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Therapists Divulge Their Biggest ‘Holy Sh*t’ Moments With Their Patients

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Going to therapy is the first big step you should take if you feel like your mental health needs assistance.

If you need it, do it. Don’t be ashamed.

That being said, there is a lot therapists have to deal with on a daily basis, not all of it good. Sometimes they can’t help but judge the people they’re trying to help.

It’s not explicitly said, and from the sounds of it they maintain their professionalism, but sometimes that’s what the internet is best used for—venting your frustrations about what awful people your clients are.

Reddit user, homowithoutsapiens, wanted to know what happens when the hour starts.

They asked:

“Therapists of reddit, what was your biggest “I know I’m not supposed to judge you but holy sh*t” moment?”

Trying To Inform Them Of The Proper Way To Cope

“I work with youth and adolescents who have anxiety, trauma, and/or depression. Some of the kids I worked with had some pretty severe attachment issues. Regardless of this, I never thought I’d have to seriously explain:”

“You can’t just buy a straitjacket for your kid.”

“Feeding your kid ultra Spicy Ramen each night instead of the meal everyone else is eating isn’t specifically defined as abuse, but you have to understand the emotional abuse that this causes.”

“Your kid isn’t trying to kill you because they stand in your doorway at night crying. Thats likely because they’re scared of their traumatic nightmares, but feel like you will just yell at them if they wake you up.” ~ Shozo_Nishi

That’s The Opposite OF Social Distancing.

“Here’s my most recent one: As the pandemic worsened here in the US and more lock downs are on their way, one of my most extroverted clients and I brainstormed ways to meet her social needs while remaining safe.”

“The following week she canceled her session and told me that she’s positive for COVID after attending an orgy, which definitely wasn’t one of our ideas. I let out the deepest most defeated sigh after I hung up the phone.” ~ gyakutai

You Are Allowed To Move On

“Not a judgment – you kind of train your brain not to judge, because you are seeking to understand and help. When you do those things, you can’t simultaneously judge. We could all use a little more of that in real life, I suppose.”

“I’ll share this though. I do feel concerned about this recent phenomenon of young people I worked with self-diagnosing, sharing, and identifying very closely with mental illness; as if the pendulum quickly swung from ‘never, ever share your feelings’ to ‘OMG, you’re depressed? All of us are too!'”

“Life’s challenges can be tough and they don’t need a scientific-sounding label to be valid and real. You are not your diagnosis. We can find validation and support in healthier ways.” ~ Reddit

Take. Care. Of. Your. Child.

“Clinical psychologist working primarily in forensics here. This means my clients are usually involves in legal proceedings (family court, juvenile court, criminal court, etc…)”

“My job is usually to evaluate or provide treatment. I’m not there to judge, that’s the judges job, but of course I have my thoughts.”

“I am usually impressed by the justifications people make for sh-tty behavior. The one that irks me the most is when parents manipulate their child against the other parent.”

“I’ve had to do therapy for a 5yo who said she doesn’t want to see a parent because they haven’t paid child support. Excuse me? What 5yo knows, understand, or needs to be worried about child support.” ~ FriktionalTales

Aware Of Your Own Shortcomings

“Once had a patient whose wife shook their baby to death. He wanted help reconnecting with his wife.”

“At the time I was a young father of a newborn myself, and he triggered a lot of fear in me for my own child, a deep loathing of his spouse, and pity (the ‘how pathetic’ kind) for the patient.”

“I tried for 3 sessions, met his spouse and everything before handing the case over to my supervisor (who knew about my initial reactions, and tried to help me through it).”

“Unfortunately, it ended up being more about my feelings than his, and I was new to the profession at the time. These things are expected to crop up from time to time, but I was still taken aback by my own reactions.” ~ PrimeGuard

A Serious Lack Of Support At Home

“I work in mental health and have worked in acute and crisis settings for the majority of my career. The most notable event I experienced was when a young person had presented with significant ongoing suicidal ideation who was dealing with a lot of sh*t.”

