Therapy isn’t easy, but it can be an invaluable tool for dealing with difficult emotions. It can help you understand and manage your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors so you can live a happier, more fulfilling life.
But, if you’re feeling stuck in therapy, it can feel frustrating and hopeless. You might wonder if you’re doing something wrong or whether your therapist is ignoring you.
1. You’re Experiencing Pain
In most cases, pain is a natural and necessary protective mechanism that helps your body stay healthy. It detects threats to your health and sends signals to your brain to help you act quickly.
Pain can vary greatly, and how you experience it depends on a lot of factors. Your mental state, where you are and what’s going on around you all play a part in how you feel.
Whether you’re feeling acute pain from an injury or chronic pain from ongoing health problems, there are many ways to treat it and manage it effectively. Medications, physical therapy, nonpharmacologic therapies and stress management techniques can all be effective.
Your nervous system has specialized receptors that are attached to 2 main types of nerves that alert your brain when there’s danger. One type sends signals immediately and causes a sharp, sudden pain, while the other relays messages slowly and causes a dull, throbbing pain.
These nociceptors also work to warn your body about chemicals that have been released from damaged or destroyed cells. These chemicals can cause damage to your nerves, which trigger the release of more chemical signals that are sent to your brain to tell you there’s a problem.
If you’re experiencing pain, your doctor will ask you a few questions about what’s causing it and how it affects your life. This will help the doctor diagnose your pain and determine how to treat it.
Psychiatric disorders, including depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder, often occur alongside pain issues. Those symptoms can make it difficult for you to control your pain, so working with your mental health team can help you manage these symptoms as well as your pain.
2. You’re Experiencing Anger
Anger is a natural and healthy emotion, but it can become problematic when you use anger as a way to control situations or people. This can lead to conflicts in your relationships, legal issues or mental health concerns.
An important part of therapy is learning how to recognize your anger and then work through it in a healthy way. This can involve a variety of techniques, including cognitive restructuring (changing negative thoughts), relaxation techniques, and identifying triggers that can set you off.
Sometimes people get angry for no apparent reason at all, and this is referred to as passive anger. It can be repressed or difficult to recognize, and it may lead to behaviors that are self-defeating such as skipping school, sabotaging relationships, or displaying meanness in social or professional situations.
If you feel like you are constantly angry and it is affecting your life, it’s time to see a professional for help. This can include talking to a psychologist, who will help you recognize the root of your anger and develop strategies for controlling it.
Many therapists specialize in dealing with anger, and they can offer support to those who have trouble regulating their emotions. They will help you explore what is triggering your anger, as well as how it impacts your relationships and career.
Getting help for anger can also be helpful if you are experiencing symptoms of other emotional or physical disorders, such as bipolar disorder, PTSD, or oppositional defiant disorder. You might even need counseling if you have a drug or alcohol problem, which can cause anger to worsen.
The key to making therapy work is to find a therapist you can trust and get along with. You should also approach therapy as a partnership, and you and your therapist should share in decision-making.
3. You’re Experiencing Fear
There are times when therapy can be difficult. It’s not only about working through the painful aspects of your life, but also about facing difficult realities. This is why it’s important to choose a therapist who you feel comfortable with.
You should also remember that therapy is a partnership between you and your therapist. You can help them be successful by providing feedback, sharing your thoughts and feelings, and helping them understand your unique situation.
It’s also important to know that you aren’t alone when you experience fear. Everyone has fears that come from their experiences and environment.
But if your anxiety is out of proportion to what you experience or is impacting your health, it’s time to get help. Your therapist can help you manage your symptoms and develop coping strategies so that you can live a healthy, fulfilling life.
The first step is to identify what triggers your fear. It may be a specific object, person, place, or situation.
For example, you may have a phobia of spiders (arachnophobia). This type of phobia is when you have a severe and irrational fear of spiders.
People with this type of phobia often avoid getting close to or touching spiders. They may even find ways to avoid seeing or hearing spiders.
Your phobia can lead to panic attacks, which are sudden and intense feelings of fear that cause chest pains, shortness of breath, sweating, and dizziness.
These attacks can make you feel like you’re losing control and that you can’t escape the situation. They are also very distressing and can make you worry about your future.
4. You’re Experiencing Grief
Grief is a common experience for everyone, but it affects people in different ways. There are a number of stages that can occur during grief, including denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. These stages do not happen in order and no two people experience them the same way.
There are also a range of symptoms that can appear as a result of grief, such as sadness, guilt, and regret. These feelings are often surprising in strength or mildness, and they can feel confusing.
Therapists will work with you to help you understand the emotions that you are experiencing as a result of your grief and to teach you new, healthier ways to cope with them. This will help you work through the pain in a healthy manner so that you can heal and move on with your life.
Therapy can be helpful for grievers in a variety of ways, from individual sessions with a therapist to group counseling and support groups. These can be helpful for those who are dealing with more complex or prolonged grief, as they can provide the social support you may need while helping you process your feelings.
Another option is a grief retreat, where you can work through your feelings in a supportive environment over an extended period of time. These types of retreats may be more intensive than group therapy or support groups and allow you to work with a mental health expert who can help you process your loss in a safe space.
Getting through the grieving process can be difficult, but you should never give up. There is no right or wrong way to grieve, and healing takes time. The more you can accept your pain and take it one day at a time, the better off you’ll be.
5. You’re Experiencing Anxiety
If you’re experiencing anxiety, it can be challenging to work through these emotions during therapy. That’s because anxiety disorders can cause a wide range of physical symptoms, from sweaty palms and heart palpitations to muscle tension and unexplained headaches.
Depending on the specific type of anxiety disorder you have, these symptoms may vary from person to person. For instance, one individual might experience a full-blown panic attack while another may have mild anxiety symptoms that cause them to struggle with their daily activities.
The most common way to treat anxiety is through psychotherapy, or talk therapy. In psychotherapy, your therapist will help you identify the thought patterns and behaviors that lead to your anxious feelings and teach you ways to change them.
In addition to helping you understand and manage your anxiety, psychotherapy also can help you learn coping skills that will make your life easier. For example, your therapist might suggest relaxation techniques and mindfulness exercises to help you cope with your anxiety.
Your therapist might also recommend antidepressants to ease your symptoms of anxiety. SSRIs, like sertraline, are the most common antidepressants recommended for anxiety.
It’s important to find a therapist who is comfortable with working with people who have anxiety. It’s also helpful if you’re comfortable talking about what’s triggering your anxiety.
You should also discuss your goals for therapy. Ultimately, your therapist will be the person who decides what you’re going to focus on during each session and how many sessions will be necessary to get you to your goal.
Remember that therapy is not a competition. If you feel that you’re not meeting your goals, reevaluate your plan and work with your therapist to set new ones.