Lying to Counselor

5 Reasons You Lie To Your Therapist, and How To Feel Good About Honesty


Dealing with shame therapy


Studies show that as many as 72% of those who seek the help of therapists lie to them about therapy-related topics.

Omission and deception are barriers to success in therapy, preventing a therapist from helping their clients from reaching their goals. Yet, from bending the truth, to omitting crucial information, to blatant misrepresentations of the truth; people lie in therapy all the time. 

Understanding why people lie in therapy helps make you comfortable telling the truth and achieving the goals you’re in therapy to meet!

Learn 5 reasons people lie in therapy, and how to feel comfortable telling the truth, in this edition of the Capital Choice Counselling Ottawa Therapy Blog.

1. People Lie in Therapy Out of Shame

We all have things we’d like to keep private forever, but often what we are trying to hide from the world is ruining our quality of life.

Opening up about your deepest, darkest secrets to a stranger is not easy. Being up front and honest to your therapist about something that even those closest to you don’t know about can be among the most difficult things you will ever have to do, so it’s no surprise that so many people lie to get around doing so!

But like jumping into a lake for the first time, once you’ve done it, it’s always easier than you expected.

How To Feel Unashamed with Honesty (in Counselling & Beyond)

Rome was not built in a day, and neither will you build your peace of mind in a single session of counselling in Ottawa.

Your therapist or counselor does not expect you to comprehensively articulate each and every dark secret you hold deep inside in your first session.

Much of our anxiety about honesty comes from feeling like we have to have an ‘all or nothing’ approach. Sometimes we believe we either have to cannonball right into the lake, or not go in at all.

But you can wade in, and you can always step back to shallow waters if you’re uncomfortable!

Therapy offers you the opportunity to talk about your problems one piece at a time. Getting used to talking openly about the things that you feel shame about is a skill, so try practicing it by speaking about minor or less significant things and ramping up to bigger ones over time!

2. People Lie in Therapy Fearing Judgement, Reprisal, or Consequence

Self DeceptionThere is no adult human being who has not done or thought something wrong, and yet we often feel like we’re the only one.

It’s easy to feel like talking about these things will expose us as a bad person to those around us. Like we will be judged or punished for being open about the things we have done and thought.

In most cases, this is because we will. Despite the fact that we all think and do things we shouldn’t; in life most people jump to judgement before understanding.

But not in your therapist’s office.

How To Deal With The Fear Of Consequence

The best way to get around the fear of negative consequence is to ask your therapist what you can expect to happen as a result of sharing information.

Consider asking them what the response might be to a patient talking about whatever it is you’re looking to conceal. Without talking about your problems directly, this can help inform a better picture of what you can expect, and ease your fears of negative reactions.

Whether you are keeping your problems concealed for personal or legal reasons, this approach will clear up any false pretenses you might have about the consequences you fear might result from honesty! Your Ottawa counsellor will be willing and able to accommodate your needs and desires. He or she knows that honesty isn’t just the best way to finding solutions for you – it’s the only way.

3) Many People in Therapy Are Also Lying To Themselves

If you’re good at lying to others, chances are you’re even better at lying to yourself.

Those with Narcissistic Personality Disorder build an entire identity and self-concept around avoiding the realization that they are insecure.

Addicts can perform amazing acts of rationalization to get around admitting to themselves that they have a problem.

In fact it’s hard to find anyone at all who doesn’t deceive themselves in some way or another. We’re very good at avoiding discomfort, and most of the time self-honesty is anything but comfortable.

How Do I Stop Lying To Myself – in & outside of Therapy?

Trusting Therapist

Self-deception is a subtle, almost imperceptible thing. We do it subconsciously, our brains taking care of the process without us even knowing it.

We lie to ourselves to avoid the pain brought on by uncomfortable emotional states, so the first step to recognizing self-deception is to recognize the emotional states we’re trying to avoid!

Those with trust issues will becomes anxious, angry, or terrified when falling in love. Once you recognize the feeling caused by what’s happening to you, you can then turn your attention to what your thoughts are doing to get you away from what’s causing you pain.

Your thoughts produce your behaviors, but your behaviors influence your thoughts. Once you feel the bad feelings, see the thoughts that appear as a result, you can then resist the urge to produce the behavior (the lie to yourself/your therapist), and watch as your unhealthy patterns unravel themselves!

4) They Aren’t Trusting (of their Therapist & of Others)

Not completely trusting your therapist is a perfectly rational thing to do. How could anyone expect you to trust a complete stranger more deeply than almost anyone in your life?

Not being honest about not trusting your therapist, however, is not rational.

If you do not trust your therapist with information that they need in order to help you, you ought to think about your approach to therapy.

Doing this means you are investing yourself in work of achieving your mental health goals by engaging with therapy, but also preventing yourself from achieving them by omitting or concealing important information.

Trust is the critical component you and your therapist need to get to where you want to be, so the key to building it is:

Be Honest About Not Completely Trusting Your Therapist!

Do you think you’ll hurt their feelings if you tell your counsellor you don’t trust him or her?

Of course your therapist wants to establish a strong relationship of trust, but they don’t expect it in the sense that one can just ‘turn it on’ like a switch.

Therapists & counsellors expect trust in the sense that both parties understand and are committed to spend every session building it.

The most critical component of trust is honesty, so consider being upfront about the fact that you do not trust a therapist 100% with certain information to be good practice at honesty.

From there, you and your therapist can talk about why you aren’t yet trusting, and what can be done to build that trust!

5) They Do Not Want To Change (Which Therapy Requires)

Therapy Session

You’d think that someone is in therapy because they recognize they have a problem in their life that needs fixing, but quite often this is not the case.

Most often it’s those who have been referred or brought into therapy by another that resist it the hardest. A husband brings their wife into therapy to address a drinking problem they won’t recognize. A wife urges her husband into therapy to address panic attacks that are limiting his quality of life.

People in this mindset are considered to be in the ‘pre-contemplation’ stage, which means they haven’t even begun to think about changing. Getting a person past pre-contemplation is a challenge, but far from impossible:

How To Get Past Pre-Contemplation in Therapy & Beyond

The first step to getting past pre-contemplation is to recognize that though you may not be happy in therapy, you are perfectly safe. In a therapists office, you know exactly what to expect, everything is familiar, and you don’t have to do or talk about anything you don’t want to.

So long as a person in pre-contemplation of their problems does not feel like they need to defend themselves against their therapist, the rest is merely a matter of repeated sessions over time. So long as a person keeps coming to therapy and does not feel distressed as a result, the walk to peace of mind will continue until the destination is reached!

Honest Therapy in Ottawa With Capital Choice

Honesty is not easy!

Speaking deeply about the things most central to our lives and who we are requires us to pay a massive price in courage, but what we get for our investment is well worth it!

To learn the benefits you or someone you love can realize by being honest in therapy, get in touch with Capital Choice Counselling in Ottawa!

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Martin Rovers