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For most of life, we try to push through our own issues and deal with the business of living. At least, that’s how it’s always been for me. When I first considered therapy, I did my homework and read up as much as I could about the therapeutic relationship.
I was surprised to discover there are some things you should never tell your therapist. Surely, therapy is a safe space where you should share openly, right? Yet, it is important to know what you should never tell your therapist and why.
What Is the Point of Therapy?
Therapy is about learning and self-discovery. What therapy isn’t is a place where you get told what’s wrong with you and how to fix it. The whole point of therapy is to help you learn to put in the work needed to overcome your limitations and challenges.
You have to identify and own those limitations so you can take responsibility for changing destructive behavior and become the best version of yourself. Your therapist can’t do it for you, but they can help you.
For some of us, therapy is about roleplaying so we can learn the skills to cope with situations that we are ill equipped to handle. Therapy is a process where you provide information, talk things over with the therapist, and learn about yourself and how to be better than you are at the moment.
By sharing, you overcome past trauma, bridge the gap between your own lived experience and what everyone else feels, and develop the empathy to live a life of meaning and relation to others.
Advantages of Therapy
There are several advantages to therapy. For starters, it’s:
Therapy helps you:
Is Therapy Right for You?
Deciding whether therapy is right for you depends on whether you are reaching deeper insights, or making new personal discoveries during therapy. When there is benefit from therapy over a reasonable period, you will know that you are in the right line of therapy.
There are different types of therapy available, and you may not necessarily respond to the first type you try, but there are other therapeutic options to consider. You can choose between group therapy, psychoanalysis, hypnosis, and more.
15 Things You Should Never Tell Your Therapist
So is there an instance when you really should keep your mouth closed during therapy with your therapist? When is it okay to not tell your therapist everything?
You should feel safe and open to sharing in a therapeutic bond between you and your therapist, as this is a confidential bond where anything you say is considered confidential.
Yet, there are a few things you shouldn’t tell your therapist.
1. Don’t Tell Your Therapist Lies
Your therapist is there to help you. They don’t know what’s spinning in your head, and they aren’t with you 24/7, so they don’t know exactly what you’ve been through or what happens in your life. When you tell your therapist lies, it influences their ability to help you.
A good therapist can easily tell if you are telling them lies. What this does is break up your trust relationship with them. The therapist will begin to doubt what you tell them, question your intentions, and struggle to help you develop insight.
2. Don’t Speak Vaguely and in Analogies
If a patient tries to describe a situation to a therapist that they are shy or ashamed about, they may want to speak in vague terms. This is not how therapy works. You need to bluntly and clearly tell your therapist what happened, how you feel, and where you fell short.
Talk clearly to your therapist so they can best help you. Don’t use euphemisms to describe something that you feel uncomfortable with. Whatever you are feeling bashful about, they’ve probably heard far worse in their career, so you can be upfront.
3. Refrain From Recalling Irrelevant Information
Your therapist doesn’t need to know what you had for breakfast, so don’t waste time recalling meaningless details from a regular day.
A therapy session is an hour at most, so you don’t want to take up that time with recollections from your day or your family member’s day, unless something hugely traumatic happened that you need help with and something irrelevant could be relevant.
4. Avoid Being Objective
You may think that a good therapeutic relationship is about helping you be objective, but your counseling sessions will require that you share not only the facts of what events affected you negatively, but you also need to share how you feel about those events.
You are not going to share what you experience and feel when you are focused on recalling everything in factual terms.
5. Don’t Ask for an Opinion
A therapist won’t easily express their personal opinion, so don’t ask your therapist to tell you how they feel about your experiences or wait to hear what your therapist decides is right. It’s your life, and you need to make decisions based on what you believe, not what your therapist may or may not believe.
So don’t ask them to tell you what to do or how to feel. A good therapist won’t answer.
6. Avoid Saying Personal Things
The therapist is there to help you, but when you start making things personal, you breach their professional approach.
