Therapy is a Safe Place

Everyone has “crazy” thoughts at

times…things that seem strange…foolish…or frightening. A woman might think

of quitting a job that supports her family. A man may fantasize about leaving

his wife. If these are brief and passing thoughts we don’t usually worry much

about them. But sometimes they are more persistent. 

If a

person is troubled by these thoughts they may want to talk to someone about

them. But some kinds of thoughts are hard to talk about with friends. For

example if your friend is the spouse you are thinking of leaving, it may be

impossible to get impartial feedback from them. And some subjects, by their very

nature often seem to be more difficult to discuss with friends, such as suicide

or questions about one’s sexual orientation. Furthermore, a good and caring

friend may lack the experience or knowledge to help you untangle confused or

troubling thoughts. 

This is

why psychotherapy exists. Therapy is a place where your can speak half-formed

thoughts…ask forbidden questions…say things you are unsure of. A

well-trained and experienced therapist will not chide you for saying something

that might shock or anger a friend. Because you are not there to ‘please’

the therapist, you don’t have the burden that friendship may impose…to

censor what you say….to protect a friend’s feelings; to avoid rejection.

Instead the therapist works with you to clarify your own conflicting feelings. 

When you

can examine the “crazy” thoughts, they usually don’t seem so scary. Often

it is because they can’t be viewed, that they seem so powerful. For example,

the man who is haunted by fantasies of leaving his wife, might discover in

therapy that he feels so dependent on her that he fears getting angry with her,

and so avoids dealing with problems in the relationship. Once he can express his

thoughts, he may see that the real danger lies in avoiding his own feelings;

that resolving conflicts with his wife eliminates the urge he has felt to leave



well-trained therapist can help to make ‘opening up’ more comfortable. While

part of this involves an accepting attitude, it is the therapist’s training

and experience that can help make sense of and ‘untangle’ conflicts. Often

the feeling of ‘hopeless confusion’ is based on false assumptions about

oneself and others. For example when a patient pressures himself to be the top

salesperson in his company because he believes that anything less would be a

failure, the therapist might point out that the patient is being unfair and

unreasonable to judge himself in this way. The therapist may explore with the

patient how he developed such a severe self-attitude. He might help the patient

to see how this belief keeps him trapped by keeping his self-esteem shaky and

pushes him endlessly to prove he is not a failure. 


can arise from unexamined, secret fears. Dealing with thoughts that seem

frightening when you are alone can be the beginning of real emotional growth,

when they emerge in a safe place.