Professional Woman

A few weeks ago, I wrote an article called “Why Would You Lie to Your Therapist?” that appears to have hit a nerve with clients and therapists alike.

The article questioned why — when you’re paying good money for …

43 Comments to
10 Common Reasons to Lie to Your Therapist

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  1. I definately agree that the reason one lies or leaves out pertinent information is to maintain a good image of oneself to the therapist. It’s hard to say, “Guess what other horible thing I did, or my significant other did to me and put up with it… etc.”

  2. If you ever have to get a government security clearance, you might want to lie to your therapist. To get the clearance, you need to disclose all your medical records. I don’t want uncle Sam knowing I smoked a little kief in college. Some folks don’t want uncle to know they’re sexual orientation either. These shouldn’t disqualify you, but it makes for a drawn-out senseless issue. But, then again, uncle Sam just wants to know if you lie.

    Why does our past have to haunt us for so long? That alone is psychologically damaging.

  3. “Your therapist won’t judge you, …”
    You’ve obviously haven’t dealt with having a personality disorder on your record.

    “All they will do is use it to find a way to better help you and help you move forward.”
    It’s more moving you back to the waiting list. There are more deserving patients.

    Holding back certain information is necessary at times just to get care for a larger and more immediate problem.

  4. I am very glad that you did this follow up article as I find it still very useful. I think lying is just a natural part to who we are. We all will and in a sense have to with hold certain information. If we all walked around an open book, well nothing would be the same. While a therapist is someone you are supposed to be an open book to, it still takes time to turn and read the pages. They key is time (then when you feel it won’t work switch) but with holding/lying will all resolve its self in time.

  5. Thank you for the follow-up article.

    I have a follow-up question: under what circumstances might a therapist lie to a client?

  6. I agree with Katherine Kruska. I think part of the process from the point of view of the patient is also the need for approval. Much concealing or outright lying could be done for selfsteem reasons, even when there’s no unconcious denial.

  7. adrivahni, I don’t know… That’s a good question though. Some ideas that come to mind might be to (a) protect the client from an insight or information they have that they believe the client may not yet be ready to hear (e.g., will likely cause the client more harm than benefit); (b) about aspects of their personal life (some therapists may find it easier to lie, omit, or give a generalization about some aspect of their life rather than give truthful details, which is what some therapists have been trained to do).

    I’m sure there are others…

  8. I like this follow up article a lot. I think one of the most important aspects of trust in the therapy relationship is the personality of both client and therapist.

    The second most important is the therapist’s ego. Can he/she refer someone out when they really don’t have the skills to help them? Sometimes I think psychologists who are traditionally CBT and short term therapists see a challenging ‘case’ and take it on (ego talking)…they can do more harm than good in this respect.

    Can he/she discuss counter-transference responses as part of therapy? One of the big reasons that I couldn’t fully trust my therapist is because I would experience reactions from him sometimes.

    I felt both the positive and negative reactions. When it was positive he would validate my thoughts when it was negative, about 99.9% of the time he tells me I have it wrong or he would say perhaps he was having a bad day etc.

    He is getting better at this. It has hurt my progress at times and I am getting better at calling him on it so we can talk about it.

    Lastly, I think therapists often think they are providing a safe environment but some who have personality issues etc. need more than one session per week or other contact here and there.

    I have been amazed at the blatant abandonment of some therapists. You see this when there is a suicide attempt or hospitalization that could’ve been avoided if the T took the darn phone call or called back.

    There is a way to construct ‘contact’ so that it is appropriate and helpful to both therapist and client. Many are so stuck in their theoretical orientation/ego or counter-transference that they hurt their clients.

  9. Lie to my so-called “therapist”? Of course I lied to her. Twenty-nine years ago I was involuntarily committed to a psychiatric hospital after a suicide attempt which resulted in a cardiac arrest. I was assigned to a psychiatric nurse for one-on-one therapy. Being a naive 25 year-old I innocently began to describe the isolation, poverty, and post traumatic stress syndrome which made my life a nightmare. She responded by shouting, “BULLSHIT, BULLSHIT, BULLSHIT! Realizing I wasn’t going to be released unless I fulfilled her needs I made up a story about having a boyfriend who died of Hodgkin’s Disease after I encouraged him to delay seeking treatment so we could go on vacation together. What else could I do? She was the therapist and I was the psychiatric patient. Who would take my word over hers? As mentioned, this was twenty-nine years ago. If I ran into her today and she was choking I would say to her, “I know how to do a heminlich maneuver but I’m not doing one on you. The world would be a better place without you. I’m going to savor your death.” And then I would.

