When people compare psychotherapy to medication, one of the arguments often used is that psychotherapy does not have any “side effects.” I totally disagree… everything we do has side effects. Every time we opt to turn right we do so at the expense of turning left. But even beyond that, psychotherapy surely has side effects… even negative side effects. For example, it is not uncommon for a patient to leave a particularly difficult therapy session feeling lower in mood after coming to a hard realization about the viability of a significant relationship that is crumbling, or after discussing a particularly painful time in their life. But that doesn’t mean that this “side effect” is a bad thing. In fact, when this occurs, it is often very situationally appropriate, and sometimes is the first time that a person has really grieved a lost (or soon to be lost) relationship, fully addressed a painful memory with logic and emotion, etc.
I found a nice blog post from GoodTherapy specifically addressing myths about psychotherapy including whether therapy makes things worse.