What Not To Say To Your Therapist

Updated October 17, 2022 by BetterHelp Editorial Team

It’s normal to be nervous before your first therapy session. You may fear whether some things shouldn't be said in front of or to a therapist. Or you may not feel a need to be concerned about sharing too much about yourself with a counselor. At the end of the day, going to therapy is about learning how things can get in the way of making the most progress on goals through sessions, not about worrying about what you should tell your therapist or not. The following information will help answer these questions and provide tips to make sure that your counseling is effective regardless of how many or few details from your life you wish to share.

If you are wondering how to can find a good counselor, one must start by looking at themself and expectations. While a counselor one works with is important, an individual plays a major role in counseling sessions as well. As one approaches counseling, there are some things one should know such as ways of preparing to get the most out of sessions. For example, you may want to avoid mentioning the following things so that you can maximize the benefits counseling brings. Here are a few things you may be better off avoiding during therapy sessions:

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Things To Avoid When Talking With Your Counselor

Lies Or Half-Truths

Whether you’re seeing a psychologist, psychiatrist, counselor, or licensed clinical social worker, talking about personal matters can be difficult to do even when talking to someone that you know well. That can make it feel harder when talking to a stranger. If your therapist is starting to touch on something difficult for you, you may want to back off on talking about it. It could be that it’s painful to think about or that you truly feel you don’t know the deeper answers that they’re looking for. But if you only allow them in on half of the information or don’t tell the truth, your progress will be hindered.

It’s your therapist’s goal to help you make progress in the areas that you’re struggling with. And for them to do that, they need you, to be honest with them. This doesn’t mean that you need to pour out every detail of your life, but make sure that the information you are sharing is true. Lying or trying to mislead your therapist is not beneficial and will make it harder for them to help you. It is okay to not want to speak about certain things that make you feel uncomfortable, and in most cases, your therapist will tell you that it’s okay to come back to the topic some other time, but try to be honest.

Don’t Share Only Facts

People can experience the same situation and have different responses to it. That means if you’re only sharing the facts of a situation or story with your therapist, they aren’t getting the full picture. It’s important for you to also share your feelings connected with the events. It will help your therapist understand what you’re discussing if you also share with them your feelings about the subject. Did the situation make you sad, angry, or confused? Your therapist has no way of knowing how you felt in a situation unless you tell them.

If you’re not sharing how you felt in a situation because you aren’t clear on it yourself, that’s normal too. It’s okay to share an experience with your therapist and let them know that you’re unsure how to feel about it. This opens the door for them to talk to you about it and for you to explore your feelings about it. It’s also okay for you to ask your therapist to avoid exploring a subject for a certain amount of time. Healing should happen at a pace you are comfortable with.

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Asking For A Prescription

Many medications can be prescribed to help people with mental health challenges like anxiety and depression. However, medication is not the right solution for each person. If you’re only seeing a therapist get a prescription, you’re missing the true benefit of therapy. And you may not be able to get the medication you’re after.
Psychologists are unable to write prescriptions. Some work with psychiatrists or doctors that can handle that portion of treatment. On the other hand, while psychiatrists can write prescriptions, they often don’t provide counseling. So if you make a counseling appointment because you’re hoping for a prescription, you may end up seeing the wrong specialist.
Even if medication is an effective form of treatment for the challenges that you’re dealing with, it’s often helpful to use it along with psychotherapy or other types of therapy. The American Psychological Association explains that different combinations of treatment can work for different people, so it’s important to discuss your options with a mental health professional.

Thinking They Can Cure You

There is a misconception that it’s the job of a therapist to “fix” people. While the goal is for each person to make progress and experience positive growth in their life, it’s not that they were “broken” to start with. Everyone has areas of life where they can use help and guidance from time to time. There may be things that people struggle to deal with and process on their own. A therapist helps guide them to accomplish that.
If you expect your therapist to be able to solve all your problems for you, in therapy, you’ll end up disappointed. During your therapy session, you’re the one that’s doing the work. The therapist may know the right questions to ask to help you discover things about yourself, but they’re not able to do the work for you. So, if you’re waiting for your therapist to fix you, then you’re missing the main purpose of your sessions.  The therapist is there to help you find the right answers for you.

