Saturday, February 10, 2007

Why Everyone Really Does Need Therapy

I'll qualify that. Why Everyone Really Does Need Therapy if they have any intention at all to be in a committed, long-term relationship.

Leah, over at Accidentally Jewish tapped me for an e-zine interview and I threw out a few couples/family therapy zingers, the short list below. I learned the short list at the Center for Family Studies/Family Institute of Chicago in 1981. The school is now in Evanston, IL under the auspices of Northwestern University.

If you really want to be a therapy doc, you should go there for awhile. Although the short list, condensed, is a la Bill Pinsoff (probably) the commentary below is mine.

Anyway, the 'zine is called SHEBREW and I'll let you know when it's on-line. In any case, it's not fair to you to hold back, I feel. So we'll take this slow, starting with the last question Leah asked me. She asked me a whole lot of questions but I only answered three, kind of like how I am with email and comments on a bad day.

But since question 3 triggered bad dreams for me on Friday night we'll start there. (We'll get to dreams, it was surely too much good food.)

3. What should people do to prepare themselves for relationships?

Somehow get to know yourself. Get therapy maybe, for sure do that if you can, even if you just focus on this one issue and this alone: Your intimacy fears.

Couples in trouble all have intimacy issues. We all do. We all have some kind of weirdness that makes communication (read closeness) harder than it should be.

My short list of reasons people fear intimacy includes fear of rejection/abandonment, fear of exposure, fear of suffocation, fear of merger (losing our sense of self, identity).

These fears are under our very own radar, unconscious. But they're not just issues for the books or "head cases." Everyone has them. Yet it's hard to talk about something you don't necessarily know you have.

So in my world, you get therapy, you know yourself, then and only then are you going to be ready to deal with your own intimacy issues and ultimately, those of your partner's

Oh, you want to know how intimacy issues can mess with your relationship? Those fears I mentioned interfere with our ability to talk, to express what we want and need, to say things with sensitivity, to think less about ourselves and more about our partners. They interfere with empathy, our willingness to focus on our partner, to get into his or her shoes.

So they’re huge, okay? You can't ignore them. They don't go away over night no matter what you do. They just make you cuter is all, and all the more interesting to get to know.

Copyright 2007, TherapyDoc


Anonymous said...

get to know yourself?

That's one big assignment.

therapydoc said...

But you notice, I didn't say it had to be done by any certain date, right?

Anonymous said...

I need to look for other posts like this. Having been married for 21 years, I agree, a long-term relationship, to remain satisfying, needs work. Solo, together. Good post though intriguing. Not sure what my intimacy problems are. I'll have to explore this further.

Hopeful Spirit said...

That's where you will find the post entitled "Detoxing from Church."

therapydoc said...


Aldana said...


I liked your article on why therapy is recommended and the comments that you've made about this on the other blog, stating that we all have intimacy issues in the form of fears, fear of rejection/abandonment, etc.

What I'd like to ask you is what can we do besides therapy to improve this fears? I've been doing some serious thinking and I know that I have one or two of them fears I just don't know how to solve this and be able to get passed them. Do you have any advice? I went to therapy for 3 years (I was discharged by my therapist a year ago).

Thanks in advance for any advice you can give me.


therapydoc said...

Hi Aldana,
Without knowing any of the details of your fears I could only recommend self-relaxation techniques (look around the blog for the anxiety posts).
But if it will help, I do intend to be writing about each one of them in some detail. Look here again on Thursday (maybe Wed) for the first one.

Aldana said...


Thanks for your response, I will be checking your blog on Thursday to see what you've posted.

About my fears, I think my biggest one would be fear of rejection. From my point of view, this is because my parents weren't all that warm to me during my childhood, heck even today they're a bit on the cold side. I was talking to a friend (whom I refer to as "the kind of Mother I would have liked to have") and I was telling her that I don't remember my parents (specially my father) saying something like "I love you", not even a concept alike.

My mother says she has a hard time expressing her feelings, I can recall her saying something "I care for you" once in a blue moon. My father was brought up by two very rigid parents whose communication policy is to "shush" everything so even thinking of expressing their love is an outrageous concept.

I'm doing this in public in case someone else has the same problem/fear and maybe they don't feel like posting or can benefit from it. Hope you don't mind.

Thanks again,


therapydoc said...

Hi Aldana, You're right to make that connection about the family having a fear of expressing the softer emotions, love, for example. For sure that might make a child think he/she isn't loved and fearful of rejection in general. Check out Fear of Intimacy: Exposure, even though it's not exactly what you're talking about, it'll give you some frame of reference.

Thanks for being so open. You're right, it gives permission to others to do the same and ironically, it shows your willingness to share and be an emotionally intimate person.

Aldana said...


Thanks again for your input. As I read your last paragraph I realized you were right and in a way you reminded me of my therapist (whom was a great one).

I read your other article about fear of exposure and in a way I felt like the people you describe in your article. Funny thing is no one in my family is an alcoholic or has a substance abuse problem so maybe this behavior can be linked to feeling abandoned?


Anonymous said...

What an interesting post for couples and families. I did not have abandonment issues with my partner of 19 years but she died last year of cancer and I have those issues now. I am hunting for a grief group. I think that sounds the most helpful.
I appreciated reading the comments as well as your post. Annie

therapydoc said...

Thanks, Annie.

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