An extraordinary experience, one that doesn't fit our usual understanding of reality, such as a near-death experience (NDE), can be difficult to explain to family and friends. While some people are comfortable having such experiences, others undergo a range of post-traumatic effects. Troublesome symptoms like feeling preoccupied with the experience, intrusive thoughts and memories, vivid dreams—possibly nightmares, and difficulty concentrating are the mind's natural ways of dealing with an experience that is not clearly understood. Even positive aftereffects can be unsettling, such as a heightened sense of meaning or connectedness to persons, literature, or events that had previously seemed commonplace; a sense of deepened spiritual or religious meaning; strong empathic sensations; or psychic experiences. When others do not share or even understand an extraordinary experience and its aftermath, those who've had such experiences—experiencers—may wonder, "Am I `going crazy'?"
If you are an experiencer, whether or not you have people with whom you can talk, a good psychotherapist can help you gain skills and insights that will enable you to handle your extraordinary experiences more effectively. Experiencers may benefit from the support of a therapist. The following guidelines can help with the process of finding a therapist and working with them.
- Contemplating an Outcome
- What Can a Therapist Do for You?
- The Helping Professions
- Finding the Right Therapist
- A Final Note
The following material was designed to address psychotherapy in the U.S.; much, but not all, is applicable outside the U.S., and some explicitly addresses non-U.S. settings.