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Should Therapy be This Hard and How to Handle it?

Community Member


My therapy journey so far has been very challenging and unexpected. While I have found some great insight through reading this forum there are few specific things I wonder if anyone has any thoughts on and anything you have found helpful to make the recovery/therapy journey a little more bearable?


For some context I am about 5 months 15+ sessions into seeing a Psychologist for the first time. When I went to my GP to get a referral I was looking to understand this masking thing I recently become aware of. Unexpectedly my GP told me I had social anxiety, it was not the label but the realisation of what he described knowing that I had experienced this most of my life (since at least 10, now I'm in my 20s), realising not everyone experienced this and understanding how much it has impacted my life up to this point that was challenging to comprehend. Because of long wait lists I ended up seeing see a Provisional Psychologist, my GP supported this idea. Once I started my sessions it became apparent there was so much more anxiety and other things I either had no idea about or I just thought it was normal and everyone thought and felt this way, turns out that's not the case!

I have been going through what I will Refer to as My 7 Stages of Therapy

1. Shock 2. Denial 3. How did I become like this? 4. Frustration at myself and others for not realising sooner 5. Frustration at little me for developing this 6. WHY ME!?! 7. Acceptance - kind of.

While I have reached 7 I have not stayed there and find myself bouncing between 3-5 and recently 6 has been particularly popular.


I’ve wondered about the idea of enjoy the journey don’t focus on the destination, and wonder should I find a way to shift my perspective to somehow enjoy the process and not just look forward to when it’s over? Recently my Psychologist told me we would be doing something fun next session, “FUN?! Fun for you maybe, not for me”, I said.  She laughed and explained why she thought I might enjoy it, I certainly did not agree, although I appreciated her effort for trying to encourage me. I often find things interesting and want to understand more, I don’t feel I would ever consider anything on this process fun or enjoyable though. I wonder whether anyone has found a way to approach it this way and found it helpful?


? Diagnosis

I have had a maybe, maybe not diagnosis of something else for months now. I find myself swapping between stages of telling myself I don't have it, to accepting it in case I do have it. Is there anything helpful to deal with the Question Mark stage?


Session Frequency

Are weekly sessions long term sustainable? With the exception of a couple of weeks I have been doing weekly sessions and it can feel emotionally exhausting, however I want to make progress as quickly as possible. I know this very much depends on the individual and it is something I talk with my Psychologist and follow her guidance on, just wondered if anyone has a personal opinion on this.


Lastly - any views on seeing someone early on in their career, if you ever felt that their less experience had a negative impact on your treatment? Also wondered whether anyone has found the age difference to their psychologist have a positive or negative impact eg: if they're much younger, older or the same age as you?


Thank you if you have read this far and if you are going along a challenging journey I wish you all the best that it may get a little bit better for you soon, as it is slowly for me.

5 Replies 5

Community Champion
Community Champion

Dear JasminRose~

Welcome here ot hte support forum, as you have a whole swag of questions I think coming here was an excellent move. Many have had similar experiences.


Now, I'm not going to be able to give you authoritative answers to your questions, just what I've found myself. Plus I"m not going to try to get them in the same order, like sitting an exam I'll do the easy one's first:)


There is a great temptation to hurry matters along, and I have found that a weekly visit is too quick. Maybe I'm slow to assimilate what happened in the session but find fortnightly or even monthly to be useful.


As you are in your twenties htere are not going to be that may psychologists younger than you and of course the majority will be older. That may not be a bad thing.


I'm at the other end of the scale being old and find I need somone roughly my  own age so we have similar outlooks and experiences.  Maybe younger is better for you as oyu have more in common - I don't know. Perhaps academic learning has to be tempered by life experience - I guess it depends on the person.


You seem to have mapped out a set of stages of recovery, and I'm not sure the concept fits, at least for me. Recovery is not a smooth upward path with markers at each stage leading to eventually a happy state of 'cure'. And worrying about bouncing between different stages seems unproductive.


I find things come in waves and over time as I improve the waves become less frequent and less severe. Talking to others I often find they have the same experience.


I've not found therapy sessions that enjoyable, but on the other hand have not normally been deeply distressed by them for days after, fortunately my psych has sense of humor and we do have lighter moments.


I have found a diagnosis helpful, firstly in finding out it is not me but the illness, and secondly talking with others who have the same diagnosis too. I suppose really if diagnosis leads to an effective mode of treatment it is doing its job.


I hope this is some help, do feel free to keep on posting, others may have different views




Community Member



well done on starting this process and sticking with it with your therapist. 

