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Talking to professional therapist - always painful?

(7 Posts)
tobee Fri 12-Jun-15 18:40:44

Hi. I spent some weeks a few years ago talking to a psychotherapist. I was suffering from panic attacks and gad at the time. After the first session I thought "great, this is going to really help me" but then most of my other sessions I came away feeling quite upset and a pressure of anxiety and tension, like a physical sensation afterwards. I felt as though she was listening to me and telling me that "good grief, that's terrible" about everybody else in my life, how they were all at fault. She said I should have more sessions but I stopped because it was too expensive and I felt so bad afterwards.

I liked the therapist as a person, but felt at the time I needed first aid iyswim for my panic attacks not sudden overturning of thoughts about what I thought were good family relationships. It wasn't a gentle process at all.

I just wondered, how have other people found therapy like this? Is it a necessary part of the process to feel so terrible after sessions? How do others feel? How do you know if it's helpful to you?

Btw I found group sessions and self help successful for me.

NotAJammyDodger Fri 12-Jun-15 22:04:15

Hi, do you know what type of therapy you had (e.g, CBT, psychodynamic, person centered etc).

Therapy can be painful because it can explore and delve into deeply personal stuff and make us feel vulnerable and exposed. However, this usually happens after you have established a trusting relationship with the therapist, and how 'deep' it goes depends on the type of therapy. It can be uncomfortable but should never be a brutal process in itself.

If you were uncomfortable after a few sessions and felt worse then it sounds like either the therapy type wasn't right for you, or the therapist (even if a nice person) wasn't right for you.

For anxiety and tension CBT is often the therapy of choice and is usually shorter term in duration, eg 6-8 sessions. Many people do rate it quite highly.

I have found therapy really helpful for me, but I did go through a number of therapists before I found one I could work with.

Are you looking at self-funding or using the NHS?

eggsandbread Sat 13-Jun-15 11:00:52

I've had psychodynamic psychotherapy for a period of nearly two years and I didn't have the feelings you describe. But my referral was due to depression more than anxiety and I never really felt that she had a real insight into my issues, although she also tried the tactic of overturning my thoughts (which I didn't agree with for my specific situation as she made a lot of assumptions which were untrue). So it was a very different situation.

Some people find that therapy makes them aware of things they weren't previously aware of, but I am not sure I would say that was true in my case. I never felt emotional or painful, it was all very professional and straightforward to me. I'm not sure I would have persevered with it if I had been paying tbh, but as it was NHS funded it was also much harder to change therapists as they make you feel you should be grateful for being offered anything at all.

tobee Sat 13-Jun-15 13:16:51

Thanks for the interesting replies. They are exactly what I wanted to hear about.

I had psycho dynamic therapy although she said she mixed it up with other things such as cbt. I just always wondered if I was being naive about the whole thing; whether of course it will be painful. I suppose I'd been hoping for a kind of mental massage. Told you I was naive. But wondered if I should have kept going with her. I was self funding because I was desperate but that was silly as it turned out. I'd been told by the initial assessor that I would have about 8 sessions but it dragged on and I needed to stop.

In the end I went back to my gp and feel incredibly lucky as I got group cbt on the nhs within a surprisingly short space of time. It was good because being with others made me feel I wasn't a freak (there were fewer Internet forums etc in those days). And, best of all, it helped me feel in charge of my recovery. The other therapy made me feel like I was kidding myself I was ok and actually close to being deluded about my relationships.

NotAJammyDodger Sun 14-Jun-15 22:40:19

Hi tobee I have tried a number of therapeutic approaches (CBT, TA, Group, relationship counseling, GAD) and have been doing psychodynamic for the last 2.5 years privately. I have an excellent therapist though. She can be tough but is always gentle, and she paces the session well so I never leave in a mess. Mines a bit of a long journey but I'm happy at the rate of progress I am making and it has made a difference to me. Perhaps, look locally for any privately affordable or charity run group self help groups.

I certainly don't think you were or are naive! I like your description of a mental massage, and yes that is probably part of what I experience. My self confidence has really improved, and when I do get setbacks I leave the session in a better place.

I do think you need to trust your gut on therapists and if it saying 'no' find another one of possible.

tobee Tue 16-Jun-15 00:57:08

Thanks Notajammy for your reply. For some reason, I always found it hard not to ask the therapist how she was(!) I just have a lingering feeling I wasted my time really.

Sazzle41 Sun 21-Jun-15 02:44:10

It can be painful to talk about issues and/or realise family relationships arent what you imagine they are. But she is an objective outsider so can see more clearly than you. Anxiety and depression can cloud your thinking. I have never thought therapy would be a breezy chat and it isnt. But it has helped.

Maybe if for now, you only want to manager the anxiety and not address its causes you should buy CBT for Dummies. It gives coping strategies etc. It sounds like you arent ready to address possible causes and thats fine, we are all different. Ive found it painful discussing my family but then i knew the dynamic was toxic already. Having someone qualified say it, did, for a time, make it seem worse. Now , i see it as my tool to get over it , no one wants to hear about crappy childhoods in real life. For varying reasons.

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