1) I’ve been there too. As therapists, we are taught about the dangers of revealing too much of our own experiences. It is not that we are super secretive, it is that sharing too much may taint your experience and influence your feelings, which would be counter productive to good therapy. But, let me tell you, when you are in my office, crying, and your hurt is palpable, I so badly want to tell you that I have been there too.
2) You can do better. There are times I actually have said this to clients, but there are many times I have not, because I want you to get there yourself. So many people think so little of themselves that they put themselves into situations that reflect this belief. For example, they will stay in an unhealthy relationship where they are treated in the way in which they view themselves. Or, they will stay at a job that they hate, because they believe it is the best they can do. Our job is not to completely uproot your life, but please know that chances are good I truly believe you can do better.
3) Don’t Worry! Don’t worry is one of the most useless phrases in the English language. “I shouldn’t worry? Oh okay! thanks for that, I feel much better,” said no one ever. While this phrase is useless, there are times I wish I could somehow implant this idea into your brain. As the unbiased observer, I can often see so clearly that it is going to be okay, but I am also aware of how not okay it feels. I wish there were a way to say this, and make the listener truly feel it.
4) I worry too. Some of my clients have conveyed to me that they feel jealous that I seem to have it all together. Here is a secret, I don’t. Because of my profession I am very self aware and constantly working on self improvement, but I have my moments as well. We are in this thing called life together, as fellow journeyers.
5) I also sometimes wish we could be friends. Some clients have expressed to me that they feel had we met under different circumstances, we would totally be friends. The truth is, you are probably right. I am not asking to hang out not because I don’t want to, or would feel burdened by it, but because I value the work we are doing. Our therapeutic relationship would not be what it is, and your growth would be impacted if we didn’t keep our relationship therapeutic. (although our Code of Ethics prohibits this) I keep it professional for your benefit. But, you should know, the feelings are mutual. I agree, we probably would be friends in different circumstances.
6) I really value our relationship. I try to convey this to clients in some ways, but I never sense they truly believe it. Sometimes I feel clients think I say it to be nice. But I wish I could make my clients understand how true this is. Don’t apologize for reaching out to me between sessions if you need it. Don’t apologize for going a few minutes over, my job is to watch the clock, not yours. It is said that the most important component of good therapy is the relationship. Please know that I truly value ours.