Every Detail Of The Day

Before getting into more detail, it’s important to note that building a trusting relationship with your therapist is valuable. Small talk and general conversation are integral parts of this process. However, some people may use small talk to avoid discussing the issues that brought them to therapy. Sometimes, when someone goes into oversharing about their life, it’s because they are avoiding getting to the root cause of why they are seeing the therapist in the first place.
Now, it is important to mention that sometimes a question that your therapist asks may get you talking about something that seems off-subject during therapy but does connect emotionally for you. If you feel that what you’re talking about seems unrelated but was triggered by the therapist, continue exploring that avenue. However, if you’re simply sharing the same details of something that you’ve shared with them many times, ask yourself if you’re avoiding getting to the root of the problem. Your therapist only knows what you’re willing to tell them.
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Skipping Assignments

While your therapist might not call it “homework”, there will probably be times when your therapist asks you to try different things during the week in your daily life between your therapy sessions. They may seem strange to you or feel a little uncomfortable because it’s something that you’re not used to, but there’s a reason why they asked you to try this homework. Therapy homework can help you continue making progress between your sessions.

If you forget or purposefully forget to do what they asked, it’s going to slow any progress that you could be making. Remember, it’s not your therapist’s job to “fix you”. Instead, they’re working to help you learn what steps to take in your daily life to enjoy a healthy, fulfilling life. If they’ve asked you to do something that you don’t feel ready to try or that feels too uncomfortable, be honest and let them know during your session. When you’re honest, it gives your therapist a chance to discuss your feelings and thoughts, and they may be able to offer you an alternative idea.

Conclusion - Finding A Counselor For Therapy

If you’re still looking for a therapist and wondering how to find a good one and get the most out of your sessions, there are several options for you to consider. It’s helpful to know what you’re looking for in a therapist before you get started. It’s important for you to feel comfortable with your therapist so you’ll be able to open up during your sessions. It's also important to know what to say or not to say to your therapist.

If you have health insurance, you can check with the company to see if they have counselors that are covered by your plan. You can also ask friends and family for recommendations if they’ve attended therapy before. You can also search online for a counselor either in your local area or for an online counselor like those at BetterHelp

Don’t be afraid to get your questions answered before your first session. Remember, your comfort level is important as you move forward with therapy sessions. While it’s normal for it to take a few sessions to get comfortable with your counselor, if you feel that you’re not seeing the results you were looking for, don’t be afraid to say so to the counselor. They can talk through the issues with you and you can always find a new therapist if you need it.

The most important thing that needs remembering is that help is available and is within reach online.

Commonly Asked Questions On Therapy Found Below:

Do you still have questions about counseling-related topics? Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about what you should never tell your therapist.

What you should never tell your therapist during therapy?

You should never tell your therapist something harmful to them, such as calling them names or yelling at them. You should also not make sexual or romantic advances or threaten your therapist. These topics can make your therapist incredibly uncomfortable and are not conducive to your therapeutic relationship. However, you can tell your therapist many other things.

If you simply feel disconnected and want to open up, it’s okay to do so. Opening up about difficult topics doesn’t fall under what you should never tell your therapist. Therapists are mandatory reporters when it comes to child abuse, suicidality, or threats to hurt yourself (self-harm) or others. However, outside of that, you can feel comfortable sharing pretty much anything. Your therapist cannot report that you have committed a crime or tell your secrets. Remember, therapists can only break confidentiality when your life or another person’s life is in imminent danger.

Telling the whole truth about your situation can lead to positive changes in your life and will help you focus on your well-being. If you feel shame about being honest due to an experience with your last therapist, know that not every therapist is the same, and your personal experiences may be taken better with the next one, even if you’re brutally honest.

Is it okay to not tell your therapist everything?

A therapist’s job is to help you with whatever you want help with during your therapy sessions. You don’t need permission to say or not to say something.  If you want to talk about your mental health, you can. If you want to discuss a diagnosis, you can. If you have concerns or are feeling bad about something your therapist said, you can speak up. The conversation is often up to you.

However, there sometimes comes a point in therapy where you feel that the conversation is going in a direction you don’t want to go in. As a licensed therapist, your counselor has likely heard many things, and they may be trying to challenge you or give you unsolicited advice to help. However, a good therapist will understand when you do not want to continue talking about the point at hand.

If you have difficulty saying no or changing the subject, practice at home. You can practice by saying “no” in the mirror or using a friend.

Your emotions are important, and a therapist’s office should be a safe space for you to set limits. If you have personal concerns about the way your therapist is handling this, let them know that you’d prefer not to bring up the subject again.

Can you tell a therapist too much?

A licensed clinical social worker or licensed therapist has been trained to keep the information of their clients secret and confidential. For example, they can’t tell other people what your diagnosis is without your consent. If you are expressing emotions during therapy about a relationship in your life, they can’t tell that person in your relationship what you said.

However, if you share emotions with your therapist related to a plan to kill or hurt yourself or someone else, a good therapist will know to report it to the appropriate crisis services. If you are a minor, clients’ rights may be a little bit different depending on where you live. Some therapists can speak to a minor’s family about what they share in their session about their thoughts and emotions.

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