Calming Therapeutic Tension: 8 Things to Do When You’re Upset With Your Therapist
Going to therapy can be both enlightening and challenging at the same time. There might be times when you find yourself feeling upset, frustrated, and even angry with your therapist. Yes, you read it right. It’s important to remember that you’re not alone in experiencing these emotions. It’s actually normal to be angry with your therapist, and today we’ll explore why!
Feeling upset with your therapist is a common occurrence in the therapeutic relationship. Therapy is the space where intense emotions surface, and sometimes these emotions can be directed towards the only outlet – your therapist.
It’s essential to recognize that experiencing these emotions such as anger and frustration does not make you a bad person or a terrible “client”; instead, these emotions are a natural part of your therapeutic relationship.
Let’s understand why you might get angry with your therapist and what to do when you do feel upset with your therapist.
What Causes Conflicts in a Therapeutic Relationship?
Knowing the causes of conflicts in a therapeutic relationship can help you resolve them. Conflicts can arise from miscommunication, differing expectations, and even transference. Recognizing these causes can help you address and resolve these issues in therapy.
1. Transference in Therapy
Transference in therapy is when you – the client – begin to project your feelings about another on your therapist. You might begin to look at your therapeutic relationship as a parent-child relationship, for example. A 2019 study suggests that transference can be beneficial only when these feelings help gain insight into what’s happening with the client.
Countertransference is when your therapist begins to project their feelings onto you. For example, your therapist might inappropriately overshare their feelings, develop feelings towards you, or even treat you – the client – as a friend rather than a client.
3. Other Causes
In many cases, having therapists from different cultures can cause a conflict of interest. Other causes of conflicts in a therapeutic relationship can include the therapist misusing their authority, not listening or matching your – the client’s – expectations, not being able to meet therapy goals, etc.
So, What To Do When You’re Angry At Your Therapist?
4. Look At Your Feelings
Take a moment to reflect on what is causing you to feel upset or angry. Is it something your therapist said or did? Are your underlying feelings causing issues? Knowing what’s causing these feelings can help you understand and communicate them more effectively to the therapist.
5. Talk to Your Therapist
Do not shy away from your therapist and share your feelings and emotions with them. Honest and open communication is key in therapy. Share your concerns and misunderstandings with your therapist. A skilled professional will appreciate your honesty and work with you to address the issues.
6. Give It Time
Emotions can be intense, especially in the moment, so give them some time. It’s OK to take time to process your feelings before you address them with your therapist. However, make sure you don’t avoid talking about them, as unresolved feelings can hinder your therapeutic process.
7. Use “I” Statements
When you’re talking to your therapist about your feelings, use “I” statements to avoid being accusatory. You can say, “I felt angry when…” instead of “You made me feel angry.” This can help promote a positive dialogue rather than blaming one another.
8. Look For Patterns
See if there are any recurring patterns in your feelings. Are there some situations that are triggering your emotions? Knowing your pattern and triggers can give you an insight into what you or your therapist should need to talk about and resolve.
9. Ask For Clarification
If your therapist says or does something unclear or uncomfortable for you, then seek clarification from them. Misunderstanding and misinterpretation can happen in therapy, and addressing them immediately can help you avoid the escalation of negativity and conflicts.
10. Consider The Other Perspective
By that, I mean considering your therapist’s perspective. Don’t forget, your therapist is human too. They might make mistakes or have different perspectives on things. Consider their viewpoints as it can help you be more empathetic and help in resolving conflicts effectively.
11. Reconsider Your Expectations
You can also take some time to reflect on your expectations from therapy. Are your expectations realistic? Sometimes, conflicts in therapy can come from unmet and unrealistic expectations. Maybe it’s time to reconsider or reevaluate your expectations. Discuss them with your therapist to create a more constructive therapeutic process.
Is Your Therapist Right For You?
Self-reflection about the therapeutic compatibility between you and your therapist is important. While conflicts in therapy are normal, it’s essential to evaluate if your therapeutic relationship is helping you and your well-being.
Consider looking into factors such as trust, rapport, and goals of therapy and your therapeutic relationship. If issues are persistent and causing hindrances in your progress, then perhaps it’s time to see if you have the right therapist or not.
Therapy is a dynamic process that can be challenging and enlightening at the same time. Because of its nature, experiencing upset feelings is not uncommon in therapy. What matters the most in therapy is how you go through and learn from these emotions.
Openly communicating, self-reflecting, and addressing conflicts with your therapist can contribute to a more constructive and healthy therapeutic process.
Remember, therapy isn’t a one-way process; you need to work with your therapist to address challenges that can help you grow and feel better.
Don’t feel discouraged or disheartened if you feel upset or angry at your therapist. Instead, use these emotions as an opportunity to talk it out and improve your therapeutic relationship. Only when you approach conflicts in therapy with an open mind and honest communication can you take steps toward healing and self-growth.
I hope this blog helped you learn what to do when you feel angry or upset with your therapist. Let me know what you think about this article in the comments below. If you enjoyed reading this article, then give us a thumbs up!