Navigating the Intersection of Work and Mental Health
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Working Better and Stressing Less

Ideas on work and mental health

What happens when I lie to my therapist?

The good. 

I think lying to your therapist is normal, at least at first. It feels very strange to most people to meet a stranger and spill all of their deepest secrets in the first few meetings. Some people need to establish some trust and others just need to figure out exactly why they went to therapy in the first place. It is ok if during the first few visits you don't want to talk about your abuse history, your substance use, your suicidal thoughts, or your sexual issues. It is ok to want to spend some sessions building trust with lighter topics.

The bad.  

Of course, the longer you withhold vital information about what is bothering you, the longer you will have to wait for your counselor to help you with that problem. If we don't know, we can't help. This can be problematic especially when coping with issues of safety. Counselors are trained to know when to refer our patients to crisis lines, domestic violence resources, medical professionals, or social services. We may have great resources that can help with the problem you are facing but we won't know to offer them until you tell us what's bothering you.  

Fessing up

Sometimes clients agonize about telling their counselor that they have withheld information or have lied about certain things. One thing we know is that part of animals' survival instincts is to not show vulnerability. Humans are no different. Part of suffering is a desire to cover it up, sometimes even to ourselves. When you feel ready to tell your entire story, your therapist will be ready to hear it. Remember that some of us do have reporting responsibilities and that if there is a potential danger to you or others, we may be obligated to help provide protection. But I know that I am never mad. We expect that our clients will show their vulnerability when they finally feel safe enough to do it. 

 

Katie PlayfairComment