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Why Doesn’t My Therapist Give Me More Feedback and Advice?

Dear GoodTherapy.org,

Hello. I am a 56-year-old male who has been going to a therapist for a year now. The thing that bothers me most is she begins our session and asks “What’s up?” or “What’s been going on?”, then she keeps quiet all the time as I ramble on about the stressful days of the past week. Am I supposed to get some sort of feedback from the therapist, like advice or something? She is young, about late 20s I guess. I really would like to know if someone else has the same kind of therapist who just sits there, and lets you do all the talking? I am not such a chatter mouth as to not let her chime in; in fact, I'm stuck at times to think what to say. Am I just there to talk only? Should she be saying or asking me questions? I am suicidal and tried to end my life a year ago. I spent a week in the hospital in a coma from an OD. I feel a little okay now, but I think it's the drugs the psychiatrist doctor has been giving me that are helping me. I want so much for her to tell me something and respond to me what to do to get better. What should I say to her? She also takes me in 15 minutes after my scheduled appointment time and ends the session a few minutes before my hour is up. I don't want to insult her, and I like to talk to her, as I am very comfortable with my therapist. The therapist office is in walking distance and takes my insurance. Also, it is very convenient for me to go there as I am partially handicapped. I am very attached to going to see her; I look forward to it, as I have no one else to talk to. Can someone please respond to me? What to do? Please help. Thank you for reading my post. - Questioning Client

Dear Questioning Client,

Thank you for writing in with this very thoughtful question; you raise some important therapeutic issues that deserve to be addressed. Before getting to your question, I would just like to acknowledge your courage and perseverance. Despite the frustrations you have with your therapist, you are still willing to go in week after week to work on the issues that you are struggling with. It sounds like only 1 year ago, you were at a point of such despair and desperation that you nearly ended your life. Today, however, you are so committed to your healing that you are regularly working with a psychiatrist on the medicinal aspects of your treatment and also working very hard in your therapy sessions.

To be honest, Kevin, when I read your question, I cringed at the thought of your therapist routinely starting your sessions 15 minutes late and ending early. The therapy hour is a very precious one and one that should be reserved for you and only you—it is your time, period. Of course, a session right before yours might run a little late every once in a while, but this should not be a weekly occurrence, and when it does happen, the time you lost at the beginning of the hour should be added on to the end of the hour. As for her lack of active participation in your sessions, this could be a result of her training and the approach she takes in her work—some approaches to therapy call for therapists to remain detached from their clients. The rationale for this detachment tends to be rooted in a desire to maintain therapeutic boundaries; your therapist’s disregard for the start and stop times of sessions, however, runs contrary to a focus on therapeutic boundaries.

One thing that seems clear from your question is that you like your therapist and you appreciate the time and space offered by your sessions to work on healing. This tells me that a good therapeutic relationship has developed between the two of you during the year that you have been working together. I hope that the combination of this therapeutic relationship and the courage that you so clearly bring to therapy will allow you to talk to her about the issues you raised. They are absolutely legitimate issues and very worthy of discussing with her.

It can be anxiety provoking, and even frightening, to think about having this kind of conversation with your therapist—you even mention not wanting to insult her. However, for many people, maybe even most, a significant part of therapy is learning how to have fair, direct conversations aimed at getting their needs met, while being open to hearing the other side of the situation. What better place to practice this kind of conversation than within the safety of the therapeutic relationship? Hopefully, she will be open to hearing what you have to say and will be willing to work with you on these issues. If she is not, it might be in your best interest to consider looking for a therapist who is a better fit for you.

 
Comments
  • f.cooper November 2nd, 2012 at 10:50 PM #1

    it’s not easy to find a therapist that you connect with,especially of you are choosy like I am.I settled with the fourth therapist when I needed therapy.

    You seem to have found one you are comfortable with and hat is good news.regardless the time spent is an important aspect too and shortening that can work against you.just speak with your therapist about it and I’m sure the problem is small enough to be sorted out through dialogue.all the best.

  • Hollis November 3rd, 2012 at 4:46 AM #2

    I really do think that if your therapist heard something that needed to be further addressed as the two of you talk, then she would mention that and try to expound upon that. But maybe she is giving you a safe place to talk and share without having to feel like you have something deep to delve into. I am sure that if you told her okay, I am trying to work through something and I would love to know what you think about htis or that, then she would be happy to respond. But if you are happy with the way that things are right now, then I don’t see that there is anything wrong with her staying a little hands off and quiet and allowing you to share.

