and then learn from it.

It’s the relationship with myself that I am constantly working on. There is no fix. There is a constant living with and learning and ultimately helping others as others have helped me 🙂

The sudden epiphany therapy breakthrough is mostly a [TV trope]( that makes for good drama and characterization.

There is a rough real-world counterpart which is going to therapy to deal with what are basically symptoms, but then getting to the point of recognizing, acknowledging, and admitting a problem/source and committing to working on self-improvement based on dealing with that issue – not just countering the symptoms. That can take years of hard work and involve multiple relapses, but it’s still a big step.

It allows you to get inside the normally automatic loop of thoughts – feelings – behavior and examine it consciously and start working on adjusting it from the inside. The therapist can coach you through that, with cognitive behavioral therapy or dialectical behavior therapy or whatever type of therapy is appropriate.

But you kind of have to be consciously aware, not in denial, and ready for it for any approach to really be effective. So it’s a big step getting to that point, but still one of the beginning steps.

Thanks for the replies everyone… Interesting opinions and sharing.. All the best