An Open Letter to My Psychotherapy Clients

You walk into my office thinking I’m the expert. You glance at my diplomas, license, and certificates. While yes, I am the therapist, you are the expert of your own life, and my job is to facilitate awareness as we dismantle mistaken beliefs you’ve developed, to empower you to gain control over your life, and to metaphorically hold your hand as we clean out your emotional wounds. Over the weeks of working together, you tell me how something I said uncovered a hidden connection, or that an activity I suggested shifted your perspective. As I’ve walked with you on your journey of healing, you’ve impacted me too, and since our time is about you, I’ve left a lot unsaid. 

You come in nervous, feeling afraid of being judged, feeling afraid of saying too much, feeling afraid of giving a piece of yourself to someone else. I’ve been on your side of the couch. I know how much courage it takes to even make that first appointment. In reality, I applaud you for even coming in. Besides, I’ve heard it all, and I can guarantee you that I’m not easily surprised. I work with the emotionally sticky. I don’t hand you a tissue when you’re crying. Yes, they’re accessible if you want one, but I will never suggest you “clean up”. I want you to feel it all – this is where growth happens. Additionally, I never accept apologies for crying. You will never be shamed in my office. I bring zero judgment into the room – I aim to ooze unconditional acceptance and love during our sessions and in my personal life. My silence may mean that I’m giving you space to process your thoughts or to articulate what I’d like to say, but never that I am judging you. No matter what you tell me, we are all human, we are all equals.

Maybe you didn’t come by choice, and you sit on my couch and freely express not wanting to be there – I don’t take it personally. My office is your space to get it all out, anyway, and I laugh a little on the inside because I’ve been there. I know you have your walls. Why wouldn’t you? You feel misunderstood, rejected, betrayed, and unable to trust because everyone disappoints you. Maybe you’re trying to figure me out, maybe you have given up, but I am here with you. You often apologize later on, but you don’t have to. While you do need to learn how to channel it, (and that’s my job to help you with) I hope you never lose that fire within you.

Above all – I am honored that you share the deepest, darkest parts of yourself with me. When I tell people I’m a therapist, I hear “wow it must be hard to hear tough things all day…” Sure, some days are emotionally challenging, but ALL days are rewarding, and besides, being the client is much more difficult. You don’t know me, yet you trust me enough to let me unweave the unpleasant, emotionally charged thoughts in your mind keeping you stuck. You are the definition of vulnerability – the definition of strength. I can read all day long, but with you, I’ve personally witnessed resilience. I’ve watched as life stretched you past what you thought was your breaking point, and you’ve been able to stand your ground, taking charge. I’ve watched you become softer after life had hardened you – how after you let your walls down with me, you let them down with your loved ones. I’ve seen how developing boundaries allowed you to patch holes, keeping yourself full rather than feeling constantly depleted. I’ve listened as you’ve told me how you’ve taken what you’ve learned in our time together and woven it into every aspect of your life outside of my office. I am inspired by you all.

If we only briefly worked together, maybe I wasn’t a fit for you, or maybe you weren’t ready, but I will always be rooting for you. Together, we can #endthestigma

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