How to Give Your Therapist Feedback

by | Therapy

Clients may wonder what to do when they are frustrated with their therapist. Instead of saying something, some people bite their tongue, suffer in silence, or even ghost their therapist. As therapists, we understand that we’re not going to get it perfect all of the time, and we may be doing things that unknowingly annoy our clients. The therapeutic relationship is like any other relationship in that it takes work and honest communication. And like other relationships, you may at times feel frustrated, annoyed, irritated, or hurt by something your therapist says or does. Keep in mind, these feelings are normal. It’s important to remember that you can bring up conflict with your therapist, especially if it gets in the way of you feeling open, connected, and engaged in your work together. 

Therapists are trained to be receptive to feedback from their clients. Receiving feedback from clients oftentimes can improve rapport and the therapeutic relationship. Some common types of feedback include clients concerned about their progress, being offended by something the therapist says or does, or not resonating with observations the therapist is making. Regardless of what is impacting you, good therapists are receptive to feedback and want to hear your concerns. We want our clients to get the most out of their sessions, and knowing what interventions are working is a large part of that. If it feels difficult to bring it up in session, you can email your therapist prior to your next session, bring it up when you review your treatment plan, or ask to try something new at the start of session. 

Keep in mind, bringing up conflict could be a part of your work in therapy. 

Bringing conflict to your therapist is a great way to safely practice confrontation, expressing your needs, and advocating for yourself. If this is something you are working on in other relationships, it may be helpful to practice with your therapist first. Keep in mind that sometimes the ways in which we show up in the therapy office may reflect how we show up in other relationships. If you struggle to advocate for yourself and express when you are understandably frustrated with your therapist, you may struggle to do this elsewhere, like at work or with friends. Overall, working through conflict in a healthy way is an important skill to have. If done in an empathetic and open manner, it could make your relationships stronger. 

There’s a difference between feedback and teaching. Clients who are part of an underrepresented group such as  LGBTQ+, a person of color, or part of a religious community, it can be frustrating when your therapist doesn’t understand your culture or values. Keep it mind that it is important that each person has a therapist that is competent in the areas important to their clients. If they aren’t, it is standard practice to refer that client to another therapist. As a client, if you are finding that your therapist is lacking in understanding and basic education around your various identities, it might be necessary to ask for a referral. There is a difference between feeling frustrated with an observation or behavior from your therapist, and needing to spend your session time educating your therapist. After all, we want you to feel comfortable with whoever you are working with.

At Valued Living Therapy, we understand that it can be scary to tell your therapist something that is bothering you, but we welcome the opportunity to improve in our work together. Bringing up conflict is a great way to practice communication skills, and for your therapist to model healthy repair. We want our clients to feel comfortable advocating for their needs, and sometimes that starts within the therapeutic relationship. Remember, there is a difference between occasional frustrations and constantly needing to teach your therapist. If you are still feeling disconnected after confronting your therapist, ask for a referral. Therapy is most effective when you have good rapport with your therapist, and anything getting in the way of you feeling engaged in this work should be discussed openly. If this is something you’ve been struggling with, consider reaching out to your therapist this week to get the conversation going! 

Valued Living Therapy

We are a dynamic, trauma-informed, multi-specialty group practice of mental health professionals offering therapy in the heart of Edina, MN and online throughout Minnesota.

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