Send Your Replies to JoEllen, who sometimes feels confused and non-functional after a therapy session

Hi JoEllen,

Luckily I was 'aware' enough to know driving was unsafe for me. There were many times I would sit in my car (even lay down in the back seat) for an hour or more after an intense therapy session. There were even a few times I sat in his office or waiting room for awhile first, then went to my car and waited awhile there before driving. We did talk about this in my sessions so he was aware that at times I was 'out of it' for awhile afterward. But as I look back now, I know those episodes of 'not feeling like myself' were necessary to my healing and becoming 'whole'.

It was very frightening at the time. I felt very alone, afraid, sad and wanted someone to just "rescue" me from myself. I would tend to call my therapist while I felt "out of it" or shortly before I'd drive home and try to verbalize how I was feeling. Putting the feelings into words were very difficult but I never would have pulled through that difficult time without the 'connection' to my therapist. I think my child aspects viewed him as the caring, understanding parent we never had and just leaving him a message was sometimes enough to lessen their impact on me enough so I could drive home.

Very slowly I became stronger and they got less powerful, so the times I had to sit in my car for awhile became less and less frequent. Just remember that you are not alone on this difficult journey, just because you want to become one, not many......doesn't mean you have to be alone. I wish you strength, hope and love as you make this journey.

Terri B.


Yes Jo Ellen,

I have had that experience after therapy, after seeing my medical doctor, after seeing a movie. For me it seems that everyone is out, no one is in charge, and all are arguing.

I had it so bad once after seeing my medical doctor who asked me all about what was happening that I couldn't drive home. I started to drive but knew I wasn't driving well. I realized a child was out. I stopped and parked. I called by therapist. Her routine is "where are you, who is with you, does your husband know about this problem?, talks with me a little, if your not better in 15 minutes call your husband to come and get you".

After that incident 1. I made an agreement with the me's that no children drive 2. After an upsetting event I relax, tell myself that I am safe, do adult things to get my adult to become primary. I do math, or set up an excel spreadsheet. 3. If that doesn't work I sleep with the alarm set since I seem to wake up "reset".

Of course all of this presumes there is an adult in the mix. If you are impaired enough to not be able to function, then go right back to the adult who got you into this and make them take over.

Good luck, it does get easier.



Dear JoEllen--

Yes. I used to sit in the office after a visit for quite some time--I really don't remember how long, but at least an hour often.
It got better over time.
The important thing is to allow yourself to recover and get a sense of being "in touch" with what is around you--as you say,
it's disconcerting to walk out when entirely spacey and dissociated.

I wish you well,




Yes definitely. Lots of times smaller children are partially taking over.
I haven't driven for a number of years and am just starting to drive again, and have been asking my therapist how to always be in control when I am driving, as this is now a major problem for me -whether I have had a visit or not-- as my mind shuts off.
Thank you for asking this as it helps me to feel a little more connected to other people who have similar problems-



Dear JoEllen,

I agree with the other responders. It's very important that you feel in control and present before you leave the therapists office and especially
before you drive. Even if your therapist asks if you are okay to drive, time should be set aside to make sure you are. Not knowing where you are
in your healing, here are some suggestions:

- When you feel most present, come up with a plan for overall safety. What do you feel you need to do?

Regarding therapy:
- As part of the plan, communicate to your alters that there will be times when you will not be able to talk with them safely. Let them know that you
do want to hear them and will do so as soon as you can (i.e. when you are home safely, after your meeting, etc.). Make a promise regarding time that
you can keep.
- You decide how much time you need to be present before leaving therapy and incorporate this time into your session with your therapist.
- Consider arranging longer sessions with your counselor to incorporate 'your return.' You should feel comfortable with the amount of time you
have in session as well as the time you need to feel present.
- Consider longer sessions once in a while, and for those times when you know you'll be addressing more difficult issues. A 3 hour (or 2 hour)
session may be more helpful, especially when you may also need to talk about other challenges in your life that are affecting your healing.

