Is it normal to cry at therapy?

Is it normal for people to cry during therapy, or is it just me?

Ashton Sullivan
Ashton Sullivan
Dialectical Behavior Therapy and EMDR

I can't tell you how many times I've heard people talk about terrible things that have happened to them yet they don't shed a tear.  Is that normal?  Well, yes, but not exactly healthy.  

It's normal because they've been conditioned this way.  If you feel shame around crying, then you most likely learned at some point in your life that it's not okay to cry.  Most people have been told at some point in their life, "don't cry!" or "don't be sad!"  But some people have had this message imprinted in their minds by negative experiences such as parent who shamed them or got mad at them for crying, or simply by cultural or societal messages.

The truth is, whether you're male, female, black, white, asian, etc.- we're all humans and crying is a natural response that allows our bodies to express (i.e. release) pain.  It literally helps to get the emotional pain out.  If you don't express your sadness in a healthy way (writing or creating art to represent your emotions can be other healthy outlets) then it will find another way to get your attention, and that will likely not be healthy (self harm, inflicting harm on others, numbing/dissociating, anxiety, etc.).

So to answer your question, it is normal and healthy to cry in therapy.  If you have no other place where you can allow yourself to cry with someone to witness and hold space for your pain, then you are already benefitting from therapy.  I would suggest exploring your beliefs around crying with your therapist if you feel ashamed of it.  This is all too common, but I believe that many people would start to feel better if they didn't judge themselves for crying or feeling sad.  Honor your pain and you will feel more at peace.

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.

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