Crying in the therapy room

Imagine yourself in a serene therapy room, pouring out your deepest emotions to a trusted therapist. As you speak, tears well up in your eyes, and then you find yourself weeping.


You might suddenly feel awkward, feel the need to apologise or stop crying. But did you know, that there are many biological benefits to shedding tears during therapy sessions and it's not just permissible but also actively encouraged?

Biological release of emotional stress

Crying is not merely an emotional response; it's a biological one. When we cry, our bodies release built-up stress and tension. These tears contain stress hormones and toxins that, when expelled, bring about a sense of relief and relaxation. In the therapy room, this biological release can be a vital component of the healing process.

As you share your experiences and confront deep-seated emotions, crying acts as a natural mechanism for shedding your emotional burdens. The release helps you let go of pent-up feelings, providing a profound sense of relief from the emotional weight you may have carried for a significant time.

The brain's mood-boosting chemistry

The biological benefits of crying extend to the brain's chemistry. Did you know that different types of tears have different purposes? Emotional tears have been found to contain different chemical compositions compared to reflex tears (reflex tears are caused by irritants like chopping onions). Emotional tears contain higher levels of stress hormones, such as adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) and Leu-enkephalin, an endorphin that acts as a natural painkiller.

When you cry emotional tears it’s your body’s way of regulating your mood and reducing emotional distress. It's your body's way of saying, "I need to let this out to feel better." This chemical balance can contribute to a more positive outlook and improved emotional well-being.

Facilitating emotional processing

Your body often knows what your mind may not yet fully grasp. Crying can be a physiological indicator of unprocessed emotions, and it serves as a signal that something requires attention.

In the therapeutic setting, this biological response becomes a valuable tool for understanding and addressing complex emotions. Your therapist can then help you unravel the underlying causes of these emotions, paving the way for profound personal insights and growth.

Strengthening the therapeutic bond

Trust and rapport between you and your therapist are the cornerstones of effective therapy. When you feel comfortable enough to cry in their presence, it's a testament to the trust you've built. This emotional vulnerability fosters a deeper connection, allowing your therapist to better understand your inner world and tailor their guidance accordingly.

The biological benefits of crying, such as emotional release and mood regulation, can also be magnified in the context of a strong therapeutic relationship. Your therapist becomes not only a guide but a compassionate witness to your emotional journey.

Stagnation leads to disease

I remember visiting a Chinese doctor when I lived in Hong Kong and asking about the cause of disease from an Eastern perspective. According to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), good health depends on the balanced and unobstructed flow of Qi ( energy) throughout the body's meridians or energy pathways. When there is a blockage or disruption in the flow of Qi, it is believed to lead to various physical and mental health issues. Blocked Qi can result from various factors such as stress, poor diet, emotional turmoil, or external influences.

Emotions are themselves a form of energy, and when they become stagnant or suppressed, they can lead to emotional and physical discomfort. Crying serves as a natural release valve for this built-up energy. By crying during therapy, you're allowing your body to release emotional energy that may have been locked away for years. This release can promote a sense of lightness and emotional balance.

It’s not a sign of weakness 

It's important to remember that crying is a normal and universal human experience. Every person, regardless of their background, age or circumstances, has felt the urge to cry at some point in their lives. In therapy, this normalcy is acknowledged and embraced.

Therapists do not view crying as a sign of weakness or pathology but as a healthy and natural response to life's challenges. By normalising crying in the therapy room, therapists help clients shed the stigma often associated with expressing their emotions.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Twickenham TW1 & Richmond TW9
Written by Natasha Kelly, BA (Hons) MBACP
Twickenham TW1 & Richmond TW9

Natasha is a counsellor based in London and online. Her passion lies in helping individuals build meaningful connections and foster strong rapport. With a deep understanding of human emotions and interpersonal dynamics, she has worked as a primary school teacher and as a freelance writer on mental health.

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