Psycho-Babble Psychology Thread 365728

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Therapist crying

Posted by pegasus on July 13, 2004, at 15:55:39

So, last week in t I was talking about a scary time in my life, and I started crying. I kept trying to get it under control and keep talking, and then I'd start crying again. After a while my therapist started crying too. It kinda freaked me out. It felt good - like she understood. But also bad somehow.

Eventually she said that she was crying because of how much pain I had in talking about this issue. It felt awkward to me, though, and I wanted her to stop crying.

So, I'm thinking I want to bring it up this week. What I'm thinking about saying is, "Last week when you cried when I was crying, I had confused mixed feelings. On one hand it felt validating. On the other, I felt responsible for having made you cry, which I didn't like. Also, I worried whether your own crying would distract you so that you wouldn't be entirely there for me."

I remember a thread a while back where people talked about Ts crying. I'm curious if any of the folks who didn't post there have additional thoughts about their therapist crying during their sessions.

I'm guessing that maybe she's partly trying to model that it's ok to cry when you're sad. I generally fight crying in therapy.



Re: Therapist crying pegasus

Posted by mair on July 13, 2004, at 17:13:55

In reply to Therapist crying, posted by pegasus on July 13, 2004, at 15:55:39

I don't know about this - I hope gg weighs in here, because she's described herself as a crier.

I've never cried in any session I've ever had, and my therapist hasn't cried either although once I was pretty certain her voice broke like she was about to. It was right after I had said something that my more rational mind could see (later) was probably a pretty awful thing to say. When I heard her voice crack (I don't think I was imagining it) it gave me a start and led me to look at how someone else might respond to what I said. It also made me reflect, more than a little negatively, about how unfeeling I can be, at least when I'm thinking about myself.

All the more power to you if you can bring it up with your therapist. I never did, and I was a little afraid to anyway in case I was totally wrong in my impression that she was reacting emotionally or that I my statement had been hurtful.



Re: Therapist crying

Posted by Asya on July 13, 2004, at 17:30:08

In reply to Re: Therapist crying pegasus, posted by mair on July 13, 2004, at 17:13:55

My T's eyes teared up and she was about to cry a few weeks ago. I think something I said must have just touched her because she has children of her own and it was about my relationship with my parents and their cruelty. I felt weird too, wished I could cry then too because I am cold on the outside and NEVER cry in sessions . . . on the other hand, felt weird that she was crying. I didn't bring it up because I felt I understood why she cried and it wasn't a full blown-out sob fest so felt certain it wasn't something that wouuld happen again. Hope this helps


Re: Therapist crying

Posted by Elle2021 on July 13, 2004, at 19:01:59

In reply to Therapist crying, posted by pegasus on July 13, 2004, at 15:55:39

I too fight crying in therapy. I feel if I cry it shows how incredibly weak I actually am, and we really can't let anyone find that out... ugh.

On the other hand, I'm studying to be a therapist, and I just finished a class where we went over various therapeutic approaches. The professor was/is a therapist, and mentioned that when clients told/tell her sad things, she doesn't hold back the tears. For me, this would be exceedingly awkward. I wouldn't know how to react to something like that. Then, I thought to myself that being as overly-sensitive as I am, I would probably cry at sad things clients disclose to me too. I think it really depends on the person and their personality. I like to think I'm fairly good at disguising my emotions (I've had a lot of practice).

I think I can relate to your feelings about feeling validated by her tears, but also feeling awkward about it. My therapist has never cried in front of me, I hope she never does. I need at least one of us to be anchored.



Re: Therapist crying

Posted by gardenergirl on July 13, 2004, at 23:21:41

In reply to Re: Therapist crying, posted by Elle2021 on July 13, 2004, at 19:01:59

I am a crier, and I think I have had tears once or twice with clients. It's interesting, though. Besides my own issues, I cry at sappy commercials, inspiring events, funerals (Oh my gosh, watching Reagan's funeral on TV used up lots of tissues, and when Nancy broke down in the end....sobbing right with her), weddings, goodbyes, etc.

