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My Therapist Doesn't Like Me

Question:

I have been seeing this therapist. Recently i’ve let him know that I am concerned that he is “bored ” and my time with him is pointless. I personally am having a hard time going to him due to my feelings. The last session he tried to tell me that he cares about me. I can’t accept this for the truth. Why would he say this? Is this part of his way of the “therapist” role? As a therapist, I feel they don’t “take their work home” with them. How am I to handle this?

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  • Dr. Dombeck responds to questions about psychotherapy and mental health problems, from the perspective of his training in clinical psychology.
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Answer:

The sort of experience you’re going through with your therapist is actually fairly normal for a number of people. In order for a therapy experience to feel truely supportive, it is necessary that you should trust your therapist. The problem is that your therapist is a stranger (initially), and that even as time goes by, she or he learns a lot about you, but you learn almost nothing about your therapist. Therapists vary in terms of how engaged they will appear to be with you, but even the most engaged therapist is often faced with a client who wonders how the therapist can really care for their clients if they don’t ‘take the work home with them’ at night (e.g., form a personal relationship with the client).

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p> What is important to learn (and not every therapist is good at teaching this), is that a therapist is not (and should not become) a friend or lover, and should not be judged by the standards by which you’d judge a friend or a lover. Think of what a therapist provides rather as an environment in which you are free to experiment, let your hair down, cry, make mistakes, etc. without having to worry about how you’ve come across (because therapy is confidential).

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p> My best advice is that you consider talking about your distrust of your therapist with your therapist. Tell him everything about how you don’t trust him, from the way he seems to be bored with you, to the way that you don’t buy his reassurances that he cares about you. It might be a hard discussion for you to have, but at the same time, it might be a very productive use of your time. Again, don’t worry so much about your therapist as a human being whose feelings you have to protect, and start talking about what is bothering you. It is okay to ‘use’ your therapist in this way. That is what he is there for – as an aide to help you work this stuff out that is bothering you. Therapy is one of the few situations where being ‘selfish’ like this is fully appropriate.

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p> Good Luck,

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