Sunday, August 7, 2011

Does my therapist think of me between visits?

I was sitting with a client a while ago. We were at the beginning of the session, a time that is sometimes less focused and more "social" than the rest of the session, a time when we're figuring out what is primary and what can be left until next time or left behind entirely. I mentioned that I'd seen a sign along the highway that reminded me of her.

She was stunned.

I couldn't untangle all the different emotions that played across her face, but the one I resonated with was the one that probably mimicked the look I had when I was a 3rd grader and I saw my teacher in the grocery store. In that moment it had dawned on me that my teacher was a human, a real person, not someone who sat in unknowing stasis in the classroom until we came back at 8:15. My teacher shopped! She probably peed, and ate, and knew real people in the world. She didn't sleep at school! Maybe she had kids!

It was a little hard to handle.

I think my client felt the same. In a flash, therapy changed for her. She suddenly realized that there was a human sitting across from her, someone incapable of unfeelingly compartmentalizing all the emotion and life that flows during our times together. She knew then that I wrestled with those questions away from the office. She discovered something that therapists do that clients often don't think about - we think about our clients and their lives and their emotions and their problems and their bright victories and jarring losses away from the confines of that rigid 50-minute office frame.

Studies from across the theoretical board show that if you want to get good therapy work done, it's all about the relationship. Therapists from all corners of the profession are in the business of making strong human bonds so they can do the rest of their work. If that bond didn't transcend the therapy hour, it wouldn't be real, it would be an invention meant to enable therapeutic progress. And it just doesn't work that way.

Your therapist, if she or he is doing the job in a competent way, is bound to you by far more than a pile of therapy notes and insurance bills. And I can virtually guarantee you that at some point, on some insomniac night or relaxed coffee-sipping morning, you've been thought of as much more than a client number.

Ask your therapist next time you see them, and see what sort of answer you get.


  1. This is great. And Very true....thanks for posting this, from another therapist out there!

  2. Something I've always wondered about, actually. Especially since I'm one of those people who longs for connection and yet never really thinks that I'll be remembered or given much of any thought when I'm not right there.

  3. I asked that of my acupuncturist once. And he basically told me that every time he saw my truck parked by my house (he had to drive by it to get to his clinic), he wondered how I was doing and how my "acupuncture baby" was. I know that's different than an actual therapist, but... in a way, it's not.

  4. We all hunger for connection. To realize that someone thinks about us when we are not around is an amazing compliment. It's like a validation. It shows that we are more than "just" our presence. We matter.

  5. Thank You so much for posting this subject . It brings warmth in to a difficult Emotional boundrie Relationship . I wish there where more blogs to help people understand from where therapists work from .

  6. Lisa- thanks so much for reading. I'm glad this was helpful!

  7. I would like to ask my therapist if she thinks of me sometimes. But I'm almost afraid of showing that I care about that. Would that definitely not be crossing some boundary in asking that?

  8. Thankyou kindly for this subject. I have a wonderful therapist. He can be tough but is making me find love within and I m aware thats part of the theraputic work. I think about him everyday and keep his teaching within me. He is making me a better woman.yes I do often wonder if he thinks of me after session or just for our session and than im history till next session. There is a bond and chemistry during therapy but I think thats what heals ones inner being. Very grateful I found this special therapist....hes the best!