not getting what I need from my psychotherapist. She does not remember what
I tell her, and after nine sessions, has neither established a treatment
plan or diagnosis. I am also a recovering alcoholic, with almost three months
sobriety. I cannot believe that my mood swings are normal. My experience
with psychotherapy has been limited to the nine sessions I have had with
a psychologist. I seem to do all the talking. I have not gotten any real
help. All [my doctor] has commented on is my childhood. I have severe
mood swings, and episodes of anger. I do not want to take antidepressants.
I am tired of living with these mood swings. I started psychotherapy the
day before I stopped drinking. Terminating psychotherapy this early in my
sobriety will be difficult, but I am really angry about my lack of progress,
and my psychotherapists lack of understanding.
Many practitioners of
tend to agree that a recovering alcoholic should be firmly established in
sobriety before attempting psychotherapy. Why? Well, psychotherapy requires
you to scrutinize your entire life, examining all of your painful
experiencesespecially those of your childhoodand bringing to
light the psychological
defenses you have
to hide your emotional pain. This process can be so emotionally disturbing
at times that it is almost inevitable that you will relapse unless you are
very strong in your sobriety.
if both the psychotherapist and the client have a clear understanding of
the risks, and if the client has strong social support (for example, a religious
faith or AA groups) and the courage and the determination
to face the dangerous reality of relapse, then psychotherapy can be possible.
This is all an individual issue that must be clearly assessed before starting
In your case,
you already have a very big clue about the nature of your own emotional pain:
I am not getting what I need from my psychotherapist. Can you see
it? Most likely youre an alcoholic because you never got what you needed
from your parents. Thus you have been living all your life with deep
rage about this lack,
and you have been using alcohol to hideor drownyour emotional
Keep in mind
here a very important point: getting sober does not cure you of the
personality defects that caused you to become an alcoholic in the first
place. Most persons in self-help recovery programs, for example, encounter
some of their personality defects along the path to sobriety, but the encounter
is rarely as deep and profound as in psychotherapy.
So as soon as
you started psychotherapy you brought your childhood issues right into the
psychotherapy office, and voilà, you felt angry with your psychotherapist.
And the continued pain of experiencing within your treatmentfor one
reason or anotherthe same emotions that you experienced about your
parents will be the test of the treatment. Do you
terminate and hide
and drink, or do you face up to the depths of your
Given all that
has already happened, the best you can do now is talk openly with your
psychotherapist and determine if you are capable now of doing the work or
if you should wait a year or so to strengthen your sobriety.
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