Recovering from intense session

LeiaFlower

Learning
If I'm being completely honest I want to spiral. I recently had a session with my therapist. I was somewhat quiet and uncomfortable due to a previous goal of starting to discuss my nightmares, so when this session came around I felt anxiety about having to relieve the vivid projections of fear that the dreams caused. I also started having anxiety attacks that I never had before and an influx of intrusive thoughts to self-harm to the point of suicide. All cued a disaster of emotions during my session. I brought up the later attacks and self-harm ideations. However, I didn't feel emotionally connected to the violent words I was saying about myself. Everything felt detached. Near the end of the session, I was feeling numb and disappointed in myself for not being able to bring up the other nightmares. I heard these loud noises outside the office door and suddenly I felt like I was in a nightmare. I was triggered into hypervigilance. My therapist kept saying she didn't think it was safe for me to leave; this caused more fear of incoming harm as well as made me question the reality that I was in. With my persistence to leave she called her supervisor which made matters worse. I felt like I was about to either be harmed, restrained, or sent to a mental hospital. Neither option was stated, of course, this was just my fear. I guess my main questions are; 'What do I do from here? How can I regain my trust in my therapist after she unknowingly triggered all these emotions? I'm also concerned that my therapist will refer me to someone else. When I stated my lack of trust this was a recommendation. However, if that's what happens I feel like it'll do more harm than good. I guess I'm wondering if seeing a trauma specialist is a better fit? Or would the change in therapist cause a relapse of abandonment issues?

After my session, I had another episode of hypervigilance, and currently, I'm in this current state of feeling emotionally exhausted. I'm missing school due to feeling apathetic; I have no motivation for school or work; I feel distant from my relationships; there's anxiety that my therapist will abandon me due to me being 'dramatic', and the suicidal ideations and the intrusive thoughts of self-harm are still here. And I genuinely want to engage in every destructive behavior I can think of to slowly ruin my life. I guess hoping it'll make it easier to give up. None of this I want to bring up with my therapist due to fear of her refusing to allow me to leave again and calling her supervisor.
 

Survivor3

MyPTSD Pro
I'd say "don't give up".

I think that your therapist acted in your best interests in calling her supervisor because she was concerned for your welfare. Don't abandon "yourself" out of fear and despair.

Can you limit the exposure of your experiences (what you talk about) in session so that it's not too much for you. When in session I frequently check my watch to gauge what I talk about and for how long. It really helps structure the session and I can calm it down before the session ends so that I'm OK to leave.

Also, I'm not sure that your therapist "unknowingly triggered all your emotions".

You were triggered by talking about them I think. It happens. When we open up about specific traumas and talk about them it is painful. Best wishes.
 

arfie

MyPTSD Pro
if i believed there was a trauma-free way to recover from deep trauma, i might vote for dumping the current therapist as casually as you dump an insensitive spa attendant. but i am solidly convinced that these sort of repercussions are part of the healing process. psychotherapy ain't no spa trip.

if you are taking votes, i vote that you do at least one follow-up session before you even consider starting over with somebody new. this whiplash will need to be explored, regardless of who/what you go with for the long run.
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
Ahhh, I hear you. I feel I could have written (and did!) Very similar to you.

Your T has your back. Might not feel like that at all. Not one tiny bit. But:
She saw you were disassociating.
She saw it wasn't a safe emotional state to leave in
She got in support for you and her to help you
She was trying to help emotionally contain you.

Saying all that:
You did nothing wrong.
She might not have done anything wrong.
She might reflect on it and it's really good to talk the session over. Maybe for several sessions
Because it sounds as though that session was really traumatic. And maybe going to these really traumatic places in therapy, needs to slow down a bit.

It is horrendous being in the state you were/are in. And feeling like you do about your T, and what happened, and what might happen. So so so hard. Been there. Hated every second of it.
But: there is light at the end of the tunnel. There really is.

Talking it all through with your T, will really help.
Agreeing how to work together.
Tell her what hurt you about what she did.
Tell her how trust in her has been rocked, so that you both can build that up again for you in her.

