Why does my therapist make me feel worse?

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In this blog we will discuss why your therapist makes your feel worse after a session.

We will also discuss how you can cope with post therapy blues as well as how you can discern if what you are feeling is caused by post therapy blues or if your therapist is being unethical. 

Why does my therapist make me feel worse?

There are two possible reasons as to why your therapist makes you feel worse and the major distinction between the two is for you to understand whether it is your therapist or it is therapy in general that makes you feel worse. 

It is common for people to feel worse before they can feel better when they start therapy and in such cases one might mistake their feelings as something related to the therapist when in fact it is the experience of being in therapy that is bringing up negative and unwanted feelings which eventually make the person feel worse after sessions. 

Another common reason could be that you have high expectations about therapist and even unrealistic ones- like one session can fix everything which is not the case because therapy is a long process. 

On the other hand, it is probably that the cause of your negative feelings with your therapist is straightforward- that your therapist is making your feel this way by being unethical. 

You might be feeling worse after sessions because your therapist is shaming you, making you feel guilty, over-riding boundaries etc which is leading you to feel worse about yourself and your situation when you have sessions with them.

Let us take a closer look at each of these possible reasons as to why you might be experiencing negative feelings with respect to your therapist. 

Uncovering challenging issues

Negative feelings as a result of spending time with your therapist uncovering difficult feelings attached to negative situations can be a probable cause as to why you feel worse after sessions. 

It is extremely concerning when after sessions, which you thought would make you feel better, makes you feel worse about your situation- but this is a gentle reminder that it is common to feel this way because of the processes involved in therapy. 

In a session you deal with negative and painful feelings that tend to be both embarrassing as well as painful and difficult to work through, this can lead you to find difficulty in developing acceptance and admitting to certain realities about your life. 

When this happens it is normal and common to feel awful, even horrible- particularly during the start of your sessions with your therapist however, this can be a sign of uncovering and confronting which is good for your therapeutic progress.

Some of the feelings might manifest in the following ways:

  • extreme fatigue
  • cloudy thinking
  • feeling weepy or angry
  • not wanting to see your friends
  • vengeful thoughts
  • snapping at those you love.

Because you are expressing intense negative emotions and tapping into painful memories while exploring your issues, it does not necessarily mean that your issues are being resolved- instead it leads to even more issues and more challenges that needs to be worked on. 

This can lead one to feel like they are weighed down by the enormity of these experiences and can make one feel hopeless and fearful about their situation however these feelings are not permanent and they eventually resolve as there is progress.

Disappointment 

People often have unrealistic expectations when it comes to therapy- particular one related to solutions since they come with the misconception that a therapist will tell them what to do and things will be alright again. 

However, that is not the case with actual therapy- the therapist does not solve problems rather they help clients uncover, resolve, and build their own solutions and strategies towards solutions. 

This can be jarringly disappointing for clients who come to therapy when they realise that a session will not fix the issue and that they have to commit to a longer term of revealing, exploring, dealing, confronting, etc with their own experiences.

Unethical therapist

It is possible that these feelings of negativity that you are experiencing could be because your therapist is truly making you feel that way because they are being unethical in sessions. 

Though rare, it does happen, and this can impact the clients overall health and progress in and out of session. Some of the signs that your therapist is making you feel worse because they are being unethical includes:

  • They shame you
  • They cross boundaries
  • They make you feel uncomfortable and scared
  • They make unwanted suggestions and advances (harassment)
  • They ridicule you
  • They make you do things or agree to things you do not want
  • They are flaky
  • They are judgy
  • They are not attending to you
  • They are not protecting your well-being and confidentiality

If your therapist is behaving unethicall, the best thing that you can do is to bring it to their attention and change the therapist.

How to cope with post therapy blues?

Here are a few things that you can do if you are experiencing negative feelings and therapist blues after sessions:

Bring it to their attention 

If you feel worse after sessions you should bring it up to your therapist’s notice so that you and your therapist can explore what the issue is. 

You should bring up any feedback in the case that your therapist is making you uncomfortable and uneasy in session by behaving in unethical ways.

When you do bring it up in sessions your therapist will most likely help you work out these issues and experiences. 

