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I'm asking this question for a number of reasons.

  1. I like to be proactive in my healthcare
  2. My therapist seems more reactive rather than proactive.
  3. I don't feel like I'm getting much out of my sessions.

Perhaps the therapist I'm seeing is not the right person for me. But it's been difficult to find someone who takes my insurance, so I'd like to do what I can to make the most out of what I can get.

My biggest problem is that I am going to therapy with the goal of getting something useful out of it yet all I feel like I'm getting is someone to listen to me rant on about things, very rarely offering useful advice.

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I am studying counselling and psychotherapy in university and there are 3 main different approaches of therapy offered in counselling and psychotherapy.

  • Humanistic
    including Existential Therapy, Gestalt Therapy, Human Givens Psychotherapy and Person-Centred Therapy (PCT), (Source)
  • Psychodynamic
    a therapeutic approach that embraces the work of all analytic therapies. Its roots lie predominantly in Freud's psychoanalysis approach, but Carl Jung, Alfred Adler, Otto Rank and Melanie Klein are all widely recognised for further developing the concept and application of psychodynamics. (Source)
  • Integrative
    a combined approach to psychotherapy that brings together different elements of specific therapies. (Source) The therapist would integrate elements of both Psychodynamic and Humanistic approaches and could be integrated with a leaning towards Person Centred or Psychodynamic; or could be 50:50 between the two.

With Humanistic therapy, the client takes the lead in all sessions - hence the name Person-Centred in Person-Centred Therapy. Therapy is concentrated on the here and now, and the therapist will listen to what the client says and reflects it back to the client in order for the client to hear what is said and work through the issues themselves with the therapist's help. The therapist in humanistic approaches will not put forward a position of expertise. Only the client knows where they are in therapy.

With Psychodynamic therapy, the therapist is diferent in the sense that they will analyse what the client says and look at past events which may have lead to the problems in the present. A psychodynamic therapist might give some 'homework' or some tasks to carry out which might help.

Gestalt therapy is an example being that although primarily humanistic (it concentrates on the here and now), the therapy does have a small element of psychodynamic too. Gestast therapy may use techniques such as the empty chair or exaggerated body language.

You said,

Perhaps the therapist I'm seeing is not the right person for me.....all I feel like I'm getting is someone to listen to me rant on about things, very rarely offering useful advice.

If you are looking for some direction and you are seeing a purely Person-Centred therapist, then you may be seeing the wrong person. Maybe a discussion is needed with your therapist to work out where the problems may lay.

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  • What's the differences between hearing what I said and working out the solution by myself and having others guide me from the start? – Ooker Apr 21 '17 at 6:10
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From my own experiences I would recommend:

  • write down what your goals are. You should really think this through.
  • write down any questions you have before you go to a session
  • if you have difficulties to remember all things being said, you could bring someone you trust maybe
  • ask your therapist for advice in this
  • remember your therapist is only human. I find that this makes their authority over me less intimidating and I dare to ask more and be more critical

I hope this helps. It does for me. Good luck.

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