Therapy is Not a Place to Lie to Yourself (or Your Therapist)

By Erica Cramer, LMSW

Therapy starts with honesty. In so many areas we are supposed to “act” in a certain way even when it is not genuine. At work, we are supposed to “act” professional and hardworking. On a date, we are supposed to “act” attractive and interesting. At school, we are supposed to “act” smart and sophisticated. All this “acting” can sometimes cause us to forget who we are and how we genuinely feel about certain aspects of our life. 

Therapy is a place where you do not need to be a famous actor and there is no academy award. In order for therapy to be successful, it is vital that we “act” like ourselves. In some cases, this is the most challenging part of the therapeutic process. It requires us to remove the mask that may be our most helpful coping mechanism in our everyday life and get real. It challenges us to be genuine to who we are and how we truly feel about situations. 

Sometimes a therapist can feel like an authority figure. If we did not complete their latest assignment, we somehow disappointed them and need to come up with a legitimate excuse. This is not true. Unlike so many other aspects of your life, in therapy, you can say the actual reason why you did not do something. “I was too depressed” or “I didn’t feel like it” are totally acceptable answers that probably would not be acceptable in the outside world. But, in therapy, this type of honesty is essential to determining who you are as a person and why you do (or don’t do) the things that you do. 

In many respects, your relationship with your therapist mirrors your relationships with people in your everyday life. Are you passive aggressive during therapy sessions? Do you have difficulty opening up to your therapist and finally address what is really bothering you when your appointment is almost over? Are you constantly late to your scheduled time slot? Do you respect your therapist’s advice or do the complete opposite? The answers to these and many other questions can help you uncover who you really are and how you are behaving in most of your relationships. Whether you are a novice to therapy or have been engaging in treatment for years, it is essential to constantly evaluate how honest you are being in therapy. If you are not being honest, it is time to immediately figure out how to best navigate the safe space that you have been creating for yourself.

Erica Cramer is a therapist at Cobb Psychotherapy. If you are looking for support in finding solutions to enhance your overall wellness, contact Cobb Psychotherapy by calling 718-260-6042 or emailing reception@cobbpsychotherapy.com, and see how therapy can help

Elizabeth Cobb