11 Things Your Therapist Might Not Tell You

Deciding to see a therapist can be both scary and empowering. However, there are sadly still stigmas towards therapy and a misunderstanding of the process often prevents people from seeking the help they need and desire. Sometimes knowing more can remove the fear, so here are some things you may not know from someone who sits in the other chair.

We can only help you if you are ready and want to change.

While we are experts in our field, we are not magicians. We can only help you if you are willing to be involved in the process. You have to want to take steps towards your goals for change to happen. As your therapist, I could talk till my face turns blue, but things won't get very far if you aren't open to the change.

Therapy can suck, and you might feel worse before you feel better.

Therapy is often about dealing with the hardships in life. We dive into the tough stuff, including the hurt and trauma that you have been experiencing or carrying with you for months or years. In order to process them, we have to dig into the challenging emotions and situations. There are and will be ups and downs along the way.

Change is hard and scary.

By the time most people come into therapy, they've already tried changing some aspects of their life to feel better. Unfortunately, it usually hasn't worked (hence why they're trying counseling). While psychotherapy can help chart a more effective path leading to durable change, it's not guaranteed. All your changes are within your power, but they will require time, energy, and effort.

Crying Doesn't Faze Us.

It may feel odd to cry (at least initially) in front of us. But we want you to cry. Ok, we don't want you to cry– (I get it– it sucks), but we are entirely unphased and very comfortable with your tears. Crying is a natural and healthy part of the process. It means you're feeling and processing things that have hurt you, and that's how healing happens.

Actually, a Seasoned Therapist is not Fazed by Much.

We are honored to spend our lives hearing our clients' stories, holding space for their healing, and exploring their darkest experiences, emotions, and secrets. There are very few things that will shock us. That does not mean we are desensitized to your suffering or pain. But your experience is never too much or too big for us to carry.

Our Note-Taking Does Serve a Real Purpose.

It can feel bizarre to have a therapist take notes during your session, but don't worry: we are not writing down anything that we wouldn't show you, and our notes serve an essential purpose. Our notes tend to be potential insights, areas of exploration, and conclusions we might be seeing. Also, while many of us have great memories, we tend to jot down important things we want to remember, like people, experiences, and tidbits we need to know about you.

We Do Get Frustrated With Our Clients.

We do our best to keep our cool, but that doesn't mean we do not experience frustration. We can get frustrated by a lack of progress, insight, or, most often, our clients treating themselves poorly. While we don't have expectations for you, we do want to help you, and (even though we don't) there are many times when we just want to shake you and say, 'Just try this!!!! I know it will work!'

We won't make decisions for you.

We won't give you advice or tell you what to do. It is simply not our job. We are not living your life and won't have to deal with the consequences (positive or negative) of your decisions, so we can't make them for you. However, we will explore possible blind spots and provide honest feedback about your behavior and emotions. We also make suggestions of possible techniques to help you make decisions or problem solve.

We genuinely care about you.

It's not necessarily hard to believe that your therapist is a caring, compassionate person, but often clients do not recognize that we care about you. But we do, and we want you to internalize that we genuinely care about you.

We indeed see a lot of clients. But we remember all of you. We know what makes you unique, what is important to you, and how valuable you are. We spend each session connecting with you in a deep and meaningful way, and we do not stop thinking about you after you leave. We spend time thinking about your growth, researching possible resources, and pondering ways we can continue to help you.

We Often Don't Get to See the Outcome of Our Work.

While ideally, we would love to end every therapeutic relationship with a satisfying conclusion, it rarely happens. Sometimes we get ghosted, and most of the time, our clients don't keep in touch after we work together. So really, we have no idea if we have helped in any lasting way. We also often miss our clients (especially if we have worked with them for a while) and wonder how life is treating them. It is one of the hard things about being a therapist.

We are Human.

At times, people think we have it all together. People can believe that we never make mistakes, have great/ healthy relationships, and have perfect lives. But, to put it bluntly – we don't.

While it's true that we are well-trained and have knowledge about how humans generally work, interpersonal skills, insights into the human condition, and skills to manage and cope with distress, nobody is perfect, and that includes your therapist. Sometimes, we have a hard time taking our advice; sometimes, we say the wrong thing; sometimes, we get in fights and make mistakes that we have to claw our way out of–just like you. But because we are human, we get it, and it makes us able to connect.


If you're struggling, seek help. Sharp Wellness offers individual, couples, family, and group therapy to help support you and help you live your best life. Contact us now.

Brittany Harp, MA LPC

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