What I find helpful, is trying to take a step back from my feelings and to try and be curious as to why I have them? What am I projecting or reenacting? It's so hard to think like that when your mind and body is in full on stress/trigger mode. But that's where the healing comes. Taking a step back. Sort of peering round the emotions. And doing that with T helps too.

This will settle down for you.
Just this bit sucks so bad in the meantime
 

BIgLittle

Confident
If I'm being completely honest I want to spiral. I recently had a session with my therapist. I was somewhat quiet and uncomfortable due to a previous goal of starting to discuss my nightmares, so when this session came around I felt anxiety about having to relieve the vivid projections of fear that the dreams caused. I also started having anxiety attacks that I never had before and an influx of intrusive thoughts to self-harm to the point of suicide. All cued a disaster of emotions during my session. I brought up the later attacks and self-harm ideations. However, I didn't feel emotionally connected to the violent words I was saying about myself. Everything felt detached. Near the end of the session, I was feeling numb and disappointed in myself for not being able to bring up the other nightmares. I heard these loud noises outside the office door and suddenly I felt like I was in a nightmare. I was triggered into hypervigilance. My therapist kept saying she didn't think it was safe for me to leave; this caused more fear of incoming harm as well as made me question the reality that I was in. With my persistence to leave she called her supervisor which made matters worse. I felt like I was about to either be harmed, restrained, or sent to a mental hospital. Neither option was stated, of course, this was just my fear. I guess my main questions are; 'What do I do from here? How can I regain my trust in my therapist after she unknowingly triggered all these emotions? I'm also concerned that my therapist will refer me to someone else. When I stated my lack of trust this was a recommendation. However, if that's what happens I feel like it'll do more harm than good. I guess I'm wondering if seeing a trauma specialist is a better fit? Or would the change in therapist cause a relapse of abandonment issues?

After my session, I had another episode of hypervigilance, and currently, I'm in this current state of feeling emotionally exhausted. I'm missing school due to feeling apathetic; I have no motivation for school or work; I feel distant from my relationships; there's anxiety that my therapist will abandon me due to me being 'dramatic', and the suicidal ideations and the intrusive thoughts of self-harm are still here. And I genuinely want to engage in every destructive behavior I can think of to slowly ruin my life. I guess hoping it'll make it easier to give up. None of this I want to bring up with my therapist due to fear of her refusing to allow me to leave again and calling her supervisor.
Hi,

I am sorry about the whole situation you find yourself in. When triggered these are all 'normal' thoughts and reactions even though it seems like you are on the frontline of a some sort of battle.

My experience with psychologists, therapists, psychiatriststs, counselors, etcetera... is that since I now am doing EMDR sessions and stabilisation sessions with an experienced and multidisciplined Trauma Psychologist, it is highly recommendable. CPTSD and PTSD should, in my humble opinion, always be guiden and treated by a Trauma Psychologist with EMDR qualifications and extensive experience. They are very aware of what may seem like a minor detail can cause a massive trigger and therefor a train of spiralling thoughts with a Trauma Survivor.

I am really sorry you had to go through this. Please try to take care of yourself because you really are worthy of it.
 

Candy C

New Here
I agree with Biglittle! After years of cognitive behavioral therapy I was forced due to me moving away and only doing phone sessions and then my therapists sudden death to find a new therapist! I had one that was horrible but then found my perfect fit. She is a trauma specialist and three years ago she convinced me to try EMDR! It’s been life changing for me. The best part is after your initial intake you don’t have to talk about the trauma in detail. A lot of focus is put on resourcing and coping strategies so you don’t get into a panic like you did. I will be honest EMDR is NOT easy it’s just a faster way to process the emotions! If you want more information please let me know!
 

LeiaFlower

Learning
I think that your therapist acted in your best interests in calling her supervisor because she was concerned for your welfare. Don't abandon "yourself" out of fear and despair.

Can you limit the exposure of your experiences (what you talk about) in session so that it's not too much for you. When in session I frequently check my watch to gauge what I talk about and for how long. It really helps structure the session and I can calm it down before the session ends so that I'm OK to leave.

Also, I'm not sure that your therapist "unknowingly triggered all your emotions".

