In real life, therapy is much different than it is portrayed in the media.  Therapy scenes in TV and movies are overly dramatic: the patients are constantly making “breakthroughs,” someone is always crying or screaming, and, generally, therapists are much more directive than they are in real life.

Unfortunately, I carried some media-based perceptions of therapy with me when I began doing therapy during my first year at MSPP.  More than anything else, I expected progress to be constant and dramatic; this is simply not the reality.  In real life, patients decompensate, or take two steps forward and one step back, or are completely derailed by some type of difficult external circumstance.  Patients often do make progress, but in general, it’s incremental and takes a long time.  Of course, I believe that therapy is effective, but sometimes it can feel slow.

With all that said, I am happy to report that of the five patiens who I saw today, three made dramatic and notable progress.  Due to confidentiality, I can’t share many details of this progress, but here are some very vague descriptions: an adolescent patient decided (after much hesitation) to go to college, an unemployed patient took major steps towards a stable career, and a married couple has begun to improve their sexual problems (after decades of a mutually unsatisfying sex life).

This is by no means a typical day at the office, and it’s nice for me to take a moment to celebrate.  A lot of the time, I feel pretty drained at the end of a day of therapy, but today I feel great.  Whenever my sessions go well, I celebrate by listening to Kanye West’s enthusiastically happy remix of “Young Folks,” so now it’s time to get in the car and blast it all the way home!

About sskeenmspp

Hey everyone, my name is Sam Skeen. I’m currently a third year PsyD student. I’m primarily interested in individual therapy with adults and adolescents and assessment with people of all ages. This year, I’m doing my field placement work at Joseph M. Smith Community Health Center, where I am learning to conduct therapy in Spanish. I also have a part time job at MSPP’s Academic Resource Center, where I help other MSPP students complete challenging academic tasks. In my spare time, I like to exercise, cook, mess with my cat (an activity that once screened me as a potential sociopath on a personality test), update my fantasy hockey lineup obsessively, and of course, satiate my Words with Friends addiction.
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4 Responses to Breakthroughs!

  1. kartveli2012 says:

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  2. sskeenmspp says:

    Hmm, I’m not sure what you mean by “pass rate.” Therapeutic progress occurs on a continuum; many times, when a patient leaves therapy without having been “cured,” there has still been some tangible progress. In general, I view these treatments as at least partially successful.

    I think it’s important to remember that any progress is good. Obviously, we aim to erase all psychopathology, but that is often an unattainable goal.

  3. Yeah therapy sessions in the media are so cliche. Just like everything else I suppose ,lots of hard work and patience before the breakthrough.

  4. Joe Henning says:

    This sounds very exciting and I can just imagine the feeling of satisfaction you feel. I suppose 3 out of 5 is a not too bad “pass rate”…?

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