Could therapy make you feel worse? The Dan Regan Hypnotherapy Blog
It’s good to talk…or so we are all told. And there certainly is truth in that to an extent.
Often the relief of talking about all the things that have been swirling around our heads for months or even years can certainly provide a release and leave us feeling mentally more clear minded.
And for many people that is all they may need to start putting the mental pieces back into place and moving on with their lives.
Yet for many others, the process of just talking about problems could be making things much worse. So why is this?
Getting To The Root of the Problem
Many approaches work on the basis that talking through past events and thoughts in detail will lead to new understandings and new, more positive, thoughts. And this can be very beneficial for a lot of people.
Yet for many others it leads to feeling more anxious, depressed and traumatised. Just knowing how you feel, think, act and react doesn’t necessarily lead to anything changing – it can just leave you stuck in the same bad place but knowing a lot more about all the stuff you don’t like.
And with some conditions, talking over and over about past negative events just re-enforces the problem pattern. A depressed person, for example, is already ruminating and dwelling on past negative events so just talking without solutions can strengthen this pattern. Someone with anxiety won’t necessarily start to feel more in control just by spending many hours talking about all those worries. And someone with trauma is at risk of being retraumatised by going over the traumatic event in detail.
There are many approaches which rely on changing thoughts to change feelings. And of course there is value in that and I use it as part of my treatment plans to reduce negative feelings and interrupt problem patterns.
Yet it is also the case that emotions and feelings can come before thoughts – which creates a problem if you are trying to only make changes at a rational, thinking level because closing the barn door after the horse has bolted isn’t much help. After all, does anyone with anxiety or a phobia think about becoming fearful rather than instantly experiencing it?
Pattern Matching and How Our Brains Work
Our brains are pattern matching machines – in any situation or faced with any stimulus, your brain automatically searches your memory for past previous experiences to generate the response you experience now.
That’s how you know that the chair you are sat on is a chair – from earlier learning and experiences.
It’s also how you know how to be fearful of something you are phobic about (if you have a phobia) or how you know to feel anxious around other people (if you have social anxiety) or how your mind fires off a panic attack (if you suffer with those). Your thoughts about the thing or event follow after your emotional response.
So any successful therapy has to take this into account and also needs to detach the emotions from previous experiences so they are no longer the template for how to respond now (and to do that in a way that allows you to feel calm).
What This Means For Therapy Treatment
What this means is that if you just talk about problems without solutions and without understanding how emotions work and the power of pattern matching, then you may just be strengthening the problem pattern in your mind.
To solve issues such as anxiety, panic attacks and phobias requires helping you make changes to your thoughts and feelings, and recognising that just thinking about changing isn’t always enough.
And as hundreds of people have said – this is where hypnosis and hypnotherapy come in…
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