  • Jim November 3rd, 2012 at 2:57 PM #3

    If you look forward to seeing her, and you said right here that you did, then who cares what she does or doesn’t say? It is obvious that going to her and talking with her means something good to you, so maybe this is all leading to her trying to let you just talk through some things and find out on your own, with her guidance, just what needs to be done. Sometimes I think that it means so much more to find things out on our own than it does to have someone tell us. It’s a much stronger learning influence this way.

  • breanne November 5th, 2012 at 5:03 AM #4

    There are tons of therapists out there- if you aren’t happy then I recommend looking for someone new. How can you ever really find your true and happier self if you aren’t happy with the guidance that you are being given?

  • Johnathan Shumacher November 5th, 2012 at 9:33 AM #5

    The absolute best thing that ever happened to me in regards to therapy was a therapist who went out on maternity leave. Fortunately, we had only met for about three months. I had a problem with overeating and the comment that sticks out most in my mind is: Can’t you put a limit on that? I was very young and didn’t know how to advocate for myself. I didn’t even realize this therapist was not for me because she was the first therapist I’d ever had. But, when she went on maternity leave, she referred me to another therapist who was a complete God-send. She helped me and my family so much, and I am forever grateful to her. So, even though you are comfortable with your therapist, maybe you could try someone else. You may never know what you are missing out on unless you give someone else a try!

  • Denise OHara November 8th, 2012 at 7:34 PM #6

    I am moved by your tenacity and courage and it troubles me that your therapist starts your session late. You are making a a financial investment along with an emotional one by choosing to participate in therapy. That time in therapy belongs to you and I find it unethical for her not to hold up her part. I agree with the above response that her theoretical methods may be dictating her approach during your sessions; however, some feedback seems more than appropriate given your history. Although giving advice is not what therapy is all about, examining your choices and exploring your feelings seems like an important and missing piece of the work that you are doing. It is OK and wise for you to bring all of this up with her. If it still does not feel like you are getting your needs met, it may be time to look for another therapist.

  • PRU July 5th, 2013 at 6:09 PM #7

    Thanks so much for sharing Iam so glad you did not take your life and that you are here with us engaging in therapy . You may want to informed your therapist of how you feel and let her know you are not comfortable in your sessions at this time . This is your time and it’s good to be honest in each of your sessions . Sometimes it takes time to develop a good working/trusting relationship with your therapist. Be well, and stay strong ….

  • KC January 1st, 2014 at 2:53 PM #8

    “Why doesn’t my therapist give me more feedback and advice?” was LITERALLY the exact same question I JUST searched for…. and guess where I landed? ;-)

    First and foremost, I just want to tell you how PROUD I am (and I’m SURE everyone else that is in this conversation!!!) of YOU, for YOUR continuous effort of going BACK, everyyyy da*n tiiiime!!!

    Secondly, I KNOW firsthand how hard that is, day in and day out…. I truly do. howeverrr, what I’m starting to learn NOW though, is that sometimes when I FEEL like I am talking too much ((which is usually how the session pans out…. and, at the time, I hate it and it definitely makes me feel VERY anxious and out of place…. >:( ….)), I actually (usually) end up solving my OWN problem that I’m talking about, sharing about, questioning about, etc., with my therapist, AS I AM TALKING TO HER (or even after the session is done and I’m on my way home, thinking about what was said..) How ironic is that? I swear to ya!! (lol)… I KNOW it feels uncomfortable going to go see her on a regular basis right now, my friend..((I reeeally KNOW & DO understand. :-( ..))
    …however, when she really is not being considerate of your needs, to the BEST of her ability, on top of being completely inappropriate and unprofessional…. MY personal advice, is to continue seeing her while searching for a NEW therapist… really… the only reason I say that is because I KNOW just how hard one week is for myself (that’s how I relapsed after 4 & 1/2 months of sobriety), at least, and if I didn’t have anyone to talk/turn to, I don’t know where or even IF my life would still be here, you know?…. (which, by the waaaay, you are DEFINITELY supposed to be here right now, at this very second, listening/reading my ramble, because, well….ya wanna know why??? ;-) here’s a few examples for ya: :-)

    - That door you held open for an elderly woman, either recent or a looong time ago, doesn’t matter… either way… I can guarantee you that that woman kept YOU in her thoughts and in her heart for as long as she could. Just because YOU held the door open for HER – a rarity that you TRULY don’t see anymore OR don’t hear a thank you for, anyway…. – brought a SMILE to her face ALL over again…ALL because of your kind spirit! (annnnd, if not an elderly woman, then, well…. someone else you were a complete nice guy too! :-)