Most therapists create a persona that they use for therapeutic help as they don’t want their own personal beliefs to cloud their ability to help their clients. When you start insulting or throwing tantrums during therapy, you move matters outside of the therapeutic space.
A therapist who is constantly being attacked by you will naturally withdraw and may also decide to recommend you see a different therapist when they feel they can no longer objectively and empathically help you.
7. Don’t Ask About Other Clients
Perhaps you are in therapy with the same therapist as your best friend or family members. You may even have been recommended to this therapist by those people, but that doesn’t give you any right to pry into the confidentiality of the therapist and their other clients.
You can’t ask them things like, “So, Ben is struggling, what do you think is his issue?” or “ My wife is being strange, what did you say to her?” Focus on your sessions, your challenges, and your journey to healing.
8. Don’t Yell or Scream at Your Therapist
While you may get angry if you feel your therapy session is opening up past wounds, you should focus on your own life, not feel offended, and scream at the therapist.
Any anger or unhappiness you feel during a session needs to be channeled constructively, and if you are going to shout profanities and abuse at your therapist, they will likely end the session and relationship.
Therapists are human and there to help you, so treat them with respect.
9. Don’t Ask Your Therapist Out
Even if you are single and your therapist is single, a therapy relationship shouldn’t become a romantic one. Never ask your therapist out while you are in therapy. You shouldn’t even ask them to have coffee with you after a consultation.
Therapists, like other healthcare professionals, keep a strict client-therapist boundary that includes not fraternizing with their clients. Like a doctor should never date their patient, a therapist shouldn’t agree to go on a romantic date with you.
10. Don’t Slander a Previous Therapist
Keep focused on why you are with this therapist. Any previous therapists you met with (whether they were good or not) are no concern of your therapist, and a professional therapist won’t want to venture an opinion about a colleague.
11. Don’t Make Fun of Your Therapist
You know nothing about your therapist’s private life, so don’t presume to make comments that poke fun at your therapist. Never comment about their gender, religion, culture, color, or sexual orientation.
You don’t know what your therapist is like or what they’ve lived through, so respect their privacy and stay in the bounds of your therapeutic relationship.
12. “Sorry, I’m Rambling Again.”
If you are self-conscious about talking, don’t fall into the apology trap and constantly want to make excuses for your feelings or what you experience. Instead, be mindful of what you say. Don’t try to police your words, but be responsible for what you say.
When you constantly apologize for what you say, it makes you seem flakey and like you are not sincere about the process.
13. “I Can’t Believe I Said That.”
When you say something to your therapist that you’ve never told anyone, you should do so because you want to, not because you feel urged to make stuff up or speak untruthfully. If you say something like “I can’t believe I said that,” you depreciate your own credibility.
14. Don’t Test Your Therapist
Therapy is a painful process of unearthing your inner issues and helping you dig out of the past to build a better future.
Subconsciously, you may oppose this pain, and one of the weapons of choice of your subconscious is to deflect attention and accuse others.
Take care not to question or test your therapist’s abilities or accuse them. Don’t say things like, “You don’t care about me” or “You just want to make money out of me.”
Your therapist is a professional, and it’s not up to you to test them or try them with snide remarks or deflection.
15. “Oops, I Didn’t Do What You Suggested.”
A therapist is a guide on your journey, and they may give you some suggested advice or homework to go over between sessions.
If they suggest you keep a thought journal to help you reflect and you simply don’t do it, you complicate the process and limit what they can do for you.
Be a responsible partner in the therapeutic relationship by doing your share.
Final Thoughts on What You Should Never Tell Your Therapist
Therapy is a choice. You choose to make use of the professional services of a therapist, and you trust that they can guide you through the process of self-improvement. While what you say to your therapist is confidential, you should not abuse the relationship you have with them as client and therapist.
What you say should be respectful of them, honest, and cooperative with the process. Your words have power, and not just in the therapeutic environment.
If you struggle with what you say in the rest of your life and battle your choice of language, you should definitely read our guide on how to stop swearing.