  10. Elizabeth’s is a fantastic posting.

    Doing pseudo-therapy to escape an abusive therapist is called LaChancing.

    I was a secretary on an inpatient psychiatric unit and there was a psychiatric social worker whom I could hear through the thin partition separating our office screaming insults at patients. The patients described her as an “emotional rapist.” Eventually they got together and began warning new patients to the floor that this woman was out-of-control and abusive. They told the new patients what to say to her so they wouldn’t set her off and so they could get released as quickly as possible. Eventually one patient smuggled a small tape recorder into a session, recorded the abuse, and got her fired. I wish I’d had to courage to speak up, but I needed the job.

  11. I have lied to my therapist about suicidal thoughts. But I didn’t have a plan or intent. Then if I did, I might not tell her because I work in the field and wouldn’t want to be an in-patient in this county. I would tell my best friend though.

  12. Why do people lie to their therapists?
    Therapists!!!
    How about dental hygenists?
    The joke in the office for decades and recently on TV goes as follows: “I go to an out-of-town dentist to have my teeth cleaned before I go for my scheduled appointment with my dentist’s hygenist. I can’t stand her disapproving question, ‘Have you been flossing regularly?’”

  13. Insurance companies have the right to read notes taken by our doctors. Refusal by therapists to let insurers read our records could lead to denial of claims or could cause difficulty in obtaining life insurance or car insurance, security clearances and etc. It is safer to leave somethings unsaid. I do not want an insurer knowing things about me that only my therapist needs to know. The insurer’s concern is not my good but their profit. Thanks for writing the articles.

  14. There’s another reason I don’t seem to ever hear much about: withholding significant information for fear that your therapist can’t handle it. It’s almost like trying to protect your therapist. I know it sounds really strange. What do you call that?

  15. Good article!

    Some of the readers’ comments are understandable about the legitimacy of needing to lie regarding certain things in order to protect themselves (such as sexual/gender issues and government jobs, Axis 2 issues, and abusive therapists).

    My only beef would be to suggest instead of, “These are all legitimate and valid reasons for “lying” to your therapist.” to say “These are UNDERSTANDABLE reasons…” Some of the reasons cited would actually be goals/targets to be addressed in therapy such as building rapport and addressing maladaptive coping strategies such as denial, habitual lying, etc. Thus, they would not, by definition, legitimate or valid reasons in the long run.

