Lately I have been asked what I think about when I’m talking to someone. And I don’t mean a client. I mean just a regular person, a friend, the mom of one of my son’s friends, the mailman, etc. And the answer is that when I am just being me, I really don’t have anything specific I think about. Sometimes I think about what kind of chocolate I want. Do I want plain chocolate? Or chocolate with caramel? That’s a nice shirt she’s wearing. I am not analyzing you. I swear. But that seems to be the fear: that us therapists are always analyzing people everywhere we go. Not true.
Therapists don’t have magical powers that allow us to talk to someone for a few minutes and deem them delusional, or schizophrenic, or bipolar. We can’t even necessarily talk to someone for awhile and decide they have an issue. Analyzing someone can take time. We need to ask questions and get to know the person. Sometimes that can take awhile, especially if the person is trying to hide what is really going on. Sometimes people really want help, so they are really open and forthcoming about their issues. That makes our job easier.
I have to admit that when someone asks me what I do for a living, I’m afraid to answer because I have gotten some interesting reactions. I have even had people tell me that they don’t know how to behave around me. I rarely get people telling me they think it’s interesting that I’m a therapist. Now if I say I’m a dog trainer, well, people love that.
So the next time someone tells you they’re a therapist of some kind, don’t back away from them, or fear them, just know that we are regular people just like you. And unless you come to our office and ask us for help, We’re not analyzing you. I swear.