What Do I Want From My New Therapist?

Last week, I started with a new psycho-therapist. I’ve had six years of therapy, and four main therapists. All have been Jewesses (except for one shaygetz). I only fell in love with one of them.

I enjoyed that ride. Impossible relationships are the most appealing to me because they are the least threatening. I can date shiksas and secular Jews all day long and nothing permanent can happen unless they embrace Orthodox Judaism and so far only one has been tempted and that relationship quickly started to feel like a millstone around my neck. I would be tethered to her all of my life? No, thank you. Pathetic can be cute at first but it wears out its welcome fast.

Every new therapist asks me how they can help. What do I want?

The past few years, I’ve answered with a story I heard in a marketing seminar. The speaker had previously owned a string of hypnosis centers. He said that he taught his staff that when somebody comes in and says, “I need help with X”, X is never the real problem, because if it was the real problem, the person would’ve solved it already.

So what I primarily seek from my therapist is help in areas where I’m not seeking help. If I knew what I needed, I wouldn’t need it.

I don’t want a therapist who automatically buys my stories. I know that I’m fooling myself much of the time. I tend to see my choices in much grander terms than reality would permit.

I’m a romantic. I see more to life than is there.

I want accountability from my therapist. When I report to somebody regularly about what I’ve been doing, that has a salutary effect on my behavior. I’m not tightly bonded to anyone right now. I don’t have a girlfriend. I don’t have a close friend I tell everything to. So right now I particularly need a psycho-therapist to report to once a week.

I’m susceptible to either-or thinking. For example, I might believe that that either I cut this person out of my life or I let him know that I find some of his behavior unacceptable. When I can’t figure out how to react to somebody, my therapist might suggest I consider making no reaction or my therapist might suggest a whole slew of reactions I never considered.

I find that therapy opens up my choices. I realize I have many more than the instinctual ones that come readily to mind.

I also find out in therapy how my read on reality is frequently distorted. I see things through the lens of distorted experiences. Therapy helps me to better understand my past. It gives me alternate explanations for what happened, and it helps me to realize that I do not have react habitually. I can make new choices. My instinctual responses to stimuli do not always serve me.

I tend to isolate when things aren’t going well. I find negotiating relationships distasteful (not just romantic ones but prosaic ones with blokes). I essentially grew up as an only child (my older brother and sister left the house early). I’m used to getting what I want and when I’m confronted with the need to compromise with others, I frequently choose to just go my own way, forfeiting those relationships.

Shul is often a crowded place and my tendency is to bolt as soon as possible, but if my friends talk me down from my anxiety, I can hang around longer and enjoy myself, even in a crowd. I find many social gatherings in Orthodox Judaism hard because everyone my age is married with kids. I feel like a loser because I’m not and so I want to leave as quickly as I can.

Relating to those outside of Orthodox Judaism brings many challenges because Jewish law restricts what I can eat and where I can go and what I can do and those outside the fold either don’t know or don’t care about the rules, so it is easy for me to say to myself, it’s not worth trying to be social with them.

I want to have sex with every attractive woman I meet so it is challenging to relate to them as human beings when they show no desire to go to bed with me. They might talk to me about some lofty idea and I’m just wondering about how their speech would change if I placed them in extremis. I’m not really hearing them in a deep way. They’re not fully real to me. They’re just potential fixes for my addiction.

My mind naturally focuses on what’s wrong with my relationships. I easily think of countless reasons to dismiss people from my life. I will see one side of somebody, an unattractive side, and I will discount them without considering all the facets of their humanity and how much they have to offer.

I constantly feel this thirst for attention and when I take the easy ways out for achieving it, the degrading ways, it’s like drinking saltwater. It only makes me thirstier.

I don’t tend to have good boundaries. I’ll start the day with the best of intentions, but by the time I’m at work, I’m cracking dirty jokes. My brain allows me to justify almost any behavior. When I have to report back to an objective party about my choices, their frequent wrongness becomes obvious to me.

I find that in therapy, I have to keep restating my goals, such as more human connection, and my therapist constantly asks me if the things I am doing will help me to achieve my goals. So therapy helps to keep me on track. It forces me to articulate what I want and to judge the means by which I seek to achieve my goals.

It’s not easy for me to realize what I’m feeling. Therapists are about the only persons in my life who ask, “How do you feel about that?” Therapy forces me to figure out what I’m feeling, even if it is awkward or pathetic, and when I see my emotions more clearly, I tend to make better choices.

I find that regular psycho-therapy is like getting a tune-up and I just run better and make fewer destructive choices.

I have no more concerns about getting hooked on therapy than I have about getting hooked on God. I have no plans ever to do without either.

GREG LEAKE EMAILS: Hi Chaim Amalek,

My hypothesis is that Luke is trying to promote a sympathy lay. It seems like he wishes to convey the idea that he has so many contradictory difficulties that some beautiful, ravishing woman with her beautiful hair spilling over her shoulders and her cleavage clearly visible in her power suit would see him as someone who requires redemptive sex.

Naturally, he has already stated that he could not possibly marry a woman unless she is Orthodox, and it is hard to see the power suit and the black stockings and the tailored fit and the beautiful hair all suddenly being concealed in a frum outfit holding his interest.

Frankly, I have been reading your comments for a long time, and if Luke had just followed your advice, he would be 100% better off.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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