When previous negative experiences sabotage your relationship, therapy for trust issues is one efficient tool you can use.
Trust is the invisible string that holds people together. It allows them to invest personal resources in their relationship and let themselves be seen by the other person in their most authentic and raw form. When trust has been broken for various reasons, two partners can have difficulties being transparent with each other and bringing their vulnerabilities and honesty into the relationship.
However, even if one negative event in your relationship has diminished the level of trust you have in your partner, this does not mean that your bond is completely compromised. With the support of a trusted psychotherapist, you can work through your trust issues and eventually begin to confide in someone else with full confidence again.
Signs of Trust Issues
Although most trust issues surface in the context of a romantic relationship, they do not necessarily originate here. Any previous encounter with someone that has resulted in disappointment (or other negative emotions) can instill trust issues in someone.
For example, internalized childhood experiences can lead individuals to believe that all people are untrustworthy, unreliable, or disappointing. These experiences then translate into difficulties opening up to someone and building a life with them. It might have been a parent who failed to keep their promises or neglected the needs of their child that led to serious issues related to trust.
Alternatively, these issues can also stem from a previous negative experience in a romantic relationship. This would be the case of someone who was cheated on by their partner and, to protect themselves from being hurt again, resorted to believing that all people are untrustworthy.
No matter the original cause of trust issues, they are always highly complex and difficult to overcome. This is why relationship counseling is such a valuable tool for repairing broken trust in people. Therapy for trust issues can address signs like:
- Suspicion about someone’s behavior and intentions, even in the absence of valid reasons to be suspicious. For example, this can manifest in constant hypervigilance around someone’s actions – checking their phone, controlling their actions, etc.
- The mistrust that blocks the potential for a healthy, stable, and nurturing relationship.
- Firmly believing that others will always let one down or deceive them – people with trust issues can have a distorted perception of someone’s behavior, which leads them to interpret seemingly inoffensive gestures in exaggerated ways.
- Difficulties with fully opening up to someone and confiding in them can prevent someone from building a healthy and authentic connection.
- Intense anxiety in relationships due to the fear of being betrayed.
- Challenges with physical intimacy, even in the context of a stable partnership.
Is There a Need for Therapy for Trust Issues?
Therapy is an evidence-based tool that allows individuals to work through past experiences that negatively impact their behaviors, thoughts, and emotions. Its aim is to support healthy coping mechanisms and relational patterns to enhance overall life quality.
When it comes to trust issues, there are a lot of subconscious messages involved. Someone might have limiting beliefs about trusting people due to past negative experiences and need someone to get to the root of the problem with. In other cases, relational difficulties are caused by mental health disorders like depression, anxiety, or trauma, which is why working with a trained mental health professional is paramount. While treating the underlying mental health conditions, therapists also help their patients improve their relational abilities and trust in other people.
People cannot have different relational experiences unless they change their internal script and limiting beliefs about others. And this can only be done by doing deep, internal healing work with the support of someone who understands the complex nature of the mind.
In this respect, online therapy for trust issues is a great option for someone who wants to connect with a therapist in a safe, confidential, and flexible way. Online counseling is a modern alternative to face-to-face counseling that provides the same benefits, just in a more flexible format.
Anne Böckler-Raettig gave an interesting speech on TEDx about trust:
How Does Trust Issues Therapy Work?
If you are new to the idea of therapy or counseling, the information presented in this paragraph might give you a better overview of what to expect from online therapy. If you want to work through your trust issues with a counselor or therapist, they will design a step-by-step intervention during which you can unpack the experiences that led to your fears around trust.
After setting goals and objectives for the therapy, your counselor will help you dive into previous experiences that made you lose trust in others. While doing this, your counselor will also help you explore the beliefs and emotions you internalized from those experiences. This intervention aims to help you better understand how events that may be unrelated to the present influence your current relationships.
Once you understand what past beliefs and experiences drive your underlying trust issues, your therapist will support you to replace those limiting beliefs with more adaptive ones. They might include certain practical exercises that will help you restore your trust in other people.
A gentle therapeutic process develops according to the patient’s own pace. Your therapist is trained to listen non-judgmentally and create a safe space where you can open up. Unlike revealing information to friends or acquaintances who are not always objective, therapists maintain a clear and unbiased perspective.
Please note that there are many different therapy schools and modalities currently practiced, which means that your therapist’s approach might also differ. For example, a cognitive-focused therapy might be structured a bit differently from, let’s say, a psychoanalytic approach.
Here are some therapy types you can choose from:
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
This therapy modality works with thoughts and emotions to change how someone behaves. In the context of trust issues, CBT can help you replace old limiting core beliefs with healthier ones. Thanks to its goal-directed, structured approach, research validated CBT as one of the most efficient modern therapy approaches.
As a more holistic approach, integrative therapy approaches individuals and their issues from different angles, such as emotional, physical, spiritual, and social. If your trust issues have deeper roots, integrative therapy will help you explore them from different perspectives.
Rational emotive behavioral therapy (REBT)
This approach helps you identify irrational beliefs and negative thought patterns that lead to trust issues. Within this therapy mode, you are guided to explore the underlying mechanisms of your problems from both rational and emotional perspectives.
This approach is grounded in the belief that people have unconscious thoughts, feelings, desires, and memories that influence how they behave and form relationships with other people. A psychoanalyst could help you address the unconscious thoughts that maintain your trust issues in relationships.
The great part about online therapy is that it can offer the opportunity to choose from all these approaches, depending on your unique preference. Most therapy modalities can be practiced online, and you have the option to choose from a wide array of therapists. With online therapy, you do not have to worry about the location or proximity of the therapist and can fit the session into your schedule more easily.
Furthermore, online therapy can be more cost-effective since you do not need to consider transport fees or pay extra for the therapist’s renting costs.
Is Online Therapy for Trust Issues Effective?
Research studies on online therapy for various types of psychological distress, including trust issues, have shown that it is just as effective as in-person counseling. When you choose this therapy alternative, you have the same privacy and confidentiality but in a more flexible and time-effective manner. Some people find it easier to open up to a therapist in the virtual space, especially if they did not have therapy before.
Suppose you feel nervous about the prospect of seeing a therapist face-to-face. In that case, you can start by contacting an online counselor and familiarize yourself with the habit of going to therapy. The process is quite simple and straightforward – you just need a laptop, phone, and reliable internet connection, and you’re good to go.
If this is something you are considering, you will benefit from online relationship counseling. Instead of sabotaging your future relationships, you can start building authentic, stable connections by beginning to trust others while opening up to them with more confidence.
Be sure that there is always an empathetic and caring therapist at the other end of your therapy session who is eager to help you overcome your trust issues. No matter the degree of complexity of your defense mechanisms or trust issues in a relationship, remember that psychological interventions can always find a way to help you overcome them.