I have been a therapist for over 20 years and I really love what I do. I enjoy seeing patients progress and transform. Hearing their stories, supporting them, and challenging them to become the best individual they can be. I do my best to provide practical ways for them to take ownership of their lives. But sometimes, clients do not realize that with all the care in the word I have- I am also human. When patients do things that impacts their own therapy sometimes it can cause their therapist to feel things. I want to talk a little bit about that in this.
The Late Client
Although being late for an appointment is inevitable and definitely understandable, but when a client is late to almost every session it can cause the therapist to think something is going on in therapy that is making them late. Which can be a good way for the therapist to explore other problems and issues. But I don’t think clients understand that being late also effects the therapist. We look at our clock, we check to see if you’re in the waiting area, we are concerned, and often we think about how to approach this lateness. Whether with a simple smile or voice of understanding or to jump into the client being a late for a reason. We often wonder if you are late to all your doctor’s appointments and do you see this appointment as important? It isn’t easy when you come in late.
The No Show
Whether the patient or client is new or someone who has been coming then suddenly disappears. It can make a therapist question not only why the client hasn’t come, but everything about themselves being in their profession. If it is a new patient, it comes down to wondering if the client really respects the therapists time or perhaps they forgot. Or wasn’t serious. We will reach out to the client just to get voicemail. This confirms that the client isn’t coming and it makes us annoyed- we could have accepted another patient. Now we must sit for an hour doing nothing. Or if it is a old client, we begin to think about the last session and wonder if something was said or done that would make the client disappear. We question ourselves, our style, our professionalism, and sometimes our self-worth and ability to provide good work. It can be upsetting sometimes to lose a client who never says goodbye.
The Client Who Shows But Does Nothing
This is the client who comes to every appointment or almost every appointment and is making little progress. They don’t do assignments given to them and tell lavish tales of why they couldn’t do it. In the beginning the therapist wonders if it is time management or organization development and for the most part this is the reason. Even the client will agree. But then the client still doesn’t do what they need to do to try to resolve what they agree with. This can become draining for the therapist and frustrating. Your therapist is investing lots of energy to help resolve and solve issues which the client may take for granted. The therapist is trying every tool in their box but nothing is working. Investing more into you than you are willing to invest in yourself. It is troublesome because they do not want to give up on you. So it is disappointing to the therapist who may eventually have to terminate the relationship because it is obvious the client isn’t ready to make progress. Or perhaps they do want to make progress but it isn’t with you.
The Client Who Knows All
This client has Googled and diagnosed themselves. They come into therapy with their own motive and agenda not realizing that therapy is a team approach. They often forget that the therapist may have some expertise on matters they do not. This sometimes can become troublesome for the therapist. The client will read tons of self-help books, talk to all their friends, and tell the therapist how to do what they do. It becomes almost a battle to get the client to surrender to the therapeutic process. Often therapy can be combative and a tug-a-war. As much as your therapist wants to continue the work it becomes tiresome.
The Manipulative Client
The client uses the very things they are coming into therapy for in therapy. Their behavior can sometimes feel controlling, abusive, excessive, and harmful for the therapist. This client will seem to be about the therapeutic process but is really out to win some personal battle. They lie to the therapist and the therapist knows it and something inside them says fire the client but they do not. They still have hope of reaching the client. As soon as progress is made the client manipulates again. The therapist may begin to feel anger because they now know they are being taken advantage of and that their office is being used to continue the same toxic behaviors.
Humanity and Therapy
Your therapist gets stressed and goes through things in their own personal lives. I don’t say this to make a client feel bad or needs to take care of their therapist, but to recognize that we too are human. We have losses, defeats, illnesses, deaths, and troubles just like everyone else. And we put that aside to be supportive, teach, challenge, and help you thrive and grow. Your therapist is a person with the skills and education to help you become whatever you wish to become. The therapist-client relationship is a close one whether it is a new beginning, an old time relationship, or a rocky one…it is a close one. And close relationships impacts us all.
Remember your therapist is here to help you not harm you, but they are also human.