But for some reason, I seem to hold it together more while in session with a client. Once a client was talking about how her grandmother had a stroke and was not doing well in rehab. I lost my Grandmother to Alzheimer's about 3 years ago, but it kind of triggered the pain of that again. And the client was really pretty stoic all the time, but this session she released a few tears, but then quickly got them back under control. So maybe then I was crying over my own loss, or instinctively I knew she needed a genuine reaction? I really don't know.

One time in processing a termination with a treasured client, I started to cry a bit in sharing with her what I had got out of working with her. This was really awkward, at least for me, because she wasn't crying. This was definitely my sadness at the ending of the therapy relationship with this client, and also likely due to a bad week at the time. I think my client was kind of stunned.

I can think of a couple of other times when I had tears form in my eyes, and sometimes I acknowledged them to the client and other times I just tried harder to contain. But given how much I cry at other times, I think there must be something about the T's role that helps me to contain so that I can be there for the client more. I do think it's okay to cry with a client at times, but goodness, if I was my normal blubbery self, I doubt that would inspire much confidence.

Does this help at all? I feel like I was just free-associating. I do think when I have cried, it's pretty much my own reaction. I don't look at the client as "making me sad" or "making me cry." I just cried, that's all. I think it's a genuine reaction of my own to their feelings or the content of what they are saying.



Re: Therapist crying

Posted by thewrite1 on July 13, 2004, at 23:44:40

In reply to Therapist crying, posted by pegasus on July 13, 2004, at 15:55:39

My T never shows any sort of emotion. Sometimes I wish she would, but I've been with her for so long now that if she suddenly started crying with me, that would feel really weird.


more crying musing

Posted by pegasus on July 14, 2004, at 12:07:11

In reply to Re: Therapist crying, posted by gardenergirl on July 13, 2004, at 23:21:41

Thanks everyone. It's interesting to hear people's reactions. And GG, it's good to hear from the other side. Maybe I'll ask my T what her crying in my session felt like to her.

The discussion made me think of one of my last sessions with my old T, where we were talking about what to do in our last session. He was sounding really upset when describing how he wanted it to be, which was different than my ideas. So, I responded by saying (in my most soothing manner) that it was ok, we could do it the way he wanted. Then he admitted that he'd been about to cry, and that sometimes when that happens he tries to talk through it. And he tells himself that it's not about him. I asked him why he almost cried. He said it was because of how hard this process (of terminating in the middle of everything) was. I'm still not sure whether he meant in general, for himself, for me, for all of his clients, or what. I wish I had asked him. And I wish he'd just cried instead of trying so hard not to. I think it might have been helpful for me in that context to see how much it affected him too. I certainly cried enough about it.



Re: Therapist crying

Posted by Brennan on May 22, 2008, at 9:32:40

In reply to Therapist crying, posted by pegasus on July 13, 2004, at 15:55:39

I understand that this is a relatively old thread, I couldn't help wanting to comment. Okay I can dig it if T's want to sympathize with what's going on in our lives but I would find it extremely creepy if my T just busted out crying while I was telling her something traumatic that happened to me. I think I would feel uber uncomfortable with her showing that level of emotion in front of me. While I understand that statement in it self could be one of the many reasons I attend therapy. I just had to say my peace about weepy T's crying in front of me.


Re: Therapist crying Brennan

Posted by Dinah on May 23, 2008, at 10:10:31

In reply to Re: Therapist crying, posted by Brennan on May 22, 2008, at 9:32:40

Hi Brennan. Welcome to Babble.

I think I'd feel uncomfortable if my therapist cried. My therapist is very warm and open, but I don't think I'd have stayed with a therapist who was too empathetic.

I guess it's a personal thing, and that's why it's good there is so much choice out there.


Re: Therapist crying

Posted by sunnydays on May 23, 2008, at 12:23:27

In reply to Re: Therapist crying Brennan, posted by Dinah on May 23, 2008, at 10:10:31

I have never had my therapist openly cry, but there was once or twice when he took off his glasses and wiped his eyes... now I can't be sure that it wasn't allergies since I know he has those too, but I think that he was touched at those moments by what I was saying. That felt appropriate to me, and although I was a tiny bit uncomfortable because I was worried he wouldn't like it if I made him sad, it also felt really empathetic that he could be touched by what I was saying. What's the saying? "Different strokes for different folks"?


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