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Privileged to be your therapist

Updated: May 18, 2022

Being a therapist is a privilege

I had a moment the other week, where I thought to myself ‘wow, people really tell me a lot about their lives’. When you treat something specific like OCD or panic disorder, it’s usual that you discuss some elements of a person’s life, but it is related to these issues. However, when people come to therapy about general life, you hear anything and everything. Things they don’t even share with those closest to them.

I have had clients show me text exchanges between them and loved ones, discussing extremely personal matters. Not the sort of messages that they screenshot and send to friends. I’ve also found out about people having affairs before their partner finds out (if they ever find out). Of course, there is a line that even as a therapist I would have to share certain things with the authorities. (Disclaimer: don’t tell me if you’ve killed anyone – I won’t keep that to myself).

Of course, my role is to remain non-judgemental throughout this. Now, do therapists make judgements? The answer to that is, are we human? Of course we make judgements, the difference is that we don’t allow them to get in the way of what we are doing. As a therapist, its literally my job to *not* judge you. So whatever thought might pop into my mind when Kevin tells me he is cheating on his pregnant wife, is a thought I dismiss. I carry on with the session, supporting Kevin with what he needs support with. Is it genuine when I do this? Well, yes, because in that session I am putting myself in Kevin's head, so to speak. He is in therapy because he is struggling with something, so for that session I see things from his perspective and offer support based on how he is feeling.

To be clear, Kevin isn’t real and this isn’t something that’s ever been bought to my therapy sessions, but we all know it happens (my idea for this example came from Khloe Kardashian and Tristan Thompson). If Kevin was a real person and a friend of mine, I assure you, I'd be saying some pretty judgemental things. But that simply is not my place to do as a therapist. I’m not a pal who is going to tell you off for texting your ex when you got drunk. I might ask you questions that help you to think about the impact of doing so, and consider how helpful it was, but I'm not going to tell you anything unless you ask me. For example, if you decided texting your ex whilst drunk was in fact not a helpful thing to do, and you wanted to know how to avoid doing it again, I might make suggestions of practical things you can put in place. If Kevin wanted to know if he should come clean to the Mrs, I wouldn't answer yes or no. I would help him think about the impact of doing so vs the impact of hiding it.

I’ve been a therapist for years now and you’d think it feels normal, and whilst I am used to it, I still have those moments where I feel very privileged that clients can open upto me. That they know that whatever they tell me is just between us. I guess we don’t have that with other people in life, even with close friends, you wonder if they are telling their partner, siblings or other friends what you’ve been saying. Whereas in therapy, there is an obligation from the therapist to not share things and to remain non-judgemental.

People tell us their deepest secrets, and sometimes, darkest thoughts. It is my job as a therapist to offer you support and help you work out what to do with those secrets and thoughts. If you are going through something that you don’t feel able to share with anyone else, then trust me, there is nothing you can say that will shock me. Get in touch if you want to arrange a free consultation.

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