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This article has been reviewed for accuracy by John Cottrell, Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology. Medical Disclaimer: The information and recommendations on our site do not constitute a medical consultation. See a certified medical professional for diagnosis.
Therapy can be an emotional undertaking. Sharing personal experiences with a stranger may feel daunting at best. For some, it may even feel intimidating. The prospect of opening up to another person may spur some emotional release, like crying. It is normal to cry in therapy?
It is perfectly normal to cry during any therapy session, but especially your first. Tears are a natural way to clear your mind and reset your body and can come quickly while sharing the deep or troubling emotions that can occur in therapy.
In the rest of this article, we will talk about how crying (in therapy and general) is sometimes beneficial. We will also look at different therapy forms, how therapy generally works, and how to decide what kind of therapy, online or in-person, is best for you.
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What if You Cry During Therapy?
Starting therapy can be a scary thing – you are being vulnerable with a stranger and sharing emotions you may not have shared with anyone before. Crying during counseling is not only natural; it’s quite normal and promotes emotional health and openness. Both clients and therapists can cry during a session.
Crying Can Be Good for You!
We have been taught that crying in front of anyone, especially strangers, is a sign of weakness. It’s easy to believe that crying makes you weak or a burden and that it’s best to hide it. There is shame associated with crying, even though it’s a perfectly normal and natural phenomenon.
However, studies show that crying is good for you, both physically and emotionally. When you cry, your body releases hormones (such as endorphins and oxytocin) to relax you and relieve pain. Whether you cry from physical pain, emotional distress, or sympathy, the tears can trigger a reset in your body and help you find balance sooner.
Crying releases toxins from your body, soothe your emotions and relieves stress. It can also help you sleep better and fight bacteria by cleaning out your eyes and tear ducts. When you cry, you show others that you need help and increase bonding with friends and family that way. Although too much crying could be a sign of poor mental health, it is generally a healthy way to release stress.
In therapy, crying is a sign of normal and healthy emotional release. It can be seen as the beginning of processing the tough things in life. Patients who cry early on in therapy, opening up to their counselor, find it easier to dive deeper into their personal issues in the subsequent sessions. If you are considering therapy, you shouldn’t be afraid of crying – it’s good for you!
Why Should You Choose Therapy?
Sometimes, you need to talk to someone that is not emotionally close to us (even if we have a great personal support system). Life is hard, and it can be overwhelming to handle on your own. You can rely on family and friends for support, but they also have their problems and might not always be the help you need.
A licensed therapist is an objective listener and lends a sympathetic ear trained in providing mental health assistance. Some of the troubling things in your life might be easily helped by someone who knows how to deal with them! Therapists have a wealth of information and resources to help you find a healthy mental place.
What Is Therapy?
Therapy seems daunting, but it is very manageable. Usually, the first session involves getting to know your therapist. They will ask you general questions about your life, living and family situation, and mental health. Even though the discussion is broad, it’s okay to be emotional while describing your life and why you decided to start therapy.
After the first session, your therapist will discuss their trained methodology – or strategies to identify and treat your concerns and set up another appointment. Most therapists will ask you about your mental health goals and what you want to achieve through regular counseling sessions and work with you to accomplish them.
Therapy can be ongoing for years or just for as long as you need to gain more control over the difficult parts of your life. Either way, a therapist is there to help and support you in whatever you need. They will not place unrealistic expectations on you and will accept you for where you are on any given day.
Which Therapy Is the Best for You?
If you have decided that you are ready to start therapy, it is time to look at the many choices available. The two main methods of personal counseling are in-person or online. There are pros and cons to both ways, but they provide excellent options for ongoing and individual mental health help.
In-person therapy is the traditional method of mental health counseling. Usually, a therapist is local to you, and you can develop an ongoing relationship with that person with weekly, biweekly, or monthly appointments. Going to therapy in person can provide a more relational aspect to therapy and forego technical issues or difficulties.
Recently, some in-person therapists have moved more towards telehealth to help those who can’t or don’t want to leave their homes for health reasons. Even so, these therapists tend to stick to local clients who could come into the office if necessary and remain available through regular office hours.
In-person therapy can help those struggling with severe mental health issues or who need a more personal connection than online sessions. It is easy to find a local therapist and set up an appointment to begin in-person therapy.
Online therapy is growing exponentially, as more people require treatment but don’t want to leave their homes. The American Psychological Association has confirmed that although there are pros and cons to both, online therapists can provide many of the same benefits as in-person therapists.
If you are interested in online therapy, it is essential to choose a site that fits your needs. There are many different options, from freeform chat forums to scheduled video calls with a licensed mental health practitioner. Online therapy is convenient because many websites have apps that make your therapists more available to you than in one-hour sessions.
Online Therapy Compared: BlahTherapy, BetterHelp, TalkSpace
BlahTherapy is an online forum for venting, with a free listeners’ option and professionals’ paid counseling. The open segment of the website involves chatting about all kinds of emotional topics. A full review of BlahTherapy reveals the details on the website and what it offers to its users.
If you are concerned about sharing with strangers that aren’t qualified therapists or feel that you need more professional help, there are many online alternatives to BlahTherapy. Some of the most popular of these, such as BetterHelp and TalkSpace, offer around-the-clock access to licensed therapists and a personal care plan.
Here is an in-depth comparison of BetterHelp and TalkSpace. Both are online and have different options for therapists (you can see counselors of any age, race, gender, or sexual orientation, as well as therapists with specific specializations). You can choose your meeting times and type of meetings and have consistent communication with your therapist.
Any of these sites can be helpful for you – it depends entirely on your mental health needs. Therapy can be scary, and it might be useful to start somewhere free and move up to paid appointments. You can also pay for a month and try a website or switch between therapists if you feel like you aren’t clicking.
Suppose you decide to go to therapy, be sure you know which kind you want and how you want your needs met. Remember that it is normal and natural to cry as you work through the hard things in life. Therapy can be intimidating, but getting help is always worth it.
John Cottrell, Ph.D., is a yoga instructor and certified yoga therapist in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA. He has been teaching yoga since 2000. John is originally from Oakland, California, earning his Master of Science and Ph.D. from Pacific Graduate School of Psychology in Palo Alto, California. His clinical practice led him to child and adolescent psychotherapy, drug and alcohol treatment, psychological and neuropsychological testing, and group/couples therapy. John continues his devotion to sharing health and well-being through his business, mbody. He offers private and group yoga classes, yoga therapy, workshops, retreats, written yoga articles, and a men’s yoga clothing line.