Navigating the Intersection of Work and Mental Health

Working Better and Stressing Less

Ideas on work and mental health

Is my therapist upset when I don't finish my homework?

Sometimes therapists do get frustrated with clients for not finishing homework. Since counseling requires participation from both parties to work, and arguably, MORE participation from the client, sometimes we think "awww geeze we can't reach our goals with only one hour of work a week..."

Usually though, frustration is NOT our first reaction. It is curiosity! There are many reasons clients do not finish homework and many of these reasons are actually very informative to therapy. 

  • Assignments we give often invoke unpleasant feelings of sadness, anxiety, or confusion and it is perfectly normal to not want to experience those. Sometimes we suggest homework that sparks these feelings without adequately preparing the client ahead of time. 
  • We misgauge how long an assignment will take and don't tailor it appropriately to the client's life.
  • Sometimes, we don't explain the purpose of the assignment to the client in a way that helps them see its usefulness in the overall course of therapy.
  • Each client has their own learning and communication style and we do not always know what that is until we try and fail a few times at homework.

These are just a few of the many reasons that clients may not complete homework that don't leave us frustrated at all. That said, we strive to understand what "went wrong" with the assignment and clients may sometimes interpret this as the therapist being upset or critical. Once in awhile, your therapist may actually feel frustrated when you don't do your homework, but based on my own experiences and the therapists I know, they probably just want to know where THEY went wrong in finding ways for you to practice outside of session.  



Katie Playfair