Things Your Therapist Doesn’t Tell You

We Don’t Have All the Answers

Sometimes, we feel at a complete loss as to how to help you. This may be our darkest disclosure and what leads us to question our purpose most often. It is also heartbreaking to admit when you can see the desperation on a client’s face as they look to you for healing and a “cure” for their pain. But the truth is, we are flawed and urgently seeking a roadmap for life’s greatest challenges ourselves. And not all are designed to follow the same direction. What brings one client healing may bring another greater distress. We are simply doing the best we can to guide you.

We Dream About You

This one is a little embarrassing and, frankly, can get a little weird. Considering that a significant portion of our human connection is with our clients, it may make sense that you take up space in our subconscious mind while we sleep. But the first few times you awake from a dream and realize you just had a “real life” experience with your client outside of the therapy session, you awake in a panic feeling like you must have just committed some strange HIPAA/ethical/confidentiality violation. It’s like the psychotherapy version of “Inception” sans Leonardo DiCaprio. (Are we all still confused by this plot?)

We don’t ALWAYS care

Compassion Fatigue is real and a serious work hazard for professionals in the mental health industry. While most therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists are called to their practice because they have a profound capacity for empathy, everyone has a limit for how much of it they can loan out. There are times when we absolutely experience your sorrow, your joy, your fear, your hope, and every other capsule of emotion you carry. I have cried with clients and for clients more times that I can recount. However, when you spend hour after hour feeling so deeply for others, you eventually tap out. The empathy fountain simply runs dry and respite from therapy is the necessary cure. This is also one of contributing factors to the high premium placed on psychotherapy…there is only so much good therapy one professional can do in a day.

We do it too

Correct. Your therapist has a therapist…or a spiritual guide, or a mentor, or some version of some thing that provides healing. Like you, we have problems with our relationships, insecurities, deep-rooted trauma, harmful coping mechanisms, etc. We are on the same human journey you are, walking alongside you wearily and lost like the rest. Even if your therapist isn’t currently moonlighting as the client on someone else’s leather couch, most clinical psychology graduate programs require students to engage in some form of therapy as part of their training. So we either have done it, are doing it now, or will do it again in the future.

There’s No yacht

I know, therapy is E-X-P-E-N-S-I-V-E. Perhaps not costly enough to justify the obnoxious, over-dramatized spelling with hyphens. But regardless of the specific numbers on your therapy bill, promise, your therapist doesn’t own a yacht or a third home in Saint Tropez. Or if they do, they have a serious side-hustle and inheritance. A significant portion of therapy-costs go to pay for factors the client never sees. This includes the portion the insurance company keeps, the hours spent arguing with insurance companies for reimbursement, clinical note keeping, research, scheduling/rescheduling sessions, correspondence with clients, family members, and treatment team professionals outside of the session, overhead of HIPAA-compliant software, personnel, office space, malpractice insurance, etc. It also helps account for the pricey years of extensive education and training required to become a therapist and the pricey, extensive education and training required to stay a therapist.

Written by: Aubrey Koel, LPC