  16. Therapists are human and often very flawed, which may be the main reason they studied psychology in the first place. Psychiatrists (also therapists) are trained to drug patients and often do not “listen” for the truth which patients may be entirely oblivious to. Emotional honesty is not alwyas available to the patient or the therapist. Simply because someone has a degree and is called a therapist does not mean they are paragons on mental health themselves and often can be very abusive, dishonest and have hidden agenda’s regarding the manner in which they treat their patients.
    Transference goes two ways and sadly, more often than not, the therapist reacts (or over-reacts) to their patients as often as the patient has transference issues with the therapist.
    Back in teh 1970′s I was a student of pshychoanalysis and attended the 27th International Psychoanalytic Congress in Vienna where I was priveleged to meet many of the worlds top psyhoanalysts and with the exception of Anna Freud (sigmund’s daughter) and Erick Erickson (who was in fact an artist and only inadvertently fell into the role of psychoanalyst as contemporary with Freud, Jung and Adler) the mind set of most of the others was frighteningly void of emotional honesty and lacking the ability to see the trust, even when it was presented to them.
    The result of that conference was that I returned to the states and hastily changed direction and became a journalist instead, where truth telling was also revered but more often a fact.
    People’s lives have been virtually destroyed by mis-diagnoses, improper and hastily given lables which follow them their entire lives and are virtually impossible to expunge from the medical records even in the face of retrospective evidence of the impropriety of the diagnostic label.
    One patient I interviewed had been diagnosed as paranoid and schizoid at the age of 16 by a “therapist” who was being paid by her parents. One of her parents had a hidden agenda and lied to the therapist to use that therapist to create dissidence between father and daughter, because of her own need to have an exclusive relationship with her new husband, absent interference from her new husband’s daughter, who was more easily able to see through this woman’s manipulative and saccharine nature.
    There result was that the daughter was drugged, labeled and for the next 20 years bounced in and out of therapists offices, mental hospitals and virtually lost most (of not all of her life) to these misdiagnoses; suffered from life long iatrogenic disorders (those created by improper medical treatment, inasmuch as the psychotropic drugs destroyed her liver, kidneys and digestive tract) and only after finally divorcing herself from the therapists and pshyciatric profession, began to recover.
    30 years later, this same step mother tried to have the daughter declared mentally incompetent in a probate court in order to take off with her husbands estate and deprive the daughter (who was named as principal beneficiary of her father’s estate) of her inheritance. At this time she was examined by an impartial psychiatric team . The Step mother was found to have had “early dimentia” (in other words it was the step mother who was nuts) and the daughter was found devoid of any evidence of paranoia or schizoid features (which only get worse with age, if they are present at all).
    No amount of letters and dianostic test results were able to convince the original “therapist” to change his diagnosis and clear this poor daughter’s medical record so she would not have to be burdened with this incorrect label for the rest of her life.

    WHY SHOULD THERAPISTS BE TRUSTED WHEN THE ROUTINELY ABUSE THEIR POWER? …should be the titled of your next article.

    There is a book called TOXIC PSYCHIATRY, a must read for anyone who is contemplating getting psychiatric treatment or engaging in any contract with a therapist.

    Talking to a complete stranger is safer!

    One other woman I interviewed was having trouble sleeping and her primary care physician prescrived AMBIEN (the same drug that sent Patrick Kennedy off “sleep driving”.
    This woman had the same reaction to Ambien. Was never counselled not to drink after taking it. Had gone to a christmas party and had a few sips of wine and then went home and tok her AMBIEN, only to find herself committed to a psychiatric ward a few days later when she awaoke from a coma, and labeled with a BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER and counselled to got AA meetings, when this woman was not a substance abuser, rarely drank, never used street drugs and had the “therapists” and psyciatrists believed her when she was telling the truth, they might have discovered the truth 9which is not known), that AMBIEN causes certain people to have very weird reactions and should never be taken before or after ingesting any alcohol.

    There are many natural treatment for those symptoms labeled as psychiatric disorders. Some involve dramatic change of diet, use of supplements and use of homeopathic treatment.
    Many labeled as manic depressive; or who suffer from depression, auditory hallucinations, or Obscessive compulsive disorders can divest themselves of all symptoms within weeks or months of homeopathic treatment and some dietary changes.

    Sugar Blues was the title of a book written years ago, and documented that ingestion of too much sugar (refined carbohydrate) can cause major depression. It has also bee documented that food coloring and additives can cause “psyhciatric” symptoms.
    Advers reactions to vaccines can and do cused OCD symptoms which can be relived by homeopathic remedies that are used to treat “vaccinosis”, which is a condition that results from impure vaccines and adverse reactions to them.
    In short, the entire field of PSYCHO-THERAPY and PSYCHIATRY need to be seriously revamped, more closely monitored so that people who naively seek help and treatment for conditions that cause extreme psychic distress and human suffering of the worst kind, are not abused by the profession.
    After what I have seen (having worked in several psychiatric hospitals), if I were forced to seek therapy or put in any of those institutions, I would lie in a NY minute.
    If you are troubled, talk to a friend; learn about the effects that certain foods have on your moods; get counselling by a minister or priest; seek homeopathic or naturopathic treatment first and start to take responsibility for your own mental health. Copping out to empowering a “therapist” to make you get honest with yourself, can be a devestating and losing battle.

    If you don’t have any friends, talk to a complete stranager, it’s a lot safer.

