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Question
Posted by: Kelly | 2018/07/20

Therapeutic process

Hi CS. I started seeing a psychologist near the end of April this year to finally deal with the demons of my past. I am now feeling worse than I have ever felt in the past. My psychologist says it’s because there’s lots of things that I never dealt with before so it’s become a bit overwhelming for me and that’s why I feel so terrible. She says that there are many people who feel worse before they start feeling better. In your experience with the therapeutic process, is this often the case? If this isn’t the case then I’m thinking that I may actually need to find someone else

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink
- 2018/07/23

Hi Kelly,
It depends, significantly, on the actual variety of psychotherapy being used. Whereas if you take Paracetamol,  it has, by law, to contain paracetamol ; so although how each individual one of us varies in how we respond to the chemical /drug,  it's easier to do reasonably good research to see whether it works and if safe, or what side-effects it has.
Psychotherapy / counselling is more complicated. Though there have been some ingenious and clever research studies on effectiveness, and good modern therapies work with a manual that specifies much of what should be done, not all do this. As proper research is really expensive and time-consuming, and often not sponsored, it's sadly often not done.
And then, whatever the method, there's the human element : how you and your therapist "click" and get on together.  You may find a really excellent and skilled therapist, who just doesn't happen to work well with you.  Then, with no hard feelings on either side, one should change therapists, possible also changing the therapy method being used.
And then there is the question of side-effects, which occur in psychotherapy just as in drug treatments.
You haven't mentioned what your diagnosis was, or for what you are being treated. When you speak of the demons of your past, this suggests perhaps that you are troubled by issues arising from trauma of some sort earlier in life.
There are many types of therapy offered for this, some with good evidence available to suggest thy could be useful, some with none, and some in the Pending tray, where the data is not yet available to evaluate them as one would prefer to.  Most are at least sincere, and their practitioners believe them to be useful : due to the placebo effect, that, at least, is necessary for any treatment to be helpful.  Some have been shown  in some elegant research to be unhelpful ; and some fad therapies especially popular in the USA, have been harmful in the experience of many.  Some techniques, such as "Recovered Memory" methods have a bad reputation in the view of many experts. 
But this is something to discuss with your therapist, who will surely explain the method she uses, and address your concerns.  Remember that some of what you experience might be relatively specific to the method being used, some are seen at least potentially, in all significant therapies.
And this includes discomfort when, in therapy, there's a need to discuss events and feelings that you find uncomfortable or even painful to recall and talk about.  A good therapist will discus this with you in advance, and help you to work though the discomfort and use whatever you may have been avoiding, to build a lasting recovery.
Discuss your concerns with your therapist, and explore your best alternatives for dealing with this situation

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