The highs and lows of therapy

Speech bubbles with thumbs up and down in the middle. Pointing hand gesture. Vector illustration

Speech bubbles with thumbs up and down in the middle. Pointing hand gesture. Vector illustration

Thomas Goenczi
Lookout contributor

It is an inescapable law that we must endure the highs and lows in life.

They are most noticed on an individualistic level, but they also occur collectively through economic inflations and depressions, population increases and decreases, and matters related to culture.

Irrespective of your therapeutic journey, you will be embroiled in this natural ebb and flow. However, these inflations and deflations in therapy are often intensified and amplified. To best deal with the ups and downs of counselling, it may be pertinent to understand the underpinnings and how best to work through them.

Personal inflations and deflations are naturally occurring and are tethered to the ego, commonly referred to as the conscious mind. It encompasses our awareness of our thoughts, memories, and emotions. Furthermore, it is significantly tied to our identity and desire for continuity and permanence. It is part of our Self that gets us to go to work in the morning, to be cordial with others and uphold our duties as parents, caretakers, or other roles we fill. However, at times, we become over-identified with our ego, which causes us to latch on to the highs and lows we face.

Generally, we go to counselling feeling relatively low about ourselves, and we’re wondering where our confidence has gone. Typically, after a few sessions, an individual has a shift. Some are fortunate to start feeling better sooner; others might find themselves even more deflated no matter their effort, as struggles can worsen before they get better. However, throughout the process, our self-esteem will continuously move through periods of inflation and deflation.

Psychologically speaking, inflations and deflations are neutral. They are merely terms of reference for your current psychological well-being. What’s important here is having the capacity to be objective in self-reflection and not to become attached to either state of being. By doing so, you become mindful of your current nature and can prevent yourself from becoming overly grandiose or despairingly deflated.

These ups and downs can be taxing in therapy. This could be because it is a contained microcosm, where the spotlight is directly aimed at the issues one is facing. Moreover, one of the purposes of counselling is to improve one’s psychological welfare. In essence, one becomes in servitude to these highs and lows.

This is, of course, not a plea to ridicule the moments of achievements or missteps in therapy. They are vital for one to continue to pursue the work they have taken upon themselves. Being conscious of it allows us to truly appreciate the moments of profound insight and feel and process the suffering we may be facing.

Simple ways of noticing the highs and lows in therapy are:

  • Asking yourself:
  • How do you feel after the session?
  • How does it differ from your overall mood that day?
  • Are you currently at a high or low point overall in your therapeutic journey?
  • Journaling periodically is a cathartic release. It is a way to process certain situations emotionally and cognitively in a kinetic manner.

Noticing the ebbs and flows in therapy offers the potential to become more cognizant of the undulations one faces in everyday life. Entering into the peaks and troughs we surf in counselling prepares us to ride the more giant waves we must face.

Thomas Goenczi is an RCN Veteran and MA Clinical Counsellor with Private Practice: Well Then Therapy.

The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your mental health professional or other qualified health provider with any questions regarding your condition.

Filed Under: FeaturedTop Stories


About the Author:

RSSComments (0)

Trackback URL

Comments are closed.