1. We see tears every day.
Crying can be embarrassing, and we understand that. Please feel free to express your emotions with us; that is exactly why we are here for you.
2. We learn a lot from you.
You tell us some amazing things sometimes. Whether it’s a unique insight you have based on your experiences, a piece of wisdom that you share with us, or your life experiences, we learn from you. You help us grow as therapists and as individuals.
3. We can’t always help you.
If you are not ready to change, we will try to help you get there, but it may not be the right time for you. Conversely, if you enter into therapy with the expectation that your therapist can solve all of your problems, you may be disappointed. Finally, we aren’t trained in everything. If we feel as though we lack training in your area of need, we will be honest with you about it and help you find a therapist that better fits your needs.
4. We may do some re-parenting with you.
This is not to suggest that we will become your long-lost mother or father. A lot of adult problems stem from childhood, and sometimes we find ourselves teaching you a skill you should have learned from your parents. This does not mean your parents were awful; sometimes it’s the result of what we call “accidental parenting,” which is what happens when a parent means well but misses an important part of child-rearing. No parent is perfect, and we will not spend our time blaming your parents. In fact, forgiving your parents for not being perfect is very healing. We will help you fill in the gaps.
5. We are very strict about confidentiality.
Mental health professionals have protected your confidentiality with fervor since far before HIPAA was a thing. We are diligent about computer security, shredding papers, and keeping your secrets. In fact, if we find out that you and another client may know each other, we will schedule you on different days and not even tell you. While there are some legal exceptions to confidentiality, it's a part of our job we take seriously.
6. We don’t want to send you to a psychiatric hospital.
Patients are wary of discussing their suicidal thoughts with us for fear we will have them locked up in a hospital. The fact is, we will do everything in our power to avoid hospitalization. Talking about your suicidal thoughts is important, and we can’t help if you don’t tell us. We will only initiate involuntary hospitalization if we feel that you are at imminent risk of going through with a plan of seriously harming yourself or someone else. Additionally, we are mandatory abuse reporters, which includes abuse of any child, disabled adult, or elderly person.
7. We don’t take credit for your success.
We didn’t help you get better any more than the hardware store helped you fix your toilet or the gym got you in shape. We give you the tools, but you do all the changing.
8. Nothing you tell us will shock us.
Not only have we heard it all, but we won’t judge you. You are not your behaviors or feelings. We are here to help you, and if you need to tell us embarrassing or difficult things for us to help you, we want you to disclose it without fear of judgement.
9. Health insurance is really frustrating to us.
We try to verify benefits before patients come to see us, but sometimes the insurance company gives us the wrong information. For example, your insurance company may tell us to charge you just a $25 copayment, but then they apply the visit to your deductible when they process the claim, leaving you with a large bill. We have no control over what the insurance company says or does, and sometimes patients don’t understand that. With insurance requiring more and more out-of-pocket costs to the patient, we’re as frustrated as you are.
10. Crisis is self-defined.
If something is important to you, it is important to us. We will never tell you that you are worrying over nothing or that your problems are not important.