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Resistance in therapy: how to handle it

"I have some resistance... It's so expensive… My beginners enthusiasm sunk below zero... I should be able to do this myself… It will not help on the long run… I am so complicated… My therapist will not be able to find a ‘solution’ out of this mess… I should consider the past being the past and leave it alone. Period… The first healing sessions were nice but now we get deeper and deeper into these nasty things I dislike so much and I am ashamed by it... I really doubt about everything in myself now… After a therapy session, I sometimes feel terrible…"

If you had one or a few sessions with a new therapist
and you do recognize something above...

If you do, this is completely normal! Per definition is the act of going into therapy an acknowledgement that something in your life is not really going the right way anymore and that you need some ‘adjustment’. Now this necessary ‘adjustment’ is in itself a border, a difference between the preferred future way of living and your old way. And this desired ‘adjustment’ has to be done on subconscious matters. And as subconscious matters are per definition subconscious, they are unknown (yet) to your ego consciousness.

You know, our subconscious mind has a very complex, important life on it's own. AND it can think, feel, react on itself, this even far better than our conscious ego mind! And here lies a problem. The behaviour for which you go into therapy was till this very day in some way ‘necessary'. It served a goal, how illogical this can seem. There is an important emotional drive behind it that isn't easily abandoned, especially when we talk about difficulties that linger on for a big part of a lifetime.

And once your subconscious mind discovers that there is the intention to do some changes in its ‘inner household’ (usually after a few sessions), this larger part of our mind will find clever ways to prevent this ‘influence’, to block it, to ‘escape’ from the meddling in its territories. Not by openly opposing it but more through ‘sneaky’ tactics. It manipulates with induced feelings of doubt, guilt, uneasiness, boredom… based on even deeper inner (magic) negative belief systems.

Your subconscious mind may play some tricks ! Keep the door open.

Just by inflicting a serious doubt (a feeling) to your conscious thinking, it will sway you away from these intended changes into its field. And this is called the resistance. This resistance is a build-in part of every therapy, no matter what method you follow.

Does this means that you have always to oppose those inner feelings of doubt etc... and stick to your therapist, even if he/she can’t seemingly help you any further? No matter if he is really skilled or not to get to a solution? NO !

But you should do at least one last session to discuss your doubt openly with him or her. In your opening up this very resistance lies probably also hidden some insight about the structure of your trauma(s). Even if you are really going to stop the therapy with this therapist, this resistance contains very valuable information. This info is important and can be used with another therapist to work on further.

And if you decide to stay with the first one, this opening up can be the onset of a new and fruitful therapeutic process. Now, a transformation can be realized and this very attitude of sharing your doubts and resistance's with the therapist will form a basic layer of thrust in him, in his skill but most of all in your own self healing capacities. The opening to communicate with the therapist is really a metaphor for the inner communication with the subconscious traumas and unknown patterns deep inside you. This insight will generate self healing capacities, the cornerstone of the real therapy. Eventually, there are no therapists that heal their clients. They only serve as guidance, form an aid into allowing your wounded self into healing and integrating the old wounds and traumas through the technique or method they follow in one place but most of all by their compassion and the support they give.

If you don’t share these negative feelings of doubt etc… and you decide to just stay away, you lose twice. First the money that you gave out before in the sessions you had already (‘without result’) and second because your inner belief systems gets confirmed into the negative magic belief that your problem can’t get an easy solution. So, the next therapy you undertake will gain even less effectiveness. And so on…

How the resistance usually takes its place?

When feeling resistance to go again to another session; the main ‘trick’ that people use in 70% of the cases is delaying that appointment one time for an obvious and ‘appropriate’ reason (now they can gain some time!). They make another appointment, preferably as far ahead as possible! To this session, they just stay away in the worst case. Or they call to announce that they are 'sick' and will call again when 'being better'. Or they prefer the tactic to play on a ‘very busy period right now’, delaying this next appointment a second time with a lot of reasons and apologies and again, just staying away. Or they say that ‘they will call again when the busy period is over’ which is a little more polite but still with the same effect. ‘A new work schedule, not yet known’ is also popular…. If you recognize one or more of the above, consider it again and decide what you are going to do with it.

How to communicate properly ?

Go to the next (and probably your last) appointment and admit your mistrust, disbelief, doubt, resistance, lack of money or whatsoever to the therapist, in what will than become ‘the last session’. You can get two reactions: he/she will do a lot of effort to keep you as client or he/she will genuinely be interested in the reasons why you want to stay away. ‘How you see it, what is your pain, why you doubts and have bad feelings…’ will be the main theme. As he/she is really interested in you getting some fruitful results out of the therapy, the conclusion will obviously be (a): to find the reason behind these examined problems and the therapy will get a nice boost in the right direction, and off you go again, or (b): to advise you another therapist (better suited to you personally = you gain self-confidence). So, in both cases, you gain a lot.

If the only purpose is to keep you in therapy, your doubt will linger on continuously. You will feel uncertain, unclear, troubled etc… If those feelings last for more than a few weeks: stop again in mutual communication. This will strengthen your self-esteem and the next therapy you engage in will have a far better chance to be successful. So, you gain again. However, if you observe a continuous feeling of losing instead of a win-win situation for both, the method of therapy or the therapist is not suited for you. Period.

Your therapist only loses some money and time by the missed appointment. You will lose self-confidence, which is an expensive and rare commodity. Open it up. Play straight and you get straight results. Play tricks and you hurt yourself for the most.

I hope this text is of any fruitful use for you.
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