Don't quote your shrink!

Don’t quote your shrink to people in your life to back-up your position!! I’m not suggesting that you never share anything about your experience, your thoughts, or what either of you said in session, but... When you directly quote your therapist, as in:

Dr. So & so told me I should stand up to you more, so, NO!”, the conviction of your assertiveness is low and it sounds rather like you’re more the puppet of your therapist. Your new found assertiveness comes across quite hollow, and who ever you’re standing up to won’t quite believe it. In the above example, if indeed Dr. So & So did challenge you to kick up your assertiveness a notch or two, what you might want to do, when the opportunity presents itself:

a) think, pause & breathe when faced with an opportunity to be assertive,

b) then say something simple & straightforward in a firm voice: “NO, I don’t want to.”

c) ‘stick to your guns’ in the moment, and then

d) afterwards, note to yourself or to someone who’s a good listener any experiences about your assertiveness experiment that are relevant.

These may be something like: “I didn’t like being assertive today, but I’m glad I tried it”, “I think that one of the things I like about my therapy is that it helps push me to take chances”, or “I didn’t think I was ready to say, NO to people, but I guess I am”...

Your therapist is bound by state & provincial laws to keep quiet about what you both speak about in session. You are bound by no such restrictions and ethical boundaries. You can tell anyone, anything you want about what happens in the therapy room: “My therapist seems to have allergies, he’s blowing his nose a lot”, “My therapist says I’m a good person”. While you can share any of these specific details, the therapy relationships is a personal & individual and those whom you share these tidbits with may take what you say out of context, and you may even misquote your therapist, which can lead to misunderstandings.

A few guidelines to take note of when speaking with people about what goes on in the tx room:

  1. Why are you sharing (Just letting someone you trust experience your experience is healthy, using the sharing to shame, gain power over, prove that you are correct, etc. = not so healthy)
  2. If you do share, use “I” language (“I felt good when my therapist recognized my efforts”)
  3. Share process comments rather than content (if you share the ‘feel’ of the session, rather than exactly what you said or what your therapist said to you, you avoid the pitfalls of misquoting or using the information in ways that are not directly emotionally healthy for you)

Be particularly aware of items 1-3 if you’re tempted to directly quote your therapist in the argument & in case where personal relationship stuff is the topic of the day.

Happy therapy-ing

For more information contact Carla Fry

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