By Alice Miller
I know how difficult it is to find the right therapist but I still believe
that it is possible if you know what you need.
So I try to answer here to some questions that may encourage you to
check the attitude of the candidate for your therapist but please take
this text as a draft and don't hesitate to make comments or additions.
(I decided to speak on the therapist as a "she" but of course both genders
are here meant.)
1. what do i need to overcome my plight?
You need an empathic, honest person who would help you to take seriously
the knowledge of your body, a person who already
succeeded to do the same for herself because she had the chance to have
found this kind of help that you are looking for.
2. how can i know if a therapist is
this kind of person?
By asking many questions.
3. this idea scares me. why don't i
dare to ask questions?
As a child you were probably punished for asking
questions because they might have shaken your parents' position of power.
Your questions were often ignored or you were given lies instead of
true answers. This was very painful. Now, you are afraid that this might
It CAN happen that you will not be understood or that your questions
trigger the fears and defences of a therapist but you are no longer
the helpless child without any options. You can leave and look for another
therapist. The child could not leave, so it tried to change its parents,
some people do it (symbolically) their whole life.
But as an adult you have options. You can, with the support of the forum,
recognize the lies, the poisonous pedagogy and the defences. You must
only take seriously what you hear, not deny your
uneasiness, and not hope that you will be able to change this person
(the parent) later. You will not.
She will need therapy herself, and this shouldn't be your job as long
as YOU pay the honorary.
4. i feel guilty
because of my mistrust. if i can't trust i will never find what is good
Your mistrust has a history and your need for SPECIAL understanding
too. Your caregiver didn't deserve your trust and the child felt this
very strongly because its body knew the truth. It couldn't develop trust.
Now, trust your body signals, it is the silenced child who is speaking,
who starts to talk and needs your truthfulness.
If you don't feel well with a person, take your feelings seriously,
don't push them away, try to understand these feelings. Once you feel
really, deeply understood by someone your body will let you know this
immediately and very clearly, it will be relaxed without any special
5. what do i risk by asking questions
from the beginning?
Nothing. You can only win. If the answer
is hostile or very incomplete or defensive you can gain much money
and time by leaving. On the other hand, if the answer you got is satisfying
you will feel encouraged to ask more. And this is what you should do.
6. which kind of questions am i allowed
Whatever you need to know. But above all don't forget to ask the candidate
for your therapist about her childhood and her experiences during her
- Where did she got her training, what was helpful to her, what was
- How does she feel about the defeats, does she have the freedom to
see what was wrong or does she protect people who damaged her?
- Does she minimize the damage?
- Was she beaten as a child?
- How does she value this experience?
- Is she really aware of its consequences on her later life or is she
denying its importance?
- Does she avoid the confrontation with her own pain?
In the last case she will do everything to silence you, not always visibly.
7. is it
a good sign if she tells me that she has read alice miller's the
drama of being a child?
It doesn't say anything. Ask you how she FELT about For Your Own
Good and the other books, ask also about her critics.
- What helped her personally, what didn't?
- What is in her opinion the main healing factor?
- Is she capable of deep feelings or does she prefer an intellectual
analysis to keep distance?
This you may even find with primal therapists who make you feel the
helpless child for years and years so that they can "help" you but without
being themselves able to feel on a deeper level.
Then you may end up in a dependence on them and on your
feelings of a helpless, unchangeable rage against your parents without
being able to free yourself for what YOU really need.
A good therapist must help you to find and fulfil YOUR OWN needs, neglected
for such a long time, needs for free expression, for being understood,
respected and taken seriously.
When you begin to look for fulfilment and
protect the child the rage and hatred
will leave you, they will fade. They are alarm signals of your repetition
of parental neglect and contempt, they have not the therapeutic quality
we are so often told they have.
8. am i not intrusive when i ask so
Not at all. You have the right to be sufficiently informed and she must
have the courage, the awareness and the honesty to answer you in a proper
way. Otherwise she is not the right person for you.
9. with this position, am i then looking
for an ideal that doesn't exist?
I don't think so. You see on the forum of this website that honesty,
awareness, compassion, courage, and openness DO EXIST. Why should these
qualities not be expected from your therapist?
The forum gives you a compass at least. You are authorized to use it.
© 2002 Alice Miller.