Understanding why you might feel worse before better when healing
Sometimes things get worse before they get better, and in therapy, it is a normal part of the process.
While it is true that many people start feeling better as soon as they make contact with a therapist, it’s a common misconception in therapy that once you start actually working through your issues that you will instantly feel better and keep feeling better and better every time you attend a session. Instead, often times people report feeling a little bit worse in the early stages of treatment and sometimes symptoms can even increase for a short period of time.
This is is sometimes called the "Worse Before Better" (WBB) phenomenon in therapy, or the ‘bell of therapy’.
This refers to the idea that sometimes, when people begin therapy, their symptoms or problems may actually become more intense or difficult to manage before they start to improve. This can lead you to stop therapy before any real progress happens, so they don’t ever overcome the issues and begin to feel stronger and more resilient.
There are a few different reasons why the ‘bell of therapy’ might occur:
1) Therapy often involves bringing up and addressing difficult emotions, memories, or patterns of behaviour that may have been suppressed or avoided in the past. This can be uncomfortable or even painful, and may lead to a temporary increase in distress or symptom intensity as those feelings or thoughts are processed.
2) Making changes in therapy often involves a certain amount of risk-taking or experimentation. Trying out new behaviours or ways of thinking can be scary, and it may not always work out perfectly at first. In some cases, trying new things may even lead to setbacks or mistakes before progress is made.
However, the "worse before better" phenomenon is not something that always happens in therapy, and it's not a necessary part of the process. Many people do start to feel better relatively quickly after beginning therapy, and may not experience a significant increase in distress or symptom intensity, especially with healing modalities such reiki, hypnotherapy and NLP approaches which are fast acting.
That being said, if you do find that your symptoms or problems are getting worse at the beginning of therapy, it's important to let me know so that I can explain why this happens, help you understand what's going on and work with you to develop strategies for managing the increased distress.
In many cases, the WBB phenomenon is a sign that therapy is beginning to address deep-seated issues that may have been contributing to your problems, and that progress is on the horizon.