Have you ever wondered what goes on in a therapist’s mind during a session? As a therapist, I have had so many clients over the years express uncertainty around what I will think of them, or they didn’t know what was and was not okay in therapy. Over the years, I have spoken to many colleagues who have shared similar experiences. I wanted to share some basic things that most therapists would want their clients to know and understand about the therapeutic process.
- It is OKAY to be nervous. We don’t mind that you’re rambling or laughing nervously.
We don’t mind if you are struggling to speak. We accept you as you are; there is no need
to apologize. Therapy can be scary! You’re sitting in front of a person whom you have
never met and are trying to share about your struggles. We will meet you where you are.
- It is OKAY to take time to warm up. It’s normal for it to take a while for you to feel
completely comfortable with a therapist. You are allowed to go at your pace and not
discuss anything you aren’t ready to.
- It is OKAY to tell your therapist how you feel about working with them. This one
can be extremely scary. Some people feel fear that they will upset their therapists which
could then lead to a confrontation. A good therapist will want you to give feedback on
how you’re feeling about working with them. If you aren’t feeling it, then it’s okay to say
so. If your therapist is doing something that you don’t like, it’s okay to point it out. If you
feel like the therapy sessions aren’t going in the direction you would like, then absolutely
let your therapist know. We want to be helpful and for you to get what you want out of
- You are allowed to set boundaries. This one might be difficult for some of you, but you
are allowed to tell a therapist that you’re uncomfortable with the subject matter or the
question asked. You are allowed to say that you don’t agree with your therapist. You are
allowed to ask your therapist to avoid specific terms and verbiage that makes you
uncomfortable. It is your right to refuse to discuss anything you are not comfortable with.
It is also your right to leave any situation you are not comfortable in.
- It is OKAY if you decide the therapist is not a good fit. No matter how long you have
been working with a therapist, it is absolutely okay to decide that the clinician is not the
best fit for you. It’s also absolutely okay to say it! Therapist’s are not a “one size fits all”
type of thing. A good therapist will understand where you are coming from and will assist
you with finding another clinician who might be a better fit.
- We are not perfect. We don’t have all of the answers and we are not perfect. We are
human. We don’t always get it right. Sometimes we even mess up and do or say
something that was unintentionally insensitive. Sometimes, we may not even know it! A
good therapist wants to acknowledge any wrongdoings and make it right. From there,
the clinician should do their own work on educating themselves so as not to make the
same mistake in the future.
- We really do care. It can be hard to believe that someone you just met could already
care about what ails you. Most therapists choose this profession because they have a
deep care and concern for others and want to help. If you feel as though your therapist
doesn’t care about helping you, it’s okay to say so. It may be that there is something
coming up for you that needs to be explored. Or it may be that the therapist has not
been as engaged as they should be. Either way, having a conversation about it will help
you to get your needs met. Whether that looks like remaining with that therapist, or being
referred out to a new one.
I hope this list was helpful to you and helps you to feel more comfortable during your therapy sessions. We want you to feel comfortable and safe with us and to know that you can talk to us about anything. Therapy is a beautiful, painful, scary, amazing, and difficult process, and speaking from my own personal experience as a client, it’s 100% worth it!