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To think that counselling has made me worse?

(33 Posts)
dontcallnotdating Fri 13-Feb-15 12:03:12

During counselling yesterday it came out that I'm frightened of people judging me. I had two relationship break ups, that left me feeling as if I'd been judged and found lacking. I don't like people coming into my house in case they judge it. It emerged that I'm hearing my mum's critical voice in my head. I became quite tearful during counselling, even though I'd been ok when I walked in.

That evening - an aggressive tailgater beeper at me when I took a second to check it was clear before turning right. When I pulled over, I was sobbing and shaking and gasping for breath. I felt like I couldn't breathe. It lasted for about ten minutes but I was shaky for ages afterwards. Now I'm wondering if counselling has somehow damaged me? Maybe some things are meant to stay buried?

I feel like avoiding people at the moment and I've retreated into myself.

Catswiththumbs Fri 13-Feb-15 12:12:24

For me counselling is a way to find the slightly buried stuff that you don't think is a problem , address it knock it down and build on better foundations for my mental health.

I usually feel worse after, get migraines and write the rest of the day off. The coming weeks are easier though.

Hope you feel stronger soon

dontcallnotdating Fri 13-Feb-15 12:16:20

So maybe it could be a good sign? I felt like I had a panic attack - I've never had one before.

ReallyTired Fri 13-Feb-15 12:20:44

I think that councelling is crap. Stuff that is buried in the brain is buried for a good reason. Maybe you should try a different type of councelling like CBT?

mutternutter Fri 13-Feb-15 12:24:17

Is this a qualified person?

SlaggyIsland Fri 13-Feb-15 12:25:13

It made me worse. Was meant to be CBT for panic attacks but I felt mentally picked away at and no coping strategies offered that I couldn't have googled. Wound up getting generalised anxiety too which I hadn't had previously.

dontcallnotdating Fri 13-Feb-15 12:27:21

It is a qualified counsellor. I have got some CBT on the Nhs starting next week, so that might be better.

Surely counselling shouldn't induce a panic attack?

PlumpingUpPartridge Fri 13-Feb-15 12:27:57

Counselling can make you temporarily feel a lot worse, yes. But it can also give you the opportunity to make a better life for yourself, as presumably you sought counselling for a reason.

I have just finished a 9-month course of weekly visits after my mum died. It's been very, very good for me. Doesn't mean I didn't feel like shit for a lot of it though.

OttiliaVonBCup Fri 13-Feb-15 12:28:22

It can make it worse immediately after a session but it should get better long term.

CBt is different though, it's not meant to bring up the deep issues, it's supposed to give you straightforward coping strategies.

PlumpingUpPartridge Fri 13-Feb-15 12:29:56

Your terminology is wrong.

Counselling didn't induce a panic attack. You had a session which left you feeling emotional. You then experienced a scary incident which, on top of the emotion previously experienced, left you more susceptible to a panic attack.

The difference is subtle, but there.

Iwasinamandbunit Fri 13-Feb-15 12:31:24

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

dragdownthemoon Fri 13-Feb-15 12:32:13

I went to counselling and my therapist was awful! I couldn't be open with her at all and I came away from every session feeling like she had judged me and feeling like such a horrible person because let's face it, she must have heard some horrible things in her time as a counsellor and so for her to react like that to me must mean I am terrible! I ended up lying to her about a lot, and then cancelling my sessions because it made me feel so utterly crap about myself.

I was originally referred for "low mood" following a miscarriage and when the 6 week course was up (I only attended 4 cos I couldn't face it!) I felt lower than ever!!

dontcallnotdating Fri 13-Feb-15 12:34:15

I like my counsellor and I've been going for a while, I just felt unexpectedly emotional yesterday. Maybe all this hiding away I'd part of a process.

Carrie5608 Fri 13-Feb-15 12:37:13

I think it can temporarily make you feel worse. You have to dig up all the bad things work, through them and only then can you start to live your life. You can't change a thing about your past but you can change how you feel about it. That is go back and look at from a different perspective and realise that some of the harm comes from other peoples bad choices (your mums?) not yours.

So it really is tough at times but then you get to a better place. Tomorrow being the first day of the rest of your life and all that.

And for what its worth the aggressive tailgater was in the wrong and probably commited at least one motoring offence!!

SorchaN Fri 13-Feb-15 12:49:15

It helps if you have a good therapeutic fit with your counsellor, but yes, it can sometimes feel worse before it gets better, especially immediately after a session. I'd advise you to talk to your counsellor about your worries, and about the incident with the twat tailgaiter. If s/he is a good counsellor, then talking about your concerns will help you to address them - and feel better about them.

gatewalker Fri 13-Feb-15 12:56:17

Counselling and therapy do make things appear to be worse for a while: it is part of the unravelling of the defence systems that happens when it is working. Which is why you go regularly and why counsellors and therapists undergo so much training themselves: to be able to hold you through it (metaphorically speaking).

I tend to liken it to having your leg trapped under a rock. For a while, you will feel little to nothing because your body ensures that you don't. However, when you are released, the pain can be excruciating for a while, because the sensation rushes back in and you feel the extent of the initial wound you sustained. Counselling is the removal of that rock. It gets worse before it gets better. It has to. Choosing to stay trapped under that rock is a choice, but quite frequently one that stops working after a while.

