Carolyn: I have my first therapy appointment scheduled for this weekend. I never wanted to go, but my wife convinced me that issues I struggle with were damaging our marriage. I can't help but feel like I'll be smarter than the therapist when it comes to knowing what I need, and that I'll find his advice pointless.I hate to tell him, but getting pointless advice is not the worst possibility. The therapist is likely to give destructive advice that his wife may foolishly follow.
Still, I want to do this for my wife and marriage. Do you have any advice for how a nontherapy-believer can keep from self-sabotage? I want this to work, even if deep down I don't believe it can.
The columnist replies:
Do you go into doctors' offices thinking you know more about anatomy and biochemistry than your doctor? Into a garage thinking you know more about cars than your mechanic? Into a class thinking you know more about the subject than the teacher?A man often does go to a garage know more about what his car needs than the mechanic.
Why do you assume there's no way a therapist can know more about emotional patterns and habits than you do?
A better comparison might be to a chiropractor or an accupuncturist. The scientific studies show that most of what they do is worthless, and likewise for marriage counselors.
Carolyn reverses herself after this comment:
Re: First-timer: Most therapists do not give advice, at least at first. If you go in expecting to be told a bunch of answers in a couple of sessions you're going to be disappointed. Good therapy starts just by having a conversation about what's bothering you and having the therapist listen. It is a big leap of faith, but you have to sort of trust that process.So he is better off assuming that the advice will be worthless after all.