Therapy is generally a safe space where a client can feel comfortable discussing their thoughts and feelings on a wide variety of topics with a therapist. Still, there may be a few things it may be best to avoid saying or doing during your first therapy session. For instance, something you should not tell your therapist is 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. Knowing what not to say to your therapist is an important part of the counseling process. When you tell your therapist about what you are going through, your therapist is often better equipped to help you navigate your current situation. You might find many therapists telling you to never avoid a subject, but they also should hold space for you when you wonder, 'How do I overcome my fear of this topic?'
Let's look at a few behaviors you can avoid in order to get the most out of your therapeutic treatment and make progress in therapy.
What are things you should never tell your therapist - Is it okay to lie?
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 difficult topics, 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. Common topics where difficulties may arise include those relating to a romantic or sexual interest. It also may be hard to be honest with a counselor about your sexual orientation. However, telling your therapist the truth of your experience and how you feel will prove most beneficial in the long run. When you tell your therapist what you are wrestling with, it no longer becomes a question of "things you should never tell your therapist", since honesty is the best foundation for therapy.
Discuss your experiences during each therapy session
People can experience the same situation and have different responses to it. That means if you’re only telling the facts of a past situation or story with your therapist, they may not be getting the full picture. It may be helpful to include other important details connected to personal experiences, like your feelings. When wondering "what will my therapist think?" it can be helpful to remember the best things to tell your therapist are your honest experiences. Usually, when wondering "will we still have a good therapeutic relationship after I divulge this?", it's important to remember that your therapist is a professional, and this is their job. This may help your therapist get a better understanding of the event and you can continue to build on from your previous session.
If you’re feeling uncomfortable discussing certain aspects of a situation with your therapist, that can be normal. Showcasing emotions or discussing traumatic events may be difficult. 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 and self reflection should generally happen at a pace you are comfortable with when you’re working with a good therapist. As you continue your therapy sessions, you’ll likely begin to feel more comfortable opening up.
Medication: Is it okay to ask for it in therapy?
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.
One of the things you should never do is take new medication without consulting your doctors.
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. Therapists typically can’t prescribe medication, so it’s important to reach out to a psychiatrist or doctor if you’re interested in utilizing medication as part of a treatment plan.
Don’t expect them to cure you
Some people may have been taught the misconception that it’s the job of a therapist to “fix” each patient. 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, such as symptoms of anxiety, and processing on their own. A therapist may help them accomplish this and aid in the process of self-discovery.
If you expect your therapist to be able to solve all your problems for you, you may end up disappointed, as this isn’t usually how therapy works. During your therapy session, although you and your therapist will generally work together, you’re usually the one that’s doing the real inner work. This may be true in other session types as well, like couples counseling.
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 previous sessions. The therapist is usually there to help you find the right answers, assess solutions for yourself, and feel empowered.
Focus on feelings during the healing process
It can be important to note that building a trusting therapeutic 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. When considering what you should never tell your therapist, there isn't much you should be afraid to talk about. On your call, you might discuss anything that has been going on in your life recently or any thought patterns that are ill serving you.
Sometimes, when someone overshares about their personal 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 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.
Complete the homework your mental health professional assigns
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 between your therapy sessions. Some therapists choose to include this homework in their final thoughts at the end of each session. For example, a social worker who is helping a couple address conflict may assign relevant relationship-strengthening exercises.
Depending on their therapy process, this may be a regular activity your therapist asks for not only you but other clients as well. They may seem strange to you or feel an incredibly 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, especially when you may avoid addressing a topic during the session. If you forget or purposefully fail to do what they asked, it may slow any progress that you could be making. In general, don’t tell your therapist that you will complete homework if you have no intention of doing so.
Develop a constructive relationship online
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, especially if you live a busy life. You may find that the convenience of online therapy makes it simpler for you to make time for regular therapy sessions.
Most online therapy adheres to the same rules as other conversations you may have with a therapist in-person but from the comfort of your own home.
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.
Therapy can take place in the comfort of your own home, not just in a therapist's office. While family members may offer unsolicited advice, they usually don’t have the training of a professional counselor. Finding the right therapist may help you with any mental health condition you are experiencing and greatly improve your life.
While there can be many subjects or maybe one particular topic you feel comfortable discussing in therapy, there may also be a few things that could be counterproductive to your mental health goals. If you’re wondering what you should never tell your therapist, you may wish to avoid saying and doing the following things during therapy:
Lying to your therapist or telling half-truths; always try to be honest with your therapist
Discussing the facts of a situation without delving into your related emotions
Asking for prescription medication without any prior knowledge
Believing your therapist can and will “cure” you
Thinking about what you should never tell your therapist and keeping that to yourself
Talking about every detail of your day to avoid discussing uncomfortable topics
Not completing homework assignments your therapist has assigned you
Deciding you should never tell your therapist an important fact related to a story
Deciding you should never tell your therapist things that may not make you look "good" to them
If you’re interested in speaking with a mental health professional, you may find that online therapy is a good fit for you. A convenient and affordable online therapy platform can help you build a constructive relationship with a licensed therapist.