by David McPhee, PhD

Here are a few things I don’t tell my clients.
  1. I spent at least a few minutes before you came in, or appeared on screen, thinking about you, centering my attention on you, sending mental messages of peace and wellness and hope.

  2. If you’re a challenging or difficult client, I’ll spend more time on prep — stirring up my empathy, my compassionate curiosity, and the ever-necessary unconditional positive regard. You have every right to expect the most of me.

  3. I don’t tell you how much I care about you, at least until I’m certain you’re ready to hear it. Too many folks are too hurt and doubting at first, and couldn’t bear to believe someone genuinely cares.

  4. I don’t tell you if I’ve just gotten some annoying news, or have a headache, or made a bad investment, or just decided to retire in three years, or that our practice manager is quitting, or that my daughter just had a healthy baby after a scary pregnancy. Self disclosure can be important sometimes, but it’s only OK if it furthers your therapy.

  5. We’re not pals, but I love you.

  6. I see your suffering and I am here for you, absolutely.

  7. I think about you between sessions, depending on how you’re doing, and once in a while may have moments of worry about whether my approach is right, or whether I should confront more and comfort less, or vice versa. Sometimes I decide to just ask you.

  8. Sometimes when I do my morning meditation prep and see a great quote I think would help you, I’ll file it in my brain and repeat it for you when and if the time is right.

  9. Depending on a lot of factors, I may remember you for decades after therapy ends, mostly because you did so well, or taught me something, or sometimes sadly because I didn’t seem to help you at all.

  10. You are a gift to me. Working with you makes me feel useful, and deepens my experience of humanity, and broadens my world view, and creates an opportunity to show love in so many ways — a rare opportunity, with you, and six or seven other beautiful humans every day.