I feel like I can relate to you because a couple of years ago I was told I have social anxiety too and like you I thought the way I felt was normal and was surprised to hear the constant worry and overthinking was anxiety. 

in regards to enjoying the process of therapy, well I’m not sure that I have necessarily gotten to that point. But when I first went to therapy ten years ago, I found it unbearable. I saw a therapist weekly for 3 months and cried every session, shut down during most sessions, became so overwhelmed and emotionally drained and exhausted but I kept going and felt like I grew at the end of it. I think for me because I had never talked about or even allowed myself to think about some of the things discussed (very emotionally repressed), it was just really hard. 

now, I find things easier to talk about with my current psychologist but I still don’t enjoy it. I go because I need too and some sessions I feel like I’ve accomplished and some I don’t but if I compare myself now to ten years ago, I am doing better. The process is definitely worth it but it is challenging. 

im not sure how helpful this is but stick with it and know that you’re not alone in finding it hard. But you’re doing the work and that’s the important part. Take care. 


Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hello JasminRose

My journey is not your journey. This idea of stages hasn't been how I've progressed.

I am seeing my psychiatrist (PDr), once per week, with periodic breaks he has taken. Occasionally I've thought I needed to see him more frequently, very rarely am I okay with his breaks. I wouldn't feel comfortable with seeing him less frequently nor for shorter sessions.

For a while I saw someone fortnightly for shorter sessions. She tended to look to practical matters, & was helpful in her way, but I felt uncomfortable delving into anything deeper with her.

I won't go into the one who was not a decent psychiatrist at all, except to say, all his faults taught me about what I don't want in a therapist.

For most of my time with psychiatrists I haven't focused of what they diagnose me with. I don't want to be my diagnoses. It's only something I've been talking more about because I now know what my PDr has diagnosed me with.

Sometimes the sessions are emotionally draining, while other times I have perhaps been reluctant to delve deeper & so avoid the deep emotions. In other words, how the sessions go is mostly up to me.  Sometimes his questions speak to something unexpected in me. These times are an opportunity, although they often provoke anxiety.

It's been helpful to talk about any questions I have about the therapy, how I'm feeling prior, during & between sessions.

I haven't expected my therapy sessions to be 'fun'. Indeed, my PDr is so reserved in how he responds to me that I've rarely heard even a chuckle from him. That doesn't mean he isn't polite, has a pleasant manner, is patient, calm & open to whatever I might choose to talk about.

It's only recently that he expressed some annoyance at the NDIS & the support co-ordinator I had. ... Thinking back, I'm not sure it was me or him who first expressed our frustration with the support co-ordinator. & when I asked if it would be okay to send an email, if I got some more info for him, during this last break, he was firm with me that "no, I will be on leave". Fair enough.

The annoying thing is I can't remember what that was about, now!

For me, the most important aspect of the therapy I've had is the therapeutic relationship I have with my PDr. I don't know how old he is - I can't tell by his voice, & I am blind. The way things are going, I'll be seeing him up until he retires, & maybe I've got dementia by then ... I haven't really dealt with the idea that one day, I won't be seeing him anymore.



Community Member

Thank you all for your very thoughtful responses. I am so appreciative of you taking the time to respond and sharing some your own journeys.


I can certainly now see how focusing on stages is not productive, I sometimes find myself reaching a stage of feeling things have improved and then beating myself up when I feel I have gone backwards and think I am not coping as well as I should.


Croix I also find there are benefits to seeing someone the same age, my Psychologist I believe is around the same age as me give or take a couple years and although I do wonder if it would be beneficial to have someone with more personal and professional experience, I feel as though we had an instant level of connection and relatability I probably wouldn't have with someone much older. I suppose like many things it has its pros and cons.


Thank you Janie223 for sharing your experience, as much as there is part of me that would find comfort in knowing no one else feels the way I have the last few months, at the same time there is a level of comfort knowing that I am not alone in having this type of journey.


Yes it's becoming evident how much the relationship can have an impact on the therapy experience, I can defiantly relate mmMeKitty to feeling content with seeing your current therapist forever, although I sometimes have doubts (I've realised in this process I can be quite untrusting) I would be happy to stay with this person long term, however am aware that may not be possible and try not to think about that.


It seems the over arching theme is therapy isn't really supposed to be fun, it's ok to not enjoy the process and it will always have it's ups and downs.
I feel a little better prepared now for the rest of this journey and all the peaks and valleys that will undoubtedly come with it.


Thank you again for your kind replies. 🙂

Hello JasminRose 

You're welcome. If you have any more questions, please ask.