How Therapy Works

Psychotherapy for people with ULD and LD involves helping people access their potential through the enhancement of their sense of self or self worth. How is this done?

First of all, the therapist and the individual need to like one another. Knowledgeable therapists must  provide the required emotional support  so that people can learn how to accept and live with their learning disabilities. Talking with someone who cares creates a sense of trust, mutual respect, and over time, a sense of safety. Then, through this interactive experience, the therapist looks for the person’s strengths and underscores the importance of capitalizing on those strengths. Also, feelings or emotional roadblocks that inhibit learning, achievement, and feeling good about oneself can be identified and appreciated for their powerful negative impact on one’s confidence and sense of self worth.
person talking to therapist

Some of these emotional roadblocks are feeling:

  • Too scared (fearful)
  • Too depressed
  • Too anxious
  • Too discouraged
  • Too bitter
  • Too angry

In this website’s section on Learning Disabilities, the emotions of LD and ULD are highlighted. There is even a special section on “the chasm”. From my perspective, these feelings are the end result of being emotionally traumatized by an unknowing, unfeeling, uncaring, or nasty world. In areas of deficits, people with LD and ULD are vulnerable, As people exerience the chasm with the therapist, they are not alone anymore, and after time, the chasm looses some of it’s potency.

In therapy, we work backward. Feelings are like markers or clues. Things happen in our world to cause feelings to be experienced. We start by identifying the feelings and then get curious about why those feelings evolved.

Therapy involves:

  • Learning about what happened to kick off painful feelings, and what happened to make us feel good
  • Learning about what causes those feelings to become so powerful
  • Learning about whether powerful feelings are biologically based and need pharmacological intervention

Or, learning that it could be all of the above.

It can be tricky and can take time to unravel But, as we begin to understand that there are old patterns at work, people then have the choice to try something new. The person who is afraid to try for a promotion or go back to school can recognize that this fear is based on old experiences and that one now has other alternatives and is not so vulnerable anymore.

Also, as mentioned in the section on “understanding the problem” there are the common sense issues of appropriate referrals to help people overcome their LD. A referral to an educational therapist for someone who can’t read or reads too slowly makes sense.

Different interventions also come into play. For example, if a man with organizational problems is complaining that his wife is too bossy and grumbles about the mess he makes in the house, therapy can help him confront this problem. By understanding that the problem is legitimate and needs to be acknowledged, he can teach his wife that he is not creating this mess on purpose – it’s not that he doesn’t care – and that she needs to stop shaming him and treat the problem with respect.

In other word the problem needs respectful recognition and the negative feelings, such as shaming, have to stop.

If you have questions or comments, click here to contact Dr. Orenstein.