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Ask A Therapist: I Get Serious Anxiety Before Therapy

I do therapy over the phone, and my stomach gets really hard and tight before I call my therapist. I get a ton of other physical symptoms, including muscle tension, diarrhea, tightness in my chest, shallow breathing, nausea, etc. I’ve talked it over with him, as I think it might be a transference thing, but it’s getting to the point of not being okay. I’ve had nervousness with other men, particularly doctors and people in an authoritative position, but I’ve never had it this bad. The kind of therapy I do is based on primal theory as well as other things, but it also makes it very hard for me to feel my feelings when I get so nervous around him. I don’t really want to switch therapists right now, but I would appreciate any suggestions!

A: Thank you for writing in with your question. What you’re describing sounds like a panic attack. Please talk to your therapist about possibly making some shifts in treatment, like meeting face to face instead of talking by phone, or getting a medication evaluation. While therapy is often uncomfortable, my concern is that your anxiety may be so overwhelming that it is getting in the way of your progress. Watch the video below for my complete response.

Take good care of yourself!
Julie Hanks, LCSW

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