What Not To Say Or Do In Therapy

Medically reviewed by Andrea Brant, LMHC
Updated March 1, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Therapy is generally a safe space where you may feel comfortable discussing your thoughts and feelings on a wide variety of topics. Still, there may be a few things it can be best to avoid saying or doing during your first therapy session. For instance, it can be best not to tell your therapist lies or half-truths, or to only talk about the facts of a situation without also discussing your feelings. Demanding prescription medication, believing it’s the therapist’s job to “cure” you, explaining every detail of your day, and failing to complete assigned homework may also be counterproductive to your therapy journey. If you’d like to connect with a licensed therapist to discuss your mental health concerns, online therapy can be a convenient way to do so.

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Don’t Tell Lies Or Half-Truths

Talking about personal matters can be difficult, even when you’re talking to someone that you know well. That can make it feel even harder when speaking with a mental health professional you’ve just met. If your therapist asks about something that’s difficult for you to discuss, you may resist telling the truth or fail to offer up the details of the situation. It could be that the topic is painful to think about or that you don’t know what you’re “supposed” to say. But if you only allow your therapist in on half of the information or don’t tell the truth, your progress in therapy may be hindered.

It’s generally your therapist’s goal to help you make progress in the areas where you’re having difficulty. For them to do that, they will usually need you to be honest with them. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to pour out every detail of your life, but it’s often best that the information you are telling is true. Lying or trying to mislead your therapist may not be beneficial and can make it harder for them to help you. It may be 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 it’s usually best to try to be honest.

Don’t Speak Only About The Facts

People can experience the same situation and have different responses to it. That means if you’re only telling the facts of a situation or story with your therapist, they may not be getting the full picture. It can also be important for you to tell your feelings connected to the events. This may help your therapist get a fuller understanding of the event.

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

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Don’t Ask For A Prescription

Many medications can be prescribed to help people with mental health challenges. However, medication may not be the right solution for everyone. If you’re only seeing a therapist to get a prescription, you’re likely missing out on the true benefits of therapy, and you may not be able to get the medication you’re after.

Even if medication can be an effective form of treatment for the challenges that you’re experiencing, it’s often helpful to use it along with therapy. The American Psychological Association explains that different combinations of treatment can work for different people, so it’s usually important to discuss your options with a mental health professional.

Don’t Expect Them To Cure You

There can be a misconception that it’s the job of a therapist to “fix” people. While the goal is usually for each person to make progress and experience growth, this does not generally mean that they were “broken” to start with. In general, everyone has areas of life where they can use help and guidance from time to time. There may be things that people have difficulty coping with and processing on their own. A therapist may help them accomplish this.

If you expect your therapist to be able to solve all your problems for you, you may end up disappointed. During your therapy session, you’re usually 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 typically not able to do the work for you. If you’re waiting for your therapist to fix you, then you’re likely missing the main purpose of your sessions. The therapist is usually there to help you find the right answers and solutions for yourself.

Don’t Explain Every Detail Of The Day

It can be important to note that building a trusting relationship with your therapist can be valuable. Small talk and general conversation may be 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 overshares 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.

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, you might continue exploring that avenue. However, if you’re simply telling the same details of something that you’ve told with them many times, you could ask yourself if you’re avoiding getting to the root of the problem. Your therapist generally only knows what you’re willing to tell them.

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Don’t Skip Assignments

While your therapist might not call it “homework,” there will likely 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 may not be something you’re used to, but there’s usually 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 fail to do what they asked, it may slow any progress that you could be making. 

Talk To A Therapist Through An Online Therapy Platform

Therapy can be an excellent way to address a variety of mental health concerns, but sometimes, traditional in-office therapy isn’t easy to fit into your schedule. You may find that the convenience of online therapy makes it simpler for you to make time for regular therapy sessions. 

As this study explains, online therapy can be as effective as traditional therapy in treating many mental health disorders. If you believe you’d benefit from working with a licensed mental health professional, please don’t hesitate to get the help you deserve.


While there can be many subjects you should feel comfortable discussing in therapy, there may also be a few things that could be counterproductive to your mental health goals. For instance, you may wish to avoid saying and doing the following things during therapy:

  • Lying to your therapist or telling half-truths
  • Discussing the facts of a situation without delving into your related emotions
  • Asking for prescription medication without being willing to put in the work in therapy
  • Believing your therapist can and will “cure” you
  • Talking about every detail of your day to avoid discussing uncomfortable topics
  • Not completing homework assignments your therapist has assigned you

If you’re interested in speaking with a mental health professional, you may find that online therapy is a good fit for you.

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