You were triggered by talking about them I think. It happens. When we open up about specific traumas and talk about them it is painful. Best wishes.
Stepping back from the situation I agree that she wasn’t doing things intentionally. And she isn’t to blame for my emotions being triggered. I think taking your advice and setting time aside near the end of session to ground myself would be been beneficial. And if I’m being completely honest she did try to ground me. She asked me “can we take a moment to ground”. However, my anxiety kept telling me she was trying to keep me there to hurt me. So I refused.

if i believed there was a trauma-free way to recover from deep trauma, i might vote for dumping the current therapist as casually as you dump an insensitive spa attendant. but i am solidly convinced that these sort of repercussions are part of the healing process. psychotherapy ain't no spa trip.

if you are taking votes, i vote that you do at least one follow-up session before you even consider starting over with somebody new. this whiplash will need to be explored, regardless of who/what you go with for the long run.
Yeah, I don’t think starting with a new therapist would be beneficial to me at all. Though I do have the fear that she’ll refer me because I didn’t do enough to calm myself down. It sounds irrational; however, it seems logical. If that makes sense? I want to move forward. I’m just upset with myself and feel like I’ve taken so many steps back because of this.

Ahhh, I hear you. I feel I could have written (and did!) Very similar to you.

Your T has your back. Might not feel like that at all. Not one tiny bit. But:
She saw you were disassociating.
She saw it wasn't a safe emotional state to leave in
She got in support for you and her to help you
She was trying to help emotionally contain you.

Saying all that:
You did nothing wrong.
She might not have done anything wrong.
She might reflect on it and it's really good to talk the session over. Maybe for several sessions
Because it sounds as though that session was really traumatic. And maybe going to these really traumatic places in therapy, needs to slow down a bit.

It is horrendous being in the state you were/are in. And feeling like you do about your T, and what happened, and what might happen. So so so hard. Been there. Hated every second of it.
But: there is light at the end of the tunnel. There really is.

Talking it all through with your T, will really help.
Agreeing how to work together.
Tell her what hurt you about what she did.
Tell her how trust in her has been rocked, so that you both can build that up again for you in her.

What I find helpful, is trying to take a step back from my feelings and to try and be curious as to why I have them? What am I projecting or reenacting? It's so hard to think like that when your mind and body is in full on stress/trigger mode. But that's where the healing comes. Taking a step back. Sort of peering round the emotions. And doing that with T helps too.

This will settle down for you.
Just this bit sucks so bad in the meantime
I’ll have to save this entire post to serve as a reminder. I completely agree. I think I was in a heavy space when I posted, that is finally dying down. Though there are still fear of being back in the headspace when I go back. However, I think by using your advice to process what lead to the escalation as well as talking with my therapist about how I felt will help. It’s very frustrating that a few nightmares did this much damage even a month later. I can’t even talk about what’s taking me to these bad these headspace because that in itself is trigging. It feels like I’m stuck in a loop of emotions I’m hoping to get out of.

Hi,

I am sorry about the whole situation you find yourself in. When triggered these are all 'normal' thoughts and reactions even though it seems like you are on the frontline of a some sort of battle.

My experience with psychologists, therapists, psychiatriststs, counselors, etcetera... is that since I now am doing EMDR sessions and stabilisation sessions with an experienced and multidisciplined Trauma Psychologist, it is highly recommendable. CPTSD and PTSD should, in my humble opinion, always be guiden and treated by a Trauma Psychologist with EMDR qualifications and extensive experience. They are very aware of what may seem like a minor detail can cause a massive trigger and therefor a train of spiralling thoughts with a Trauma Survivor.

I am really sorry you had to go through this. Please try to take care of yourself because you really are worthy of it.
She’s trained in trauma but I don’t think she’s a specialist. However, she has in the past recommended that I do EMDR. I was just weary since I’m a full time student and work part time. I feel like it’ll be a lot to deal with mentally. I also don’t have many memories of my main traumas. I have some of physical and words tied to the emotional abuse. However, the other part I’ve blocked out.
 

arfie

MyPTSD Pro
Though I do have the fear that she’ll refer me because I didn’t do enough to calm myself down. It sounds irrational; however, it seems logical. If that makes sense?

that makes perfect sense when my social anxiety is gnawing holes in my logical senses.
my logical senses tell me it's the therapist's job to help me find ways to calm myself. if she can't handle my hysterical moments, i'm better off without her. i can handle the logical moments on my own. the hysteria is why i am in psychotherapy.
 

