21 thoughts on “Therapist Confesses: How I Really Feel About My Clients

  • January 20, 2014 at 6:15 am

    I appreciated this piece. I have worked with two psychologists over the years – one for almost 20 yrs. I like them both but I felt a very strong connection with one and often wondered if we might have been friends had we met socially instead of in a client/therapist relationship.

    The one thing I can’t shake though is the feeling that, yes, these psychologists like me as a person, but I’m also paying them to listen to me – if that makes any sense. I do appreciate them and their skill and likely would not be here without them.

    • January 20, 2014 at 9:06 am

      Thank you–and your feeling makes a lot of sense. It’s an interesting relationship for both sides of it to be sure.

  • November 6, 2014 at 9:59 pm

    This is really what the ideal therapist would think. I t wouldn’t be realistic for any one therapist to have all this going on. Therapists are like all of us in that they are far from perfect. It is obvious that therapists where I live often see money or than the client.They complain about insurance not paying enough. Many make more than 100K, and this is a reason to complain???

    • November 7, 2014 at 5:28 am

      I’m not sure that most people would think it’s ideal to have favorite clients or connect with some clients more than others–the “ideal” therapist would be the perfect therapist for everyone. But in fact, I do think I’m a better therapist for some people than others, as we all are. I do have all these things going on or I wouldn’t have written the post.
      I wish I could disagree with you about the money part for therapists, but I can only say that it’s not everyone. I have always worked in non-profits and my colleagues and I work for very low pay (even our bosses don’t make six figures). It is very frustrating for us when we try to refer clients to private practice clinicians, and cannot find anyone who will take sliding scale clients, knowing they do make a lot more money than us. But as far as insurance goes, when I hear colleagues complaining about insurance, it’s almost always on behalf of clients–that insurance companies will not approve enough sessions for the client to sufficiently heal.

  • November 17, 2014 at 9:07 am

    I really appreciate your writing this. I seet self and my current fears in almost everything you said in some capacity. I’ve been with my therapist for almost a year and a half. He says that he enjoys working with me and I feel a connection with him that I believe to be sincere most of the time, but my self talk tells me that I am a burden and simply tolerated by him for the money. I definately have trust and boundary problems and they seem to compound each other: I have a nagging feeling in the back of my head that I can’t trust him, then, when I cross boundaries, I feel that he really is irritated by me (not his actions or behavior toward me – this is my self talk) and that he is going to call me out on it in a way that will really hurt, so I find that I consider abandoning therapy completely to avoid the hurt – and the pain that comes with his reasserting the boundaries and my trying to understand and accept them again.

    I know I can ask him what he sees I’m me as you suggest, but I’m pretty sure I won’t believe him because he’s being paid to say nice things and I don’t know how to get around those doubts.

    I feel that I am a good fit for him as a client, but, again, he could just be really good at seeming connected and engaged, leaving me being the only one truly feeling a connection and/or “friendship” (for lack of a better word), and that is just embarrassing and humiliating.

    I believe that we’ve accomplished good things in therapy, but I don’t know how to get past my feelings to cut and run when I feel these doubts the strongest.

    • November 17, 2014 at 1:12 pm

      I don’t know if this is helpful, but every single client that has accused me of being annoyed at them is usually one that I most enjoy. Maybe it’s because they are so sensitive. Clients that I struggle to connect with never ask me that and don’t seem to notice our interaction–just what they are saying. Then the work is to help them connect with me, since their failure to connect with the person they’re sitting with is often a source of their pain. So while I don’t know you or your therapist, my guess is that if you think he seems connected and engaged despite all your insecurities, he probably is.

      • November 19, 2014 at 11:06 am

        Sara, your response said exactly what I needed to get through my head. I didn’t see the reply until after my session with him and he and I had already talked through some of this. However, your words said it in ways that I additionally needs to hear. He is/was very kind with me as he has ways been and is always encouraging – even when I have fears and insecurities. I know he’ll hear them and help me get what I need to start getting it fixed. He’s been very supportive and patient with me. We both agreed that we think that we are a good match for my needs and he told me that all of this, and the fact that we can work through it together is a big advantage for me and will pay off.

        He’s a good man and I appreciate the help. I get scared sometimes and he knows it and helps ease my mind and I grow…. I guess he’s kind offend Gardner: kind of cRes for it, helps get rid of the weeds and babies the fragile parts theft need to grow. ☺️ Thanks again for your input! It has been priceless.

  • January 2, 2015 at 7:01 pm

    Thank you for writing this. I have been in therapy with a man for 8 months. I adore him. I have a history of complex trauma and he is so kind and gentle and caring. In the beginning he would say nice encouraging things about me but I could not hear it and I would not believe it. But now I wonder how he sees me. I think it might be helpful to have some other picture in my head of how he sees me because I think he thinks I am pitiful. And small and kinda crazy – though his actions and words have NEVER said these things. I had not thought to ask him. Thank you.

  • April 7, 2015 at 12:21 am

    Thanks for what you do for clients. After two horrible experiences with one being a former student of mine which I now question if he was ethical in seeing me, causing me deep depression, I was blessed in finding a great therapist who has completely changed my life and given me HOPE. I am a survivor of multiple traumas…Yes, I can say survivor since sering the current therapist. He told me first session to ask him if I had any concerns, set clear boundaries day one, and payments…last thing he talks about…I actually remind him to file insurance and take my co pays….refreshing to read your post and almost hear the sincere compassion you have for your clients.
    Thanks for being in this profession for the right reasons.

