Have you ever found yourself wondering what is going through your therapist’s head? Interested in what they think of you or how they perceive what you share in session? You are certainly not alone in these curiosities. The reality is there are certainly things that your therapist wishes they could tell you but they may not share for many reasons. One of the main reasons your therapist may not voice their thoughts is the fact that the focus of therapy is on the client and it is not appropriate for us to monopolize your session time. So…we decided to compile some of these thoughts into this blog. Here is a peek into a therapist’s mind and what we wish our clients knew but we may not be able to directly say.
1) We know that starting therapy can be intimidating.
Starting therapy can be a truly nerve-wracking experience and we understand this. Finding the right fit for a therapist is the first step of the journey but then you are expected to share intimate details of your life with a stranger and may even find yourself sharing things you have never told anyone else. We get that it can leave you feeling raw and incredibly vulnerable which may be uncomfortable. Our therapists at Natural Balance Counseling focus on providing a safe, warm, and nonjudgmental environment for each client that walks through our doors. We understand that it will take time for each client to feel safe and are more than willing to go at your pace. Feel free to share your feelings with your therapist and allow them the opportunity to validate and normalize those feelings and ease any worries you may have about this journey.
2) We are not going to tell you what to do.
Clients often come to us and want us to fix the problems they are experiencing or tell them exactly what to do. However, our job as therapists is not to give advice. Instead, we strive to walk alongside you and help you see what paths lie ahead and make sense of which path feels right for you. Providing you with problem-solving tools and a safe place for guided introspective reflection can help you ultimately make an informed decision about what you want and need that is in line with your values. We will be here to support you through this process but will not directly tell you what to do. Depending on therapeutic orientation, many therapists feel that our clients are the experts of their own lives. You are in the driver’s seat of your sessions and we are along for the ride and providing the GPS to the destination.
3) We have been on your side of the therapy office.
Many mental health professionals go into the profession of mental health because of their own experiences in life. Before we are therapists, we are human first. This means we have also faced many struggles and we are not perfect. Therapists may not self-disclose but often our experiences make us better therapists because we truly get it on a personal level. Many graduate and doctorate programs for mental health professionals urge their students to seek individual counseling. This gives us the perspective of our clients and what it feels like to sit on the other couch. Therapists also often continue therapy post-schooling or revisit therapy during different phases of their life to ensure they are mentally healthy and can show up for their clients. So to answer your question…yes you may have a grand-therapist out there somewhere.
4) We want you to show up authentically.
We genuinely want to see you for who you are and want you to feel safe enough to show up authentically in sessions. You do not have to dress up to attend therapy. You do not have to stifle your emotions in therapy. You do not have to agree with your therapist. You do not have to mask in therapy. Show up in those yoga pants or basketball shorts. Let out that guttural sobbing cry that you are holding back. Stim if you need to in session. If you texted your ex again after we have been working on not contacting them, we want to hear about it and help you work through setting healthy boundaries for yourself. We want to see all of it and we will not judge you for it.
If you are working with a therapist and do not feel it is a safe space to present authentically as yourself, you have options. If you feel your therapist would be receptive to discussing this concern, challenge yourself to bring it to their attention and problem-solve how to improve this. If you do not feel comfortable disclosing this concern with your therapist, then it might be time to search for a new therapist. To make progress and grow in therapy, you have to feel comfortable enough to be genuine in your disclosure.
5) Boundaries are for YOU, not for others.
A common misconception when discussing boundaries with clients is the belief that boundaries are rules that we make for others in our life. That is not true because we cannot control the actions of others…even though we wish we could at times. Boundaries can be defined as the limits you create for yourself that determine what is acceptable for you and what you are comfortable with. Boundaries can be set in various areas of our life including emotional, physical, sexual, workplace, material possessions, financial, and time. Setting boundaries based on our values allows us to prioritize what fulfills us, encourages us to authentically be ourselves, and live a more balanced life.
6) Social media and the internet are a double-edged sword.
Ahh…the joy of social media and the internet. In the age of technology, we have a wealth of information at our fingertips at any given moment. This has allowed many people to research and learn about mental health, build a community for themselves, and more. However, social media can have false information and can be misleading at times. Advocating for yourself when you have done the research and feel you resonate with a diagnosis can be helpful and create a dialogue with your therapist. However, we do caution against self-diagnosing due to the misleading information that is present on the internet. Speak with your therapist or mental health professional about your findings and remember to take what you see online with a grain of salt. Be mindful of where you are receiving your information. Are they credible sources? If you are unsure, check with your therapist and they can point you in the right direction of content to consume that is related to mental health and created by mental health professionals.
7) We care about you…a lot!
One of the most important thoughts on this list is this thought…we wholeheartedly care about you and want the best for you. We think about you in between sessions. We wonder how that big presentation that you had coming up went, or how that challenging conversation with your partner panned out…, and the list goes on. We think about and reflect on ways we can provide better support for you by doing research, continuing education training, or consulting with other mental health professionals to gain alternative perspectives. Even after our work with a client has ended, we may find ourselves wondering how you are doing. We are truly honored to hold space for our clients and to support our clients in many different phases of their lives.
We hope that sharing these thoughts eases your mind and helps you feel more comfortable with seeking support if you have not yet started therapy and are considering it or with opening up to your current therapist. If you are searching for a counselor in the north Houston area, contact us today for a free 15-minute phone consultation to see if our therapists would be a good fit for you. Wondering what you should consider when searching for a therapist? Check out our blog titled “5 Tips to Find the Right Therapist”.