Top 5 Things Your Psychotherapist Probably Has Learned or Thought, but Doesn’t Say
When I started in this profession about 15 years ago, I was so intimidated. I had this thought that “these clients were coming to see me in order to gain insight, wisdom, or anything in order to make their life feel better.” I thought I was expected to be an expert. That is a whole lot of expectations for a 22-year old! 15 years later, and I have much more clarity into my counseling role, people’s strength and resiliency, and the field of counseling. I realized that I am not the agent for change, but instead am here to provide support, guidance, and unconditional acceptance along the way. You see, I learned that people are incredibly strong and insightful. They know their own answers better than any outsider, but the counseling process helps guide people in the right direction, and if done correctly, can lead to better self-awareness, self-compassion, and ability to control emotions. There are a lot of things that I have learned and thought along the way, and here are some of the top 5 things your psychotherapist probably has learned or thought, but doesn’t say.
1. Your partner is likely not the only problem in your marriage- hint you play a role, too! As a marriage therapist, I often can tell when someone is trying to get me to side with them in the session. My job is to be completely neutral, the couple is my client, it does me no good to take sides. I am happiest when both partners are happy. However, I often witness one partner blame their entire marriage problems on their spouse. Sometimes the problems aren’t 50/50, but whether it be communication difficulties, passive aggressive responses, conflict styles, etc., I can almost always bet that one person doesn’t “carry the relationship problems.”
2. If your therapist says something that made you really angry, then it was probably a comment that needs further reflection (assuming you have a good therapist!). Challenges in the therapy room are hard. Clients spend a good amount of time and money to be able to converse with someone that will truly accept and not judge them. However, a good therapist will learn when to make gentle challenges to help their client see a different point of view. We, as humans, usually have a defensive response style when we are presented with something we might not like about ourselves. Try taking a deep breath, reflecting on why the information bothered you, and discussing your feelings with your therapist regarding it!
3. “Me too.” Your therapist is a human. A real person, with a family, stressors, and capable of making mistakes. Your therapist likely has had times when they are going through the same or similar issues as you. In fact, your therapist is actually trained in how to handle their own emotions during a session when they have those moments of “me too.” It actually has a fancy name, countertransference, and without solid insight into their own emotions, countertransference can impact the therapeutic relationship and counseling sessions.
4. You actually have the answers to all your questions. People know their own answers, but it might take a minute for them to get to the conclusion. My favorite sessions are the ones where the client asks me a bunch of questions, and I have the answers in my head, but instead of sharing the answers, I reflect the question back to them. By the end of the session, the client has come up with an answer that is even more profound than what I originally would have said. Sometimes I even do a little happy dance on the way home. Yup, us counselors celebrate good sessions for our clients.
5. We care more than you know. Look, we know it would not be helpful to sit and cry with you for 50 minutes. In fact, it might be unhelpful. However, this doesn’t mean that the therapist doesn’t truly care and feel for what you are going through. A therapeutic relationship is a beautiful, unique relationship. There are necessary boundaries, but this doesn’t mean that your therapist doesn’t shed a few tears on the way home after a particularly emotional session.
Written by Amy Rollo, M.A., LSSP, LPC-S
Amy Rollo is a Licensed Professional Counselor Supervisor and owner of Heights Family Counseling. Amy has been practicing counseling and diagnostic evaluations for fifteen years. She has doctoral level training in the areas of child and adolescent counseling, evaluations, marriage and family therapy, and adult counseling. Amy Rollo provides counseling and evaluation services in the Houston Heights and surrounding areas. Amy’s goal in counseling is to journey with her clients in order to foster positive changes and growth in their lives. Read more about Amy's counseling style by visiting www.heightsfamilycounseling.com and read more about her services http://heightsfamilycounseling.com/services-1/