It’s long been established that therapy is a great tool for helping to maintain good mental health. In many cases, it saves lives.
Whether you’re in therapy or not, it’s always nice to get a little professional wisdom from time to time. Recently, Reddit user u/buginout asked people to share the best thing their therapist ever told them. Here are the poignant (and honestly, really helpful) responses:
Warning: This post mentions domestic abuse.
“’Therapy isn’t linear, and just because you can’t see me anymore, doesn’t mean you will lose all of the progress you’ve made with me. You did it, I only supported. You are strong, and I’m so proud of how far you’ve come.’ She made me cry during our last session when she told me she was proud of me.”
“‘That’s domestic violence. You were exposed to domestic violence as a child.’ It doesn’t seem like a lot, but it really put things into perspective for me.”
“You don’t have to shield yourself from what people say about you. Just examine whether it’s true or not. If it’s true, you know what needs changing. If it’s not, you can discard it painlessly.”
“Count to five before you respond. This changed my life. Don’t respond with whatever emotion is coursing through you right now. A few seconds make a huge difference. Calm down, think about what transpired, take time to choose your words.”
“That I’m not responsible for other people’s feelings, in most circumstances. Their emotions are their own.”
“I told her I hated myself because I didn’t even recognize myself anymore. She just looked at me with such sincerity and said, ‘I recognize you.’ She told me that I’m still me, I’m just responding to trauma. She made me feel heard and understood, without being judged or making me feel ‘crazy.'”
“The goal isn’t to make the past okay — it’s already messed up. The goal is to be able to live the future as well as you can.”
“That no one can MAKE you heal faster, not even you. A relatively small one, but I tried to push myself a lot and it would frustrate me when I wasn’t ‘better.’ This helped me fully understand that, I can’t push my way through things that take time. No matter how much I want to.”
“‘That’s a very human and reasonable response to that situation.”
“‘Even though they’re family, you’re allowed to cut them out if they are unhealthy for you to be around.’ That is one of many things. My therapist retired a few years ago, and I haven’t found one that’s as good as he was.”
“Paraphrasing, but, ‘Stop holding yourself to standards that you don’t hold others to. Forgive yourself for the things you would forgive other for.’ I haven’t listened, of course, but it’s wisdom nonetheless.”
“I was saying how I wished I didn’t procrastinate so much. He asked if it ever affected my work or deadlines, and I said no. Some of my best work has been done at the last moment, even. So, he said, ‘That’s just how you work, then. I don’t see any problem with that.’ I’m glad he got his dream job counseling recovering addicts, but damn, he was the best therapist I’ve ever had. I miss the guy.”
“After several years of work, improvement, and bad things happening to me: ‘I don’t say this to a lot of clients, but I don’t think you’re at fault for any of this. You’ve become more confident, you’ve owned your past mistakes, and made efforts to fix them. You’re an entirely different person than you were during our first appointment, you’ve done your best. You were abused. Being a man doesn’t mean you can’t be abused. This was not your fault, it’ll never be your fault. You can stop taking on other people’s responsibilities. I’m proud of you.'”
“‘If you’re walking outside in the rain, you’re going to get wet.’ It really helped. I was worried about not being stable when my dad was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, and my mom was diagnosed with myasthenia gravis. My sister had also just gotten a Stiff-person syndrome diagnosis. He was telling me it’s okay to be messed up when things are messed up. I’ll never forget that one.”
“My then-husband and I had one therapy session. She was very neutral and listened to both sides. When he didn’t show up for week two, she said, ‘I have never seen someone that was apathetic. His eyes were lifeless. Instead of trying to fix something that can’t be fixed, you need to make a plan so you can get out.’ I didn’t know marriage counselors could be that blunt, but I would’ve kept trying for much longer if she didn’t make me face the reality that I really already knew.”
“’You can’t be helped if you’re not willing to accept help and actively change.’ I realized that if I expect any progress, I need to be truly involved in my life to have the personal agency to reach my goals.”
“Not every relationship is supposed to end with marriage. Learn something from each relationship, and quit beating yourself up when it ends. It wasn’t a failure, it was an experience.”
And finally, “I don’t think you need me anymore.”
Is there a life-changing thing your therapist told you? Share it in the comments.
Responses have been edited for length/clarity.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline is 1-888-950-6264 (NAMI) and provides information and referral services; GoodTherapy.org is an association of mental health professionals from more than 25 countries who support efforts to reduce harm in therapy.
If you or someone you know is in immediate danger as a result of domestic violence, call 911. For anonymous, confidential help, you can call the 24/7 National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or chat with an advocate via the website.