  17. My inner child wishes to post this comment:

    The Chronicles of Narnia are not just great fiction stories, but filled with symbolism of an initiatory experience, a spiritual evolution that takes place within those of Indo-European origin. This is part of their heritage, their birthright, part of who they are. How long will the field of Psychiatry rob these complex, gifted individuals of their Narnia experiences by doping them up and labeling them as Schitzophrenics?

  18. I don’t lie to my therapist or one I saw when I was really sick. there have been some that I have withheld info from and some I quit seeing because they were frauds who just wanted me to change my spiritual beliefs. I resent that I was labeled BPD, when I needed help to cope with fear, legit fear; to talk about where it came from. I had a pastor who helped with that and many other issues. I was accused of being a hypochondriac because I followed the nurse’s orders to tell about side effects of my meds. I was accused of being disruptive when I came to the defense of another in-patient, and of having a bad attitude. I was just trying to get well.

  19. In the past, I have lied to my therapist at times when we were getting close to issues that felt too scary to deal with. I would often admit that I lied later in the session, usually when there was less than five minutes left and I knew I wouldn’t have to deal with the emotions. Of course at the beginning of the next session he’d bring up the topic so my lying was really just a delaying tactic. This terrific man knew that and never accused me of anything, just used his gentle, persistent questions to make me think about what I was doing, why I was lying, and better alternatives. Today, I can just say whether talking about something makes me uncomfortable, uneasy, or even scared, which now I know that for me this is a signal that something needs to be dealt with rather than avoided.

  20. Reading this article has been extremely painful for me. After 10 years of Therapist/psychiatrists I am at the point of weaning myself slowly from all meds. From working two jobs to becoming an anxiety/depressed ridden SAHM mom from the effects of past/present treatment. My first doctor was aloofed,abusive,made fun of me when I was losing weight(looked anorexic) and he joked if I was lifting weights,called him for emergencies when I was pregnant and depressed no referral for a doctor what so ever. He responded a month later after my son was born and denied receiving my phone messages. later on he started to comment on the fact that I was going to get plastic surgery and I asked a basic question in terms of medical interaction and his response was that “I love breasts”. A week later I confronted him and asked for a referral and he gave a piece a paper he began to play with my wedding ring and got up sat next to me and unzipped his pants then he moved against the wall and he did the same thing. I walked out and reported this to the hospital and their response was It was my fault and that I needed to seek help.
    I asked for a copy of my medical records which took three years to get a response a sheet of paper(harmful for me to see it) god know what kind of garbage in it.
    following doctors.
    2-one would let the receptionist just the whole pile of Pt. files.
    3-spent an hour of consultation was trying to charge for 2 sessions. got only one.
    4-Was okay until I told her that I wasn’t feeling well on wellbutrin and instead of reducing it she told me to off of it completely. I became very sick and told her “goodbye”.
    5-recent doctor on vacation and don’t have 11 days of klonopin to get me through.
    I studied to become a CASAC but my experiences have totally discouraged me from MH field.

  21. i agree these r resonz 2 lie 2 ur therapist. . like my therapist 4 instantz he iz older an male. . wich scares the shit outta me. . .cuzz of sumthing that im trying 2 get ovr. an he turnz my wordz. if i were 2 say im ahppy then he wud ask me how i feel bout my parentz an id say im angry with them then he wud say didnt u just say ur happy. . .itz annoying. an i try 2 hide all my secretz an feelingz from him i dnt trust him an i dnt no wat wud hapen if he evr new. . O.O my dirty secretz.

  22. Yes, lie to my therapist? Always I’ve never had a therapist I thought i could trust.

  23. The purpose of therapy is to get help with one’s problems. Without full disclosure of what is bothering you, the therapist doesn’t have a complete picture of you and cannot possibly offer any relevant help.

    I have always trusted my therapists, especially the last one I had. I couldn’t imagine lying because, how would that help ME?

    I guess I have faith in their descretion. If they are to help me, I have to trust them as much as they have to trust me.

    If you don’t have an open mindset, then you’re doomed to fail from the get-go.

