More threads by AllyCat


Hi everyone. Hope you are all doing well :)
I was just curious if anybody else has experienced this and is it normal. Sometimes my therapist cries in our therapy sessions, not bawling your eyes out type of thing, just her eyes get red and a few tears will roll down her cheeks. I can see she tries not to but it just gets too much for her I guess. Sometimes I won't be crying and she will, and she said once that she is probably picking up on feelings from me. I don't have much of a problem with it because I do get it, some of my life story is pretty hectic and painful. So like watching a sad movie and crying I guess it's similar. I was just wondering if it's normal and does it happen often?
Thanks for reading!:)
Hi AllyCat, It sounds like you have already discussed this with your therapist and that you are ok with it. My concern would be whether you start to hold back things because you are worried about her reaction and upsetting her….ie will what I say make her cry? If yes and I don’t want that right now, maybe I just will talk about something else instead of what I really wanted to address. Do you ever find yourself doing this, trying to protect your therapist or worrying about her feelings?

Personally, I have not experienced therapists crying after I have told them something. I have had some get agitated over things I have said and I really don’t like that – I want them to be ok with whatever I say, no matter what it is. I don’t want to have to worry about freaking them out because then I start censoring what I am saying and that doesn’t help either of us in the long run.
I would say that the occasional clue that your therapist is human helps a lot! 8) An emotional reaction to what some people have been through, it must be like watching a war documentary about post traumatic stress syndrome. A reaction like that could be a sign that she has compassion for you, or possibly empathy if she has been through something like you have been through. (I get the impression that some people who go into psychology/psychiatry, shall we say, have a little more life experience because of the things that have happened to them: they are more sensitive to people and their needs - moreso than the average human who never had anything bad happen to them. That is what makes them such good therapists: some of them have "been there, done that;" some are living proof that once you work out what you need to work out you come out on the other side and can help people get from where they used to be to where they need to be).

My male therapist (who claims to be descended from non-huggers and not very emotional displaying people) is outwardly a very calm fellow, but there were one or two times when I could tell he was angry on my behalf. Well, as close to angry as he could get. I also, in the past, tried to get my mom or both parents to come see him or see him on their own, and naturally they never went... But after he heard some of the things that went on during my upbringing (over a period of about 2 to 2-and-a half-years that I was seeing him), he politely said that it would be best if I discontinued referring her to him and if she did see a therapist, she could see someone else... I am assuming because he would have a hard time remaining objective with her after hearing so much about her...

Felt good to feel like I had someone in my corner rooting for me.


Hi Marcel, thanks for the reply. No I have not discussed this issue with her mostly because it's not really an issue for me, I find it curious but it never stops me from telling her anything. But I do get your point and will look out for that in future. I'm sure it's hard for therapists to completely cut off from what you say and not get affected as the point of therapy is for someone else to understand and explore what you feel and think.
Hi Jollygreenjellybean, yes it is good to see them as human. I guess most of the therapists I've seen have displayed some sort of emotional reaction to what I have told them about my past. The previous ones were all men, one got angry for me much like what you described. I didn't like that, it seemed strange and very opinionating. This is the first female therapist I've seen so maybe that's why she cries and guys get angry. As I said I am not really bothered by it, I just find it interesting or curious.
If you're curious about it, maybe it would be a good idea to ask. Perhaps you'd learn something about yourself, the impact of your story or your therapist in the process. Therapists should be able to talk about feelings and reactions openly and non-defensively, particularly when empathizing with our clients. If I think it will benefit the client, I will share the feelings I have during a session. This helps validate the client's feelings and inform them of the impact their story has on others. This is certainly not to turn the attention to me, or to elicit a care taking response, but to let them know there is another person in the room who cares. Sometimes clients are surprised to learn that their story has an impact, or exactly how it impacts me.


Thanks, Ryan. I never thought of it that way, I might ask at the next session about it. I think what I have gathered from it is that I always tend to minimise the trauma I went through, to such an extent that I am baffled when my story moves people to either anger or empathy in this way. It kind of makes me realise that first off I am minimising and it is a type of coping mechanism, and secondly that it obviously has a great impact, even if subconsiously, on me if it affects others in this way. Sorry if my post is a bit confusing I sometimes struggle to put my thoughts down like they sound in my head. Thanks for your reply it gives me something to ponder.


Global Moderator & Practitioner
....No I have not discussed this issue with her mostly because it's not really an issue for me, I find it curious .....
AllyCat - I would really encourage you to talk with her about this. There are many, many reasons why a therapist might be crying during session with you - but what is important is that it is happening, and that you can talk about it. Why? Because all therapy (even the most traditional psychoanalysis) is rooted in relationship. And both of you contribute to the relationship. While her crying may not impede you from your work, perhaps it generates care-taking behaviours on your part .... or perhaps it serves to level a perceived (and real) power differential .... or perhaps it validates what you are saying ... At some level, it doesn't matter. What is important is that you talk with her about it - being as open as possible to her [explanations] and the (likely) questions she will ask about what it raises for you.
I agree with what most of the colleagues have said. Feeling empathy is ok and for me a must. I need to feel the patients pain to respond the right way. Just sitting there, listening and not feeling anything - well, thats what they tought us but something I can never live up to. Dont forget, we hear so much misery, pain and helplessness, that not reacting at all would be inhuman! I think we have to be human in order to help humans

David Baxter PhD

Late Founder
They key is to be both connected to the patient's distress and to be sufficiently detached from it to be able to help.

If the therapist becomes overly connected to and drawn in to the patient's distress, the therapist becomes in effect a fellow passenger or traveller on the patient's journey instead of a guide. At that point, the therapist ceases to be able to help.


I agree with both you Dr Baxter and Franz, however is it reasonable to expect people to be able to seperate themselves enough emotionally so as not to cry? Is it possible? I am just trying to figure out if it's normal and can or can't be helped. I can see she tries not to cry. It seems there is such a fine balance between caring enough and caring too much. I have a greater appreciation for the complex and difficult task you guys have :).
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