Friday, September 14, 2007
Talking About The Right Things
But this is the thing: given that my post was about patient compliance, it really wasn't about compliance with Psychotherapy, it was more about compliance with medications and behavioral suggestions. Until Gerbil chimed in, I really wasn't thinking at all about compliance with psychotherapy or resistance.
There is an obvious way a patient can be non-compliant with psychotherapy: They can simply not show up. But let's push that one aside-- and let's just say the patient shows up on time. Is it possible, then, to be non-compliant with psychotherapy, in essence, to not talk about the rightt hings? I presented my Are You My Patient? post with an edge of frustration. Is it reasonable for the therapist to get frustrated with a patient because the patient doesn't talk about the right stuff?
In a traditional psychodynamic psychotherapy patients are urged to dig deeper, to talk without censoring, to explore and breakdown defenses, to travel down that royal road to the unconscience and resolve all those conflicts while unrepressing the long-ago repressed. The treatment of trauma-related disorders often calls for the patient to talk about difficult things that have happened in the past. Clearly, there are right and wrong things to talk about?
Maybe there are things that should or shouldn't be said in psychotherapy. I rambled last year about What Patients Talk About In Psychotherapy (-- at least check out the cartoon!) and I tried to make the point that people often talk about mundane things. I would contend that it's pretty hard for patients to talk about the Wrong things in psychotherapy. Patients generally come and talk about whatever is important to them, and they usually find this helpful, even if it's not anything terribly difficult, shameful, or all too deeply hidden in their psyches. Some patients talk in very introspective and insightful ways about pretty powerful things, and then say it's no big deal, it isn't particularly helpful, and while they seem to be doing great work, nothing changes. Other patients talk about things they could easily share with a friend-- nothing all that personal or earth-shattering, and relate that it's extremely helpful and they get a lot of relief. If a patient says there's something they don't want to talk about, well...I might push a little, but mostly I respect this-- it can be addressed later or not at all. Psychotherapy, even if difficult at times, should ultimately offer relief and shouldn't be about badgering or belittling the patient. Oh, and the other thing: the relationship itself is much of what helps, and this relationship happens (in good or bad ways) regardless of what is said.
Posted by Dinah on Friday, September 14, 2007