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How to give feedback to your therapist

How to give feedback to your therapist

Jun 8, 2024

Therapy is a collaborative process between you and your therapist. While they bring professional expertise, you are the only true expert on your own inner experience. Providing open and honest feedback is crucial for helping guide the therapeutic work in the most productive directions.

It can feel awkward or uncomfortable at first to give critical feedback, especially if you have a tendency to want to please others. But realizing the value of your voice and perspective in the room is so important. Here are some tips for sharing constructive feedback with your therapist:

Name what's working well

It's not all about criticisms! Start by highlighting what your therapist is doing that really resonates or seems helpful. Positive reinforcement provides reinforcement for impactful practices. Some examples:

"When you summarize my thought process back to me, it really helps me solidify my self-awareness."

"I find your use of metaphors/visuals highly clarifying when I'm struggling to articulate something."

"Your direct style of asking exploratory questions challenges me in a good way."

Identify potential disconnects

If there are aspects of how your therapist works that don't feel quite aligned, say so. But provide specific examples of when it happened rather than vague complaints:

"Earlier when I shared about my relationship dynamic, it felt a bit invalidating when you responded with..."

"I notice I sometimes feel slightly judged when using certain language around ______..."

"There have been a few times when I felt you were steering me in a direction that doesn't fit my personal goals."

Request what you need

The most productive feedback clearly states what you'd prefer or need more/less of. Think about the approach or style that would work better:

"It would be helpful if we could spend more time actually discussing sources of my anxiety, rather than just coping strategies."

"I think visually mapping things out more often could enhance my understanding."

"Please feel free to challenge me or push me more when I seem to be putting up defenses around something."

Share impact, not just preferences

Therapists need to understand the "why" behind your feedback. How is their approach directly impacting your ability to heal or make progress? Spell it out:

"When you use a lot of clinical psychology jargon, I tune out because it doesn't resonate with my learning style."

"Becoming aware of these unconscious patterns is a key reason I'm in therapy, so I need you to go deeper to get to those roots."

"Taking a warm/nurturing tone makes me more prone to vulnerability, which is what unlocks our most meaningful work."

The therapeutic relationship is unique, making feedback all the more important. By openly sharing what's working or missing the mark, you empower your therapist to recalibrate and provide exactly the type of guidance and support you need.

Therapy is a collaborative process between you and your therapist. While they bring professional expertise, you are the only true expert on your own inner experience. Providing open and honest feedback is crucial for helping guide the therapeutic work in the most productive directions.

It can feel awkward or uncomfortable at first to give critical feedback, especially if you have a tendency to want to please others. But realizing the value of your voice and perspective in the room is so important. Here are some tips for sharing constructive feedback with your therapist:

Name what's working well

It's not all about criticisms! Start by highlighting what your therapist is doing that really resonates or seems helpful. Positive reinforcement provides reinforcement for impactful practices. Some examples:

"When you summarize my thought process back to me, it really helps me solidify my self-awareness."

"I find your use of metaphors/visuals highly clarifying when I'm struggling to articulate something."

"Your direct style of asking exploratory questions challenges me in a good way."

Identify potential disconnects

If there are aspects of how your therapist works that don't feel quite aligned, say so. But provide specific examples of when it happened rather than vague complaints:

"Earlier when I shared about my relationship dynamic, it felt a bit invalidating when you responded with..."

"I notice I sometimes feel slightly judged when using certain language around ______..."

"There have been a few times when I felt you were steering me in a direction that doesn't fit my personal goals."

Request what you need

The most productive feedback clearly states what you'd prefer or need more/less of. Think about the approach or style that would work better:

"It would be helpful if we could spend more time actually discussing sources of my anxiety, rather than just coping strategies."

"I think visually mapping things out more often could enhance my understanding."

"Please feel free to challenge me or push me more when I seem to be putting up defenses around something."

Share impact, not just preferences

Therapists need to understand the "why" behind your feedback. How is their approach directly impacting your ability to heal or make progress? Spell it out:

"When you use a lot of clinical psychology jargon, I tune out because it doesn't resonate with my learning style."

"Becoming aware of these unconscious patterns is a key reason I'm in therapy, so I need you to go deeper to get to those roots."

"Taking a warm/nurturing tone makes me more prone to vulnerability, which is what unlocks our most meaningful work."

The therapeutic relationship is unique, making feedback all the more important. By openly sharing what's working or missing the mark, you empower your therapist to recalibrate and provide exactly the type of guidance and support you need.

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Advait Naik

Advait is the founder of Verba and works at the intersection of psychology, design and technology to create a product that can help humans be more self aware through clarity