Why You Should Feel Uncomfortable in Therapy

Why You Should Feel Uncomfortable in Therapy

By Karmen Thulin, PsyD

Unfortunately, no change is comfortable. While some change feels positive right away, I think that comes from the fact that you know for sure it is going to be good for you. What is frustrating is even when we know the change is good it can still be incredibly uncomfortable. Still, understanding why change is uncomfortable can be helpful if it can keep the inherent discomfort from turning into doubt about changing. 

Change entails discomfort. Humans are creatures of habit. You know this is true when your baby won’t go to sleep without white noise and a certain kind of swaddle, or when you hop in the car at 8am on a Saturday and drive to work instead of your actual destination. For anything that we do, there are networks of neurons built up around those behaviors. Think of it like a well-worn path. Anything you’ve done repeatedly is organized in the brain this way. This means that doing things differently means forging a new path on a neuronal level – that’s heavy lifting. The first few times will be the worst, and the more you do things the new way, the easier they become – this is because you’re taking a neuronal path from nonexistent to well-worn. 

Therapy topics are uncomfortable. No one comes to therapy for the things they can handle on their own. This means that what you do in therapy is typically focused on the biggest hairiest and scariest of your psychological facets. It is one thing to eat more vegetables or use “I” statements when you handle conflict in relationships… it is completely another to face long-avoided emotions or change the way you relate to yourself. It is going to be uncomfortable because of how big it is. But take heart, its size means it is affecting your life which means changing it will have some effect. And if it is big enough to bring you to therapy and have an effect in your life, it will be worthwhile. 


Karmen Thulin

Dr. Karmen Thulin believes in the power of collaboration between client and therapist to create meaningful, lasting change. People who work with Karmen experience her as warm and genuine, with a thirst for helping you to identify what needs to shift in order to live your life in alignment with your values. She works with teens, adults and couples who are looking to make important changes in their lives. Karmen specializes in working with people who have been through traumatic life events, including early childhood trauma. She believes in the capacity of humans to heal from the impacts of trauma, is trained in EMDR, and is versed in applying third-wave contextual behaviorism to the treatment of trauma. Her deep knowledge and her non-judgmental, accepting style helps her clients to feel safe as they embark with her on the journey of healing after trauma. Dr. Karmen Thulin is an action-oriented couple’s therapist who focuses on helping you make concrete shifts in your relationship. A few of her areas of expertise with couples are resolving conflict, healing after betrayal, helping you to work through the impacts of one partner’s trauma on the relationship, and increasing physical and emotional intimacy in the relationship. If you are ready to make a change and give yourself the gift of healing, Karmen may be a great fit for you. She is easy to connect with, deeply compassionate, and has the training and knowledge needed to help you reach your goals.