I’ve Got Some Emotional Baggage Here…
“I’m sorry I’m dumping all of my problems on you.” How many times have I heard this from a client? It seems like it is a version of the statement, “I don’t know how you can sit and listen to people’s problems all day long….”
Both, I think, are really a person’s way of checking to see if it’s okay with me that they are talking about problems, that they are angry, stressed, or crying.
Cancel the Dumptruck…
It’s important that people going to therapy understand that they are not “dumping” their problems on their therapists. If they were, then that would be a problem. Therapists would not be able to handle a cumulative load of problems dumped on them, hour after hour. But that’s not what happens.
Get Out the Drawing Board!
Therapy sessions are not the emotional equivalent of driving a dump truck full of your “issues’ up to your therapist’s front yard and unloading, then driving away. Therapy sessions are team efforts where two (or more) people get out a drawing board to figure out what are the problems to work on, the game plan to approach the problem, and assign who is going to do what and when.
Dump Them On the Table
Clients don’t dump their problems on their therapists. They dump them on the table. We work on them together, as a team. I bring what I know to the table. You bring what you know to the table. It’s a team effort and there will be no progress made if only one part of the team is doing their work.
Then Pick Them Back Up
Clients take their problems back at the end of the session and commit to work on them alone, too. I might work on a part of them alone sometimes, meaning that I will do research or reading, or think about how to best tackle a particular problem, then bring my insights back to the therapy session.
But the important point is that clients, not their therapists, take their problems home with them.
Are You Doing Your Part?
Are you willing to be an active member of your treatment team and partner with your therapist to develop a personalized treatment plan? Do you make your therapy appointments a priority, honor your commitments, and get there on time?
Are you willing to learn, read, keep on open mind, experiment, do any requested homework suggested …if it makes sense to you why it may be helpful?
If so, then you’re definitely not “dumping” your problems on anybody. You’re asking a professional to work with you to help you achieve your goals.
And that’s something any therapist would be up for! 🙂
Dr. Anita Sanz, PhD, Psychologist
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