How to Trust Your Therapist’s Help

How to Trust Your Therapist’s Help

Everyone feels uncomfortable opening up to another person, particularly with a relative stranger

Learning to trust your therapist can be a challenging task for anyone, but especially for those coming out of addiction. Often times, the individual in recovery has recently experienced rejection and mistrust from close friends and family, making it that much more difficult to trust. However, for a therapist to be effective, trust is key. Before discussing a series of practical steps to build trust with your therapist, it will be valuable to delve into why mistrust might exist first.

Multiple Reasons for Mistrust

At the outset, it should be noted that mistrust is not necessarily indicative of anything negative or inappropriate. Rather, it is simply an emotional-rational decision based on a series of factors. You also should not feel any shame or guilt if you initially mistrust your therapist. And you may need to visit a few different therapists in order to find one who is a good fit for you. Each of the following reasons to mistrust are legitimate, but must be addressed to increase the effectiveness of therapy.

  • Personal Experiences: As briefly mentioned above, often personal experiences are a powerful motivator for current actions and emotions. For example, if an individual had a therapist in the past that did not respect her confidentiality, she will come into a new therapist interaction expecting the same to happen.
  • Trust Takes Time: A therapist relationship is distinctly different from the development of a typical friendship. Generally, trust is built over time and in small steps, but a therapist is looking to “dive deep” quickly. This is unnatural, and requires an adjustment.
  • Paying for a Friend: Many inappropriately approach therapy as though it is paying for a friendship. Nothing could be further from the truth, as a therapist is a highly trained individual providing her expertise toward your specific situations. In reality, a better comparison is a lawyer or an accountant. Nevertheless, it is awkward and at times uncomfortable to feel as though you are paying to talk to someone.

Talking to your therapist about your difficulty trusting her can help you work on these issues together and develop more trust.

Strategies to Build Trust

There are many strategies that can be employed to move past the hurdle of mistrust with a therapist, regardless of the reason for this mistrust. One mental approach to keep in mind is that fear is normal. Everyone feels uncomfortable opening up to another person, particularly with a relative stranger. The following are some examples of specific approaches that can limit the level of discomfort:

  • Acknowledge how uncomfortable you are, and describe the reasons you feel this way.
  • Push past the embarrassment, and the fear that your therapist will judge or ridicule you for making the choices or having the thoughts you have.
  • Let go of any thought that you may disappoint your therapist, as it is not your job to please your therapist, only to find health and continue on the road to recovery.
  • Confront the thoughts of denial that cause you to think you don’t need therapy by engaging in a conversation with your therapist about why you feel this way.
  • Invite your therapist to help limit the awkwardness by engaging in conversations about safe topics or by sharing a bit about his own life and experiences.
  • Listen carefully to the thoughts that are swirling in your mind about therapy, and specifically be on the watch for patterns of negative assumptions or distorted thinking.
  • Ask your therapist questions about his methods, experience, and the lessons he has learned over the time he has been practicing.

This list is certainly not exhaustive, but if you can apply some of these strategies you will likely find success in reducing the level of mistrust you feel toward your therapist.

Therapy Can Help You Recover from Addiction

Most cannot maintain sobriety without the support of family, friends, and professional to provide strength, guidance, and motivation. A therapist is often one key member of this support team, but if you are not able to trust him to both guard your confidentiality and provide practical advice, then you are not able to access the help he could otherwise give you.

Taking the time to understand the reasons for your hesitancy in trusting your therapist is a vital first step, and will give you a baseline from which to grow. Once you have addressed these barriers, which are often powerful and realistic, you will be able to apply one or more of the strategies described above to build trust. You need support to maintain recovery, and if you don’t want to fall back into addiction you should take appropriate steps to protect yourself.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction or substance abuse, we can help you. We can answer your questions. The admission counselors at our toll-free, 24 hour helpline can help you learn more about addiction. They can help you find your way.