5 Things You Might Not Know About Therapists

Ever wonder what it’s like being a therapist? In this guest post, Steph Iles of Counseling Dynamics explores five things you might not know about therapists.

Hey, guys! I’m excited to introduce today’s guest post by a colleague of mine named Steph Iles. I met Steph in graduate school, and she does AMAZING work with teenagers over at Counseling Dynamics. There’s a lot of mystery around therapy, and we hope that this post gives you a little insight into what your therapist might be thinking. With that said, let’s get into her post!

  1. Therapists love their clients (at least I do).  That being said, we are so proud of them when they “graduate” from therapy.  When a client leaves, we are so happy for them, and hope the tools they gained will take them far.  BUT! We are also proud if they come back when times get rough.  We know it takes courage to do that too.
  2. If we could afford to, we would not charge anything and we would try to help everyone.  Sadly, that is not sustainable. We have to be constantly educating ourselves and staying current.  We have to attend conferences and take classes for our license.  We spend hours outside of session consulting, writing reports, studying… We know it’s expensive to go to therapy, because most therapists have their own therapist, but it’s how we pay our bills.
  3. We meet a lot of great people when we are at work, some we could even imagine as a friend, but ethics will not allow us to be friends with clients.  Even after the client graduates, we must continue to maintain a safe environment for that client to come back if they need it.  That means we continue to see all our “ex-clients” as clients.  If we see you in public and don’t say “Hi” we do that to maintain your confidentiality, not because we are snubbing you.
  4. Sometimes we feel strong feelings carrying around all the stories, but it is also an honor.  We don’t want our clients to ever apologize for sharing any part of their life.  An open and honest client is the best kind.  A side effect of this, is some therapists have a very dark sense of humor about mental health.  I’ve heard doctors, nurses and other helpers also use dark humor to process some of the more painful things they experience.  We are not belittling anyone’s experience; we are just trying to release some of the pain.
  5. Sometimes clients want to give a gift and a therapist must ethically decline anything lavish.  The best kind of gift is something that isn’t tangible.  My favorite gift was a picture of a flower sent as a text with some kind words of the client’s success.  A card is plenty and makes a therapist very happy (and don’t be surprised if pictures or cards are nowhere to be seen in the office; they are still confidential.)

What do you guys think? There are a LOT of weird rules about how therapists can interact with clients, but it’s all designed to protect you and your confidentiality.

Note that this information is current and updated regarding laws and ethics in the state of California as of the date of publication. This information should not be taken as legal or ethical advice, and it may not remain accurate as new laws and ethical standards come out.

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