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Here’s How to Give Feedback to Your Therapist

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Most of us think of therapy as a place where we’ll get all sorts of helpful insights, skills, and observations. So it can seem awkward—if not impossible—to be the one giving feedback to the mental health professional in the room. But as uncomfortable as it may seem, giving your therapist feedback can be incredibly powerful and sometimes even necessary when it comes to getting the most out of your sessions.

Maybe you’re just not sure if you’re meshing with your therapist or their style of therapy. Or maybe they did or said something that really rubbed you the wrong way. Maybe they’re consistently five minutes late, and that bugs you. The point is, if something is getting in the way of you feeling open, engaged, and productive in therapy, that’s worth bringing up.

“The therapeutic alliance is crucial in therapy, so it’s important that a patient not keep those things to themselves, because it can actually impede their progress,” Monica Johnson, Psy.D., licensed psychologist and host of the Savvy Psychologist podcast, tells SELF. “Holding onto these feelings or these thoughts won’t help at all in that process.”

So, here are a few tricky therapy scenarios you might find yourself in, and how to bring it up with your therapist.

If you’re not quite feeling seen or heard in therapy…

Let’s say you sometimes feel like your therapist is making observations and insights that don’t really ring true for you. While it might seem awkward to correct them (in the moment or afterward) that’s a great thing to give feedback on.

“A good therapist will always be open to correction,” Jessica Stern, Ph.D., clinical psychologist at NYU Langone Health, tells SELF. “Sometimes therapists will get things wrong—they’ll make incorrect observations or incorrect conclusions.” So don’t be afraid to correct them when it feels appropriate—your therapist should actually welcome that feedback. “The truth is oftentimes when people correct their therapist, that’s actually an indicator that they’re capturing something really important in themselves.”

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Or maybe after reflecting on your last session you wonder if your therapist actually “gets” you. “Maybe they said something that you don’t think fully fits, or maybe you got the impression that they didn’t quite understand what you were trying to explain,” Pooja Lakshmin, M.D., board-certified psychiatrist and writer, tells SELF. “A great strategy is that next week to say: ‘Hey, actually, I was thinking about this more and I’m not quite sure if we got it right.’ Or: ‘I’m not quite sure if you understood exactly what I was trying to convey. Can we dig deeper into that?’ And a good therapist is going to be delighted that you’re bringing this up.”

Remember, your therapist isn’t a psychic that you’re expecting to get everything just right in order to validate their expertise. “There’s never a right answer. It’s more about exploring and figuring out what’s going on,” says Dr. Lakshmin.

“However if you’re constantly correcting your therapist or you feel like your therapist is on a totally different planet than you, that’s a major problem,” warns Dr. Stern. In that case, it may be time to look for a better fit.

If they said or did something that offends you…

As with any other relationship, it’s possible your therapist may say or do something that makes you feel hurt, invalidated, or offended. “Therapists are human beings, too,” says Dr. Johnson. “They’re not infallible.” Maybe they misgendered you or said something insensitive about your race, culture, religion, sexual orientation, or another aspect of your identity, and you’re left wondering if this is someone you can trust to be fully honest and vulnerable with. This is absolutely something to bring up with your therapist. You might try one of these lines suggested by the experts:

Source: Self

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