Jeff Guenther on May 28, 2021
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I don’t know why everyone isn’t a therapist. It’s the best job in so many ways. The incredibly close and intimate relationships you create with long-term clients are amazing. The healing and growth you get to witness is heartwarming and rewarding. Diving into why somebody is the way they are is fun and fascinating. And on top of all that, you basically get to chill all day in a comfy room that resembles a living room. Sitting in a cozy chair for hours? Sign me up!
And look, aside from all the sweet and rewarding things you get to experience as a therapist, nothing compares to the drama and hot gossip that gets thrown at you allllll daaaaaay loooooong. Here are my top 5 guilty pleasures about being a therapist.
Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, gets me more excited when a client whips out their phone and says, “You know what? Let me read you the texts.” YESSSSS. READ ME THOSE TEXTS! I want the juicy play-by-play one text at a time. I want you to squeeze every single detail out of that bonkers conversation you just had with your ex-best friend. And don’t just read it to me in some boring monotone way. I want you to get in character and embody the obnoxious and righteous tone oozing through their messages. Better yet, give me commentary after every text message! Tell me how insanely nuts they are. Reveal how they’re total hypocrites because they said the exact opposite thing just two weeks ago. And don’t worry about taking too much time trying to get to those old text messages. Take as long as you need. Keep scrolling all the way back to the start of the conversation. I WANT TO HEAR IT ALL! I will be up in arms the whole time reacting exactly how you want someone to. I’m on your side the whole way through. Let’s spend the entire session on your phone. I can never have this much fun outside of my office. Never stop reading your texts to me.
Is your brother or sister the absolute worst?! OF COURSE THEY ARE! Were they little ass kissers who couldn’t stop BEGGING for attention? Were they little cry babies that pouted about absolutely EVERYTHING? Lay it on me! How competitive were they with you and please recount all the times you crushed them. Are you physically unable to roll your eyes far back enough because of how transparently pathetic they are? Because I LOOOOOVE to hear it! Are you totally over the relationship while they’re still trying to push all your buttons? Let’s laugh at them together while they struggle to get a reaction out of you. I am a safe haven for clients who want to make fun of their siblings. I will never judge you or force you to be compassionate for a sibling who is obviously a monster.
I mean, come on. The most entertaining, fantastic, dramatic and over-the-top stories always feature epic breakups. I have heard them all but I cannot hear enough of them, I promise you. Breakup stories feature the entire rainbow of emotions and I want to go on that journey with you! I’m not spending one measly session on your breakups. We are spending WEEKS talking about every single breakup you want to recount with me in detail. And I’m going to need you to start from the beginning. What pulled you in? How’d you fall in love? How long did you think it’d last? When did you start to get bored? When did it begin to fall apart? Who was the bad guy? Was it them? I HATE THEM! Was it you? Yeah, I bet you’re 100% justified to be the bad guy. But you’re not bad. You’re the hero and we know this. Was it the biggest and most important growing opportunity of your life? I bet it was and I’m sure you learned so much. I bet they didn’t learn a thing and they’ll make the same mistake over and over again until they’re alone and bitter for the rest of their lives. It’s them that needs to go to therapy, am I right??
Are you officially over it? GOOD! I am too. I’m right there with you. Do you want to make a line in the sand? Do you want to declare that you’re never going to fall for that shit ever again? I support you! I am your number one cheerleader and champion. If you’re fed up with someone in your life, with the stupid job you have, with the backwards culture we’re living in, with Hollywood’s ridiculous beauty standards, or even with your own crappy behavior that keeps magnetizing the dumbest people into your life, I am fully on board. You’re over it and you’re never having that experience again. It’s not serving you. You can’t stand it. You have lost all patience. You’re stronger now. You’re more grown up. You’ve learned your lesson waaaaay too many times. You’re finally awake and you’re never turning back. Boy, am I the therapist for you. I love a story about how much you’re over it. We are moving forward together! Don’t look back!
I am the king of asking my clients to text someone right in front of me. Sure, I’m doing it for them. Everything is for them. I know this. Buuuuuuut this one is a little for me too, and there is nothing wrong with that! It links back to my first and favorite guilty privilege of when clients read text threads to me. But it’s even better because it happens in real time. So if you’re my client, you better watch out. If you say you want to cancel your next date but you just can’t bring yourself to send the text then guess what? I’m locking my office doors and you’re not allowed out until you send that text. You might think I’ll let you out at the end of the hour but I won’t. I’m clearing my day until you send that message. I’m not going to let you leave the session so you can come back next week and tell me how you didn’t send that text. I mean, this is obviously the absolute best time to send the text because I’m writing it with you!! I am an AMAZING texter. I’ve helped clients cancel bad dates for almost 20 years now. You want to write a funny text? I’m hilarious. You want to write a gentle text letting them down softly? I’ve got the most tender and considerate words you’d never be able to come up with on your own. You want to send them a text that’s going to mess with them for the rest of the summer? I won’t even charge you extra for that. This all comes for free because I live for this and although it’s benefiting you and your growth it’s really fueling me up for my entire week and I’m not going to let this opportunity pass me up.
While everything above comes from my heart and is true in a lot of ways, I’m being tongue in cheek and not actually trying to create drama where there isn’t any. I care about my clients deeply and would never use their therapy for my entertainment. That would make me an incredibly irresponsible therapist. But for all you therapists who secretly live for the drama just like me, I see you. You are my people. I love that you’re having an amazing time being a therapist.
Jeff Guenther, LPC, is a therapist in Portland, OR. He has been in private practice since 2005. Jeff is the creator and owner of Portland Therapy Center, a highly ranked therapist directory. Jeff, and his team, have launched a new progressive therapist directory, TherapyDen.