PinkOrchid123 Fri 13-Feb-15 13:10:40

I think it's quite normal that you feel worse immediately after a counselling session if it is one in which you figured out some of your bigger problems / causes of problems. It's a bit like you've ripped off the sticking plaster and everything is out in the open now.

However, if your counsellor is any good, then over the course of the next 2-3 sessions you will find ways to come to terms with the issues you've just exposed and you will gradually feel better. The wound is exposed now, but it take a while to heal IYSWIM.

Hang in there, OP. It will get better smile

Varya Fri 13-Feb-15 13:13:23

IMO some forms of counselling rake up so much crud from the past and bring it into focus, it seems to border on harmful rather than beneficial.

DoJo Fri 13-Feb-15 13:13:42

I think you have to think of it as you would any medical treatment.
Chemotherapy is a good example as often people who have caught cancer early don't actually have many cancer symptoms, so when they begin chemo they actually feel much worse than they did when they 'just' had cancer. However, the long-term benefits are, of course, that the cancer shrinks and hopefully disappears and then they can go back to feeling ok again.

I also think it depends on what you are having counselling for - what is your end goal? Do you have a specific issue which you want to address? Do you think that this problem with feeling judged actually contributes to your overall well-being? Counselling isn't for everyone, but if you have found it helpful thus far, then you might need to just give yourself a few days to come to terms with the things you are discovering about yourself. flowers

AliceLidl Fri 13-Feb-15 13:16:39

OP I've just started studying counselling skills, I am not qualified yet and am at the very beginning of the process to qualify.

But I believe that in many cases, counselling can make you feel worse before you feel better.

You are bringing things to light that have been buried or ignored before, or which are painful to speak about, and it can make you wonder why you ever thought it was a good idea.

It's also important to work with the right person and in the right sort of counselling. It's like any other sort of relationship, some people just do not work well together and that's not a judgement on either of them, just you need to find the right person for you to make the best of your relationship and your time.

And even then, sometimes the time is just not right and people are not ready.

I hope you are okay. It sounds like that driver caught you at the worst possible time and their behaviour was the final straw after an emotional session.

Could it be that you are frightened by your revelation, because now you know what the issue is you don't know how to deal with it? And the later events have given you something else to focus on as a reason why you shouldn't continue?

GhostlyPenguin Fri 13-Feb-15 13:21:02

It's not an unknown phenomenon.

A few article mention this site - seems to be an set of evidenced based information pages about what to expect from counselling and when/if to be concerned. Possibly worth reading through see if you have the right treatment/therapist and think about where your counselling is going.

dontcallnotdating Fri 13-Feb-15 13:30:04

Thank you for the responses, I think I might speak to my counsellor.

I'm off work today, so lying low with tea and toast, which is lovely.

I think the judging thing scared me. I don't even want a relationship again because it scares me now.

Kachan Fri 13-Feb-15 13:32:38

It emerged that I'm hearing my mum's critical voice in my head.

This line of your post rang a bell for me. I have had lots of counselling on and off over the years. Fortunately, it has all been very positive and I have found excellent therapists who have helped me to work through a lot.

The sessions with my first therapist were the hardest. This is where I had to confront for the first time, the issues that had brought me therapy in the first place. One of the hardest things was acknowledging that my relationship with my mum was probably a large part of my problem.

The guilt I experienced just mentioning her in the sessions was enormous. I felt traitorous and I couldn't actually accept that the way she had raised me might not have been ideal. She was unbelievably critical. It took a long time to unpick the mess and I remember leaving many sessions in tears and then understanding that the time spent between sessions was for me to think about and process what had come up. I would urge you to bear with it and definitely tell your therapist about this incident and how you felt.

On a final note, you might find that CBT will be very good at challenging that Critical Voice, that's what it's about, it's about resetting the neural pathways by getting you to change your inner voice to something more positive.

I really wish you well.

kitchentableagain Fri 13-Feb-15 13:46:24

I once began therapy to deal with sexual abuse when I was a child. The therapist took a case history and told me I may need to suspend my studies (i was a full time student) for at least two years to get over it using therapy. I assume she didn't think that necessary because i would feel better and better as time went on!

I never went back actually (didn't like her manner) and successfully overcame my difficult past myself, but I would say that after confronting an emotional habit or physical response rooted in the abuse I did (sometimes still do) feel completely emotionally devastated for a few days. I tend to view it as digging out very big, very deeply embedded splinters - once it heals it will be much better but you sometimes have to do considerable damage to dig them out!

Hugs to you.

MagnetsOnItsTail Fri 13-Feb-15 14:06:50

I found that when I had CBT it wasn't much help. although a lot of people find it's beneficial. I was wondering (armchair psychologist alert) whether Transactional Analysis might help you OP. The reason I'm mentioning it, is when you wrote about hearing your mum's critical voice, I suffered something similar and Transactional Analysis made a positive difference.

Hope you're enjoying your tea and toast flowers

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