Can you REALLY talk to your therapist?
A dear friend called me the other day wanting my advice. This is not an unusual request given my field of work 🙂 While many times, friends seek my advice about their marriages, their in- laws or their kids, this was a little different. She wanted advice on how to handle a dilemma with her therapist.
She shared with me all of the wonderful things about her therapist…”she’s really interested in me, she has concrete, helpful suggestions, she follows up on the homework she gives me to see if it’s been helpful or if I’m struggling with it, she seems to really care about making sure I handle my stress better.” That’s great, I told her. All of those things are wonderful. So what’s the concern?
“Well, I’m not sure if I can continue seeing her because she uses examples from her own life to make a point and it drives me nuts! I’m thinking of talking to her about it because I don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater, but I’m not sure how she’ll react.”
This is a dilemma for many people in therapy. They may have all kinds of positive experiences with their therapist, but when something doesn’t go well, or doesn’t quite fit for them, they don’t know how to approach it. Some people don’t want to hurt the therapists feelings. Some struggle with sharing disappointments, upsets, irritations and such in all of their relationships and wouldn’t even dream of bringing up such issues, even to their therapist.
In therapy speak, this is called a “therapeutic break”. Basically it means there has been a change in the clients perceptions about the connection they experience with the therapist. Most of the time when this happens, people drop out of therapy completely, just like my friend was contemplating doing.
Research shows that the best predictor for the outcome of therapy is the clients perception of the relationship with the therapist. If the client feels heard, understood and connected to the therapist, treatment outcomes will be more successful no matter what treatment modality is used (ie: IMAGO, Cognitive Behavioral, EFT, Psychoanalytic etc.)
At Together Couples Counseling, we take this very seriously. We want all of our clients to be able to REALLY talk to their therapist. Especially if there is something that is not working for them. That is why we use something called Feedback Informed Treatment. I won’t go into the boring details here about how it works, but will tell you that at the end of each session all of our clients are given the opportunity to let us know how they felt about the session, if they felt heard and understood, and if the topics and goals match what they wanted to cover. It’s like a report card for the therapist. Every client has a voice and the opportunity to bring up things that they otherwise might be too uncomfortable to discuss.
So, what was the advice I gave my friend? Talk to your therapist! Let her know all of the things that you appreciate AS WELL AS the things that are not working. Her response will let you know if she is open to addressing your concerns….or if it’s time to find a new therapist….
If you want a therapist you can REALLY talk to, give us a call now 443-583-4675. We look forward to supporting you.
**Update** My friend took my advice and her therapist was very appreciative and took her concerns seriously. They continue to work together successfully to this day and my friend now knows she can REALLY talk to her therapist.