Keeping Secrets from Your Therapist

So, you’ve decided to go to therapy, you’ve chosen a therapist and as the sessions are moving on you discover that you are keeping some secrets from your therapist – which is never a good idea.

Let’s say you took a big fall and now your arm is hurting.  You know it hurts when you move it and wiggle your fingers.  Your arm is not starting to turn different shades of blue and it is beginning to swell.  So, you go to the emergency room and you explain what happened.  The physician is probably going to ask some questions, ask you to wiggle your fingers and then order an x-ray to find out exactly what’s going on in there.

Stay Truthful to Your Therapist

Your therapist does not have the benefit of an x-ray machine.  In other words, if you withhold important information you are not going to get the correct or appropriate treatment.  If you tell your therapist you are depressed, your therapist will use specific types of therapy to help you.  But, if you are depressed because you’ve begun drinking again but withhold that piece of information, the therapy you get will not address the problem and you won’t feel any better.  You may even begin to feel worse.

Therapy is Confidential

It’s important to examine why you are choosing to keep things a secret from your therapist.  If you are worried about confidentiality, remember that everything you say in your therapist’s office short of harming yourself or somebody else must remain confidential. Almost all therapists discuss confidentiality in the first session.  When I work with couples I let them know that I even keep affairs confidential.  If you are unsure of that or questioning that, have a conversation with your therapist.

A Therapist is Here to Help You

You may have a negative opinion about yourself because of the secret you are keeping but your therapist will never judge you.  It isn’t our job to judge you, it’s our job to help you and we can’t help you with something we don’t know about.  Remember, your therapist is not your friend, you don’t have to worry about if he or she will like you.  The client-therapist relationship is not about liking each other enough to out for a cup of coffee.  It’s about giving you the best therapy you can get.

Talk About Your Secrets

The AA phrase “you are only as sick as your secrets” doesn’t imply that the content of your secret renders you sick.  Rather, it acknowledges that if something is being kept in secret and in the dark, there is no way that you can move beyond it’s implications to your well-being.

Even if you are not ready to waltz into your therapist’s office and disclose a secret you have been keeping, there are still steps that you can take.  Acknowledging the secret is the first step to healing or fixing what’s connected to it.  You don’t have to be ready to disclose the secret in order to let your therapist know that there is one.

Additionally, you can talk about and explore with your therapist the reasons why you are keeping the secret.  Once the reasons are dealt with, talking about the secret becomes easy.

Remember, you are only as sick as your secrets.


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