Outside of therapy:
- Make a list of those things that help you feel connected. Do this completely outside of therapy and when you feel most present. This could
be a list to read to yourself once you leave the therapy session or whenever you feel the need to focus on the present.
- If you're comfortable and safe, consider physical movement to bring you back into your body, like a few minutes of stretching.
- Find a safe location near the therapists office for some recovery time to journal or take notes.
- If you go to a safe place before driving home, set a timer (there may be one in your cell phone) to jot down some notes on topics you want to
explore later. Your current priority is to get home safely. After you jot down topics to consider later, make a list to bring you present. Consider
10 things in your life right now that you are grateful for but are not therapy related.
- Ask a friend if you can call them after therapy to talk only about the present - your job, your kids, your pets, a project, politics, etc. Agree
upon a time frame, like 10 minutes. Let a good friend be a good friend.

Good luck and safe healing!




This absoultely was a problem at times. I did have several of us who were drivers, including Dyan, who wanted to drive so much that she aged several years and the took "lessons" by observation (I had some very cooperative insiders by that time). But when a session was pretty much all in trance and all working with kids and secretholders it was reallly difficult to come back to now, for any of us who drove and then there was being sure just where we were, WHEN we were...

There were times when my therapist would let us come back slowly while he did paperwork (I always had his last appointment) but after my parents both died and I was laid off so much was coming up, stuff that seemed to be finally okay to bring up, that we worked at my home for awhile. And the switch to morning sessions seemed to bring out more as well. I don't remember exactly how long we had sessions at my condo, but it was incredibly helpful and then came a time when it was okay for me/us to be driving after a session and better to be back in his office again.

I will say that we had years of working together, and complete trust built up, so this was workable. I couldn't have done this with a new therapist, I don't think.

I guess another approach might be if you had someone willing to be a driver, to wait until your session ended and then get you safely home.

I know the classic answer would be to start bringing down the intensity way before the end of the session and I know that was attempted, but even with two hour sessions, that was really not working for us.

Good luck on your journey!

Lynn D.


Hi JoEllen,

I often feel very out of sorts after "switching" in a session. When I had a car, I had to take a time out before driving home. Even than, I was in a few fender benders. No one was hurt, thank God. My therapist knows now to make sure she brings me back so I have time with her to recover. Also, I no longer have a car and get rides to therapy. But I never know who is picking me up, so I always put up a front (or someone does). It's very scary.

Sue T.


Hi JoEllen,

Yes, yes yes! Sounds like exactly what I went thru. Dealing with upsetting issues, or dealing with Alters/Parts, CAN be very disorienting!
My therapist was always sure to be certain that it was ME leaving after a session--and not a younger part...but even so, sometimes I would feel soooo overwhelmed or disoriented after a session that he had me lie down in his adjoining office for a while. Till I felt more "Adult." Now, although I have integrated all my Alters/Parts...I still have days of feeling disoriented whenever we talk about something from the past.

So,don't feel you are alone in this!

I think that anyone who would be talking about memories, etc. would tend to feel disoriented. I kind of liken this to waking up from a very intense dream. At first you are very disoriented, don't know what day it is, etc.

So, don't feel bad.I think that a lot, if not most, survivors do feel the kind of disorientation you're talking about.
I hope this helps. And I wish you courage and strength on your quest to Recovery!

Jan T.



Dear JoEllen,

This can be a very serious problem, and I think it's a great topic to discuss. Years ago, a dissociative friend was attending multiple therapy sessions each week. (That in itself can be problematic--too much pushing in therapy may cause dysfunction, not "help" recovery.) This woman had, at the time, six young children to take care of. She would leave her therapist's office completely discombobulated, barely knowing how she drove home on the country roads where she lived. I was personally scared to death for her safety. I think, eventually, the extra therapy sessions were tapered off. Or maybe she just insisted to the therapist that she had to be "present" as an adult before she left the building. All I can say is--she is still alive and well some 20 years later--so she made it through that terrible period somehow.
But I do hope others will respond to this question with their experiences and solutions.

Best regards,

Lynn W.