Consider the following story as it relates to this week’s topic.
It’s been just over two months since I started seeing my therapist and I think things could be a little better, mostly due to my behavior. My therapist asks questions, leads me along with conversation, and is extremely helpful throughout our sessions. However, I haven’t been completely honest with her. I keep some details to myself, avoid expanding on certain topics, and even lie at times. I’ve done it for different reasons, but it definitely can’t be helpful. Right?
Therapy has long been thought of as something helpful for improving our lives and a path to the truth about ourselves, friends, and family. So, what happens when people spend their sessions being dishonest with their therapist?
According to a 2015 study conducted by Matt Blanchard, Ph.D. and Barry A. Farber, Ph.D., in a group of 547 people who sought therapy, 93% admitted to lying to their therapist. Yet, this has more to do with the nature of truth than a lesson in the game of deception with your counselor. Our licensed psychologists and mental health counselors in Tampa would like to shed some light on this very interesting topic below.
Why We do It
Truth is rarely a black and white topic. It’s multifaceted and, in many instances, hard to fully understand. In fact, according to Susan Kolod, Ph.D., “truth is something that emerges over time, when there is a trusting relationship between therapist and patient.”
So why do many of us lie to our therapists? Some of the most common reasons include:
- A fear of being shamed or judged – You’d probably lie to a friend or family member if you had to disclose personal information. The same applies when lying to your therapist, especially if you see this person as a stranger
- No established trust – There’s some information we’d only reveal to people we trust. This can be difficult when we barely know our therapist, and more so when coupled with a history of betrayal or lack of trust from the patient.
- Lying to oneself – It’s not uncommon for people to lie but lying could also be prompted if you aren’t fully prepared to accept the truth about yourself. This changes as therapy sessions advance and can often reveal things that we never really knew about ourselves and are afraid to accept.
- Having yet to process trauma – Sometimes people have yet to connect their traumas to their behaviors. They don’t intend to be deceitful, but they haven’t fully begun to understand their experiences or how they have shaped their person.
Moving Past It
It’s easy to see why most of us think lying to a therapist is counterproductive, but as we’ve stated before, the truth isn’t black and white. If you sense yourself lying, then it’s important that you try to disclose this information with your therapist, but it may take you time to be ready for that.
Together, you and your therapist will work towards understanding the things that are too difficult to talk about. If something can’t be said, let your therapist know that you don’t feel comfortable revealing it yet.
Also, keep in mind that your therapist-client relationship may not be the right fit, which means you may feel more comfortable trying to find that extra bit of trust with a different professional.
Your Mental Health is Our Priority
Your mental health is just as important as your physical well-being, which is why Rice Psychology Group will work hard to ensure that your needs are given proper attention. If you or someone you know is struggling with issues that they don’t fully understand, know that our Tampa psychologists are here to help.