The Importance Of Feedback In Therapy (In General)
Therapy, in the beginning, can make someone feel really challenged. Because you don’t know what to expect, it can be hard to know what you have to do to make it as effective as possible (and tolerable too) For those who do have experience with therapy, but it may not have gone well in the past, it can feel really daunting to start the process over again with a new therapist.
And for those who are brand new to therapy, it can be scary to know what to expect or even ‘how to do therapy’ right! While there is no universal ‘right way’ to doing therapy, there is a ‘right way’ for you to do therapy for yourself BUT your therapist may not always know this and this is where you can help them to help you. This is where feedback in therapy is particularly important.
The Mega Importance Of Feedback In LGBTQ+ Therapy
For gay men, and the LGBTQ+ community, this is even more true than the general population. As gay men, we face enough issues, including increased risk of mental health struggles, as it is (because of society and homophobia, not because of being gay). Just being who we are authentically takes tremendous courage. And therapy (as well as therapists) have not always had a great track record of helping gay men and the LGBTQ+ world. And unfortunately, this is still the case far too often, even by well meaning therapists.
When you add in mental health concerns and the potential for feeling “othered’ by society and by therapists you have tried going to in the past, it might make you feel like you want to throw in the towel all together and just not go to therapy. And this would be understandable, but very unfortunate, because with the right approach and the right therapist for you, you can truly change your life. Imagine that! It’s true, and I see people do this all the time in my consulting room.
This is why working with a gay therapist, who knows and understands what you have been going through and how you feel is so important. But in order for us to get to that point, it’s important that we are on the same page as one another. This is why feedback in therapy is really important between a client and therapist. And any good therapist worth working with, will work hard to make the space easy for you both to give and receive feedback about what is working and what needs to be changed.
While I will do my best to guide you, offer solutions, and support you in the way I can, you are your own expert on your life and this is why I will ask you to help me understand you, your life and what you find helpful and unhelpful in therapy sessions.
Let’s go over why feedback in therapy is so important and how you can express feedback in therapy to help make your therapy be as good as it can possibly be. You deserve life changing therapy and feedback is the key to getting it.
1. You’re Used To Trying To Keep Things To Yourself
Gay men are taught early on (intentionally or not) that it is best to just keep things to themselves. To remain silent and complacent in their own life. To not break the mold that society sets. This is never a good thing, but, it is especially damaging when it comes to the therapy experience.
Gay men are taught that we need to put up with things and ‘not make a fuss’, to not give any feedback because the fear of being judged or bullied, or even just misunderstood is so strong. But in therapy, you shouldn’t have to worry about this. And you don’t! Keeping things to yourself won’t help me figure out how I can help you move forward from them. I won’t know what’s bothering you or affecting your mental health if you don’t open up to me.
And I get it, opening up to a complete stranger is not something anyone is comfortable with. Let alone those who are most vulnerable and often ridiculed in society. But you are in therapy because you want to get better and to heal, right? Feedback is part of that. And my promise to you is that you cannot offend me by any feedback you give me. I will always be grateful to learn what you think about how therapy sessions are going including (and especially) what needs to be changed.
2. Something Not Working? Please Speak Up About It
Therapists understand that not every person will respond the same way to the skills and coping mechanisms we teach our clients. So when something is not working for you, don’t be afraid to say so. Again, I could never be and would never be offended to know that something isn’t working for you. It isn’t an insult to me (at all, I promise!) to learn that you aren’t benefitting from something.
If you keep silent about the treatment methods and just pretend that they are working, then I will just make the assumption that they are. Which, for obvious reasons, can be really problematic when it comes down to it. I truly want you to benefit from therapy sessions, and to make the sessions as tailored to your needs as possible, please do give me feedback in therapy regularly.
Based on my experience, I will go with what I think is best practice considering your situation. Or teach you the best coping mechanisms, tools and skills to help you. But I won’t know what you truly need unless we have feedback conversations, so I will do my best to make it as easy as possible for feedback to happen regularly, in a no big deal kind of way.
3. Therapy Helps You Learn Effective Communication Skills
In therapy, in addition to everything else you are learning, you also learn how to communicate your needs and preferences in a safe environment, where you can even get feedback about how you give feedback! Therapy is a chance to practice for life saying what you want, and need for yourself and for your life. Expressing your needs and wants to other people is a skill and therapy is a great place to refine this skill.
Giving feedback in therapy to your therapist about your experience is great practice at doing that. Therapy is one of the safest and most effective places you can learn successful communication. Which, in turn, you can then take with you and use outside of sessions. How great is that?!!
While gay men are taught that it is better to stay silent, I want to help you unlearn that. It is better to give feedback in therapy and in life. Living authentically requires us to show up fully and ask for what we need.
Click HERE to learn more about therapy for gay men. If you are looking for support from a gay therapist, who is also a gay life coach, and specializes in providing therapy for the lgbtq+ community, please feel free to contact me at my Honolulu or London clinic. Reach out to me so I can help you learn how to stand up for yourself, heal your mental health, and finally get the support you deserve. I am happy to offer you a free test drive session to learn more about how gay therapy can help you.
I am a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in the USA and an Accredited CBT Therapist in the UK with over 16 years of experience, my expertise is providing therapy for gay men and the lgbtq+ community. I also completed advanced training in using Cognitive Behavior Therapy and Compassion Focused Therapy as well as life coaching for gay men and lgbtq+ people.