    - If you weren’t here right now, my friend… I would have NEVER been able to click on the link to even read and/or reply to this status, which in all actuality…. I needed your words just as much as (hopefully…lol) you needed or listened to, mine! And I can guarantee you that I won’t be the ONLY one that is truly effected by your message! PLEASE keep going to your appointments, friend! Take advantage of them while they are available and so close to you!!… it may sound like a selfish thing to do, or even bothersome, but, it actually isn’t! at ALL! ((I found this out recently, TOO! lol)) that’s what they are there for! for YOU. :-) … I am actually going to talk to my therapist next week about the SAME ISSUES I am going through with HER! Blaaahhhhh! :-P

    Ok sooo, I don’t want to make this message TOO long soooo, 2 compliments is all ya get today, buddy!!! :-P ((hehe, totally kidding!! :-) …))….but really, i would highly suggest trying to find a different therapist if her behavior doesn’t change soon…. i mean, i STILL have to talk to mine, too, sooo… trust me… i know it’s not easy, but…. you DESERVE this, my friend!!!!!!! we are ALL here for you, cheering you on!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :-) :-)

    Every day that you are in this WORLD has an impact on some one, some thing,…but most importantly, YOU. :-) . It’s actually what I have been learning RECENTLY, throughout the past 22 YEARS of therapy!…(parents divorced when I was 2, brother was 4….and family therapy began shortly thereafter. . .)) because we all know just how much hell we have to go through to find our “saving grace”… that “someone” who we can rely on… trust… feel safe with… let all of our worst nightmares escape from us…… however, in MY experience, at 29 years old,…. after everything i have been through in my life personally (DEFINITELY not discounting your life – just wanted to make a quick point..lol), the funny thing is, is that that “saving grace” we are looking for is TRULY within OURSELVES… i never ever ever everrrr believed it and always thought that whoever said that was full of BS, but.. it’s 110% true, my friend.. i guess just look at this experience as: “Well, at least I don’t have to go see ____________ every week because all SHE does is cut me off in the middle of me talking with an answer, without even letting me finish my sentence and…….” you catch my drift, right?? :-) i DO think that there is a better therapist for you out there, for SURE… i totally agree with that! but, ya just gotta do some diggin’… that’s all… :-) …just make sure to utilize these appointments that you have now though, really! it may not seem like they are helping at ALL, but… they are! i PROMISE you this! get that sh*t off of your chest!!! :-)

    Ok, ONE LAST THING! I SWEAR!!!! lol :-D

    Alrightyyy sooo.. I literally just thought up a plan (for you AND myself, since we are going through the same crap right now, right? blechhhhhh).

    Soooo… what I was thinking was, instead of telling someone “the way you want things around here” (well at least that’s what it seems like it would sound like in MY head…lol) . . . how about instead of confrontation (my arch enemy), you write down, well, as many questions as you’d like, to bring with you to your next appointment?? I was thinking something along the lines of:

    - “I was thinking the other day after our last session and…. well…. I was just curious…. what do you feel I have improved within my life, my self, or the steps ahead of me, the MOST within the last year? And what do I need to work on more…? in your opinion? ….And why?”

    ….in my opinion, this should give her at the very LEAST, a few minutes, if not more, to explain in detail to you the things you have ACCOMPLISHED and the things that you MAY need to work on (not always guaranteed, by the way! :-) …once she has given HER opinion, you can respond to HER, since YOU listened to HER answer, right? :-) …then nonchalantly say something like, “Wow, thank you for sharing that with me. That means A LOT to me… I would love it if you could share your thoughts and suggestions MORE often with me? I thrive off of constructive criticism ((even if you may not right now, it will actually benefit you in the long run!)) and this is great! We should do this more often… sharing & listening, listening & sharing… Wow, that really just lifted a lot of weight off of my shoulders…….” (((Something like that!! lol…. :-P ..)

    Ok well, thank you ALL for listening to me yammer… I have a tendency to do that! lol… I hope I said something that made sense… I have a very bad habit of getting off the subject and focusing on the next 3 in my head…. Soo… I do apologize for that! However, I wish you NOTHING BUT THE BEST, friend!!! NOTHING BUT THE BEST TO ALLLLLL OF YOU!!!!! I am sooooooo glad that I came across this site!!!! Everything TRULY does happen for a reason, no matter HOW cliche it sounds!

    All My Love,
    ~KC

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