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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    How do I deal with emotions my psycologist has unlocked?

    I have been seeing a psychologist I have seen him three times and I like him. In my last session he seemed to think that my inability to make decisions is because of the way I was raised. In a way I agree; I haven't spoken to him about how my childhood was but I did have a difficult childhood, my parents were strict and there was lots of violence but after the violence I had to forgive them and act as though all was normal.

    Now since my last session I have notice I am very emotional about things and teary. but I am scared to see the psychologist again and unlock emotions I don't know if I can deal with.

    I need help but at the same time I am scared how do I deal with this. How do I deal with this how can I continue to see someone that may cause me more anxiety and depression in my life I am so scared not sure what to do.
  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • 2




    Mariela Occelli

    Clinical Psychologist, Psychologist

    Mariela Occelli is a Clinical Psychologist with well over 20 years experience in the assessment and treatment of clinical disorders. She has worked in private … View Profile

    Your pain likely ‘flags’ that you have a lot of feelings about what happened to you that have not been ‘processed’. Processing in psychological terms, means allowing yourself to feel the feelings and to make sense and meaning out of what happened to you, to realise the impact it is had and then to find ways to heal from it (a little like cleaning out a wound). You are right also that if you are overwhelmed with painful emotions when you ‘touch’ the pain you may be left feeling lost and raw. The good news is that if you've found a good therapist and you talk to him about how you are feeling he will help you to develop strategies to manage and ‘contain’ the feelings so that you can then successfully ‘process’, (i.e. clean the wound and heal it). In therapy circles we talk about a therapeutic window. This means finding a way to process your pain that doesn't overwhelm you (i.e. that doesn't overshoot the window), whilst at the same time making sure that you are dealing with the issues and moving forwards (i.e. not undershooting the window). So, start by speaking to your therapist, perhaps you could send him the email you've just send to Healthshare (of course directed to him) if you are finding talking face to face too difficult at this stage. Best of luck, and congratulations for taking the courageous step of moving towards healing.

  • Anonymous

    I went back to see my physcologist and told him how I was feeling during the session he suggestd that I go over the painfull moments by setting some time aside during the day and processing these feelings I said I didin't feel comfortable to do this as I do not want to recall things I have blocked out but he still things I should do it on my own because I am obviously not ready to open up to him. so when I do try I just block it out again and do something else so I don't have to deal with these thoughts.   I am not comfortable doing this and feel like cancelling my next appointment with my physcologist as I am now having doubts about seeing him as I don't think I can do what he has asked me to do on my own.  I am confused concerned and anxious about this he did say I can contact him by phone but I am not sure if I really want to continue any more. 

  • 1


    I am a registered psychologist with many years of counselling experience in the field of relationships and fertility issues. In particular my focus is on … View Profile

    I am happy that you have reached out for help which means you are half way there. Sometimes therapy can open a can of worms you never realised you had. It is important to tell your therapist how you felt after your last session. He might suggest some techniques to contain the session to the present or to come more often or to be able to contact him between sessions depending on how he works therapeutically. Sometimes you do experience feeling worse before you feel better.
    However the main thing is if you have a good rapport with your therapist you will feel comfortable talking to him about the last session and what it brought up for you.

    Good healing will take place just give it time.

    You are doing so well to go for help.

  • 1




    Darren Stops

    Counsellor, Educational and Developmental Psychologist, Psychologist, Psychotherapist

    For assistance with issues including: anxiety & depression, stress, coping & adjustment, personality & relationships sleep & health issues, separation, loss and trauma, post traumatic … View Profile

    Given the experiences you had as a child sound terribly traumatic, and that you had to suppress these, and pretend everything was okay, it is understandable that revisiting these events will cause strong emotional reactions, and it is okay to feel overwhelmed sometimes. I would also be evaluating you for Post-traumatic stress disorder, or Complex Post-traumatic stress disorder.  Anxiety is one of the most common presentations for these, and inability to make decisions is a key feature of generalised anxiety.

    The two gold standard Treatments for PTSD are Trauma-focused CBT and EMDR.  Both have good efficacy, and evidence of maintained outcomes at long-term follow-up.  I think the research says that EMDR Seems to have more long-term effect.  

    Revisiting trauma can be highly detrimental if not done in the correct manner.  I would not advise clients to be sitting thinking about these things by themselves, without structure, guidance, and without at least FIRST being shown the techniques to calm their responses.  

    It is good that your psychologist has identified the developmental nature of your symptoms. If the emotions are ones that stem from childhood experiences, it is important that your psychologist has some understanding of the developmental stages you were going through when these events occurred, and how this may have affected your development into adulthood.

    Good on you for seeking assistance -- you need to go back to your psychologist and be really frank with them about your concerns.  Your caution is completely reasonable, however don't give up just because it's painful, but rather make sure that you have been given the right techniques and support to manage your responses.  



  • 1




    Bruni (Brunhilde) Brewin

    Counsellor, Hypnotherapist

    Bruni Brewin is President Emeritus of The Australian Hypnotherapists’ Association (AHA), the oldest and largest National Registration Body for hypnotherapists in Australia founded in 1949, … View Profile

    If after speaking with the psychologist over your feelings of not being able to process these feelings and emotions by yourself, and he still asks you to do this on your own is of concern to me.  Go with your gut feeling and don't do it until you fee safe to be able to do this, preferably with someone at your side helping you.

    Have you thought of asking what other methods he has that can help you with your past feelings from childhood without needing to do this on your own?  If you are not happy with his response tell him and ask him to on-refer you to someone else, or go back to your doctor to get another referral. 

    It sounds as if you missed out on being taught some skills in early childhood. So you are bound to feel vulnerable. There is always time to make up for that loss by learning new skills, but your feelings and emotions require releasing, now you can feel they have surfaced.  Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) as mentioned above is one method.  Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) is another, both of which I would find helpful to use in the hypnosis trance state (without needing to go back to the original event(s)).  But make sure the therapist you use knows what they are doing.

  • 2


    My research interests include immunology and the mechanisms of amyloid formation. The latter has implications for people who are dealing with Alzheimer's Disease, Parkinson's Disease … View Profile

    I agree with what Darren and Brunhilde wrote about EMDR.

    I used to go to a weekly therapy group for people with mood disorders. A fellow group member with PTSD reported that he found EMDR very helpful. He stressed that it is important to find a mental health professional with experience of using that approach - he said that he had a poor experience with somebody who did not know much about it.

    This might be worth talking about with your psychologist - he should be able to suggest a colleague who has experience of using EMDR with his/her clients.

    All the best.

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