Do you tell your shrink everything?
January 2, 2010 9:58 AM   Subscribe

new year's eve was filled with good old time debauchery and fun, including some bandit kissing and recreational drug use. is this something i need to share with my therapist?

the drugs are a very rare occasion for me (perhaps every few years) and the making out is pretty innocent fun. i found a super handsome guy and made out with him and then made out with an old friend of mine and her boyfriend.

i feel happy about the whole experience, it was exactly the way i was hoping to ring in the new year. then today, i thought, wow i bet my therapist wouldn't approve of this kind of behavior and immediately felt compelled to tell him about it.

i'm sure there is some low level child/parent thing going on in my mind hence the desire to report behavior that while i find acceptable is out of the ordinary for me and may not be acceptable to him. (yes. i'm looking for his approval, that's part of why i'm in therapy)

i guess my question is, do i need to have a conversation with my therapist about something which may bother him but doesn't really bother me.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (31 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
then today, i thought, wow i bet my therapist wouldn't approve of this kind of behavior and immediately felt compelled to tell him about it

If it didn't bother you, then why do you need to tell him about it? And what right would he have to be "bothered" by anything that you do? If he has a tendency to get upset about your behavior, and you feel that you need to confess to him, then it may be time to find another therapist.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 10:02 AM on January 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


It's your therapy. It's there to help you. You get to decide what to tell your therapist. (Also, you know your therapist, you know what he might think is weird -- he's not the authority, he's just a human, just because he thinks it's weird doesn't make it weird.) So, no.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 10:03 AM on January 2, 2010


Are you going to therapy to get your therapist's approval for the things you do in your life? That's probably an issue you should explore... with a therapist.
posted by incessant at 10:10 AM on January 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
posted by nickjadlowe at 10:11 AM on January 2, 2010


Your therapist should be a compass relative to YOU. If you fear being judged, find a new therapist.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 10:12 AM on January 2, 2010 [6 favorites]


You say you had a fun time. No one was hurt or arrested, and you're not engaging in this behavior all the time - it's not interfering with how the rest of your life goes.

I might mention it to my therapist, but only in a "I had a fun New Year's Eve - how was yours?" way. If I felt guilty or bad about the behavior because my therapist might disapprove, I would definitely talk to my therapist about that, because that's a flag. Things like transference are totally normal, and should be talked about in therapy.
posted by rtha at 10:12 AM on January 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


One of my best friends is in therapy, and is constantly telling me which things she's doing in her life that she won't tell her therapist. Foolishness! There should be no secrets from your therapist, or he/she won't have a clear picture of you. My friends therapist knows next to nothing about her. She's giving him money in order to have someone else in her life to keep secrets from and occasionally lie to.

But to answer your question: Yes, talk with your therapist about your misgivings regarding your relationship. S/he should put your mind at ease.

Incidentally, you might want to explore with your therapist why behavior generally expected of a 15-year-old constitutes a "good time" to you (unless, of course, you're 15).
posted by coolguymichael at 10:14 AM on January 2, 2010


Back when I had a therapist, I'd tell her when I did stuff like this, because I trusted her. I remember telling her the first time I did a hallucinogen, which was a really positive experience for me, and she wasn't judgmental at all-- but then, I wasn't looking for her approval; I just wanted to discuss a great experience I had. It kind of sounds like you want your therapist to disapprove of your wild night, like you feel like you should be torn down by an authority figure because you let loose. Maybe that's something worth bringing up.
posted by oinopaponton at 10:17 AM on January 2, 2010


If you just want your therapist's approval, that could be a problem in itself. If you're wondering whether you should tell your therapist, you should talk to them about why you feel the need to ponder this.

Incidentally, you might want to explore with your therapist why behavior generally expected of a 15-year-old constitutes a "good time" to you (unless, of course, you're 15).
Hm, I think a 15-year-old using drugs and making out with several people is much more concerning than an adult doing so.
posted by ishotjr at 10:18 AM on January 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


Is "wow I bet my therapist wouldn't approve" really some part of you that doesn't approve? Or is this behaviour is linked to other issues that you are concerned about?

If so, then on some level it is something YOU should be concerned about and therefore that you might wish to have another perspective on working through. If not, then you should not give a rat's ass what your therapist thinks since he has been hired by you to work through issues that are significant for you. If your therapist disapproves of behaviour that you find totally acceptable, then you really need to evaluate whether to get another therapist or not (why are you compelled to keep secrets to avoid judgment/why is there any judgment at all).

