My therapist doesn’t believe me: What should I do?

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In this blog we will discuss what you should do if you feel like your therapist doesn’t believe you.

We will also discuss why trust is important in a therapeutic alliance. 

My therapist doesn’t believe me: What should I do?

Here are some things you can do if you feel like your therapist does not believe you:

  • Bring it up in sessions
  • Explore your feelings
  • Develop objectivity
  • Evaluate if they are being ethical or not
  • Consider seeing someone else

When your therapist does not seem to believe your testimony, it can be an upsetting experience particularly because they are the one person you might have opened up to wholly and that too, possibly for the first time. 

If you think that your therapist does not believe you, for whatever that might have occurred in the sessions or out of the sessions for you to believe so, here are a few things that you can do:

Bring it up in sessions

When you are able to meet the therapist or talk to them, bring up your concerns and let them know that their disbelief or their behaviour towards your story and testimony has been stressing you out. 

You have to understand that therapists are people too and they cannot always correct even if they try very hard to be ethical, there are moments that their human side can get the best of them.

Bringing it up in the session can help you and your therapist develop mindfulness as to what is happening in the case of the other person, build empathy, and eventually more trust. 

It is best that you talk to them directly, bringing up your concerns and how you feel when they tend to question your testimony as well as have a discuss about how this makes you feel,

It’s perfectly okay to leave it at that. However, if you’re comfortable you and your therapist can work a way around the issue and discuss what each of your boundaries lie as therapist and client. 

Explore your feelings

When your therapist does not seem to believe the testimony that you give, you might feel anxious and also a sense of alienation and loneliness. The feeling that you are alone in your struggle can be very scary and heartbreaking. 

What you can do is that you take this chance to deal directly with all these feelings either with the same therapist, provided that the therapist has been ethical and has corrected their orientation or clarified the situation or with a new therapist.

It is important that you work on these feelings because not believing your struggles can be an extremely traumatic experience and it can hinder your healing and therapeutic journey as well.

Develop objectivity

Another important thing for you to consider is that you might be reading too much into it. For example, if your therapist appears to be asking too many questions surrounding the issue or that they seem to want to talk to your family about your testimony- it might not be because they do not believe you but rather because they are ethically bound to do so. 

Understanding and cross-checking the client’s claims especially when it comes to serious issues like abuse, self harm, and other harmful circumstances and behaviours is part of their job.

They need to investigate either from your testimony or that of people around you so that they can treat you appropriately in such a way that you remain supported.

Evaluate if they are being ethical or not

If you start noticing that your therapist not only does not believe you but also seems to not be listening and they tend to have a blank stare when you are pouring your heart out, or they seem distracted and uninterested, that is a dangerous sign. 

An ethical therapist knows how to listen to you and is attentive to the conversation to find an underlying message, if this is not what they are doing- it could be a sign that they are unethical. 

It is important that you make sure that your therapist is being ethical and some of the ways you can discern that for yourself includes:

An unethical therapist is that they judge you or shame you for what you might have said or decisions you have made etc. 

An unempathetic therapist is an unethical one, so if you feel like your therapist is judging you, you should consider moving on from this therapist. 

When you are working with a therapist, and you notice your therapist is starting to take advantage of your vulnerability, you need to find yourself a new therapist immediately. 

This could manifest in ways such as, they ask you out for dinner or they tend to make sexual suggestions or romantic propositons etc. 

If you find that your therapist has not been mindful in their responses via email, chat, or calls nor have they helped you feel safe, heard, and supported and the non responses continue- it is possible that your therapist is breaching ethicality and it is best for you to move on to someone else. 

Therapist confidentiality is a major ethical aspect of the mental health professional field. 

This means that your therapist should not be sharing any information about you unless they think you are an immediate danger to yourself or someone else. 

If you have any reason to believe that they have broken confidentiality, for example your details with someone else who they are not supposed to consult with, you have the right to terminate and move on. 

In such a case where your therapist is exhibiting unethical behaviours, it is very likely that they are being unethical. It is best that you choose to change therapists and that you find someone else to work with.

