The first step is to identify that you have thoughts or feelings about your therapist. These thoughts can occur in session, or in your daily life. If this happens in session, you might want to stop whatever you’re talking about and share your observations. If you notice this outside of the clinic, you should either make a mental note to speak about it in your next session, or even set a reminder to yourself to do so. Therapy has a way of going where it wants, so setting a reminder and starting the session with the topic at hand is a good way to make sure it gets discussed.

A good way to start is to let your therapist know that you have something uncomfortable to share. Before you do this, you might be worried that your therapist will get hurt, alarmed, or judgemental. You can share this concern with them, and see if they can reassure you that they’re going to both handle it, and be gentle with you. Experienced therapists have a variety of tools to professionally handle even the harshest feedback with dignity and responsibility.

Next, it’s best to just do it: simply say what’s on your mind, without filters. After you expose your heart, a good therapist will know how to treat what you’ve shared with respect, to discuss it with you in a way that honors your vulnerability, and to use it to pave a therapeutic path forward.

If your therapist responds in a way that’s uncomfortable for you, that might mean one of two things. Either this is a normal part of the therapeutic process, which doesn’t always feel comfortable, or, your therapist might be reacting to their own unconscious issues and projections. This counter-transference can manifest in behaviors such as excessive criticism and unsolicited advice-giving. While it’s not always easy to distinguish between the two, trusting yourself is an important guide in this process. Even though the therapist is responsible for directing this process, it is your responsibility to set boundaries with your therapist, and ultimately to decide which therapist is right for you.