18 Therapists Share Things People Are Hesitant To Share Even Though They’re Really Common

People tend to live in their bubbles – and in their heads – so we can often assume that our experiences are weird and singular, and therefore something to be ashamed about.

Therapists listen to people talk day in and day out, though, so they’re more objective – and with a breadth of experience, can assure us all that these 18 things aren’t nearly as weird as we think.

18. Almost on a daily basis.

That they don’t like their family members, are angry/want to stop communication with their parents etc. I work in a country which Is more culturally collectivist, so not wanting anything to do with your parents makes you an a$$hole in the current cultural sense.

We deal with this almost on a daily basis. There is deep and profound shame in this and when we find that line of “oh, it might be that your parents are toxic to your mental well being/trigger your trauma” many of my clients actually get visibly angry with me.

Cultural psychology is so important, cause when I first moved here I had my American/European hat on, oh boy, did I need to adjust.

17. Nearly everyone.

Intrusive thoughts. Nearly everyone has thoughts about pushing the old lady onto the subway train, swerving into opposing traffic, or stabbing their loved one in the stomach while cooking dinner with them.

Some folks, however, take these thoughts very serious that believe that they might act them out. It’s called thought-action-fusion. Most of us are able to brush them off, though.

16. Humans aren’t robots.

Clients become quite fearful of admitting that they weren’t successful since the last time they had a session. This could include not succeeding in using a coping skill that they’re learning about, or not being able to complete a homework assignment I gave them. Humans aren’t robots, and therapy is a lot of work.

That being said, I don’t expect people to be perfect as they start to work on themselves in a positive way. It takes time to really commit to change, especially in relation to trauma or conflicted views that an individual holds. I feel as if the client doesn’t want to let me down as their therapist, but these “failure” events are just as important to talk about as successful moments!

15. Your true self.

I have heard some variant of “This is probably weird, but I feel if I am my true self around others than they won’t like me” more times than I can count.

As I explore the formative situations to this belief alongside my clients it definitely pulls at my heart strings.

14. They are burnt out.

Women often feel really ashamed when they tell me they are burnt out on being a parent or that they never want to have kids.

I wish all of them knew how common this thought is.

13. Grief is just hard.

The amount of people I see who feel like they should be grieving a “certain way” and are afraid that they “must not have loved someone,” or, “must not have cared.”

People grieve in all sorts of ways. The “5 stages of grief” are bs.

I was consulting with another clinician who was seeing a couple whose daughter had died. The wife was convinced that the husband must not have cared about her because he “wasn’t grieving out loud.”

In reality, while she had been going to support groups and outwardly expressing, he had been continuing to work in a garden that him and his daughter had kept when she was alive, using that time to process and grieve as he did. Both were perfectly fine ways of grieving, however it is expected that ones grief is more than the other.

They both ended up working it out however, he driving her and others to their weekly support group, her attempting to work in the garden with him on the condition that they didn’t talk. Really sweet.

To that same extent, the amount of people who are unaware of their own emotions and emotional process is astounding. So many people feel only “angry” or “happy” and worry something must be wrong with them otherwise. Normalizing feeling the whole gamut is just as important.

Recognizing what we’re feeling as well as what it feels like in our body when we’re feeling is incredibly helpful for understanding how we process and feel. As a whole, how we treat emotions as a society is kinda fucked. Thanks for coming to my Ted talk.

12. I hate that this is a thing.

Hyper s^xuality after some sort of s^xual trauma.

11. A deeply ingrained belief.

I’d say a common one is believing that there’s something innately, irreparably wrong with them that makes them unable to ever truly ‘fit in’.

For a lot of people it’s such a deeply ingrained belief that it can be extremely painful to acknowledge or express, regardless of the level of personal success in their lives.

10. They’ve heard it before.

Some of the most common ones have been visual and/or auditory hallucinations and suicidal thoughts. I usually hear “I don’t want to be put in the hospital” or “I don’t want you to think I’m crazy”.

Also, basically anything s^xual. I’m not going to judge you for being into BDSM, fetishes, etc.

Honestly, I’ve probably heard it before and I’m not here to judge you. Same goes with any non-consensual experiences (especially if we’re working through trauma).

9. Every single day.

Two topics come up with regularity: when someone discloses to me that they were sexually abused as a kid, and/or when some is experiencing suicidal ideation.

Both are something I hear from clients every single day, and so I don’t find it weird at all.

But, when I have someone in front of me who’s talking about it for the first time, I know it’s important to validate the fact that even though I might be talking about this for like the fifth time that day, they have never talked about this EVER, and are in need of gentle care to feel safe.

8. She’s not shocked.

Psychologist in the US. To name a few: “compulsive” masturbation, fears of being a pedophile/rapist (this is a common OCD fear), hoarding, sexual performance difficulties, history of sexual abuse or sexual assault (unfortunately it is VERY common), drug use, amount of money spent on various things, having an ASD diagnosis, going back to an abusive relationship / staying in an abusive relationship, grieving years and years after a loss, self-harm of all sorts, wanting to abandon their current lifestyle (for example, to have more s^x, to escape responsibility or expectations), history of gang violence / crime, their s^xuality (or as^xuality), gender identity, the impact of racism / racial trauma, paranoia, hallucinations, feeling uncomfortable in therapy, not believing in therapy, difficulty trusting a therapist, fear of psychiatric medication, fear of doctors in general.