It is interesting though that you have substituted asking approval from your therapist to asking for approval from us. We don't know you. We don't know whether this pattern is linked to broader issues for you or not. You probably do. If it's significant then yes tell; if not then don't. If you aren't sure, then maybe that's why you're in therapy, so then probably yes.
posted by kch at 10:22 AM on January 2, 2010


I think this question is less about the NYE fun you had and more about addressing this approval-seeking behavior. The fun provided you an opportunity to notice and report something about yourself. The question is, is this noticing a sign of progress? An old pattern you're trying to break? A manifestation of guilt? Something else?

The fun was just a vehicle. Where has it taken you? How does it fit into the big picture of what you're working on?

I'd mention it to your therapist, but not focusing on any of the NYE stuff. More like, "I went out on NYE and did a bunch of fun things that were new to me. But since then I've been struggling with these ideas about reporting to you what I did. I'm worried about where this came from and what the compulsion to reflect on this is connected to. Is this a good kind of noticing behavior, or an unhealthy one? Thoughts?"

Keep it focused on the need to report, not the evaluation of what you did. Also, it's good you're not feeling conflicted about your fun. It'll help you stay focused on the real issue, if there is one. And it's nice to have 1 problem, not 2 anyway.
posted by iamkimiam at 10:24 AM on January 2, 2010


I think you should talk to the therapist about this question specifically. That you had a fun New Year's Eve and then you had the thought that if your therapist knew about your behavior, that he would disapprove. It doesn't matter so much what the behavior is (unless you're dealing with recurrent substance issues or boundaries with other people or you have a bipolar diagnosis, I don't think the behavior is all that important in itself), but it matters that the nature of the relationship with your therapist caused this train of thought. That's something that would be really important to share with the therapist, in my opinion. This question you have is about the therapeutic relationship, not what you did on NYE.
posted by so_gracefully at 10:25 AM on January 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


There should be no secrets from your therapist

I disagree with this model. It's not about "secrets," it's about you get to decide what to tell your therapist, how to use therapy.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 10:25 AM on January 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hm, I think a 15-year-old using drugs and making out with several people is much more concerning than an adult doing so.

I think so, too, and didn't quite mean it like it sounded. I also enjoy these things, but I recognize that I'm well beyond the age bracket to be enjoying these things, and I fully recognize WHY I'm developmentally malformed.

These are things that are worth exploring in therapy not because they are dangerous, but because the point of therapy is insight, and it sounds like OP could use some.
posted by coolguymichael at 10:28 AM on January 2, 2010


Related -- it might be interesting as some here suggest to talk to your therapist about your concerns about telling your therapist, issues re authority, maybe transference, etc. But, again, you get to decide. Not "reporting" might be part of your process. Or, you might just not want to tell him for whatever reason (e.g. he's anti-drugs) or no reason at all. Your decision.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 10:31 AM on January 2, 2010


The fact that you're thinking about this so much makes it a prima facie case that you should talk about this event to your therapist.
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:31 AM on January 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


At the very least, you should mention the recreational drug use. You don't mention in your post what drug it was, or if you're on any other meds related to your therapy (antidepressants?) but it's probably in your best interest for your therapist to know that, if only from a drug-interaction perspective.
posted by deadmessenger at 10:47 AM on January 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


No, you don't need to have a conversation with your therapist about anything.

If you feel the need to get permission/absolution for every little thing...try going without it for a little while, don't tell your therapist. See what happens. I doubt the world will end!

Of course, you don't need our permission, either.
posted by kathrineg at 10:54 AM on January 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


The fact that you feel you can't tell your shrink everything is a flag. That's separate and distinct from the issue of whether you should, of course.

If this experience had a wholly positive effect on you, then you might consider mentioning it in passing. But I'd focus the conversation on how you're looking for his approval & that you're conflicted about telling him something. That's a much bigger issue than the fact that you kissed a guy and got high.

You're not hiding the fact that you were, for example, abused as a child from him. That would be something to definitely tell your shrink, as that could have a massive effect o the treatment/help you receive. Unless you're in NA, this isn't really that much of an issue, unless it's an issue for you.
posted by Solomon at 10:54 AM on January 2, 2010


Incidentally, you might want to explore with your therapist why behavior generally expected of a 15-year-old constitutes a "good time" to you (unless, of course, you're 15)

Actually there are lots of "grown-ups" who engage in actual polyamorous behavior and occassionally take drugs.

Should they see a therapist, too?
posted by KokuRyu at 11:04 AM on January 2, 2010


The ultimate goal of therapy (to me) is not to eviscerate your emotional guts and talk everything over endlessly so your therapist can tell you exactly what to do, but to learn the coping mechanisms and life skills to A) manage whatever issues you have and B) make the right decisions to keep yourself happy and healthy.

