Updated: Jul 14
It is not easy to set yourself apart in the virtual world, so I am going to do my best by showcasing my skills in a series of blog posts. This introductory series covers various topics related to initiating counselling and psychotherapy.
This post focuses on five potential risks associated with psychotherapy treatment.
There is a risk with almost everything we do, and counselling and psychotherapy are no different. Getting out of bed in the morning risks falling and hurting yourself. Staying in bed all day risks your muscles wasting away.
As nurses, we are trained to implement a variety of treatments, from dressing changes and IV insertions to medication administration and psychotherapy. It is our responsibility to ensure that for any treatment we administer, the client has been informed of both the risks and the benefits.
I wrote a post on the potential benefits of counselling and psychotherapy here. This post is about the potential risks associated with counselling and psychotherapy.
1. Relationship Problems
One of the benefits of psychotherapy is improved relationships, so it is probably frustrating to see relationship problems as a potential risk. As we grow more healthy, those relationships based on support can grow deeper and more meaningful.
However, relationships based on mutual misery may, ultimately, end (or at least experience some serious turbulence.)
If you are a couple experiencing some turbulence and want to preserve the relationship, please consider doing a combination of individual and couples counselling.
2. Emotional Dysregulation
Emotional dysregulation can be very uncomfortable, sometimes even painful. Crying or feelings of anger are not uncommon during a session. If you suddenly focus on thoughts and emotions you've avoided for years, there is a deep repertoire of emotions you can experience, some quite negative.
The hope is that these episodes of dysregulation are limited, intermittent, and manageable.
The hope is that they will, ultimately, lead to an overall improvement in your wellbeing.
3. Increased Stress Levels
Psychotherapy will be a good place to learn how to better manage, but you may temporarily have to endure increased stress levels.
Often those seeking counselling are already experiencing increased stress, so you probably don't want to hear that your stress levels might increase. While we aim to make this temporary, it is one of the hard truths of healing (and psychotherapy): It has to get worse before it gets better.
You are functioning at one level, which you deem unsatisfactory. To determine ways to improve functioning, we have to look under the hood at all the dirty, greasy parts that make you run. It is stressful but necessary.
4. Attraction to Your Psychotherapist
Another risk for some includes developing inappropriately affectionate feelings toward your counsellor or psychotherapist. You may LOVE the feeling of safety and acceptance you experience in your psychotherapist's office. You may even feel affection toward the one who helps you feel that way. Those who have only experienced unsupportive relationships may (understandably) incorrectly process this supportive relationship.
It is important to bring these feelings to your psychotherapist's attention. We are trying to break the habit of ignoring how we feel; this is an opportunity to learn how to interpret our feelings differently.
Please note that a romantic relationship should never occur between a client and their psychotherapists. There is a pre-existing power imbalance that makes any relationship an unhealthy one.
5. Financial Investment
Finally, and frustratingly, another risk includes personal financial investment. Neither counselling nor psychotherapy is publicly funded. Work benefits often provide insufficient coverage. Depending on the issue's complexity, one client may need six appointments while another needs 15.
If the first appointment costs $200, follow-ups are $150, and you only have $800 in coverage, you will have enough for your assessment and four follow-ups. If you want to continue, it will be at your own expense.
Every treatment has its risks, and as the client, you decide to participate in counselling or not. To make this decision, you must be informed of both the risks and benefits associated with psychotherapy treatment.
I believe everyone would benefit from counselling and psychotherapy, but not everyone is ready for it. The timing matters. Motivation matters. Now might not be the right time, but if you feel ready to try psychotherapy, contact us at your preferred coordinates (online, email, phone) or click here to book your free consultation today.
LAH Counselling is not a crisis service. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, mental health crisis, or there is a concern you may hurt yourself or someone else, contact 9-1-1 (for residents of Ontario) or go to your nearest hospital emergency department. You can also click here for a list of crisis services.