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What to Do When Your Therapist P*sses You Off

a woman mad at her therapist

You have a great relationship with your therapist. You crack some jokes together. You feel safe crying in front of them. And then one day... your therapist pisses you off!


Now I’m not talking intentionally being rude or violating ethics or bullying you. I’m talking about these kinds of moments...


  • They made a really accurate observation that you were not ready to hear.

o   Example: They pointed out that your romantic relationships are all following a similar pattern.

  • They’re doing exactly what both of you agreed for them to do in X situation but today it’s annoying.

o   Example: You have OCD and you’ve agreed your therapist should not provide reassurance, but you’d really like to have some reassurance just for today.

  • They gave you a new diagnosis and you don’t like it (even though all evidence suggests they may be on to something...).

  • As a parent, they said something about your child (or your parenting) that you were not ready to hear.

  • They set a boundary with you.

o   Examples: Not accepting middle-of-the-night phone calls, not allowing you to cancel and reschedule your appointment 3 times in a week, ending the session on time


A bad therapist will never piss you off. WHAT?


Let me say that again... A bad therapist will never piss you off because they will never challenge you. In fact, they might barely talk at all. They listen, you talk, you leave your session and then you realize... you’re never actually addressing the concern you came in with.


In good quality evidence-based treatment and within the context of a supportive therapeutic alliance, your therapist might make you mad at some point, and that might be a good thing.


I love it when my patients are able to express their frustration with me. One, that’s an awesome awareness of their own emotional experience. Two, that’s amazing to be able to express frustration to another human (versus keeping it bottled up). Three, probably whatever that is needs to be addressed in therapy and is about to create a powerful learning experience (maybe for both of us!).


Unfortunately, most of us are very confrontation-averse, especially the kind of people who attend therapy. So the most likely thing to happen after this pissed off moment is ghosting therapy.


Of course, therapists are trained in having difficult conversations. And sometimes difficult conversations lead to either a strengthened therapeutic relationship, an “aha” moment in therapy, or both.


So, what’s my suggestion? Tell your therapist, “Hey, last session, you made me mad!”. Then, have a respectful conversation together. You don’t get this level of freedom in other relationships always, but this is exactly what the therapeutic relationship is built for. And this will be great practice for when you need to give your boss some feedback on how they interact with you or ask your partner to start helping out more around the house or tell a friend they hurt your feelings.

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