BIgLittle

Confident
that makes perfect sense when my social anxiety is gnawing holes in my logical senses.
my logical senses tell me it's the therapist's job to help me find ways to calm myself. if she can't handle my hysterical moments, i'm better off without her. i can handle the logical moments on my own. the hysteria is why i am in psychotherapy.
Yes,

I do agree wit staying with your therapist if you have a good bond with her and she has your back. Also totaal agree that there is indeed no trauma-free of healing from trauma. I like the way this was put a lot. :) sometimes you just have to struggle through the session and reap the benefits afterwards. Sucks , but it works. ;)

Having a wel installed safe place and personal container in your mind with the help and guidance from your therapist helps to ground and feel safe. Works good for me.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Freddyt

MyPTSD Pro
After my session, I had another episode of hypervigilance, and currently, I'm in this current state of feeling emotionally exhausted. I'm missing school due to feeling apathetic; I have no motivation for school or work; I feel distant from my relationships; there's anxiety that my therapist will abandon me due to me being 'dramatic', and the suicidal ideations and the intrusive thoughts of self-harm are still here
First off - you will be triggered in therapy. Intentionally or otherwise. It will happen.

It doesn't matter what therapy you do and with who. When you deal with the mindf*ck parts of therapy like nightmares (One part of your brain screaming for help with nightmares and the other part covering up and hiding trauma) there is backlash because something in your nightmare is trying to tell you something about trauma, which creates anxiety by the bushel.

The sad truth is you have to go to those places to get better. You need to look in the big blue bar at the top of the screen under Articles and start with the stress cup and learning to mitigate anxiety. Mostly because when you get to trauma in therapy you will absolutely need to reduce stress and do grounding on your own. It's about gaining some headroom on your SUDS score so you can handle things without always ending up at the top of the scale feeling like you do now. It also helps you learn to see where you are anxiety wise and control things better by saying stop, instead of just being along for the ride and overloading.

Some of the rest is overthinking and as we call it "therapy hangover" which is worse or better depending what you work on and how hard you work on it. It can come on in hours or minutes depending how much work you do and on what. That's why I spend time getting ready for therapy and getting anxiety down as much as I can before I get to my T's office. I want to give my T all the help I can in therapy and I want my therapy to have the best chance to work.

Just BTW - one session was pretty much all it took to take care of most of my nightmares. I felt like crap after that session. Now - that pain is forgotten since I haven't had that 46 year old nightmare for just over a year.

Oh, and your T sound like she really cares. She wants to see you safe and will take action to help you if she thinks you are in trouble. That sounds responsible and caring to me.
 
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BIgLittle

Confident
First off - you will be triggered in therapy. Intentionally or otherwise. It will happen.

It doesn't matter what therapy you do and with who. When you deal with the mindf*ck parts of therapy like nightmares (One part of your brain screaming for help with nightmares and the other part covering up and hiding trauma) there is backlash because something in your nightmare is trying to tell you something about trauma, which creates anxiety by the bushel.

The sad truth is you have to go to those places to get better. You need to look in the big blue bar at the top of the screen under Articles and start with the stress cup and learning to mitigate anxiety. Mostly because when you get to trauma in therapy you will absolutely need to reduce stress and do grounding on your own. It's about gaining some headroom on your SUDS score so you can handle things without always ending up at the top of the scale feeling like you do now. It also helps you learn to see where you are anxiety wise and control things better by saying stop, instead of just being along for the ride and overloading.

Some of the rest is overthinking and as we call it "therapy hangover" which is worse or better depending what you work on and how hard you work on it. It can come on in hours or minutes depending how much work you do and on what. That's why I spend time getting ready for therapy and getting anxiety down as much as I can before I get to my T's office. I want to give my T all the help I can in therapy and I want my therapy to have the best chance to work.

Just BTW - one session was pretty much all it took to take care of most of my nightmares. I felt like crap after that session. Now - that pain is forgotten since I haven't had that 46 year old nightmare for just over a year.