I was surprised to see suicidal ideation on others’ responses. Most of my clients seem to talk very openly about suicidal thoughts and urges from the start of therapy (which I think is super healthy). I think that most of the people I’ve worked with had SI (current or history). As weird as it may seem, I can’t imagine what a life without any thoughts about suicide would even look like.

At this point, I don’t recall a time a patient said something in therapy and I was shocked or even thought, “oh, that’s new”. And imo, if you surprise your therapist, that is okay.

I wonder if we asked Reddit, “what are you afraid to tell anyone (even a therapist) because you think it is weird?” – how many people would see that they aren’t that weird at all.

7. Not knowing is very common.

That they do not know what they enjoy doing. Often they have people in they’re life, including therapists, say “try to do something fun today” or ask “what do you like to do when you have free time?”.

Many people I work with do not know what those are. Once I explain that I dislike these statements /questions because they assume people should know the answer, and that many people don’t, I can watch as they relax, take a deep breath, and say something to the effect of “oh my, that’s so good to hear.

I have no idea what I like to do. That’s part of the problem.”. More often than not they feel like they should know and that everyone else their age has it figured out. They are embarrassed to say that they don’t know when in fact not knowing is very common.

I couldn’t even try to count how many clients I’ve had this conversation with.

6. It doesn’t have to mean anything.

Hidden s^xual dreams and fantasies about family members. More common than people think, and often stays that way and doesn’t really interfere in the person’s close relationships unless they allow it.

Many things we dream or think are unconscious and involuntary, and the root of such things is often nonsensical.

5. I don’t know.

A common one in the time I was a therapist was simply “I don’t know”.

You’d be surprised how reluctant people are to admit that they don’t know why they’re feeling how they are. But that’s exactly why you’re (or were, I’m not a therapist any more) sat there with me; so we can figure out why together.

It always put me in mind of a line from America by Simon and Garfunkel:

“Kathy, ‘I’m lost’ I said, though I knew she was sleeping. ‘I’m empty and aching and I don’t know why’.”

4. Always compassionate.

Usually it’s s^x related.

Shame about their desires or kinks is common. Gender questioning is another. Some people are ashamed of things they did in childhood or adolescence, haven’t ever told anyone and think the team will be horrified.

We have heard everything. Everything. I’m always compassionate and always understand why we do the things we do. I’ve yet to have anyone bring something I can’t ‘get’.

3. You are not a bad person.

Unwanted intrusive thoughts are normal and do not mean you are a bad person (yes, even intrusions of sexual/religious/moral themes). By definition, these are thoughts that are unwanted bc they go against your own values and highlight what you don’t want to do (eg, a religious person having unwanted blasphemous images pop into their mind, or a new parent having unwanted sexual thoughts about their new baby).

However normal these thoughts are (over 90% of the population), the moral nature of these thoughts mean that often people experience a lot of shame and take many years before they first tell someone about them.

The occurrence of these thoughts/images/urges are normal. The best way to “manage” them is to accept that they are a normal (albeit unpleasant) brain process, and a sign of the opposite of who you are and are therefore v.v.unlikely to ever do.

Let the thought run its course in the background while you bring your attention back to (insert something you can see/feel/hear/taste/touch).

I usually say something like “ok mind! Thanks for that mind! I’m going to get back to washing the dishes and the sound/sensation of the water while you ponder all the nasties. Carry on!”

I literally say it to myself with a slightly amused tone bc I am always genuinely amused at all the wild stuff my brain can produce!!

2. A tough thing to work through.

I do a lot of trauma work. Many people who have experienced molestation or s^xual assault feel ashamed and confused because their bodies responded.

Having an erection/lubrication or even an orgasm does not mean you wanted the s^xual contact and it is still assault. Clients often hold a lot of shame and confusion about this. They wonder if it means they wanted it or if there is something wrong with them.

It is a tough thing to work through because of this. Assault is assault. Sometimes human bodies respond to s^xual touch even when we don’t want that touch.

1. All things s^x.

Psychologist here. Basically, anything having to do with sex. There’s so much shame.

S^xual abuse. S^xual fantasies and fetishes. Erectile dysfunction. Infidelity. Becoming s^xually assertive.

I’ve been told that I have a good “psychologist’s face.” I try not to have a strong reaction to normalize the discussion. With adolescents, they are extremely anxious to tell me if they’ve relapsed or aren’t doing well. They cut one night or they were suicidal. They’re having a lot of negative self-talk or panic attacks. They’ll come in, pretending everything is okay. It’s usually in the last 10-15 minutes that they’ll say something. They’ll reveal that they worried they’d let me down. That I’d be disappointed in them.

It usually turns into a discussion about policing other people’s feelings and tolerating emotions. I explain that I care about their well-being and it’s my job to monitor my emotions and reactions, not their role.

It’s nice to know we’re not alone, right?

If you’re a therapist or a counselor, share your similar insights with us in the comments!