Dear psychotherapists


dear-therapist-heart-bubble

I hate you, and I love you. But I really want to love you.

I was just thinking about how in the past, I’ve had experiences with some therapists that bothered me.
Of course, I’ve had some decent experiences as well.
So I’d just like to make a few suggestions, based on my feelings and opinions.

Don’t make patients feel like they’re babies, and as if you have to be extra cautious or nurturing around them.

I don’t want to see your “aw, poor baby” facial expressions — as if you want to hug me or hold my hand while I talk about my life.
It’s so fake most of the time, that it actually disgusts me and discourages me from talking as much – or even coming back for another session.

If I’m going to therapy by choice, I just want a normal reaction as if it were from any other person – but one that won’t judge in a negative way, which I’m sure you’re great at hiding anyway.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t give me some advice.
Some suggestions, alternatives to making people curl up into a ball and cry, self-coping skills, and so on are usually welcome.

But that brings me to another point…

Don’t tell us that we have to do anything.

Giving me options with some guidance about how to better my life, deal with the past, and future situations are fine.
But don’t demand that I do things your way. And don’t think you know better than anyone what’s best for me.

Also, pay attention to my responses to your suggestions, because I may think they are total bullshit and you may be wasting our time.
And that leads to…

Don’t just stick to a plan you came up with beforehand

I imagine during school, you were taught how to be a successful therapist.
You probably have certain things planned out, basic questions that you ask everyone, and ways you attempt to treat them.
But that’s very dull to the person experiencing it.

Therapy needs to be more personal and dynamic.

Everyone is different.
You can’t and shouldn’t expect everyone to feel about and react the same to a therapy session where you follow a repetitive routine every time; actually, doesn’t that bore you too?
You have to be adaptable to their personality, and really know how they’re feeling about you.
If you’re not able to do that, then why are you a therapist anyway?

Don’t pretend to be a patient’s friend

Unless you’re actually going to be a friend — which would be unprofessional.

I know damn well that you’re not my friend. So don’t act like “I’m your friend, you can tell me anything and it will stay between us”, or tell me you’ll be there for me when you’re actually closed off after business hours, and not even reachable at any time except during appointments.

Why would you give me a false-sense of security?
I’ve had both psychiatrists and therapists act as if they really cared about me personally, but they were rarely reachable outside of appointments.
They also never checked up on me if I didn’t make an appointment, and instead would have a receptionist do that.
Some even dropped me as a patient despite my desire to keep going.
On top of that, I’ve never heard anything from my old mental health professionals after our last appointments.

We are not friends. And you obviously don’t care about me – you care about getting paid, and maybe about my treatment while you’re involved.
Because let’s face it, your job in general requires you to put on an act and lie a lot of the time.
And I don’t dislike you for that, but I would appreciate if you just be yourself. Don’t pretend to be something you aren’t – or say you care for me, if you don’t. That’s all.

Don’t force group therapy on us.

Try to respect my feelings. If I say I’m not comfortable with group therapy, then that means I don’t want to do it.
Don’t tell me that it would be better for me, when it would create a very awkward situation that I may even end up despising you for.
I don’t even need to give you reasons, and shouldn’t have to argue about anything.

Let us decide if/when we want to see you again.

Not having the freedom to decide when to see you again, is somewhat belittling to me.

If you’ve actually been helpful to me, I’ll likely want to come back at some point. I don’t want to feel forced to “make an appointment for next week” or whatever.
Wouldn’t you rather I came in to see when you I actually feel like talking to you, rather than me feeling pressured – which kind of makes the whole session feel like a drag?
Just going to see you when I don’t want to – especially if I don’t have anything new to say – can bring my mood down.

If we like you and want to see you, don’t just drop us – even if we miss some appointments

It’s very difficult to have to start over everything with a new therapist, repeat ourselves exactly 231,385 times to everyone who’s trying to “treat” us, and that becomes so stressful and emotionally draining that at some point we may just give up period – as I did, for years.

As for missing appointments…

I understand the money you lose during missed appointments is probably more important to you than my well-being overall.
If it weren’t, you wouldn’t drop me for missing a couple of appointments once in a while.

However, you should understand that sometimes the mental illnesses people are dealing with make it nearly impossible to be reliable all the time.
For me personally, my mood shifts quite frequently and randomly, or I can get too anxious to be able to force myself to come in or even call you on some days.
That doesn’t mean we don’t want to still see you, and it doesn’t mean we feel good about missing appointments either.

Try to be more of a human with emotions!
If you’re really going into debt because I missed 1-2 appointments, you probably need to lower your expenses and cut back just a little on that extravagant lifestyle that I’ll never have. 😉

Keep in mind that you’re just a person too.

You’re not some kind of almighty and all-knowing being; and I definitely don’t look at you that way.

With all that said, I hope I didn’t offend anyone who is actually a therapist.
As I mentioned in the beginning, I’ve had some bad experiences. Maybe we’d be a great fit!

I just want therapists to try harder to work with their patients, respect them and treat them as equals.
“Treat others as you want to be treated.”

Thanks! And feel free to leave any feedback you may have.