  24. Glad I read the recent commenting box to see what people commented on, or else I doubt I would have found this post.

    One important point: in the end, if you as the patient lie to the therapist, you only diminish the value of the treatment. I respect trust is earned and truth can be incredibly painful to face and share, BUT, in the end, honesty and directness are the cornerstones to healthy choices and goals.

    We all have lied. But, can we live with them?

  25. Here are 2 more reasons that patients might lie to you:

    1. A minor might omit things because they have a significantly reduced right to privacy and confidentiality which they are required to be informed of at the start of therapy (if you’re a danger to yourself or others, or someone is hurting you, then we need to tell your mom).

    2. Fear of not being taken seriously, being dismissed or being mocked-particularly if this person has a history of negative relationships with medical doctors.

  26. It sounds like most of you need to get a damn good therapist ! It is entirely counter-productive to lie or omit anything with your therapist, not to mention a total waste of money.

    I can honestly say I have NEVER lied to my therapist(s) and I tell them that up-front, so that they won’t be surprised with the stuff I come out with which is often ‘inappropriate’. And believe me there is a whole lot of nasty, criminal and distasteful stuff in my past that comes out.

    Interview your therapist on the first visit – if they are not smarter than you, it may be tempting to run rings around them – this even happens unconsciously. My partner even brags about the fact that he manipulates his therapist at will ! What a waste of everyone’s time and money.

    If your find your therapist judging you or trying to change your beliefs, MOVE ON !

    My therapist, whatever weird (to him) stuff I come out with, says “I respect your personal choice to live this way…” before suggesting ways to improve things, get out of that cycle or whatever it may be. He has never criticized me or judged me – it is not their job.

    If my therapist was like most people’s that I am reading here – judgmental, can’t handle it, unable to provide adequate help, dismissive of my problems – I would ditch him in a heartbeat.

    I am sorry so many people cannot find a good therapist. I feel lucky to have mine. I wish you all the benefit of a great therapist in the future.

    PS. I pay privately for my therapy so 1. my insurance co don’t slap a mental health label on me 2. I can give whatever name I like and Uncle Sam is none the wiser (for those of you who fear having to submit all medical records).

  27. Excellent article! I will suggest another item for the list, though… If you’ve ever been abused by a former therapist, it’s hard to have trust in future therapeutic relationships, and harder still to fully disclose within the confines of that relationship.

    My mother forced me to see a total hack when I was in my “tweens” and early teens; this after mom had been told by my grade-school teachers I had Multiple Personalities. (They were right, by the way.)

    The bitch I was forced to see weekly for years had NO clue what she was doing, dismissed the MPD and didn’t even SCREEN for it, told me I must be using drugs (I wasn’t), and or I had to be “crazy.” Nope, not psychotic ma’am – just have a whole Tribe of folks in here, trying to cope with the horrors of my life.

    This so-called therapist actually told me, “You are unlovable… And if somebody does ever fall in love with you, there must be something very, very wrong with THEM.” Egad…

    Later, when I finally found a therapist who knew what the hell they were doing, I was diagnosed as (surprise!) Multiple Personality Disorder. I was in denial for over a year before I accepted the diagnosis. I didn’t want to be Sybil, ending up in a fountain with children laughing at me, ya know?

    Nearly 20 years later, I have come very, very far. My greatest achievement in life is that I raised my two children with love, patience and kindness. Given what I endured as a child, that is a Herculian feat.

    I am once again in therapy, as the deepest and most horrific repressed memories are surfacing. Now, I struggle with not wanting to emotionally or spiritually wound my therapist with the full horror of these memories. For now the focus is on stabilization and slowing things down. Still, there’s a real precedent for my trying to be a caretaker for my caregiver – I had a previous therapist end up in tears as I discussed minimal details of previous memories, which weren’t nearly as bad as THESE are.

    The good news is that I’m now wise and strong enough to move ahead at an appropriate pace – “Make haste slowly.” And when it’s time to discuss the horrors, I’m willing to do so, and trust that my therapist will have the strength and skills to manage her reaction to my truth.

  28. Note to JAS:

    Tone down the holier-than-thou crap, will ya? You’re attacking people who are already hurting. I’m smart enough to see through it, and realize you’re projecting your issues and wanting to feel “superior,” but many others may internalize your attacks.

