Dear Therapists:

I’m here begging you to listen to me. Not just hear my words but really absorb their meaning and intention. I’m tired of getting lip service from you on this score so, for a moment, put away your degrees and books and really understand what I’m telling you.

Please stop.

So many times those of us with mental illness are subjected to the lasted fad in psychology designed to make us all better. You’ve read all the papers and the books and you have the degrees. You’ve published in some of the best papers and been peer reviewed. You’re at the top of your game and we should feel lucky you’re our therapist.

Please understand I’m saying this with the best of intentions. When we walk into your office, can you please put away the books and papers? Can you please not look at us like we’re something to experiment on as you try out the latest fad or new idea? We have something to say and we want to be heard.

You’re our therapist and we need to trust you but that’s a two-way street. You can’t reasonably expect us to walk into your office, tell you our fears and thoughts while you hold yourself apart from us. If you don’t trust us, how can we trust you? If you don’t listen to us and what’s going on in our brains, how can we listen to you?

I know that it’s part of your medical training to stand apart and aloof from your patients. Don’t get involved is the battle cry of the doctor but I’m telling you that hiding behind your education and books prevents you from hearing what we’re really saying. So many times I’ve had symptoms dismissed because it didn’t fit in with a preconceived notion of what the doctor or therapist felt was wrong. I know hoof beats are usually horses but sometimes it really is a zebra.

So when we walk into your office, please give us the same courtesies you expect from us. Beyond the polite conversation, please offer us your trust and confidence. We’ll give you the same in return. Please hear us deeply and don’t twist what we’re saying to fit what you think they should be. It’s hard enough for us to come to you without feeling like we’re tossing ourselves against a wall.

This is our therapy, not your opportunity for career advancement or to indulge in your new fad. Sometimes, we want to talk. Sometimes we want help in getting over a hurdle. Most of all, we want to trust that you have our best interests at heart.

So, I’m begging you. Just please stop.

A Client