Brain SleepTherapy is a place we go to talk about our problems, but what happens when therapy starts to become one of those problems?

In this Ask the Therapist video, Marie Hartwell-Walker and Daniel Tomasulo address a kind of letter they often receive: people who are having issues with their therapists and don’t know what to do.

Some examples of letters they’ve gotten are:

  • Someone just not “clicking” with their therapist
  • Someone experiencing sexual tension with their therapist
  • Someone worried their therapist will accidentally break confidentiality

When the therapeutic relationship starts to feel uncomfortable, it can be tempting to get off the couch, slowly back out the door, break into a run, and never look back.

Sometimes, though, the key to making progress is to do the exact opposite: bring up your discomfort and make your issues with your therapist a focus of your therapy.

Discomfort and trust issues with your therapist can be an example of a more general pattern that plays itself out in other parts of your life. Tackling these feelings head-on when they arise during therapy can be an ideal way of addressing this general pattern.

There are a couple points about how to get the most out of the therapeutic process here:

  • When you respond to something about therapy or your therapist in a way that makes you uncomfortable, it can be helpful to lean into this response and explore it rather than try to make it go away.
  • Don’t be afraid to go “meta” – that is, to talk about therapy as part of your therapy. Often, problems that arise during the therapeutic process mirror problems in other parts of life.

Of course, not every issue in the therapeutic process will be a “teachable moment.” In this video, Psych Central’s Ask the Therapists talk about when issues with your therapist can become part of the therapeutic process, when it’s better to switch therapists altogether, and how to make the most of either scenario. Watch below, and see the Psych Central YouTube channel for more videos about psychotherapy: