In the spirit of Stuff Christians Like and Stuff White People like, I present to you a short list of Stuff Therapists Like.
Therapists like it
1) When you show up for appointments and/or follow their cancellation policy. No shows to appointments are not fun for therapists, especially if they stay late or cancel other plans/events to meet with you.
2) When you are a Brene Brown fan. And you have watched her TED Talks and read her books. Just because, all therapists love her. And we love to say it and hear others reply, “Oooooh, I love her too!”
3) When you do your homework outside of session. They want you to get better and often recommend things to process and work on during the rest of the week. Some changes require practice over time and the more work you put into it on your own, the more progress you can make.
4) When you bring up “the issue” at the start or early in session. We’re happy to chit chat and warm up at the start of session but eventually we’ll ask “What would you like to work on today?” So, it helps if you think about what you’d like to focus on and talk about during the drive over or in the waiting room. You could spend 10-15 minutes trying to clarify with their help or you could jump right into and make the most of your time. Waiting till 10 minutes are left to drop a bombshell or start into another major issue isn’t helpful to you either.
5) When you give them feedback about what is working and what isn’t in therapy. Again, your therapist wants to help and know if you are benefitting from your work with them. They’d rather hear if you have a concern or dislike how things are going and have a chance to make adjustments than for you to discontinue working with them suddenly.
6) When you take notes and build on previous sessions. Even if you don’t literally pull out pen and paper, it helps to make note of key takeaways from your sessions (or homework assignments or goals you’ve set) and refer or report back how you’ve applied those takeaways in the past week.
7) When you come up with best ideas and insights. Yes, we like to feel useful and smart and wise by coming up with intepretations that help you see things in a new light but it’s even more powerful when you discover and uncover new truths or create new solutions for yourself in the process of therapy. We want you to grow in self-awareness, mindfulness and self-confidence.
8) When you talk about yourself more than other people. For a variety of reasons, you may be tempted to “talk about” other people in your life more than yourself. You may talk about work, a boss, a girlfriend, a parent and husband. Thing is, your therapist is there for you, not them. Your therapist will encourage you to state how those others may affect you, how you feel and explore your ability to make healthy choices and assertively set boundaries.
9) When you remember we are human too. Therapists don’t want to be your guru and make you dependent on them. We don’t want to take all the responsibility for your life. On the other hand, we do hope you’ll trust us or allow us to earn your trust. And that you’ll forgive us if or when we mess up. We hope you’ll be open to our feedback and recommendations. Even if you may not like it, though it may not feel good, at first.
10) When you would rather pay out of pocket than bill insurance. Or are willing to pay up front and submit an invoice for insurance to reimburse directly. It’s just simpler. Paperwork is the bane of therapists’ existence.
11) When you don’t come to therapy high or drunk. That just doesn’t work. Therapy is hard enough without being emotionally and cognitively impaired.
12) When you arrange for childcare. Unless you’re doing famly counseling that doesn’t work well either. Your therapist will likely need to cancel and reschedule which essentially is like a late cancel/no show appointment.
13) When you don’t apologize for what you say or how you feel. Go ahead and say what’s really on your mind. It’s really ok. Therapists are not just tolerating you. We love it when you’re honest and brave, when you trust us enough to start opening up about the truth inside without censoring yourself.
Hope you enjoyed this list. I know not all therapists are the same but I think a few of these are universal, especially #2.
Anything you would add?