Tuesday Therapy Notes: It Gets Worse Before it Gets Better

I am not a patient person. Sometimes, I want just an easy, straightforward fix from my therapist, and then I can go on my way. Unfortunately, that isn’t how it works. Therapy is a journey that takes time. And worse still, sometimes it gets worse before it gets better.

I say this because I often hear about people leave a therapy session feeling worse. And I have definitely said that myself as well. So I totally get how frustrating it is to walk out of the room feeling worse then when you went in. After all, you are paying this person to help you. But what isn’t always obvious is that sometimes the fact that you feel worse actually means that the therapy is working.

This is advice I wish someone had told me before I started therapy. It is something they definitely don’t seem to advertise when people talk about therapy, which is one of the reasons I am telling you now.

And if you think about it, it makes sense that things sometime feel worse right after a therapy session. Many times you might be turning to this person for help with deep, complex emotions that might be traumatic and that you probably haven’t dealt with yet on your own. Addressing these feelings probably won’t feel good. Instead, it will likely leave you feeling raw. But it is a step towards better mental health.

I often compare it to a hard workout. Afterwards, you feel drained and sore. You certainly don’t feel stronger. Yet your body bounces recovers from that workout stronger than it was before. And similarly, therapy that leaves you feeling worse than when you went in might be doing its job and making you healthier.

Like I said, I know how frustrating it can be to leave a session feeling worse instead of better. No one told me that sometimes happens, which is why I am telling you now. Hopefully it helps, and thanks, as always for reading.

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