Explore your feelings

It is most likely that your discomfort or distress after sessions is due to high expectations as well as difficulties related to uncovering and unearthing various issues in therapy.

When you bring up your experiences with your therapist, make an effort to discuss these feelings rather than dismissing it entirely- this could be part of your therapeutic journey.

Engage in mindful behaviors

After therapy sessions, you can choose to engage in mindful behaviors and activities which can help you reconnect with the realities of your life and pull you out of the therapy mindset.

Some mindful activities can include Mindful Walking. This mindfulness exercise incorporates physical exercise as well. Take a walk outside or around your room and start by paying attention to the sensation of your feet in contact with the ground. 

Next, expand your awareness to the sounds and smells. Also, expand your vision to what you see. Next,  let go of other distractions and walk, as if being mindful of every step is vitally important.

Another activity is to observe your thoughts. This is an important mindfulness exercise that is designed to help to develop an awareness of your thoughts. 

To do this exercise, sit or lie down in a comfortable position and try to let all tension in your body go.

Next, allow yourself to focus on your breathing and they bring you focus on how your body is feeling by doing a body scan and then focus on your thoughts. 

Be aware of what comes into your head, but resist the urge to judge these thoughts. Look and observe these thoughts objectively and instead of judging it, take mindful effort to not react or respond to these thoughts. 

Do things that you enjoy after sessions

Engage in activities that bring you joy. If you think joy is something unattainable at the moment, then seek peace and rest. You can cuddle with your pet for a few hours after a hard day. 

You can watch your favorite tv series or watch a performance from your favorite musical act. Try creating something- be it a shapeless clay potato or a short poem cribbled on the back of an envelope. 

The intent here is to engage in something that allows you to experience a positive emotion and gives you that mental break from your mundane routine and if you liked doing it, look forward to doing it again the next day or the next week. 

Journal

Oftentimes in therapy the clients are asked to maintain a journal and this is because it helps track the person’s behaviour patterns, symptoms and how often they occur. 

The journal can contain small notes on how you may be feeling, your small accomplishments through the day or even the moments where you were at your lowest and why that happened, the journal acts as your safe place. 

Keeping a journal is a very healthy practice and acts as a mental checklist, just like how there is an unconscious checklist for your physical health.

Exercise

Any kind of physical activity is a great hobby for anyone, especially if you experience bouts of depression or related loneliness. Running is a great solitary activity however, it can also improve the state of your physique.

Other than these physical and mental benefits, exercise or running can also help you meet new people who also love running through marathons or through the shared activity of working out together in the gym.  

Conclusion

In this blog we have discussed why your therapist makes you feel worse after a session.

We have also discussed how you can cope with post therapy blues as well as how you can discern if what you are feeling is caused by post therapy blues or if your therapist is being unethical. 

FAQ related to My therapist makes me feel worse

Do therapists make it worse?

It is possible that your therapist might make it worse however, objectively speaking, There are two possible reasons as to why your therapist makes you feel worse and the major distinction between the two is for you to understand whether it is your therapist or it is therapy in general that makes you feel worse. 

Can therapy make anxiety worse?

Yes. Negative feelings as a result of spending time with your therapist uncovering difficult feelings attached to negative situations can be a probable cause as to why you feel worse after sessions. 

It is extremely concerning when after sessions, which you thought would make you feel better, makes you feel worse about your situation- but this is a gentle reminder that it is common to feel this way because of the processes involved in therapy. 

Why does going to therapy make me feel worse?

In a session you deal with negative and painful feelings that tend to be both embarrassing as well as painful and difficult to work through, this can lead you to find difficulty in developing acceptance and admitting to certain realities about your life. 

When this happens it is normal and common to feel awful, even horrible- particularly during the start of your sessions with your therapist however, this can be a sign of uncovering and confronting which is good for your therapeutic progress.

References

How to Recover From a Therapy Hangover, Because the Post-Session Blues Are Super Common. https://www.wellandgood.com/therapy-makes-me-feel-worse/

Why You Might Feel Bad (Or Worse) After Therapy. https://www.talkspace.com/blog/why-you-might-feel-bad-or-worse-after-therapy/

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