“The relation between doctor and patient remains a personal one within the impersonal framework of professional treatment. By no device can the treatment be anything but the product of mutual influence, in which the whole being of the doctor as well as that of his patient plays its part… Hence the personalities of doctor and patient are often infinitely more important for the outcome of the treatment than what the doctor says and thinks.”  C.G.Jung CW 16  

We ultimately behave with a therapist the way we do with most important people in our lives, with the same kinds of assumptions about the therapist and about ourselves. And we do so unquestioningly. Every week at least one patient tells me she “knows” what I think or feel, which she almost certainly does with others as well.

It is true that it is difficult for the therapist to respond to feelings and issues that the patient does not talk about. All rumors to the contrary, we are not mind readers! This underlies the basic therapeutic dictum that the patient should say whatever comes to mind.

Now of course, this is difficult for most of us, conditioned as we are by social norms, by rules we have learned from our parents. Remember Thumper in Bambi.”If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all”? Most of us operate on some version of that in our relationships and avoid saying things to another person that we think might make them uncomfortable or angry with us. But therapy is a place where Thumper’s Rule needs to be suspended. So, if you don’t tell the therapist you don’t feel cared about, there isn’t much the therapist can do to help you with that. Similarly if you are angry with the therapist, have sexual feelings toward him or her, or any of the myriad of other feelings and thoughts about the therapist you might have. It all belongs in therapy. Putting those feelings into words is a key  part of what therapy is about, after all, because that opens the doorway to understanding where they come from and how to deal with them in ways that are helpful rather than destructive in life.

There is no magic in therapy. We meet. The patient talks. I listen and reflect what I see. Rinse and repeat.

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