How To Tell Someone You Are In Counseling

How to tell someone you are in counseling at the Center for Growth / Sex Therapy in Philadelphia (most likely a lover). If you have decided to tell your lover that you are either considering starting therapy or that you are already in therapy at the Center for Growth, you may be wondering how to actually go about doing just that.  You may be questioning when to do it, where to tell, what to say, how they will react, and so on.  There may also be many other puzzling thoughts buzzing through your mind and you may be feeling mixed emotions such as happy and excited while feeling nervous too.  This tip will help you create and follow a step-by-step plan to tell your partner you are in therapy.

1: Preparing yourself for completing all the steps of how to tell someone you are in counseling: The first thing to do to prepare yourself for the upcoming conversation is to take some time to understand the questions, thoughts, and feelings you have about telling your partner.  Make sure to do some personal reflection on these topics.  You may wish to have a session with your therapist at the Center for Growth / Sex Therapy in Philadelphia about the feelings you are having about telling your partner.  They may be able to help you process the emotions; guide you to answer some of the questions and offer support if you are feeling anxious about telling, ideas on how to tell your partner you are in counseling.  You may choose to disclose to your partner with your therapist present in a session. Or you may wish to do it on your own terms at home. If you are still unsure about telling your partner, check out the tip about deciding to tell.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What will I possibly gain or loose by telling my partner.
  • Why do I want to share this information?
  • Will my partner be receptive?
  • Why do I want to tell?
  • Do I want him or her to be a part of therapy?
  • How do I feel about therapy?
  • Am I making progress?
  • Do I need extra support?
  • Think about the who, what, when, where, why, and how of telling.

After you have processes some of the above questions and scenarios, you will have to do some of the literal preparations.  First you will have to decide when you are going to tell your partner.  Don’t just blurt it out in the middle of the day on a cell phone when they are at work.  Plan and prepare.  Take control of the situation.  Tell your partner that you have something you wish to discuss and develop a time frame the two of you agree on.  A few days before the discussion, take some time to engage in pleasurable and relaxing activities either alone or as a couple.  If you like to exercise, go for a run, do some yoga together, take a bubble bath, watch a movie, or spend some time cooking a romantic meal.  Doing nice things together will help ease your own anxiety as well as your partner’s anxiety about what you will be discussing.  Be sure to clear your schedule.  Get the room laid out how you want it (see number two for more information).  The day of do some deep breathing, take a walk, and clear your mind of anything unrelated.  Make yourself fully focused on your task at hand.

2. Setting the stage (when and where):When planning the talk with your partner remember to pick a time and day when you both can devote at least an hour of uninterrupted time.  Be sure to pick a time that neither of you have to rush to.  You don’t want either person to come into the conversation in a stressed out or rushed attitude.  You want to approach this calmly and relaxed.  You may find it helpful to choose a familiar time for being together.   For example if you usually eat dinner then relax together on a Monday night, try planning for that.  When you are choosing the time of day, be sure you will be able to focus on the topic at hand for the full time.  If you are more focused during the day plan an afternoon setting.  But if you prefer to talk in the evening talk then but make sure you won’t be cutting into sleep time so neither of you become drowsy during your conversation.  When we talk about uninterrupted time we mean: no cell phones, no TV shows, no kids if you have any, no work, e-mail, or events to rush off to. You are both going to need time to process the emotions and reactions you are having to the news.  We suggest one hour, but give yourself more time if you feel like you will need it.

Set the tone of the room: Plan to meet in a softly lit room.  Natural light works well during the day, or turn on some table lamps.  Don’t make the lighting too harsh.   Prepare comfortable chairs such as in your living room.  Maybe you will choose to go into the kitchen if that is where you feel comfortable.  The bedroom is not suggested because you may retreat to sleep mode and not focus on the conversation.  The major exception to this rule is if you have your most intimate conversations in the bedroom.  For the rest of the population, keep the seating arrangements close but not on top of each other.  Have some water and tissues ready.  You can play some soothing music in the background if you wish but make sure it is not going to be a distraction.  Do NOT choose a public place. Remember you do not want to be interrupted or over heard.  This is a private conversation.  Make the setting as comfortable as you can but know that emotionally there may be some ups and downs for both of you.  Most important of all, make sure you are both in a place you feel safe to express your feelings.

3. What to tell: First you need to identify what you are willing to share: what therapy details do you want to share and when would you be willing to share them.  Do you need to have a conversation about the financial aspects of seeing a therapist?  Are you ready to discuss why you are in therapy, or just the fact that you are seeing a therapist for right now?  If you want to discuss your reasons for being in therapy and the issues you are working on, you may have to go into detail. Be ready for some tough questions about when it started, what is going on, why you did not tell sooner, and what made you see a therapist.  Your partner might not understand right away why these issues merit professional help.  Just take your time and try to explain it as best you can.   Develop a plan or a script of what you want to say.  You may find it helpful to write down some notes on index cards, or make up a list of key things to talk about.  Have these notes with you when you are talking to your partner.  Having a visual representation of what you are saying may be help for them too.  But to some it may seem cold and unemotional to hand over a sheet of paper.  Go with what works for you.  Take your time.  Don not rush over little points or downplay the situation.  The conversation might not go exactly as you planned or their reaction may be different than you were expecting; just relax if this happens.  Either way, your goal for this conversation is full disclosure.  If you are nervous, having notes to follow will be beneficial so you do not skip any important details you want to share.

Some people may wonder how to tell.  This depends on you and your relationship style.  The best suggestion for how to do it is to make sure you are not sugar coating anything.  Be honest.  Do not beat around the bush; get to the point.  You’ve already told your partner you have something to talk about.  They may have been experiencing anxiety, worries, sadness, or frustration from the time you said that till the minute you actually say, “Honey, I’m in therapy.”  Be straightforward and direct.  Say what you have to say but do not do it rudely.  Try to avoid placing blame.  Discuss the scenarios, what you have been thinking and feeling, and why you decided to get help.  Do not cut corners.  Take the time to explain things.  Your job is not to put your partner at ease.  In fact, you may even create some tension with this news.  The point is to express important feelings you are having, and to be able to listen to your partner’s reaction to those feelings.  Overall remember to take your time and try to relax.  When difficult emotional topics get discussed, it can easily turn into an argument.  Being prepared can help you to remain calm and open to the growth that will come from this disclosure.