Oh, and your T sound like she really cares. She wants to see you safe and will take action to help you if she thinks you are in trouble. That sounds responsible and caring to me.
Stepping back from the situation I agree that she wasn’t doing things intentionally. And she isn’t to blame for my emotions being triggered. I think taking your advice and setting time aside near the end of session to ground myself would be been beneficial. And if I’m being completely honest she did try to ground me. She asked me “can we take a moment to ground”. However, my anxiety kept telling me she was trying to keep me there to hurt me. So I refused.


Yeah, I don’t think starting with a new therapist would be beneficial to me at all. Though I do have the fear that she’ll refer me because I didn’t do enough to calm myself down. It sounds irrational; however, it seems logical. If that makes sense? I want to move forward. I’m just upset with myself and feel like I’ve taken so many steps back because of this.


I’ll have to save this entire post to serve as a reminder. I completely agree. I think I was in a heavy space when I posted, that is finally dying down. Though there are still fear of being back in the headspace when I go back. However, I think by using your advice to process what lead to the escalation as well as talking with my therapist about how I felt will help. It’s very frustrating that a few nightmares did this much damage even a month later. I can’t even talk about what’s taking me to these bad these headspace because that in itself is trigging. It feels like I’m stuck in a loop of emotions I’m hoping to get out of.


She’s trained in trauma but I don’t think she’s a specialist. However, she has in the past recommended that I do EMDR. I was just weary since I’m a full time student and work part time. I feel like it’ll be a lot to deal with mentally. I also don’t have many memories of my main traumas. I have some of physical and words tied to the emotional abuse. However, the other part I’ve blocked out.
Hi,

That's good that your T is trained in Trauma.

I did a few sessions maybe 6 years ago then started Trauma stabilizing therapy almost a year ago and it took almost a year of convincing from others for me to finally take the step to start EMDR. So I understand what your saying.

EMDR is helling me, also looking into equinox therapy.

Thanks for you reply.

All the best
 

LeiaFlower

Learning
The sad truth is you have to go to those places to get better. . . when you get to trauma in therapy you will absolutely need to reduce stress and do grounding on your own. It's about gaining some headroom on your SUDS score so you can handle things without always ending up at the top of the scale feeling like you do now. It also helps you learn to see where you are anxiety-wise and control things better by saying stop, instead of just being along for the ride and overloading.

That's why I spend time getting ready for therapy and getting anxiety down as much as I can before I get to my T's office. I want to give my T all the help I can in therapy and I want my therapy to have the best chance to work.

Just BTW - one session was pretty much all it took to take care of most of my nightmares. I felt like crap after that session. Now - that pain is forgotten since I haven't had that 46 year old nightmare for just over a year.

Oh, and your T sound like she really cares. She wants to see you safe and will take action to help you if she thinks you are in trouble. That sounds responsible and caring to me.
I do agree, the first place I should start when working with my nightmares is practicing grounding. I have started doing it more frequently since then. I was at first only doing it occasionally when I would remember, or would only use an object to ground myself which wasn't enough. I have tried various techniques, and have found a few that helps when I'm low on my emotional ladder. I also created a more in-depth emotional ladder that I got from a DBT program. Even though I know how my emotions can climb, I did not know how to handle each stage of fear or anxiety. I feel like I have a better handle on the lower stages which I believe will help calm myself down. However, whether or not these same techniques work for higher stages will have to involve more of an experimental factor.

I do prepare already for my sessions by listening to calming music; however, I can see what else can help me into a more relaxed mood. Especially since recently, I've noticed anxiety as I'm walking up the stairs to her building. I think it's simply the reinforcement that coming here will bring up negative emotions, and I need to repair it by seeing the place as growth despite my uncomfortableness. Hopefully, with more exposure, certain fears can go on extinction.

And she is an amazing therapist that I'm thankful to have. She also started bringing in more things to ground me after my sessions which has helped. I know she's a safe person, and there's no concluding evidence that disputes this. Yet, my trauma brain likes to react to certain things and sends in various fear responses. But she has helped combat this. Anyways, thanks for sharing your experience and advice.
 
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