A therapist is a person with whom you can speak the most peculiar and difficult things about yourself. They can listen to you in a different way than other people in your life, and respond differently as well. Seeking out this “difference” is key to therapy; you and your therapist create a confidential space where you can separate yourself from the way others see you. Some might assume that this means that the relationship you have with a therapist is not a relationship at all, but this is not the case! It is just a relationship unlike any other.
Here are 5 unique aspects of your relationship with your therapist:
1. You pay us to listen.
What is quite interesting about the therapeutic relationship, is the odd pairing of intimacy with formality. You are sharing your personal life challenges with a trained and certified person to whom you pay an agreed upon fee, and you never see her outside of a regularly scheduled time and place. The nature of this exchange and the rules that accompany it, is the very reason why you can share in a safe way and have a therapeutic experience. The relationship that unfolds between you and your therapist is also part of that experience.
2. You don’t have to be a good person.
When a thought comes up that you fear may come out as offensive and make you look like a “bad person”, your inclination may be to censor yourself. But your therapist will not be offended. She just wants to know what the thoughts are, and encourages you to speak to anything that comes to mind.
3. You don’t have to like us.
A therapist is not invested in you liking him. He knows that the way he can benefit you is by helping you with the challenging task of expressing your truth. And towards this end, he is open to hearing all about your feelings towards him, including the way he has let you down, angered you, or irritates you for no reason.
4. You are never wrong.
Therapists live in your reality, period. You get to explain to her how certain ideas fit together and make sense in your head, no matter how nonsensical, immoral, or ridiculous seeming. When it comes to your life, she doesn’t know anything you don’t know.
5. We don’t think we understand you.
When you are talking with friends or family, the desire to understand is a natural motivation for forming close bonds with others. But your therapist on the other hand, is more likely to express curiosity as opposed to understanding. At the risk of appearing foolish, he can ask questions about a fact that you have been certain of your entire life.
So, what do you think might occur in such a relationship?
Expect to have some unusual conversations. Say the things you’ve never been able to say, or never had the words to say. Out of these conversations, you might discover new directions that you want to take in your life that were right there in front of you the whole time.