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Page Contents: When your “partner” prevents you from healing in psychotherapy.                    


I have been seeing a psychotherapist on a weekly basis for the last year. Chief issues are trust, especially in my relationship, inadequacy, fear of the future, being alone and of course self-esteem. I have not noticed a positive change in my thinking, handling of lifes problems although I have managed to get a temporary job since therapy began. In the last two weeks I have noticed a worsening of symptoms: panic, mistrust of my partner, inability to concentrate at work. I seem to be carrying my insecurity into all spheres of my life and have even considered hospitalisation. My therapist says that she sees improvement not necessarily in the intensity but in the duration of my moods; I however feel more immersed in them. I feel incapable of continuing my present employment and relationship and even fear that I will not “heal” if I do not end my relationship. My therapist says that this will not eliminate the actual problems. Is this a normal process/phase within therapy?

It’s possible that you are experiencing symptoms of Major Depression and that medication might be necessary. If your psychotherapist cannot talk competently with you about diagnosis and medication issues, then you might want to get a second opinion.

Nevertheless, “partners” often cause more psychiatric problems—especially depression—than our culture is willing to admit. As I say on the page about Sexuality and Love, we commonly seek out “love” relationships as a way to hide our deepest wounds of insecurity and inadequacy. And our entire culture—through advertising and entertainment—supports this illusion with constant brainwashing into the belief that if you can only find the right “lover” you will be happy ever after.

Therefore, going into psychotherapy to heal problems with inadequacy, loneliness, and low self-esteem, and all the while trying to keep a “partner,” is like trying to carry water with a bucket that has holes in it.

So I would recommend the opposite approach of your “therapist.” End the relationship with your partner—and then stop all dating and sexual activity completely, throughout the course of the psychotherapy, so that you can stop hiding behind illusions of romance and start turning your attention to being alone in the treatment with the real problem: your fear of being alone.

I wouldn’t be surprised if this simple resolution—without any medication—were to lead to more immediate relief than the entire previous year of psychotherapy has provided thus far.


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Raymond Lloyd Richmond, Ph.D.
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