Consider seeing someone else

If you find that your therapist has not been mindful nor have they made adjustments and accommodations to help you feel safe, heard, and supported after you have addressed the issue to them, it is possible that your therapist is breaching ethicality and it is best for you to move on to someone else. 

In such a case, you can let them know that you would like to terminate the sessions with them and be direct in your feedback while doing so. 

You have every right to change therapists if you find that the way this therapist works is not the kind of support you need or require. 

For every therapist, there is a certain ethical guideline that one has to follow. Therapists that are unethical pose the threat of harming a client. 

So once you have had the conversation, pay attention to how they are accommodating of your needs while you also respect their boundaries as your therapist. 

Pay attention to how they are dealing with your crisis needs and your anxieties, make sure that you feel safe and that you trust your gut. 

My therapist doesn’t believe me: Importance of trust in therapy

When it comes to therapeutic work, one of the major factors that impact the outcome of treatment is the therapeutic alliance. The more trusting the relationship is, the more likely it is that the patient will adhere to treatment, feel supported and respected, and eventually recover. 

To develop this ideal relationship is one of the major goals of any therapist and on the behalf of the therapist, it requires awareness and trust towards the client’s as well as the process.

It is tricky to build a trusting alliance between therapist and client because of the fact that there is a very obvious imbalance of power-the therapist knows almost everything about the client whereas the clients learn very little about me as well as the fact that the therapist tends to have an “expertise” which can further this imbalance.

However, what is crucial about the relationship is that there must be an equal balance and the therapist and the client must remain equals irrespective of what is shared and who the expert is. 

Without a trusting alliance, therapy can only go as far and according to most therapists- not very far because if therapy is to be truly effective, trust is the number one most important ingredient in a therapeutic relationship; and in this relationship, the therapist is responsible for establishing this trust. 

If your therapist does not seem to be doing this, making an effort to build trust- particularly your trust in them as well as their ability to help you along the way, it might be the case that you evaluate your therapist for their abilities as well as whether they adhere to ethics.

Your therapist should take the first few sessions to help the client build trust and a good rapport so that the client themselves can assess the therapist so that they can decide for themselves if they are the right therapist for them.

Trust is vital because the journey that clients take in therapy is one of self discovery and it can be a very sensitive, emotional, and challenging journey for one to take. In such an experience it is important for the client to be able to trust the therapist and for them to trust that their therapist trusts them as well. 

Conclusion

In this blog we have discussed what you should do if you feel like your therapist doesn’t believe you.

We have also discussed why trust is important in a therapeutic alliance. 

FAQ related to my therapist doesn’t believe me

Can you tell your therapist whatever you want?

Yes. You can talk about whatever you want from something specific to more general issues like a life transition or life event that is causing you stress. 

Do therapists ever cry with their clients?

Yes. therapists do cry with their clients and it is quite a common occurrence and is often observed as a display of empathy and compassion.

Why do I feel like I can’t talk to my therapist?

If you feel like you cannot talk to your therapist it is possible that you are unable to trust them because of your own negative thoughts and feelings or because your therapist has not made much effort to make you feel safe.

When is it time to take a break from therapy?

If you have been in therapy for a while you might get comfortable and have difficulty looking at your own progress objectively. If you feel like your life is going well overall and you are able to adapt to challenges could be a sign that you’re ready for a pause in therapy. 

In such a case, taking a break from therapy can be beneficial, especially if you have been able to adjust and adapt well to your life.

Can I get my session notes from my therapist?

If you want your records for further treatment that you might avail later on in the case that you seek treatment elsewhere, you should discuss the possibility of getting your records from your therapist.

References

Therapist Doesn’t Believe Me | My PTSD Forum. https://www.myptsd.com/threads/therapist-doesnt-believe-me.70246/

Have you ever felt your therapist doesn’t believe you (abuse)? My Support Forum. https://mysupportforums.org/psychotherapy/371094-have-you-ever-felt-your-therapist-doesnt.html

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