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Phrases to Use When Giving Your Therapist Negative Feedback

Amanda Ann Gregory, LCPC, EMDR Certified

Your therapist isn’t perfect and is sure to mess up in one way or another. When something isn’t going right it’s important to address it with your therapist by providing them with direct feedback. Giving feedback can improve your relationship with your therapist, get your treatment back on track, or give you the push that’s needed to end therapy or seek services elsewhere.

Providing negative feedback to your therapist can feel intimidating, so it might help if you have certain phrases to use. Try using these phrases if they apply to your situation with your therapist.

“I don’t feel like I’m making progress.” After some time in therapy you may feel like you aren’t progressing. If so, it’s best to inform your therapist. Giving your therapist this feedback can create productive opportunities. Perhaps your therapist feels the same way and you’ve opened the door to discuss your treatment plan. Maybe your treatment plan needs to be changed or modified in order to promote your growth. Moreover, your therapist, who has an objective perspective, can inform you of the progress that they’ve observed and can help you to identify and celebrate your progress.

“We aren’t focusing on what I need.” This is your therapy. It’s important that you feel that you are focusing on valuable goals. If your goals are not being addressed you need to inform your therapist. There may be reasons why your therapist is focusing on certain areas more than others, and if so, you need to know. Treatment goals should be discussed and agreed upon between you and your therapist.

“I need you to be more active.” A common complaint that I hear from new clients is that a previous therapist was a great listener, but rarely spoke. If you need your therapist to be more involved or more verbal, just say so. Your therapist can make a change in their treatment style to better meet your needs or they can explain why they feel their current method would help you to achieve your treatment goals.

“I want to try something new.” Let your therapist know if you’d like your therapy to be different, even if you don’t know specifically what you’d like to change. Your therapist can help you to identify what needs to change. For example, maybe you need to be exposed to different interventions. Your therapist might know interventions that could be helpful to you, and all they need is your expressed interest.

“This is too much.” Therapy can bring up emotions and behaviors which can be stressful and difficult to manage outside of the therapist’s office. When you’re in therapy things often get worse before they get better. Yet, if you feel that your treatment is too intense or is moving too quickly, you need to say something. Your therapist can make changes to your treatment plan and timeframes to help increase your ability to cope.

“I can’t afford this.” It can be difficult to discuss payment with your therapist, but it’s necessary. If for any reason you find that you cannot continue to pay your therapist’s fees or your insurance copay, it’s best to let your therapist know. Some therapists have a sliding scale fee that you can take advantage of, or you may be able to work together to create a payment plan. If you need to end therapy due to financial reasons, it’s best to inform your therapist.

“This will be my last session.” If you’ve decided to end therapy for whatever reason, it’s important to tell your therapist. This discussion can provide a great opportunity for closure in this relationship. It can also open up the opportunity for your therapist to provide recommendations for follow up treatment if needed and directions for future treatment.

Providing your therapist with direct feedback is a healthy part of the relationship and improves your ability to receive effective treatment.

If you’d like to begin or resume counseling, Symmetry Counseling provides individual, family and couples counseling. Contact Symmetry Counseling at (312) 578-9990 to schedule an appointment.

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