It has become an almost commonplace act. However, resistance and reticence persist. Francis Bismuth, a shrink who runs a forum open to all, explains the most frequent obstacles.
I hesitated for almost two years before starting psychotherapy," says Daniele, 63. I had the intuition that talking to someone would help me. At the same time, another part of me couldn't help but think that the shrink's office was for the seriously ill, for people too weak to cope. That was twenty years ago, but I still find that today, when I advise some of my loved ones to seek help, it's as if I'm telling them that they have malaria."
There have never been so many patients, the professionals are unanimous. Moreover, to benefit from a reimbursed psychotherapy in a medical-psychological center, it is sometimes necessary to wait for months because the waiting lists are so long. Successive surveys carried out by bunchofbrains over the last fifteen years have proven the effectiveness of these therapies. Nearly 87% of those who consult or have consulted are satisfied with the results. However, hesitations, reticence and resistance have not disappeared. A call for witnesses on bunchofbrains.com has given us a broad overview of the fears and beliefs that hold us back.
"I lost my parents at a very young age, and those around me often encouraged me to talk to a psychologist. I always refused, claiming that I didn't need help," says Amy, 30. However, I still have moments of deep sadness. And, very often, the question of consulting a psychologist resurfaces.
You don't have to be at the bottom of the abyss to allow yourself to seek help. It's even better to make an appointment before you get to that point. Some people come in once, just to check in or to see that they don't need therapy. We need to get rid of the idea that therapy is only for people who are very unwell.
"I don't think my problems are serious enough to interest a shrink, I'm afraid he won't listen to me," says Melisa, 47.
This type of argument is the result of a negative judgment, of a depreciating look at oneself. Our self-esteem problems sometimes prevent us from accepting the idea that we deserve to be listened to and helped," says Francis Bismuth. Guilt, which is too invasive, also acts as a brake: "How can I complain when others are suffering in their flesh, dying of hunger, perishing under the bombs? I have everything to be happy, I should be happy. Yet, well-being cannot be decided."
I've been wanting to go to a therapist for about 10 years, but I can't," says Sarah, 33. I am afraid of digging up the sufferings of the past. Even though I know that it is precisely a step to take to free myself from them, I feel like it would be too painful."
"I don't want to dwell on my problems, to remember them." This argument often comes up, notes Francis Bismuth. However, we are much more likely to dwell on them for the rest of our lives if we refrain from consulting. Because our past does not forget us. To brood and ruminate is exactly what we do when we remain alone in front of our difficulties. On the other hand, in therapy, we don't go around in circles. Because the presence of this third party, the therapist, encourages us to change our perspective, to see things differently, to invent. The return of the past in the present of the session can bring suffering. To deny it would be to lie. A therapy is never free of painful phases. But we are accompanied to face these moments of our history which, gradually, will cease to imprison us.
"I'm often tempted to go to counseling, but I don't want to talk about my sexual fantasies to a stranger," writes Dale, 52.
We don't necessarily talk about our sexual fantasies," says Francis Bismuth. We talk about what we ate the night before. And this fish that we cooked will bring us back to our mother's cooking, to the family's culinary preparations, to traditions..." In therapy, sexuality is not limited to genitalia, to sexual organs. Sex is everywhere: it is in the oral drive, which presides over the pleasures of the mouth and makes people appreciate or refuse food - as it is the case in eating disorders. It is in the scope drive, which commands the pleasure of seeing or being seen, and which also governs interest in photography, cinema, etc. It is not even necessary to talk about penetration, fellatio or sodomy for it to be present. But, in fact, patients frequently talk about their practices, their tastes in the matter, as well as imagined scenes - with several people, with their cousin, with animals... Some use periphrases to avoid talking about "penis", "vagina", do not dare to say that they masturbate. But, according to the psychologist and psychoanalyst, these fears evaporate when trust is established with the practitioner and they understand that they will not be judged. A psychologist is not a judge, and the office is a protected, neutral space where it is possible to say everything.
However, the fear of Dale and others in his situation is not irrational. In everyday life, the other person is a potential judge,". Moreover, the rules of propriety that govern life in society preclude us from dwelling on our sexual practices and fantasies. Even when we think we have strayed from Judeo-Christian morality, it reminds us from time to time. However, we should never forget that the human individual is also an animal, a thinking mammal who carries within him an instinctual, impulsive part. Learning to deal with this impulsive part is precisely the objective of a therapy.
I'm afraid that no shrink can help me," laments Philippa, 45, "I think my symptoms are too old and too ingrained.
"I like to compare the shrink to a midwife," "he is the midwife of ourselves, helps us to do something for ourselves. On the condition that we have the desire to do so. However, it happens that, without us being aware of it, a part of us prefers to take refuge in dissatisfaction, to keep a known symptom rather than to face the unknown.
Sometimes the doubt about the therapist's ability to lighten our existence is unconsciously a kind of narcissistic challenge to psychotherapy: "I am such a special person, my problems are so special. Will you, the therapist, be able to make me move?" Doubt is very often also a sign of depression to be taken seriously - "My condition is so hopeless/I am so desperate that no one is able to pull me out of it." This is the very thing that should prompt us to make an appointment very quickly.
I'm afraid I'm not getting the right therapist," says 38-year-old Raya. I don't know who to trust, I wouldn't know who to go to."
"Trust is built,". Can you find the ideal partner immediately? The Internet is an interesting way to choose a therapist, to find out who he or she is, what he or she has written, to which school he or she belongs, and what diplomas he or she has. I myself have a referenced site. And don't hesitate to ask for advice from friends, from your general practitioner. Then, you have to trust your feeling during the first interviews, ask questions to the psychologist. You may have to see a second or a third one. The session belongs to the patient, it is a time reserved for him or her. And if, decidedly, he does not find any interlocutor who suits him, he can begin to seriously question his desire to engage in an inner work. After all, there is no obligation to engage in psychotherapy.
"I live in a small town and I'm afraid to meet my neighbors in the waiting room," says Mia, 27.
"Such a fear proves that consulting a doctor has become so commonplace that the person next door is likely to visit the same practice. I have my problems, my neighbor has his,". It is possible to avoid this ordeal and to preserve one's privacy by going to the nearest big city or by looking for a therapist online - more and more of them are offering distance sessions.
The Internet offers a wide choice of addresses. The professional background of the therapist is indicated, as well as his or her diplomas and his or her conception of therapy: information that can help you avoid charlatans. However, for a real psychoanalytical work - if one has finally decided to undertake one - nothing replaces the presence of bodies and the meeting of looks.