    Here’s $10 – go get a chew toy from PetSmart.

  29. The reason I have never revealed everything about me to any therapist I’ve seen is because of fear of being put in a mental institution, because I’m afraid the therapists may misinterpret my thoughts.

  30. What can be done about a significant other who lies to the thereapist during couples therapy about my alleged behavior– and the therapist takes the lie as gospel truth (the therapist has an ongoing professional relationship with my partner?

    I walked out of this particular session and walked out of the relationship

  31. dual relationships are unethical. sometimes they can’t be avoided but if that was not the case, this therapist should have given you two a referral to another therapist to avoid even being seen as being impartial.

  32. I liked your article a lot and think that in broad terms you have probably covered the main reasons, though my personal situation feels a little different to me.

    An example: I have terrific trouble with clutter. Two bedrooms of my 3 are unusable at the moment due to clutter storage. There have been times when mail covered my ceramic-top stove for months at a time. My garage is packed with stuff. I have brought it up several times to my psychiatrist, but he downplays my concerns. He does not know how bad the clutter is, but he has the general perception that I am too hard on myself and self-criticize too much. Hence when I bring up my disordered state he tells me that I seem organized and efficient and then he makes excuses for me and describes places that are a lot worse and tries to “put it into perspective” for me, so I never really get the full unpleasant truth described to him because he seems to thwart me. In truth, he might know best because I’ve been making improvements to my organizational level and cleanliness as my mental health has been improving (the kitchen’s been clean now for about 6 months). But still, I would feel horribly embarrassed if he ever saw my house and can’t describe it in detail to him. His negative comments about the “worse” houses actually make it harder for me, also, because I worry how much less cluttered my place is than his described worse places.

    The same thing goes on when I tell him how exhausted I am and how non-productive. He tells me it’s OK to have non-productive days and that I have accomplished enough in the last year and can be non-productive for a week of vacation or a weekend (for example). I slept (and was physically ill) most of Christmas break and while I castigated myself, he said it was fine. I could not get myself out of bed, had a hard time showering, spent hours reading or on the computer, etc while dishes sat in sink and bills needed paying etc. I do keep trying to tell him.

    Another issue is that a salesman who knows him mentioned him to me (because the salesman knew I knew him but thought we are friends, not patient-doctor) and in the same breath mentioned a man. Then he continued to talk about them in the same breath such as “John&Bill both really love jazz. John&Bill have such a lovely home”. So for over a year I have been sitting on the possibility that my male psychiatrist has a male significant other, and yet he has hidden it from me, mentioning only his deceased wife and not mentioning ever the sex of his current mate. I have desperately wanted to ask and yet feel it’s his personal life and not my business and yet feel somehow it is my business because I stumbled upon this and it bothers me because I was at the time I heard about the significant other feeling a crush on my psychiatrist.

    I also did not reveal the full extent of my crush on my psychiatrist, though I did tell him and told him that it was distressing me to feel that way. Once again he told me that it was “OK” and to not feel distressed. Still, I felt I was still withholding because he did not hear all my thoughts on the topic. I could only choke out a few lines, though he did “get it”.

  33. I could see myself lying to a therapist because of reason #4. Not that I am suicidal or want to actually hurt anybody, but I am an angry person and I’m afraid they would take what I say out of context and report me. So I guess it would take me a while to be honest and trust them not to do so.

  34. I lied to my therapist. I had to cancel a session because I was going to a political event, and I made up an excuse about why I would be away.

    My therapist and I have different political views. I wish I didn’t know my therapist’s political views, but we happened to discuss a world event a few years ago, and my therapist went off on a short but fierce tirade. I wish that hadn’t happened. My therapist is excellent, compassionate, wise about people, and has done me a world of good — probably saved my life.

    I feel terrible about the lie, but I was afraid of being judged or losing the good relationship we have. It doesn’t directly bear on why I’m in therapy (depression), but it feels like a crack in the relationship nonetheless.

    Not sure what I should do now. :-(

  35. Trust is something that needs to be built upon between at least two individuals. So if one were to become ‘non-trusting’ to certain individuals due to certain traits, then that person is bound to mistrust all individuals of the certain traits that caused the mistrust in the first place – generalism.

