Therapy can be an incredible resource for anyone looking to grow and get more out of their lives. But, just like any other resource, there are many different types of approaches to therapy, and not everyone will benefit from all of them. In other words, some people may benefit from a certain kind of therapist while others may not.
When we have therapy with a professional who is not a good fit for our particular needs, it may result in a negative therapy experience that can be hard to heal from. When we feel unseen or misunderstood in therapy, the sessions can actually do more harm than good. So, how can we heal from these bad experiences and find a better solution for our lives? This is exactly what we’re going to talk about today!
Why Does a Bad Therapy Experience Leave a Lasting Impression?
First, before getting into how to heal from a negative therapy experience, let’s explore what makes a bad therapy experience so detrimental.
Okay, any therapy experience is likely to leave a lasting and incredibly impactful impression in our lives. This is because therapy is a very unique experience where we open ourselves up and allow ourselves to be vulnerable with someone else. When that therapy experience is negative, it can lead to feelings of betrayal, distrust, and anger.
This is not surprising. After all, the point of therapy sessions is to be vulnerable and seek growth and improvement in your life. If you do this and open up to your therapist but ultimately feel uncomfortable or unsafe in your session (or in your relationships outside of therapy because of something you did in therapy), you may feel betrayed. You may feel hesitant (or adamantly against the idea of) starting therapy again — even in a different office with a different therapist.
The truth is that we rarely allow ourselves to be as vulnerable as we do in a therapy session. We may tell our therapists secrets we’ve never told anyone before. We may talk to them about our struggles and insecurities. When a therapy experience is bad, it can be easy to associate those negative feelings or consequences with opening up. This can make healing from experience challenging because you may associate the techniques or skills you learned for healing with these feelings as well. But, if you want to overcome these feelings, there are a few things you can do — which we’ll get into below.
Tips for Overcoming a Negative Therapy Experience
So, you’ve had a bad experience in therapy. Maybe you felt that your therapist did not understand the issues you were going through. Perhaps they made you feel unseen or invalid because of a particular belief you have or an aspect you identify with.
No matter what caused your negative feelings towards therapy, there are ways to overcome them and find a good fit for your needs. So, without further ado, here are some tips to help you overcome and heal from a negative therapy experience.
Locate the Issue
The first thing that you will want to do after a bad therapy experience is to determine where the issue is. In other words, what went wrong in your last therapy experience? Was your therapist not a good fit for you? Did they not empathize with your struggles? Was the therapeutic approach something you were not comfortable with? Did you simply not feel comfortable speaking with the therapist?
Figuring out what went wrong can be one of the best ways to help you discover what to pursue in your future therapy experiences.
Determine Your Current Needs
Once you’ve discovered the issue with your previous therapy experience, you can begin focusing on what you need now. Do you need a therapist who has more shared life experiences with you so that you feel understood and seen? Are you trying to work towards a specific goal, or are you looking for more general support? Are you looking for a particular type of therapy — including less traditional forms, like art therapy?
Take some time to reflect on what you have learned from your previous experiences with therapy and use that information to help inform your decisions about what you are looking for now.
Talk About It
Your previous experiences with therapy do not have to be a secret you can never discuss. In fact, a good therapist will want to hear about your previous experiences — both positive and negative. This knowledge can help them not only better understand you but also help them better support you in your journey of self-care and improvement in your life.
People have pretty good instincts. As advanced as we are as a species, we are still animals, and our instincts are developed and cultivated over years of life to help us survive and stay safe. If you do not feel comfortable in a therapy session, trust those instincts. That therapist or clinic may not be the right fit for you. No two people are the same, and no two therapy experiences are the same.
In order to get the most out of your therapy experiences, you need to find the right fit for you.
Find the Right Therapist for You
As mentioned above, not everyone will get along with the same therapists. We are all unique, and the support we need can vary dramatically depending on our life experiences, age, and many other factors. It is crucial to recognize that not all therapists are going to be a good fit for you. That is completely normal, and there is nothing wrong with “shopping around” to find a therapist that offers the type of support you need.