- Is it okay if I want my therapist to like me?
It is normal for people to want to be liked, but if you are filtering your responses in your sessions in order to get your therapist to like you or approve of you, then you are not using your time and money wisely. You are paying your therapist to be there for you in the sessions. You are supposed to be the center of attention in your sessions and some of what you need to talk about may not place you in your best light. This is one of the major differences between talking to a therapist and talking to a friend: your friends need to still like you when the conversation is over and your therapist is paid to help you navigate difficult situations so that you can find resolutions within yourself.
- How can I tell if I am being honest in therapy?
The first question to answer is whether or not you are able to be honest with yourself. If you find it difficult to self-reflect and pull the truth out of those reflections, then that is exactly where you need to begin in your therapy sessions. If you are worried about how your therapist will respond to you or feel about you, then you may be filtering your responses in the sessions. Honesty and the ability to be forthcoming are two of the most important aspects of a successful therapeutic experience.
- Does my therapist really care about me?
The vast majority of therapists choose the field of psychotherapy because they genuinely care about people and their well-being. Your therapist is not a part of your life in any other capacity, so s/he is not personally affected by your choices. This gives you the freedom to truly be yourself so that you can take risks and challenge yourself without fear of disappointing anyone.
- What do I do if my therapist says something that feels off?
Absolutely say something as soon as you are aware that something feels off. Your therapist is trying to understand where you are coming from and in that effort, they may put pieces together in a way that does not fit for you. When that happens, you need to say something so that your therapist can keep working until those pieces actually fit. Your therapist is not trying to be right all of the time, but is trying to learn about you so that you get the most benefit from the sessions. A good therapist is never upset about being wrong, rather s/he will see the error as an opportunity to regroup and try again. This can be excellent role modeling of an important life skill.
- Am I wasting my therapist’s time?
Late cancellations and no-shows are a waste of a therapist’s time. When you make and keep your appointments and do whatever work needs to be done between your appointments, you will not waste your therapist’s time. Most people get stuck in therapy at different times and they may feel like they are recycling the same complaints and the same woes week after week. When that happens, say something to your therapist if your therapist has not already brought it up. There is a reason that you are stuck and it may take some time to figure out what that reason is. Your therapist is there to help you figure out what that reason is and if you are truly at an impasse in therapy, then you and your therapist may need to have a conversation about that. Please do not unilaterally make that decision without talking to your therapist first.