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Therapist Reaction

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I have seen my therapist for several years and she has been extremely helpful. Despite the number of years we have worked together, I still find opening up with her and sharing certain feelings or thoughts extremely difficult. Part of this is due to the fact that I have a hard time identifying my feelings and describing them. My therapist on the other hand is so insightful and can nail my feelings down with her questioning. I am very thankful she is able to do this (and also amazed at her ability to find the right word to help describe how I feel).

Over the past 6 months or more I have felt very sad. The sadness is so intense at times I cannot think when I’m in therapy, my concentration is terrible and I feel so removed from the whole process. It’s like I know I am in a room with her and I can hear her talking however I feel like I have left my body and I am unable to talk. This is embarrassing and shameful.  How can this happen?

My greatest concern is: I have noticed on a few occasion my therapist’s eyes become red and watery. like she is on the verge of tears. She has even placed her fingers up to her eyes to “clear” them (or at least this is what I think). I can’t help but wonder if this is the case, am I causing her to feel sad?  I do not want to make her feel this way and I am greatly ashamed if this is the case. I could never ask her. I do not have the courage to do so. But I don’t know what else to do. I do not want to cause her feel any sadness, it is not my intention. What would you recommend I do? (age 36, from US)

Therapist Reaction

Answered by on -

A.

The only way for therapy to really be effective is to be totally open and honest with your therapist, so you need to let her know about your sadness and what has been happening to you during your sessions the last few months. She is there to help you, it is her job, so you shouldn’t worry about the effect you have on her, because it is also her job to know how to take care of herself as a helping professional. She’s human so she might occasionally show emotional reactions to your stories, but I would suggest that this is just evidence that she is really “there” with you. It is not something that should cause shame or embarrassment.

It sounds like you and your therapist have a good connection. Be honest with her about your concerns and refocus on your own healing rather than worrying about the effect you have on her. And finally, if you feel that you are too connected to your therapist to focus on your own healing, it’s probably time to find a new therapist.

All the best,

Dr. Holly Counts

Therapist Reaction

Holly Counts, Psy.D.

Dr. Holly Counts is a licensed Clinical Psychologist. She utilizes a mind, body and spirit approach to healing. Dr. Counts received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Wright State University and her Masters and Doctoral degrees in Clinical Psychology from Nova Southeastern University. Dr. Counts has worked in a variety of settings and has specialized in trauma and abuse, relationship issues, health psychology, women’s issues, adolescence, GLBT, life transitions and grief counseling. She has specialty training in guided imagery, EMDR, EFT, hypnosis and using intuition to heal. Her current passion involves integrating holistic and alternative approaches to health and healing with psychology.

APA Reference
Counts, H. (2018). Therapist Reaction. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 17, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2015/10/31/therapist-reaction/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.