29 Things People Secretly Want Their Therapists to Know
If you’ve ever needed a partner in crime to tackle a mental illness, mental health issue or whatever road block life threw at you, you know the challenges and benefits that can come with being in therapy. But it’s work finding the right therapist, figuring out where to go from there and opening up about parts of your life that perhaps you’d rather ignore.
Being in therapy is a partnership, and because it’s a different relationship for everyone, we asked our readers who’ve seen a therapist to tell us one thing they wish their therapist knew.
Their honest answers reflect how therapy, like any kind of tool in recovery, is an ongoing process that takes work and time — but hopefully, one that produces worthwhile and sometimes life-changing results.
Here’s what they want their therapists to know:
1. “I don’t always have something to talk about. Sometimes just being in the office is enough.”
2. “I want him to know how thankful I am to have him in my life. I was on the verge of suicide and on the path of destroying my marriage before therapy began. It took a while for me trust him, but when I did, things started to turn around. His patience, understanding, empathy and our therapeutic relationship has definitely helped me learn better coping skills, to slow down my thoughts and to also be more aware of myself. I have nothing but the utmost respect and the greatest gratitude for him.”
3. “I’m not quiet in real life, but I am in my sessions. I’m terrified of investing in trusting them, only to have them give up and abandon me when the going gets tough.”
4. “I would never have survived my nervous breakdown without her help. She told me I was more important than school, and that was the hardest thing in the world for me to understand. She just kept repeating that I wasn’t broken, but if I wanted to live I needed to let her help me. She was right.”
5. “Sometimes if I didn’t have an appointment scheduled, I wouldn’t get out of bed or shower. She is the only person I talk to all week.”
6. “I cry whenever I have to talk about my anxiety. Every time. It hurts to tell anyone my invisible issue is winning most of the time.”
7. “I feel more safe speaking to her than anyone else.”
8. “Thank you. You have helped me find me again. For this one accomplishment, I am truly grateful. This is one small part of our journey. Thank you.”
9. “I try to be open and honest, but sometimes I lie. The truth is scary.”
10. “Every time I come to you and bear my soul, I feel really stupid afterwards — like my problems are stupid, I am stupid.”
11. “He helped me become a stronger person.”
12. “I’m actually really afraid of being judged by my therapist, so sometimes I’m not as honest about how I feel.”
13. “I’m not here for pity or to be told how far away recovery is. I am warrior who is asking you for skills to be a better fighter. I’m not looking for someone to lead me, but someone to walk along side me and help me grow.”
14. “I would want my new therapist to understand I’m not just a ‘textbook’ case.”
15. “He is the first one I’ve been completely honest with. It means I feel that I can trust him.”
16. “I wish she knew about skills. She’s great at listening, when I talk but she doesn’t know how to teach me coping skills.”
17. “Thank you for reminding me I don’t have to face my biggest fear today. I just have to face today.”
18. “Thank you for seeing my motives even when my actions are misleading.”
19. “I am so scared to talk to you.”
20. “Thank you for making me feel safe when the thought of therapy alone used to make me breakdown. Thank you for seeing my potential, especially when I can’t.”
21. “When you express compassion or that you’re sorry I’ve been through something, it gives me permission to be sorry that I went through it, too.
22. “Helping me understand the ‘why’ of my reactions to life events has helped me tremendously. Because I now understand my reaction to some things, I can more easily move forward from them.”
23. “Therapy is hard! Please don’t get frustrated if I don’t just plop into the chair and divulge everything to you in the first couple of sessions. Give me time.”
24. “Thank you for sticking with me even when I’m pushing you away as hard as I can. And thank you for caring about me as much as you do.”
25. “Her confidence in me helps me have confidence in myself.”
26. “You may not be a friend in the traditional sense, but you’re one of the most important people in my life. Thank you for all the hard work you’ve put in.”
27. “Let me take your advice at my own pace. Please don’t try to make me leave my comfort zone so quickly.”
28. “Sometimes I just can’t figure out the right words to explain to you how I’m feeling or why.”
29. “Even when I’m having a rough time, you’ve made these rough times easier, and I’m grateful for that.”
*Answers have been edited and shortened.