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Why Can’t I Talk to Mental Health Professionals?

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From a teen: Hi, this is something I’ve always had a problem with and I can’t figure out why. The first time I went to a therapist was when I was 9 years old and not dealing well with a move. My parents brought me even though I’d refuse and fight the whole way there, and when I got into the office, I would stare at the ground the entire time and not say a single word. Just completely shut down.

Now, recently, for other reasons, I’ve seen school counselors, a therapist, a psychologist, and a psychiatrist, and I’ve not been able to properly talk to any of them. I refused it for the longest time, but eventually gave in, and was even excited for my appointments, wanting to get better. Yet, every time I got to their office, I would go silent, and get very annoyed and want to leave. I wouldn’t answer any questions except for a rare “;yes”; or “no”;. Even if I had promised earlier to talk, and was completely ready to do so.

It’s really a struggle because I want to improve my mental health but can never seem to talk about the things I’m going through – even though I’ve written it all out in my head a thousand times. I’m currently diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder, but this has never sat right with me because I don’t associate with most of the symptoms. I think it is just because of how much trouble I have talking to the people who diagnose me. I even had a psychiatrist ask my mother if I had any kind of trauma because of how I acted (to my knowledge at least, I have no such thing.) Any kind of help on this would be appreciated….. I just want to be able to get better. Thanks.

Why Can’t I Talk to Mental Health Professionals?

Answered by on -


You want to get better but you haven’t been willing to let people help you. It sounds to me like your need to control is more powerful than your wish to improve. You are protecting yourself out of getting good help.

I doubt very much that you are doing this just to be obstinate. You probably have good conscious or unconscious reasons to keep your fears to yourself. I wonder what happened to you and what conclusions you reached that made you believe that sharing your inner self is unsafe. You apparently had some good reasons to refuse back when you were 9. I wonder if those reasons still apply now that you are 15. I suggest that you think about that and maybe do some journaling to explore it.

The way to start “talking” to a therapist is to share the letter you wrote to me and this response. It will help the therapist know how to approach you.

If you were seeing me, I’d start with just being quiet with you. I’d want you to know you are in control. I’d want you to know that I am available to help you, but only if you decide to let me. We might stay quiet in sessions for a long time until you made up your mind that just maybe I’m okay and that it’s safe to venture some information. Other therapists might have another approach that is equally helpful. Regardless, having your letter will begin the “discussion”.

Therapy is only helpful when you and the therapist are partners is the journey. You bring your history and issues. The therapist brings knowledge and experience. Together, the client and therapist figure out how the client can heal. A therapist can’t “make you” do anything. The client is ultimately in control of what they decide to take from sessions.

I hope you’ll follow my advice and bring your letter to your school counselor. There is clearly something upsetting you. You deserve to get to the bottom of it and to work it through.

I wish you well.

Dr. Marie

Why Can’t I Talk to Mental Health Professionals?

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2020). Why Can’t I Talk to Mental Health Professionals?. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 23, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 13 May 2020 (Originally: 16 May 2020)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 13 May 2020
Published on Psych All rights reserved.