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    Hi there!

    I’m going through and carrying an unthinkable amount of trauma and overwhelming pain that no human can carry alone. Is it a normal expectation to expect my therapist to help me carry these traumatic and daunting burdens? Can I expect her to hold some of the pain for me?
    She definitely validates and empathizes but on a cognitive level. I walk out of session feeling like it’s ALL on me. Does this indicate to really strong boundaries on her end?

    what would a healthy balance of boundaries on the therapist’s part look like? Not getting enmeshed and still providing deep attunement and emotional empathy?

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    You are in good company! I am going through exactly what you are describing above. It is excruciating and painful. I so get you…..

    I also understand what you are describing as to feeling alone….

    WOW! Smile, and avacad0, this sounds so huge and like you’ve both been through so much and feel traumatized. I can see why you feel so overburdened by carrying all this with you and why you would want someone to take the load of pain and trauma off of your back.

    I want to acknowledge that you came here for support in learning how to manage your trauma.

    I hear that you do feel validated on a cognitive level, but then still feel all the emotional burden of pain and trauma. Is that right?

    I can’t speak for your therapist; I can only speak for myself. It’s not my job as a coach, wife, mother, sister, daughter or friend to carry the emotional burden of other people. I can empathize and with friends and family even sympathize, commiserate and complain with them. But never is it my job to carry their emotional burden.

    Having said that, pain and trauma are feelings. They may feel really intense and overburdening at times, but feelings can’t hurt you. Feelings are not good or bad, they just are. It’s the meaning and thoughts we attach to our feelings that make them so exhausting and overburdening.

    So Smile, what thoughts are you having about your trauma? What thoughts are constantly ruminating in your mind that’s causing you so much pain and burden? How can you make the trauma mean something else? What new thoughts can you tell yourself about the trauma you’ve been through? This will help you look at the trauma objectively and not let it define you and the future trajectory of your life. Because you can NEVER be defined by something you’ve been through.

    Your new thought may be that it was something you had to go through to get where you’re at now. Or that it’s OK and you’ll get through it. What might it be for you?

    Another tool that helps me a lot, is to make a “feeling appointment” with myself for a few minutes every day. So, whenever I get overloaded with thoughts and emotions, I tell myself that I have an appointment to meet with my feelings in a few hours to feel all I want to. Now I can continue doing what I was in middle of doing.

    I invite you to look at your thoughts and try creating new ones as a way to mitigate the intense emotions of trauma that overburden you, and to set a ten minute “feeling appointment” with yourself each day so you don’t have to feel overburdened all the time.

    I know you can do this Smile!

    I’m rooting for you!

    Hi Smile and avocado,


    It’s so courageous of you to be getting help for yourself!


    You described feeling connected to your therapist on a cognitive level but it seems that you are not feeling connected on an emotional level.

    It seems that your thinking  that if your therapist took on your burden, it would help you connect with her emotionally.

    However true healing will come through a strong intimate connection with your therapist, which is absolutely possible to obtain without your therapist taking on your burden. There’s a big difference between being connected to your therapist on an emotional level where you feel accepted, cared about, loved and embraced vs. your therapist taking on your burden for you. The latter would actually impede on creating a healthy emotional bind  with your therapist which would result in more loneliness and less connection. So you deserve to feel connected not just a cognitive level, but also on an emotional one -which does not involve her taking on your burden. Something else is getting in the way of that, which is a great thing to explore in therapy!

    These thoughts and feelings you are feeling now are very common especially with people who suffer from relational trauma. Expressing these  thoughts and feelings you are having in the therapy room, can allow for deep and rich therapy. It should be totally appropriate to bring this up with your therapist. Go for it!

    I wish you much success in your journey!



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    I understand the difference between cognitive and emotional, but I’m confused as to what all of you mean by feeling supported on a cognitive vs emotional level…

    Can anyone explain in greater detail or with examples?

    Would love that!! Thank you!

    Hi Climber,

    I can’t speak for the original Posters, but I thought they were saying that they know intellectually that their therapist cares about them because they hear their therapists validating them for example. But they don’t feel an emotional bond with their therapist where they feel that even though they have to do the work,  someone is right there with them, believing in them and supporting them.

    When one feels deeply understood experiencing unconditional compassion/empathy, than that connection strengthens the muscles to lift the heavy weights even if we are lifting them by ourselves.

    Your name put a metaphor in my head:

    Imagine you had to climb a huge mountain.

    If you experienced me caring about you on a cognitive level because I said “wow that’s such a huge mountain, but you can do it!” That’s one level.

    A much deeper level would be feeling like even though I am not climbing with you physically, I’m so interested in helping you prepare, making sure you have the appropriate  tools for the journey. I’ll spend time hearing your concerns and validating how hard that struggle might be, while instilling confidence in you by helping you feel the depths of my belief in your ability to be ok. And I’ll meet you right there to give you a boost so you’re first step is propelled by my energy. I’ll meet you halfway to check in on you and see if you need anything. I’ll be the voice in your head encouraging you when the going gets rough. And I’ll celebrate with you every step that reached you closer to your goal. So you see, your climb is an emotional experience for me too, and not just an event marked off on my calendar as an important day because I care. So I’m really right there with you climbing. You’re not alone at all. And you feel that because we’re deeply connected emotionally even if we have boundaries that don’t allow me to physically climb with you.

    Hope this helps!

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    I understand. Thanks for explaining.

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