My Therapist Cries during Our Sessions; Is This Normal?

My therapist is a lovely woman except she has on numerous occasions started to cry during my sessions (not sobbing, but tears). She is very professional in every other sense, although this to me is inappropriate and very unprofessional, obviously leaving me feeling very uncomfortable! I would be interested to know if this has happened to anyone else? I have stopped my therapy with her, it got to be too much. —Tears for Fears
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Dear Tears for Fears,
Noah Rubinstein
Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, is the founder and CEO of GoodTherapy.org. He has worked with individuals, couples, and families for more than 20 years in various social service, counseling, and consultation roles within different communities, including mental health clinics, residential treatment centers, emergency shelters, hospice organizations, home-based therapy programs, summer camps, the Los Angeles Unified School District, and in private practice.
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  • Evander H

    Evander H

    July 2nd, 2012 at 6:17 PM

    I had a therapist one time that had a similar issue. It really worked out to be an empathy issue. He and yes I said he was breaking down on my issues with my father. He had conquered similar problems earlier in life and was very very empathetic with my situation. We conquered this much as any couple would conquer the issue by talking about it and working through the problems. I would say talk to your therapist about the issue when your not in the situation.

  • Jill S

    Jill S

    November 5th, 2012 at 5:59 PM

    I wonder if what a therapist did to me was right. I had been seeing her for over 3 years. She was told by me that I had DID. She allowed email contact sometimes multiple times a day, she called me without me calling her first, and made special exceptions to therapy. She said this was all due to the fact that she thought this is what I needed. I confessed recently that I don’t have DID and that my problems were borderline personality. She cried and said, “that really hurt”.
    I want to add that I believe that my progress has had a down slide after all I have been through with this t. Can anyone tell me if her crying was appropriate or any of the other things I mentioned was?

  • Anonymous

    Anonymous

    December 25th, 2012 at 4:41 AM

    If a therapist can’t remain professional, then find a different therapist. The moment they cross that line they cease being a therapist and become a sympathizer, which isn’t what you’re paying for and won’t help you at all.

  • AliceResearcher

    AliceResearcher

    February 6th, 2014 at 2:49 AM

    My name is Alice Watson. I am an undergraduate student at the University of East London, and I am conducting a dissertation research project into the client’s experience of therapist’s tears. This project has gained aproval from the School of Psychology ethics committee.

    I am interested in this experience and would be very keen to interview any one who has had this experience as a client. For those who are not based in London, interviews can be conducted via Skype.

    For more information on the study and to express interest in participating, please contact me.

  • Susan R

    Susan R

    May 1st, 2014 at 6:43 PM

    Are you still looking for people to interview?

  • Margo

    Margo

    July 14th, 2017 at 11:31 AM

    Hi Alice,
    I am beginning a literature research over summer on therapist’s tears as part of my training as a person-centred counsellor. I’ve just completed my second year. I have yet to find anything from a person-centred approach to this topic, which is interesting given its a humanistic approach and tears are as human as you can get. I have found articles from psychotherapists and would be really interested to read your unpulisblished dissertation on the effect it has on clients and what you, yourself discovered in the process. I would be really grateful if you could email this. This topic is so interesting yet its one that isn’t covered to my knowledge in training counsellors/therapists. In the conversations I have had with many counsellors both experienced & still in training, have openly talked about the ‘welling up moment’ it seems to happen alot more than I first thought but is never really discussed. Having these conversations has helped me in my own counselling moments to accept tears if they do come not as a weakness but something that has touched me on a deep level. This highlights that tears are a spontantous response to what has been communicated by another human being & depending on the context & relationship can be beneficial, though I have also read it can equally not be for many. I look forward to hearing from you.
    Margo.

  • Jess E

    Jess E

    March 22nd, 2014 at 8:26 PM

    My therapist teared up often when we were working through my grief over a sudden and traumatic death. It didn’t stop her from abandoning me as a client/patient. Thats nice that they are human and have feelings too but crying creates an expectation of a deeper level of empathy which in itself calls for extra caution in matters such as terminating a client. Or one would at least hope.

  • Tina

    Tina

    November 8th, 2014 at 4:34 AM

    Therapists are human & if I’m not mistaken most get into the field to figure out some of their issues or because the are catering individuals (sometimes with a codependent nature). I had a therapist a long time ago get a bit weepy & sympathize with my pain & it was such a relief compared to the detached clinical observer of my tears. I’m not bothered by a few tears on my behalf at all. I feel more vulnerable when I’m crying my eyes out & you’re just watching me.

  • Ramesh

    Ramesh

    December 18th, 2014 at 10:48 AM

    Hi Noah

    I thought you expressed things beautifully in your reply to the client asking about her therapist crying.
    Kindest regards

    Ramesh

  • John S.

    John S.

    September 9th, 2018 at 4:09 PM

    It is very unprofessional and unskilled to cry as a therapist. There are so many things wrong with it that there is too much to list.

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