My therapist doesn’T say much: is this normal?

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In this blog we will discuss if it is normal that your therapist does not say much and whether you should be concerned if your therapist is too quiet in sessions. 

We will also discuss what you should do if you are not comfortable about the fact that your therapist doesn’t talk or give inputs in sessions. 

My therapist doesn’T say much: is this normal?

If your therapist does not say much in sessions, it is fairly common particularly if they use a non-directive approach to your sessions. 

Your therapist might not say much in the beginning of your sessions because they might prefer to hear your whole story considering that you are the one paying them for theri time- it does not make sense if they take up most of the time talking instead of listening. 

 If your therapist is non- directive, they are someone who will primarily listen and reflect on what the client brings to the sessions. 

The classic examples of non-directive therapists are Sigmund Freud and psychodynamic approaches to therapy where the focus is on listening and not instructing the clients. 

Most therapists prefer to have a non-directive approach and at times a combination of the two. Where they mostly listened while the clients rambled on about what was happening in their life or what had happened in their past. 

The therapist in this case might suggest ways which facilitate changes in perspective of thinking, point out coping mechanisms, and reflect feelings etc.

Even if they do suggest certain actions and homework, they will not quiz you on whether the client has actually followed their directions- it is left entirely up to the client.

Though they are non-directive, they will take effort to psychoeducate the client and leave it up to the client to discern whether they want to apply it in their life or not. 

Your therapist might not say much in the beginning of your sessions because they might prefer to hear your whole story considering that you are the one paying them for theri time- it does not make sense if they take up most of the time talking instead of listening. 

Therapists prefer to use a non-directive approach because they understand that the experiences of each individual makes them unique and one solution that might work for others will not work for someone else. 

They might also use a non-directive approach because they prefer to help empower the client to understand themselves, develop an awareness about how they feel and think, and let that inform the decisions they make. 

They prefer to be non-directive because they are strong believers that directive approaches tend to limit the clients’ choices, their ability to think for themselves, and limit their ability to grow out of their present state. 

Therapists are non-directive because they believe that simulating who client’s lives are like outside of sessions but allow them to make decisions on their own would be a healthier approach than to foster dependence on a therapist. 

They also choose to be non-directive because they believe that telling clients which step they should take is breaching boundaries which can become unhealthy dependence.

While most therapists might not say much in the session they should be doing the following things:

  • They should be using encouragers like “Umm, head nods, uhuh, etc” to make sure that you understand that they are listening to you. 
  • They should be attentive and actively listening and engaging with you.
  • They should reflect feelings and meanings of what is being said as well as paraphrasing what is being said. 

They are few of the basic things that your therapist should be saying or doing in your sessions even if they do not go on a rant. 

Another thing that a therapist might do, even if non-directive, is to psychoeducate the client. A therapist might psychoeducate a client, such as give you information about certain psychological constructs and might even suggest that you see a doctor or additional medical assessments etc- however even in this case, your therapist will not impose these suggestions on to you

Therapists usually follow a non-directive approach and in some cases a combination of both approaches however in either cases, the boundaries are respected and kept firm and clear. 

What this means is that while the therapist might make suggestions, they will not impose on your boundaries nor will they make these suggestions as ultimatums- the client will be free to take suggestions or to discard them. 

They might also help you make plans of actions and in the process suggest certain steps that you can take but they will not force these plans of actions onto you.

An ethical directive and non-directive therapist will prefer to work collaboratively with the client where the client will have a say into what works and does not work with them and in the process give space to the client to make changes and accommodations even in these plans. 

What should I do if my therapist does not say much?

Here are a few things that you can do if you find that your are uncomfortable about your therapist not having much input in sessions:

Bring it up

The best thing you can do about this situation is to bring it up in sessions with them. If you are worried about what is going on, instead of beeting around the bush it is best that you bring it up so that you can also understand what is happening on their end. 

It could be because of their approach in the sessions or it could be because of other issues. Whatever the issue is, bringing it up in sessions can help you gain clarity about what is happening and that can help you take on the next few steps such as working though your feelings as well as possibly moving on to a different kind of therapist. 

Bringing it up in the session will help you and your therapist work on the issues and cross check the boundaries shared, it can also bring up a deeper level of understanding for both parties and can be beneficial for the treatment. 

Process your feelings in therapy

Once you have brought up the issue in therapy, an ethical therapist will help you process these feelings.

If your therapist’s approach is non-directive, it is likely that these feelings of worry and discomfort could also stem from your axneities and fears.

For example, if you are anxious as to why your therapist is not giving any feedback could be because you are anxious about hearing their opinion about you as a person which could also be linked to your constant need for validation. 

Dealing with your feelings as to what is causing discomfort can be a positive step towards your journey in therapy and the budding realtionship between you and your therapist. 

Be mindful of ethicalities

When you bring up the issue, make sure that you are also mindful of whether your therapist is being ethical or not. 

While the issue could be ebcause of their approach, which they sould have informed you beforehand, it could also be because they are genuinely inexperienced and are having a hard time dealing with being a therpaist- which, ethically speaking, should not happen without you being aware that they are therapist’s in training etc. 

Here are a few signs that indicate if you therapist is ethical or not and if they do not show these signs, it could be possible that they are being superficial about their practice and might require you to change therapists for your own safety:

  • They do not help you feel relaxed by having a warm, positive, and compassionate demeanor
  • They are not a good listener and do all the talking
  • They do not emphasize confidentiality and do not protect your identity
  • They do not have a willingness to help you solve your problem
  • They force you into a particular type of therapy and do not work with you to determine a treatment that works best for you. 
  • They do not make effort to learn about you and work with you to develop a treatment plan

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

When you are working with a therapist, and you notice your therapist is not being attentive, is not attending to you, is not listening or engaging with you in sessions, or they are starting to take advantage of your vulnerability, you need to find yourself a new therapist immediately. 

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. 

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.

See 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. 

Conclusion

In this blog we have discussed if it is normal that your therapist does not say much and whether you should be concerned if your therapist is too quiet in sessions. 

We have also discussed what you should do if you are not comfortable about the fact that your therapist doesn’t talk or give inputs in sessions. 

References

Why Does My Therapist Wait for Me to Start the Session? GoodTherapy. https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/why-does-my-therapist-wait-for-me-to-start-session-0918174#:~:text=If%20your%20therapist%20doesn’t,less%20influence%20over%20the%20session.

Why Doesn’t My Therapist Give Me More Feedback and Advice? https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/dear-gt/why-doesnt-my-therapist-give-me-more-feedback-and-advice

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