Does anyone else ask themselves “Does my therapist like me?” after, uh, every therapy session?
If so, it’s all good! Been there, done that, so no shame here. In fact, many people wonder about this. Emily Cooper, a licensed clinical social worker and TikTok creator, sees similar hard-hitting and relatable questions flooding her comments on a regular basis. (And she answers them sometimes!)
We asked therapists to give their honest take on this question ― plus a few other nosy things people wonder about. Here’s what they said.
Do Therapists Get Annoyed With Their Clients?
The short answer: kind of, and mostly when clients don’t put in the necessary work. However, they do understand your potential reasons why.
“The annoyance dissipates really quickly when I remind myself that not every client is ready to go at the pace that I would like, and that everyone is on their own healing journey,” said Holly Wood, a sexologist and therapist. She’s found that the annoyance has to do more with her eagerness to help her clients grow than her clients themselves.
At the same time, remember that you getting annoyed with your own progress doesn’t necessarily mean your therapist feels the same.
“Most of the time, I find that clients get more frustrated and annoyed with themselves (than I am with them) when they’re feeling stuck,” said Nicholette Leanza, a therapist with LifeStance Health. “I remind them to be kind and patient with themselves.”
Allie Soss, a licensed mental health counsellor with New York City Psychotherapy Collective, would use the words “frustrated” or “disappointed” instead of “annoyed.” She agreed these feelings don’t come from a place of judgment, but rather from seeing the best for her clients.
“Oftentimes, therapists can see the potential in their clients before they can,” she said.
One other important POV: separating the client from their behavior. “Behaviors are not personality traits; they are means of coping,” said Antionette Bonafede, a therapist with Gateway to Solutions. “So, annoyed with behaviour? Yes, but not the person.”
Do Therapists Have A Favourite Client?
Sort of. One important factor has to do with the relationship between the therapist and client.
“It’s not so much about having a favourite client; it’s more about being a good therapeutic match with one another,” Leanza said. She’s found more smoothness and familiarity when there’s a mutual positive regard.
Soss also doesn’t feel as though she has “favourites,” so to speak. Connecting with one client might take less effort or time, she said, but that doesn’t mean some clients are “preferred” over others.
Another factor: whether the client is present and puts in the work inside and outside of sessions. “They can be angry, struggling and even demonstrating some frustrating behaviours, but I am genuinely happy to be with them if they are there and trying to work on it,” Bonafede said.
Allison Kent, a therapist with Cabo Behavioral, feels especially prepared and confident with clients who are within her specialisation. Others are extremely engaging. “I see high levels of progress with them, even if the progress is not linear,” she said.
Do Therapists Dread Seeing Certain Clients?
The answer to this question is similar. Typically, therapists point to sessions where the client is uncooperative or abusive as the most challenging.
“Therapists dread when clients don’t talk or when they expect the clinician to have the answers without information to work with,” Bonafede said.
That dread can be internal, too. For example, Wood gets anxious if she worries about her inability to help a client effectively — especially if she thinks a client might see her as incompetent as a result.
It’s important to note that how your therapist feels toward you or your behaviour shouldn’t negatively affect how they treat you.
“It would be unrealistic for every therapist to enjoy all of their clients, but that does not mean the care given should differ from client to client,” Soss said.
She and Kent spoke to the importance of recognising and monitoring those feelings, and either putting them aside or addressing them with their supervisors.
Do Therapists Think And Care About Their Clients?
A resounding “absolutely.”
“There have been many instances where I see a video, food, show, etc. and it reminds me of my clients,” Soss said. “Clients become a weekly part of a therapist’s life and very often, at least for myself, I find myself looking forward to hearing about my client’s week or helping them through their struggles.”
Kent said she thinks of her clients all the time. “I think about my clients off the clock, when I am with my family, when I am watching TV and even when I am on vacation,” she said, adding she has genuine care and concern for their well-being.
Further, some therapists even like hearing from clients periodically when they’re no longer seeing them.
“I love getting an occasional update from an old client just telling me how great things are going for them,” Wood said. “We really are in this profession because we care about people and want to see everyone thrive.”
Do Therapists Judge Clients Or Think What They’re Sharing Is TMI?
While you may be reluctant to share parts of your experiences, these therapists are happy to hear them, judgment-free. Additionally, they find your honesty helpful.
“As a sex therapist for over seven years, there’s not much that shocks me anymore!” Wood said. “And in fact, the more you tell us, the more you are helping yourself by providing all the information we need to help you through what you are dealing with. We can’t be as effective if we don’t have all the information.”
Bonafede said she’s heard it all, too. “I’d rather an ugly truth than a pretty lie any day,” she said. “No such thing as TMI in therapy.”
Kent agreed she’d rather a client risk giving TMI than miss out on a moment to learn and grow. At the same time, she validated any nervousness you might feel. “Generally, if a client thinks they are too much or oversharing, it is because they have been judged or shamed by others in the past,” she explained.
Feeling comfortable with your therapist is crucial to the relationship as well as your ability to gain anything from the process.
“If you are uncomfortable with expressing your true feelings and self with your therapist as time goes on, they may not be the right fit for you,” Soss said.
Most importantly, know this: Your therapist cares about you and values you. “Each [client] is unique, and it’s hard to not feel close to someone who is so open and vulnerable with you,” Wood said. “I truly feel honoured that I get to be a part of people’s most vulnerable moments.”