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Mental WELLNESS

Why You Physically Feel Like Shit After Therapy, Explained By Mental Health Pros

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Turns out, working through all that mental and emotional trauma can absolutely take a physical toll.

By Dominique Michelle Astorino via Shape

Photo: Bithal Remli/Getty Images

Feeling like sh*t after therapy? It’s not (all) in your head.

“Therapy, particularly trauma therapy, always gets worse before it gets better,” says therapist Nina Westbrook, L.M.F.T. If you’ve ever done trauma therapy — or just intensive therapy work — you know this already: It’s not easy. This is not the “believe and achieve,” positive affirmation, discovering your inner power kind of therapy, but rather the “everything hurts” kind.

Jokes aside, digging into past traumas and traumatic events, experiences from childhood, and other similarly deep, fraught memories can take a toll on you — not just mentally, but physically. It’s something that cognitive neuroscientist Caroline Leaf, Ph.D, calls “the treatment effect.”

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