“I spent a lot of time with them mostly deescalation and working out what the plan should be moving forward.”

“One of their parents came in a little while later and I had the opportunity to speak to them about where their child was and what had been going on, with their consent of course.”

“Midway through me trying to explain some of the psychological constructs and ways the parent could help they said to me, ‘is this going to take much longer I have a show to go and watch’.”

“All I can say is, I never judge my patients, I have never walked their path or viewed the world through their eyes. But the people around them who perpetuate the suffering of the people I work with through ignorance, malice and selfishness, I judge them.” ~ Tedkin

Seriously. Why Dunk On Your Child Getting The Help They Need?

“Therapist here,”

“To piggy back on what others have said, it is highly unlikely for me to have moments where I judge my clients. It happens sometimes, but I’m able to shut down those thoughts quickly in my head and return to being present for the people I see.”

“People are so incredibly complex that my judgment wouldn’t have any meaning anyway and it doesn’t have a place in our work together.”

“I will admit though, something that does get me feeling a little salty is when I have a client’s parent that attempts to sabotage the therapeutic relationship I have with their child, or pulling them out of therapy entirely when some of the things we talk about challenges some potentially unhealthy family dynamics. I don’t feel anger toward the parents, mostly I feel bad for the kid.” ~ dirtyberti

I’m Here To Help, But You All Suck

“Lots of people discussing pedophilia as an example of the toughest stuff to not judge despite our training. I haven’t yet treated a pedophile thankfully. At least not an identified one.”

“I did run a men’s anger management group though, and some of those men had done some terrible things to women. Most of them I found ways to like and admire for their positive aspects, but there were two guys in that group I just could never find ‘unconditional positive regard’ for.”

“One guy basically never spoke in group. He would give one word answers and occasionally just discuss how unfair the ‘system’ was to him. I worked really hard to open him up and find things to connect over but he never opened up to me or the group.”

“He left the group after he strangled his girlfriend and went to jail. She survived thankfully.”

“The other left group early routinely, showed up late, participated minimally and similarly never wanted to open up honestly. He left early one group after we had discussed him staying to the end and threatened me when I told him he wasn’t going to get credit for attendance (something the court required).”

“Oddly, I eventually moved into the apartment below him (completely without knowledge) and listened to him scream at his girlfriend and break sh*t while I called the cops.”

“I judge these men. They’re sh-tty. Maybe they’re redeemable, but redemption requires self-exploration and they both refused to do so.”

“It’s worth noting how differently I felt about them than so many others in the group; men I found ways to help and admire and respect even in spite of their awful behavior in the past.” ~ MyFianceMadeMeJoin

People Are Too Down On Themselves

“Okay, real therapist here. I got one.”

“Some of my clients are SHOCKINGLY BAD at giving themselves credit, holy sh*t!!

“Like they might get a nearly straight A GPA in a brutal major while battling depression, or overcome years of phobia and get behind the wheel again, or write a literal novel, or raise a kid as a single parent with low income, or build new relationships after being burned, or cope with OCD well enough to hold down a job.”

“And they’ll talk about themselves as if everyone on earth is better than them, as if their accomplishments are worthless. And I know it’s because of depression or anxiety or another condition, but I’m often stunned by how differently I see them compared to how they see themselves.” ~ Reddit

Don’t be afraid to share with your doctor.

That’s what they are there for.

Get the help you need.

Written by Robert Acosta

Robert Acosta is an elementary school teacher with a specialty in language arts and writing. He taught for six years in both Tucson and Phoenix before starting his own private tutoring business to serve the greater metro Phoenix area. As a freelance writer his work appears on George Takei’s “Oh Myyy” properties and ÜberFacts.
He’s average at drawing, above-average at Magic the Gathering, and an expert at changing diapers in the front seat of cars. He resides in Phoenix with his wife, two black cats and twin sons.