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Does the Therapeutic Process Have to be an Uncomfortable Experience?

I’m posing this question and inviting any comments.

I’ve always believed that any kind of psychotherapy has to contain elements of discomfort and that is simply because when you do experience that discomfort you truly seek and become invested in the positive outcome of the therapy.  If this discomfort is not present either before or during the process, where is the personal belief in finding the solution?

 

As a therapist for many years I actually expect someone to say that certain aspects, for example trying to answer some of my questions challenge and elicit some uncomfortable feelings as proof that I am doing a good job.  If there is complacency or lack of engagement demonstrated on my behalf or that of the client, this is clear evidence that the relationship is not working.

When you are considering engaging in any sort of therapy you have to be honest with yourself that you are ready to get better, because whether you are dealing with a psychological disorder or a medical one, you have to be open to the process and admit that you need the help and are willing to work towards a cure or indeed a way to manage what you are experiencing.  The therapeutic community refer to a person’s reluctance to get better as a hidden agenda.

Hidden agenda refers to a reason for not wanting something to be successful.  For example, a person might be overweight an alcoholic or a drug addict and know that they are putting their health in jeopardy, but because of the thought of admitting it is too painful, they pretend that it is not happening, it doesn’t matter and their problems will go away.  They like eating unhealthy food, drinking and taking drugs and to change these behaviours means changing their whole lifestyle.  They simply play lip service to any offer of a change they might experience, agreeing to see the benefits associated with changing attitude and behaviour, but doing nothing concrete to do so.

Equally, someone who is suffering from anxiety, might not like what they are going through, but it has been going on for so long that they have been managing the symptoms and in fact they have started to identify with what they are experiencing and somehow it has started to fit them in some way and their issues have started to lull them into a false sense of security and control.

We have to ask ourselves.  Does what we are feeling serve our present purpose, although we don’t like to think it does?  The present purpose could be hiding from something we have to do, like giving a presentation or having a difficult conversation with someone who we don’t like, getting on an aeroplane, getting married, entering into a relationship, a medical appointment, starting a new job, taking a driving test or an examination, or simply having to leave the comfort of your own home and taking public transport, or walking up an escalator – now I’m not saying that these things can’t be difficult to face, I’m just saying that what some people find easy are not so to others.

In fact in some instances, just the simplest things in life become so overwhelming to have to contemplate that we end up making them the biggest hurdles to climb, when in fact with the right knowledge, they become the easiest.  So get rid of your hidden agendas, your fears and phobias by accepting that the initial journey might be fraught, filled with dread and in-trepidation and at points uncomfortable, but worth all the discomfort and soul searching if at the end of the day you walk tall and proud having taken the initiative to seek out help with whatever it is that is keeping you a prisoner because of false thoughts and feelings.

So to pull all that I want to say together and come to a conclusion, when considering therapy I do honestly believe that you need to accept that going through the process will involve some discomfort and when you are ready to accept this fact and face it then this does mean that you are invested in the positive outcome and want to be totally engrossed and do the change work necessary.  However, if the person is not willing to accept the discomfort then they are not ready to face reality and finding the answer.

To Your Ultimate Success

Sandra

 

2 Comments

  1. Hi Sandra!
    Good post with valuable information for people dealing with therapy. Reminds me of the “no pain, no gain” mantra often used for weightlifting. I agree that some discomfort is often (or almost always) necessary for change and growth.

    Thanks for the info,
    Ben

    • Hi Ben
      Thank you for visiting my site and leaving your comment, it was appreciated. Please visit again soon as I plan on writing some more on anxiety and how it can have a negative impact on sport performance.
      Regards
      Sandra
      The Brainwave Therapist

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