Release in counselling

What does it feel like to release those pent-up feelings and emotions?  


Often held back for years or months at least; the tension, the stress and fight/flight reaction that leads to anxiety, panic or depression, can be frightening for clients. Why? Fearing the floodgates will open and all that pain pours out - the anger and frustration, the hurt of facing up to the truth and the potential impact is what makes people 'hold out' for longer than they should perhaps do, before finding support.

Well, it feels great actually! The stress and strain come from holding your emotions inside, not allowing the truth of what is happening out into the world, identifying the real problem or acknowledging the harm it is doing to you.

Often, clients find themselves crying in session, unexpectedly letting it all out at long, long last. It is 'intense' for them, they say. It is frightening to consider the built-up pressure they are about to release but once it's out there, it's not as bad or difficult to cope with as expected.

Clients will find this happens after at least a couple of sessions, hence the benefits of a process of up to six sessions normally, more for some. Less than four sessions aren't often useful, people find, for long-term issues.

However, it can also be a process over time of letting bits out at a time. With each session or each counsellor, the client might need space between to hold the feelings and time to accept the truth, or then take action on what is realised.

It might be building trust too but mostly, it seems to be 'managing' the release of feelings, being honest with thoughts and recognising emotions that cause the inner turmoil for people.

It often manifests with a smile, a deep breath, and visible relaxation of tension in the muscles of the back, neck and shoulders.

The 'knot' in the stomach takes time to unravel but this is the start and often, a profound start that comes unexpectedly from the 'routine' sharing of the counselling process.

Other outcomes of releasing pent up emotions will be tiredness, an odd feeling of exhaustion but with no real tangible 'reason' for it (when in fact it is the emotional outlay that causes this, as it does with the holding on for depression and panic attacks - the truth is straining to get out!)

It may not always be easy to admit or recognise 'the truth' of your situation, but it is important, even essential to do so. Counsellors help people to open up these hidden feelings; the uncompleted thoughts that, until now, lie half-hidden and unacknowledged or scary parts of your 'Self'.

But there is nothing to fear, only to be embraced. Supported by your counsellor, friend or family member, who is willing to help and listen, you can feel that you can open up. It is a great feeling of letting go, if not the forgiveness of wrongs you feel you've experienced. And that's OK. Your process is your own and will be helped along in a supportive way by your professional. Often there is also additional help to cope with between-session processing too.

It is ongoing processing of information, knowledge, understanding and eventual awareness of your situation and circumstances, your future options and opportunities that you have 'been denied' for so long. But in the end, the release is satisfying and comforting, finding peace of mind and body and soul.

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

Share this article with a friend
Show comments

Find a therapist dealing with Anxiety

All therapists are verified professionals

All therapists are verified professionals