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Negative therapeutic reaction

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Negative therapeutic reaction is a term applied in psychotherapy when a clients mental health deteriorates as a consequence of the therapy. In some circumstances this is necessary and often inevitable in approaches that depend on the uncovering of disturbing material from people's past. So for example people addressing issues around their childhood sexual abuse may well experience increased anxiety and depression as they begin the work.

Negative therapeutic reaction may reflect or accompany countertransference factors where the force of the feelings generated may lead the client to act out, or experience disturbing levels of aggression or paranoia.

But psychotherapy involves the use of powerful techniques and these can harm as well as heal and despite the therapist's best efforts some people may be harmed by their experience of therapy and the level of disturbance produced may require termination or professional referral

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