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Awkward Moments in Therapy

After fifteen years in therapy I have many magic moments to remember as well some truly excruciatingly embarrassing ones.  There were times I thought I might have to move to a foreign country in order to escape the sheer mortification of it all.

Here are my top five awkward moments in therapy.

1.  Treading on your Therapist’s Toes – Literally.

Back on July 12th 2006, we had a particularly poignant therapy session and we got up to give each other a hug.  As I stepped forward and wrapped my arms around her, I stepped on her foot then almost dislocated my ankle lifting it off so that we could continue the hug.  I left her office hoping against hope that she had not noticed her toes being crushed and mangled into the carpet.  There was no obvious limp as she walked me to the door though.  Although we are both around the same height I weigh considerably more than she does – and I was wearing heavy black boots at the time.  I still blush when I think about it.

2.  Making a Payment to the Receptionist.

This takes much considered timing and micromanagement of the ten minutes between therapy sessions – this is the five to and five past of each hour.  It is always prudent to get there fifteen minutes early and pay while she is still with the previous client.  This fails when the preceding client cancels and she has a free hour and is hanging around the reception area and won’t leave – completely oblivious to your inner discomfort.  Even worse is when you are in the middle of an electronic transaction and your credit card fails just as she walks towards you.  I have been known to pay over the phone when I get home, send cash by registered post with a nice card just to avoid the embarrassment of having to acknowledge that I have to pay for our relationship.  It’s easier to go to the ATM beforehand, throw some cash at the receptionist and wait outside for her to call me in.  You’d think after this length of time I would be over this, but I’m not.

3.  Twins Separated at Birth.

There’s that awkward moment in time when you turn up and she is wearing the same clothes you are in.  Or else we are wearing the same jewelery (although I have yet to see her in much else than black pants and top and a set of pearls – if there was ever a therapist’s uniform this comes pretty close to it).  This is of course her fault for not ringing up first and discussing what we were going to wear for the day, like any good, caring friend would do.  It used to worry me, but most times now I just laugh it off.  Truly, one does grow up in therapy a lot over many years.  Still, I make sure I NEVER wear a set of pearls to therapy – ever.  That would feel creepy.

4.  It’s No Good Crying Over Spilt Twisties.

I took my eighteen month old baby to therapy once because I could not get a babysitter (he is now a great big thumping almost 16 year old).  He was in a stroller with a bag of yellow twisties in his hand and he dropped the bag and heavily-dyed yellow twisties spilled out and stained her pale blue carpet.  I expected to get thrown out like a damn spot but from nowhere as if by magic she produced a dustpan and brush and neatly swept it up, all the time maintaining a radiant and authentic smile on her face.  At the time I wanted the floor to open up and swallow me but I was forgetting she also has embarrassing children of her own.

5.  Saying Goodbye for Good.

This awkward moment hasn’t quite arrived yet, but it is in the near future.  What does one say?  Thank you?  Take care?  Have a nice life?  How does one sum up fifteen years in one session let alone one sentence?  Will I cry?  Will she cry?

Will I ever see her again?

Awkward Moments in Therapy

Sonia Neale

Sonia Neale was recently awarded the Inaugural Barbara Hocking SANE Australia Fellowship to study and research Borderline Personality Disorder overseas in the USA, Canada, UK and Ireland. Her previous Psych Central blog was called Therapy Unplugged. She is the author of two books, The Bad Mother’s Revenge and Death by Teenager, both published by ABC Books/Harper Collins. She lives in Western Australia, is married with three adult children, has studied psychoanalytic psychotherapy, has a Certificate IV in Mental Health and is studying for a Psychology/Counselling degree. She currently works as a peer support worker in the mental health field.

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APA Reference
Neale, S. (2011). Awkward Moments in Therapy. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 30, 2020, from


Last updated: 25 May 2011
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