    If a suicidal patient, or a patient with suicidal thoughts without (immediate) plans, are a therapist’s most difficult patient, then why even take them in, in the first place? If the stats are correct – that being one-quarter of all patients have some sort of suicidal traits, then why mention it? That alone makes people who may want to end their life to think that ‘suicide might as well be my choice since ‘I’ could be so-and-so therapist’s worst/most difficult patient, so I’m probably not worth going back there etc etc’ It makes the (somewhat) suicidal patient feel burdened by this fact – ‘suicidal patient(s) are a therapist’s most difficult patient’.

    Nice wording. Really, it is. But guess what?

    IT’S NOT.

    I feel insulted by this. If suicide is already a taboo, then saying that to a suicidal person is like ‘here, I’ll give you a push over that favourite, high cliff of yours’.

    I’ve had experience with suicidal thoughts before, however I did lie to a former therapist regarding suicide. It was like suicide was my hope – that going to therapy was like trying to win a battle which ended in death, whose efforts of that person were given before s/he died in vain. Something along the lines like ROYGBIV – Richard of York gave battle in vain. Colours of the rainbow? Someone ought to be familiar with the in vain thing.

  36. I lie sometimes to my therapist because I don’t want him to perceive me as a negative person with many issues as I go through the grieving experience following my husband’s untimely death. I am very attracted to my therapist and I have told him so on a few occasions. He maintains that perimeters must be held but he also mentioned that I should not deny those feelings. I want him to know me as my true self in “normal” times, before I became the mess I am since my husband’s death.

  37. Wow! Talk about total confusion! I just started with a psychiatrist in Nov. It was 2 years ago on Nov. 27, Thanksgiving Day 2008 that I lost my beloved husband of 38 years. I have 3 grown sons that I can’t share my grief with. I turned to a stranger in order to get some advice as to how to deal with my loss, as well as my sons lack of communication with me. This was their natural father and we were happily married for 38 years to each other. I just want to know what went wrong. Perhaps a stranger can explain it to me. I miss my husband very much. I’ve tried to tell my sons that I NEED for them to talk to me but they will not or can not do it. I have no other family. Who do I talk to?
    I have thought that it would be good to join my husband but I would never say it to my dr. exactly for all the reasons given. I guess I am just looking for some answers from an objective individual.

    • Hi, I happened to see this blog post and thought it very important, especially now that I have started therapy recently (second time). I was especially touched by your post because it could have been written by my mother. My father’s death was heart-wrenching for many reasons, and my mother was desperate to talk to my brother and I about it. We refused after a point, and still do. I note that we have always had a strained relationship, and she has her own mental health issues — facts that aren’t necessarily applicable in your case. More generally, though, I could not talk to her about it because it hurt so much to do so and I was being forced to re-live it constantly. I told her repeatedly that if she wants to talk about my father, talk about his life, not his death or what might have been. When I protest, she tells me that she needs answers. I don’t have them. No one does. And there are some issues between a husband and wife that do not exist between a father and daughter. A therapist – yes, a stranger- can help you come in ways that family cannot. A therapist does not have a past history with you, and does not bring in that family baggage of good and bad memories and feelings. A therapist is not trying to process grief over the same person while trying to help you. And a therapist can talk with you about husband/wife issues that your children (regardless of age) cannot and should not be expected to address. I don’t think family should be expected to act as therapists. We’re not trained how to help someone thru grief or other highly-charged issues, and we may be struggling ourselves with our own issues. We may respond in ways that are counter-productive to you, in an effort to protect ourselves from emotional hurt. I don’t know if any of this is helpful and I’m sure some people would disagree with my views. Either way, I hope you find what you need.

  38. I have been in therapy for 3 years now. You would think I would be past the lying phase, but here’s another reason:
    When I’m feeling particularly depressed or vulnerable, I may not bring up subjects that are emotionally triggering because I’m not sure I will be able to stay in control. I know he is there to help me with that, but I feel I need to take the preponderance of responsibility to keep my behavior under control.

