Creating Your Inner Therapist

I don't know about where you live, but therapy is expensive!  Granted, it's worth it if you get the right one.  But too many times, we end up with someone who is just as human as we are, and end up in some sort of cycle with them, both of us acting out some childhood trauma or the like.  Or we get a therapist that is just plain are terrible (read: is most likely a narcissist).  Which can leave us burned out on therapy for a moment or we could fear getting a new one, thinking the same thing will happen.  Or worse yet, we just stay with the bad ones!  Please don't do that.  If your therapist sucks, fire them.  Ghost them.  I don't care what you do, just get away from them.  Because a bad therapist is worse for our mental health than not having one at all.  Granted, if you need help, please don't fear getting a new one.  Just keep trying until you find one that works.  

Now, if you don't desperately need one or you have one but just want some extra insight into your situation or life, then why not create your own inner therapist?

Your inner therapist is like your inner mother or inner father, which are all parts of our personalities (as with IFS: Internal Family Systems, which you can read about here).  And just like our other inner family members, our inner therapist is there to guide us and help us understand things, but unlike a real therapist, this one is an idealized version of the best therapist possible that we can dream up.  One that is specifically tailored to you, because they are you.  

Your inner therapist is just another part of your own personality.

Let's go through this step-by-step and see what we can come up with, shall we?

  1. First, let's model your IT (inner therapist) after someone who think makes a great one.  Perhaps it's a therapist you've had in the past, or one you've seen on TV.  Think of Dr. Melfi on the "Sopranos".  Or Dr. Kroger on "Monk".  Dr. Wyatt on "Grey's Anatomy".  Or Fraiser on, well, "Fraiser".  Or Dr. Reisman on "Big Little Lies".  Or maybe there is one from a movie that you adore?  Think of all the best traits of all the therapists you can think of and make a list.  This list will be what your IT is based on.

  2. After you have your favorite traits lined up, I want you to imagine what your therapist looks like.  Are the male or female?  Young or old?  You can skip this part if you don't want to do it (say, if you're only going to do this on paper), but if you do, then come up with a basic look your therapist has and then name them.  Just a first name.  This is your inner therapist.  For this moment, we'll call her Judy.

  3. Now, think of something that's bothering you.  Say, it's your mother.  Let's pretend your mother likes to take everything you say and then come up with something she likes better.  Like, you say that you like baked potatoes.  Rather than respond to you, she says "You know what I like?  Double-baked potatoes!"  Or you say "Oh, I made some spaghetti for us for dinner!"  And she says "You know what I like?  Lasagna!  Why didn't make you make lasagna?"  I may, or may not, be using my own life's experiences with my own mother here.  

  4. So, you tell Judy this.  I might say "Judy, this is what my mother does every single time I say anything at all.  I don't get why she does this."  Now, your IT may say something completely different than mine, based upon what your ideal therapist would say.  But mine would say "It doesn't matter why she does it, it only matters that you don't let her do it because it bothers you.  Don't tell her what you're making, just serve it to her.  If she makes a rude comment about it, just say 'you're welcome' and leave the room.  If you're talking about yourself and she contradicts you for no reason, you can flat out ask her why she does it.  Put her on the spot.  She'll soon quit.  You know how she is.  But the why doesn't matter.  It never has.  You don't need to understand why anyone else does what they do in order to stop it from happening or to even heal from it.  You just have to take charge and don't give them the room to do it anymore." 

    You can write this stuff down instead of saying it out loud or in your head.  If you do, you should get a nice journal to record your conversations.  But the point here is to take your ideal therapist and learn how she or he talks to their patients, and then have them talk that way to you.  If you're unsure of what your IT would say, you could always ask "And how does that make you feel?" and then respond accordingly.  My Judy is no-nonsense.  She knows the right action to take.  I just have to remember to do it.  

  5. You can talk to Judy (or whatever your IT's name is) for as long as you like: on paper, out loud, in your head, etc.  Judy's job is to take what you say, boil it down to the basics, and to present you with some common sense by separating the emotions from the practical part of your issue.  See, our common sense gets muddled up with emotion when it comes to solving our problems in life.  Not that emotion is bad.  Far from it.  But when it comes to problem-solving, it's easier to be the least emotional you can be.  Problem solving is an analytical act.  So make sure your IT is both analytical (which the best therapists are), yet also understanding.  Therapists understand that humans are emotional people and without emotion, we'd be robots.  But when we get too stuck in our feelings, we can't see how to solve our problems.  "This makes me angry, so I don't know what to do about it!"  "This scares the shit out of me, what should I do?"  But if you took away the fear, the anger, the sadness, the hurt and blame, then the answer will usually be staring you in the face.  And your IT is one person who will help you do that.  
It sounds simple, and while the idea is, it may take a minute to get the hang of it.  But even if it does take more than once to feel comfortable doing this, don't give up!  Keep trying!  Because eventually, you and your inner therapist will have regular sessions and you'll be on your way to figuring out these problems in no time.  

Now, for mental illness, such as anxiety or depression, your inner therapist should also remind you of what your real therapist has told you in order to feel better.  Because it's so easy to forget (which also is why you should take therapy notes during each session with your actual therapist).  

But if you're interested in taking this idea further, here are some great links to inner therapy and self-therapy:

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