What If My Therapist Doesn't Share my Beliefs?
Updated: Jul 2, 2021
People have asked me, “What do you do when a client has a different worldview / belief / faith / etc than you?” This is an extremely important question, especially nowadays with so much polarisation out there.
"Opposites Attractive" by Trey Ratcliff is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
I’ve had clients ask me about my political leanings, if I am religious, whether I am pro or anti-vaxx, if I would consider myself an addict or an alcoholic, and more. I always find these questions interesting and what I pick up through these conversations is that what people are generally looking for is connection. I imagine them asking themselves - consciously or subconsciously, “Can I relate to this guy?” Or maybe more importantly: “Can he relate to me?”
With that in mind, I get to answer these questions - and it’s usually with a question of my own. It generally goes something like this, “I’m curious, what does knowing this information do for you?” Or, “How does knowing these things help you move forward?” Then…
And I sit there in silence as I watch them think and ponder over the questions that I’ve posed. Usually, after a few moments, a response comes that goes either, “I don’t know. I was curious, I guess.” Or, “I guess it really doesn’t help me move forward.”
I think that there is this belief that your therapist needs to know absolutely everything about you. To some degree there is some truth there. You see, as a therapist, I care about your story. I want to know what has happened, where you have come from, and what has brought you to therapy in the first place.
However, as important as those things are, I’m really more interested in helping you get to where you want to go.
All this aside, sometimes our conversations will go places. Depending on our relationship, and whether or not I think it is therapeutic, I may share my thoughts about certain things. In the biz we call that ‘self-disclosure’. It is a tool we use to help build rapport - meaning a connection. Or we might make use of it to connect some dots. Some therapists use this more than others. And that’s okay.
So feel free to ask away. But remember, therapy is about you, not me. I may just have the privilege of going along for the ride.
P.S. I’m more than willing to share my thoughts on the following subjects: the Leafs, dad jokes, and the appropriate way to drink coffee. Just give me a call at 613.877.4148 and I can regale you with dad jokes all day. Or, you know, provide therapy and stuff.