My Therapist Judges Me

Therapists, ideally, are non-judgmental. They listen, and offer new ways of seeing things, and possibly suggestions about how you might deal with issues that bother you.

There are times when I think my therapist is judging me. Her body language—tightened lips, shaking head, etc—suggests she doesn’t approve of something I’m saying. I already judge myself badly for some choices I might make. Maybe I'm projecting, but I think my therapist looks a bit shocked, occasionally, by the things I tell her I do. Anyway, her mien changes. She gets more serious. Leans back in her chair. Doesn’t laugh as much. 

She points out the harm such choices might cause, and opines that I probably wouldn’t want to create such harm. Which is right. I don’t.  I start to beat myself up. 

Then I tell myself to stop that. I also want what I would gain through these choices very much. It’s not an issue of being good or bad. It’s not an issue of deserving or not. It’s an issue of understanding what is likely to happen, and making choices with as complete a knowledge as I can have. I could be projecting my own feelings about what I’m saying on her. I see or imagine disapproval everywhere. So it is a big step forward for me to stand up for myself or like myself, even when I know what I am doing will not make me liked by the people whose attention I seek.

It’s hard to know for sure the consequences of what I’m doing. It’s a big risk. I could end up isolated and unsupported no matter what I do. God knows what would happen then. I might not care to care for myself. On the other hand, it also might show strength—that I can go my own way even if I don’t have the approval of others. I’ve never really done that before. I’ve always needed to please people so they’ll like me.

It’s very complicated and I don’t know what is inside me and what is outside me and who is judging what and I certainly do not know what the right thing to do is. That the right thing to do is not obvious to me is also disturbing in its own right.


How is it for you? How does your therapist treat you? Do you think they like you? Do they disapprove of things you do—or of you? Do the actively intervene in your life? Do you project their disapproval on them, or are they really disapproving?

wundayatta wundayatta
56-60, M
7 Responses May 24, 2010

Let me ask this. If a therapist is making a judgment about a client, and the client ask them what that judgment is, should the therapist say?

hmm idk what to say then....and i cant say something that might be wrong so i better stop here..sending u hugs*

At the moment, it's a moot issue, I think. I'm not depressed and so I'm prepared to believe the things she says because I agree with them. I'm also not doing anything reprehensible at the moment. In fact, I'm using my reprehensible behavior as motivation to be a better husband and father.<br />
<br />
I think the problem is mostly me and being depressed. I don't trust anyone who says anything nice about me when I'm depressed. I think they are just trying to manipulate me into a better mood. When I'm depressed, I know how sucky and worthless and etc, etc, I am. I know that is a lie, too, but it has nothing to do with reality and everything to do with what is running around in my mind -- thought-wise and chemical-wise.<br />
<br />
And then there's the thought that I like feeling like I suck. I think it takes a certain form of hopelessness before I will finally feel any sympathy for myself. I suppose some would see it as self-pity, but **** 'em if they can't take a joke!

Me too

have u told ur psychologist that?i mean really really told her?there were/are times i thought mine judged me too but thats cause i deal with thoughts like - what is he thinking about me ? oh im sure now she ll think im fat too or say im too thin etc i think about how everyone can think about me because i judge myself so i think everyone else judge me too (does it make sense to u) .. i think though my psychologist know what shes doing and i need to trust her..

If you can't trust your psychologist, then what's the point? I spent a lot of time trying to figure out if I could trust her. I was especially skeptical when she said nice things about me. I trust her more when she disapproves. I don't mind if she disapproves. What I do mind is if she says she doesn't when she does.<br />
<br />
But, what can you do? They need to support you, so they can't disapprove too much, especially if you're the kind of person who takes that disapproval and magnifies to the point where it's enough to make it worth killing yourself. I don't miss those days one bit!

It's just that she says she doesn't judge me. She only wants to make sure I see the consequences of my behavior. Still, the way she reacts makes me feel she doesn't approve, although it could be that she is just very worried that I'll hurt myself.