  39. Great articles!! Im actually dealing with this myself. A friend of mine is not telling her therapist the truth and to get better she needs too. Im at a loss as to how to help her. I know she started therapy and it takes time to build trust but she is constantly lying.
    I’ve been with my therapist for 11 and a half years and I sometimes, don’t tell her the whole truth. Just cause, I know she will be mad at me for things that I do.
    I liked your part about transferrence. I think my therapist and I have that but it doesn’t affect my therapy.

  40. I think the only reason for omitting things is because clients are not ready to talk about. So simply they protect themselves. Either unconsciously or more consciously. One of the times I “lied” to my therapist, is because I had an important event to handle at work. I knew I would get emotional if I started to talk about it and I wouldn’t be able to handle this at work.

  41. Why would a psychologist withhold a dignosis from a gentle and intelligent patient ? If the psychologist does so for whatever reason, would this be construed as lying (by omission)on the psychologist’s part ?

  42. Seeing as I recently started therapy for the second time,I found this article especially relevant. I relate to all of these reasons. In my case, I made a pact with myself when I went to therapy for the first time: I would not lie to my therapist. If I was not comfortable answering a question or talking about something, I would say that. It was an intensive investment of my time, money and – most importantly – emotions. I did find a good therapist and became increasingly comfortable with her, and her reaction (or lack thereof) to the most difficult issues. There were only a few things that I was unable to discuss beyond a certain point. We had many discussions about why I could not do so, and what might enable me to do so. I never did reach that point. Now, I will try again, having realized that the same things will haunt me and lead me back to that bottomless pit unless I find some way to resolve them.

  43. A few years back i was in the care of a psychologist, he not only used the information to share to his colleages (I met a couple of them on his recomendation as he insisted they were a great contact for carreer and personal advancement)found out he pretended to be helping with new employment opportunities(offer that came from him)to keep me coming back, found out the hard way after having resigned from my job since i had been hired by one of his friends whom raved about my qualifications and even agreed on a start date, i also know his life story as he always talked about his personal issues. I have never regained my trust in telling anyone my personal thoughts, I learned to meditate and chose ONE friend i can trust to talk to and even that is a controlled conversation, we both agreed to that so we can retain control, my advise is; never give another human being any reasons to have control over your life! as an example, if you need help with depression, tell your psychiatrist just that, its all they need to know to medicate, they do not need the whole story to prescribe.
    PS: In no way do I intend to say all therapist are as bad as this but i trully believe one must be careful of the information we provide about ourselves.

  44. Thank you for this article, it helped me get through a difficult situation that occurred earlier today when my psychiatrist told me to lie in order to get in with a therapist and only after a while tell them of my being diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder. I expect my doctors and counselors to be honest with me and believe that they deserve the same in return. My being a multiple is a HUGE part of why I need to be in therapy, how can I expect to get help if the truth isn’t put out there from the start?

    Thank you for validating my belief that honesty is the best policy when it comes to treatment.

  45. As a mental health services complaint manager sitting in on patient case management team meetings I’ve discovered therapists do plenty of lying themselves. We investigated a suicide, therapist lied that she called patient back in distress, phone records verified that she did not. Therapists lie about diagnoses, they lie about their mental health, they sleep with patients and lie about it. I’ve not found that therapists lie less than patients, it seems to be equal opportunity.

    When I received therapy at one point, my then therapist let me know she was going to move, had not been really happy at the clinic and was going back to school. When her replacement called me to set up an appointment and informed me that my therapist was going on vacation for a short period and that she would see me in the mean time I confronted her. She was shocked and said “so you know?” Clearly, she felt that for therapeutic reasons she needed to lie about my current therapists departure.

    Lying in the name of therapy happens all the time. And lastly in court investigations anyone’s confidential records can be obtained by court orders meaning the secretary, the opposing legal counsel and some of their relatives can read everything you divulged. I was involved in a case in which the relatives of an accused therapist mental health records were obtained to be dissected and see if their were collateral clues of misconduct. I’d say from long experience there is nothing said in the confines of a therapy room that can’t or will not be revealed and used against patients if the therapist is investigated even for unrelated patient abuse.

  46. I want to nail that cutie therapist in the articles picture? Anyone know if she likes Alabama black snake?

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