You feel like you make good decisions and that whatever you did on New Year Eve did not set you back or put you in an unhealthy place.
posted by Juliet Banana at 11:11 AM on January 2, 2010


Actually there are lots of "grown-ups" who engage in actual polyamorous behavior

They usually don't tee-hee about it as "bandit kissing," though.

Drugs are fun. Sex is fun. Feeling like you're naughty and daring because you enjoyed drugs and sex might be something to look at, either with your therapist or not.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:33 AM on January 2, 2010


i thought, wow i bet my therapist wouldn't approve of this kind of behavior and immediately felt compelled to tell him about it.

I think this is the most important thing to discuss with him. The thinking he wouldn't approve and the need to tell him.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:57 AM on January 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


Do you feel that any of your behavior on New Year's Eve, as rare an occurrence as it might be, directly relate to any of the things you are discussing with your therapist or want to discuss with your therapist? Then yes, you should tell your therapist.

Is your realization that your therapist would probably not approve based in the idea that your therapist would be judgmental of those behaviors in anyone, or that your therapist would be concerned specifically about you participating in these activities in the context of things you have been discussing and working on? If it's the latter, then yes, you should discuss it with your therapist.

I don't think that musing about how your therapist would react to certain stories necessarily means that your are exhibiting approval seeking behavior. Therapy is about working on you, evaluating past and present behavior, thoughts, and feelings, and should foster growth and meaningful change. As things occur, it is natural to wonder what the person who is helping you do those things would think. I am not saying you are or are not seeking approval from your therapist in an unhealthy way or that you should or shouldn't be participating in the activities you describe, just that automatically jumping to approval seeking issues seems like a bit of a leap without a better since of your history.

All of that said, since you have given it that much thought and went as far as asking this question, then yes, I would mention it to your therapist. We can't always see for ourselves what is significant and what isn't, which is one of the main benefits of talking to an objective professional. It may or may not lead directly to the work you've been doing, or even come up again anytime soon, but it just may relate to something in the future, so it may be helpful to include it as part of your story.
posted by katemcd at 12:04 PM on January 2, 2010


I think that you shouldn't necessarily tell your therapist if you don't feel comfortable doing so (for example, if your therapist is anything like Menthol) but that you should start looking for a therapist you would feel comfortable talking about this stuff with.

And yes, probably your feelings about sharing this with your therapist are far more important to your therapy than what you did on New Years. :-)
posted by callmejay at 12:49 PM on January 2, 2010


I recognize that I'm well beyond the age bracket to be enjoying these things

Are you dead and in the grave? If not, then this sentence is wrong wrong wrong. Sheesh.
posted by Aquaman at 1:24 PM on January 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


I guess this depends on whether or not you are serious about therapy. Are you in therapy to say you are in therapy (sometimes a get of jail free card) or are you in therapy to understand your own motivations and improve your health and life?

The idea that you are in therapy, in part because of approval seeking and then are questioning whether or not you should tell your therapist because they may not approve is probably pretty telling, no?

Tell.

I find the most important facet of therapy is not what insights your doctor can give you, but what insights you gain within yourself as you talk through your life, both past and present. Therapists are not as much a cure as they are a conduit to your own growth. To me, not wanting to admit something to your therapist is akin to not wanting to admit something to yourself, and that is a significant barrier to any sort of emotional growth.
posted by Edubya at 1:41 PM on January 2, 2010


Unless you are in therapy because of drug or sex addiction, which does not appear to be the case based on your description, I think there is no obligation to tell. Whether you choose to do so, depends on whether you want to explore your own feelings about it (fear of disapproval, and perhaps withholding of "affection"/therapeutic assistance because of disapproval).
posted by bunnycup at 2:10 PM on January 2, 2010


I think you should get a new therapist. You should get a therapist with whom you can discuss yourself as you really are. It sounds like your current therapist is someone who could work well with an idealized "normal" person, or with your high school valedictorian or something, but not with you.

Then, when you have a new therapist, tell them about the fun you had on New Years.
posted by alms at 4:37 PM on January 2, 2010


Just piping in to say that statements by coolguymichael sound really uptight and unfun. Also, judgey. Please don't internalize that kind of talk - it's not good for you.

It's OK to talk to your therapist about the fact that you fear s/he might judge you, etc. Not OK if therapist flips it around on you and makes you feel guilty for having fun, a la coolguymichael.

Got it?

Good!
posted by jbenben at 4:40 PM on January 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yes you should tell your therapist. Not because it matters but because you're thinking about if you should. That thinking, this very question you posted on the green, tells you something and is exactly the kind of meta-thought a good therapist will dig into.
posted by chairface at 1:19 AM on January 3, 2010


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