  • June 28, 2015 at 6:51 am

    After many years working together (I have complex ptsd), my therapist just told me I don’t pay her to care about me, I pay her for her time.
    That really chilled my heart and scared me. I don’t believe I can continue with her. I was finally trusting her, but if she doesn’t care, she can hurt me like everyone else did.

    • June 28, 2015 at 5:08 pm

      I’m so sorry to hear that.
      I know something like this can be said in the context of “the money doesn’t make me care, I choose to care.” But it definitely sounds like the context was unfortunately not that. It’s okay to quite working with someone who says they don’t care about you. I encourage you to get clarification, since it sounds like it takes years for you to trust someone and that kind of hyper vigilance can really trick us into thinking we’re unloved or betrayed. So you may understand her perfectly, but maybe just take that time to have certainty.

  • October 7, 2015 at 12:21 am

    I don’t believe therapist care. It is all about money, power and control.. when you do what they say all is good. if you go off script, like a child expressing misdirected anger, they are inexperienced at handling it. because their goal is to control and they become like a bad parent. I will never go back because I left feeling more abused and my focus is no longer on my past abuse, but the pain caused in therapy. You are all liars.

    • October 7, 2015 at 7:56 pm

      I am so sorry for the pain that therapy has caused you. It sounds like you were treated badly, and good therapy should ALWAYS have you be in control. I don’t blame you for not wanting to return. But there are good therapists out there and I wish for you that you could somehow have that experience.
      I am observing a session right now where the client told her therapist that she wasn’t comfortable doing an activity the therapist had just described, and the therapist thanked her for sharing her boundaries and validated them as important. She then said that they don’t have to do the activity, and the session moved forward, continuing to address the client’s issue. That’s how it’s supposed to look.
      If it is helpful, I’ll also share that I’m currently working without pay. I love my clients, and as developmentally disabled children, they usually do not do what I say. But I still go. And that’s really not a reflection of me, but how great they are. They deserve deep love, competent treatment and respectful care. You deserve no less.
      You were failed and it was not your fault. That’s a bit of truth I can offer.

  • January 27, 2016 at 6:52 am

    This sounds way too ideal to be true.
    Since age 13 had a few therapists but only the practical (Drama, Art, Music etc)ones were able to paint a picture of me.

    After 15 years of daily social traumatizations and before that near 4 years of marriage violence, my last therapist blames my youth for lacking a social life, while they weren’t part of my social life since I was 8. I’m now 41. We spoke for over 2 years in which all went wrong and I’m left with the third one misunderstanding me and on my way to the fourth. Talking doesn’t seem to be helping one bit and I’m inclined to believe it’s all a big, pricey hoax.

    I don’t believe therapists are out to help others. At most they’re out to help themselves. her by research, income, status. To help others one doesn’t need a title.

  • January 27, 2016 at 6:53 am

    I meant family, not youth.

  • February 19, 2016 at 5:30 pm

    I suffer with PTSD, depression, anxiety and another eating disorder. I’ve been in psychotherapy for a few months, and I’m being forced to trust my therapist a lot sooner than I usually would. For the last 10 years I’ve fainted when I try and talk about the more difficult events of my life. When I pass out my therapist has to help me, she has to touch me and I don’t have a choice. It’s difficult to be this vulnerable with a stranger, and it’s nice to have answers to the question I think most people would have. We put our most traumatic and painful experiences out there in the hopes were heard. This post is extremely comforting, and although may not apply to all, it’s good to know that caring therapists do exist.

    Thank you.

  • April 13, 2016 at 3:32 am

    I think therapists care but I feel if therapy doesn’t go as they anticipated, many tend to say client is difficult/resistant to treatment. In reality sometimes they experience countertransference and don’t know how to handle it, or they are not experienced enough, or they are not willing to work a little harder and try to think out of the box. The really bad part is that they never admit they are not capable of helping and make clients feel inadequate, guilty, hopeless and abandoned

  • May 6, 2016 at 12:31 am

    Well-I know someone who was sexually harassed by a male psychiatrist as well as someone who was sexually harassed by a female therapist so I doubt many people put trust in them. The woman who was taken advantage of by the “psychiatrist” actually ended up having a psychotic episode where she regressed to a child and urinated in bed. One billed the insurance company for days the client wasn’t there. I know a “psychiatrist” who charged a disabled man $650 for a initial psych intake who claimed to be an expert. He manipulated the man to pay his last dime promising him the right combination of drugs. Then there are the 15 minute doctors. In and out Like a sweat shop. I do think its about money. My aunt is on medicare and cant find any specialists who take it. Medicare pays around $107 for 45 minutes and other insurance companies pay $150 or so. I hardly see that as a big difference. Money wise everyone feels that they deserve much more. Maybe they do and maybe not but I imagine not all of them can be so bad. Isn’t everyone underpaid? I think making 70-100+ K for a masters degree is quite reasonable.

  • January 6, 2017 at 12:17 am

    when I said I was verbally abused by a therapist, subsequent therapists slowly appeared almost angry. I guess when it’s done and over you must figure out how to let go. I guess if I knew how to let go I wold have given up on therapy $600 sooner.

    • March 17, 2018 at 11:27 pm

      Same thing here, verbal abuse than later therapists were angry. But not $600 later, $2000 later.


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