1. I'm a client of therapy and I'm at a stage now where I feel strangely happy when my therapist fucks up because I'm getting used to it feeling safe to express my emotional needs.

  2. I was working at a homeless youth shelter and thanked a client carrying garbage bags for taking out our trash for us. Turns out those were their belongings and not trash at all.

  3. Kottler is so great at normalizing the experience of being a therapist. I was so grateful to find On Being A Therapist back when I was in grad school. Looks like I know what book I'll be reading next :) Thanks for the recommendation!

  4. I've been a therapist for 10 years, and I still think about this book from grad school. I read it voluntarily, but I think it should be mandatory.

  5. I’ll never forget my first major mess up. While I was a trainee seeing kids in middle school, one girl opened up in session and showed me a very nicely thought out list of pros and cons about her other girl friends. Pro that made them good friends and cons that made them bad friends. And I reflected something like “do you think this will matter when you look back 5 years from now?”. OOF! She very quietly folded up the paper and never said a word to me again in session. Any time I called her from her class, she just sat there. I couldn’t repair it as much as I tried. Huge learning experience for me, and I hope that I never make someone feel as small as I’m sure I made her feel. As therapists our learning is endless and it matters most how we humbling reflect on these experiences to better our personal and professional growth.

  6. Yeah we all do it. And truly it’s an opportunity to model good recovery and repair for clients. A lot of our clients have literally never been apologized to. Think about that.

  7. Messing up with a client can allow you the opportunity to right your wrong in a way that no one has ever done with them before. Acknowledge the mistake, show remorse, ask what they need, and then commit to never make the same mistake for them again. If handled correctly, this can actually be quite healing for them

  8. Once, my therapist at the time no showed a session. I was sitting in the waiting room while the intern tried to get a hold of them, utterly devastated.

  9. My worst fuck up was going through coping skills and I went through the TIPP skills (first one is putting your head face first in a bowl of cold water to activate the dive response) for someone whose trauma included almost drowning. Yeah…

  10. I was working in an insulated community when I first started as a therapist. I was seeing a client and I don't remember how it came up, but I was normalizing something she said by saying "yea I have a client who has this and does this and etc," and she's like oh I know who you're talking about, and said her name. I froze and thank Gd said I can't confirm nor deny that but never spoke about a client again after that.

  11. When I was pregnant I had to go to a high risk OB and one day I saw a guy I recognized with his partner. We both have the same disease and had meet each other years ago at an event related to the disease. He didn't recognize me but I remembered him because he had so many disease related complications.

  12. One of my black clients once came in talking about the store owner telling him he looked sketchy with his hoodie up. I told him well you do kinda look sketchy with your hoodie up. It was supposed to be a joke but it was really just a fucked up microagression I wish I could take back.

  13. I worked in a jail and asked my clients if they had plans for Thanksgiving 🤦‍♀️🤦‍♀️🤦‍♀️ I didn't even catch myself, they gave me dirty looks and said, "nah, we will be here" and I said, "wow, I am sure an asshole" they laughed and agreed and we moved on

  14. I literally make mistakes every single session, been working in the mental health field for about 11 years now. Hard to pin down my worst one but sometimes words just come out wrong, I forget things, or I accidentally say something ignorant. In my journey of being more assertive and setting firmer boundaries with people, plenty have experienced me as just a jerk.

  15. A client said something about working on things and I said, but you aren't. And what I meant was, "therapy works when we practice in the therapeutic setting, and outside of the therapeutic setting. We don't ride a bike for the first time and the next day sign up for a marathon. Therapy takes practice." Fumbling over my clarification and apology was pretty embarrassing and heavy.

  16. Oh that post comes at exactly the right time. I'm confronted with my own limits a lot these days. Just recently I said something that totally discouraged my client - I didn't mean to discourage her, of course, but I understand how she could take it that way.

  17. We fuck up because we are human and it gives clients a chance to see us as so. I've had group sessions that went off the rails because I couldn't get someone to stop dominating. I've said "you feel x because y" and had a client say "no I feel a because b." Sometimes we learn, sometimes the client learns. Sometimes we both learn.

  18. I actually think labelling for a client is a great skill as if you are right they feel understood and now have words to describe their sensation, if you’re wrong they correct you and end up telling you what’s really up anyways.

  19. I don't know how you messed up, but to hopefully make you feel a bit better: early on I once did a risk assessment with a client who turned out high risk and had access to the means they intended on using (but no date). I told them we would safety plan, forgot completely to safety plan when another topic came up.

  20. I was running a partial hospitalization group in a substance use facility. I misinterpreted a client’s check in. They corrected me and I apologized for my misinterpretation. I thought it was okay but through the remaining 3 hours of PHP, the client continued to bring it up and started raising their voice. Instead of deescalating, I lost my cool. I matched their tone and told them to “stop beating a dead fucking horse”. I immediately knew I fucked up. The client left the group. I went to their residence (they lived in our recovery housing on campus) but they didn’t want to talk to me.

  21. I did the "laddering" or "downward arrow" technique with a client about 8 months ago (I had been seeing her for about 3 months at the time). We got to her core belief of being worthless. We discussed it, did some grounding, and rescheduled our next appointment. I got two emails from her over the weekend, one was TEARING ME A NEW ONE for doing the technique and bringing up a lot of stuff for her, the second (that I read first not realizing) was an apology for the first email. We discussed, I apologized and validated that maybe it wasn't the time. It 100% change our therapy for the better. It was a HUGE reflective moment for me, and, while I too wanted to crawl in a hole (I'm a very new therapist), I'm glad it happened.

  22. Been there, I had a client who was so frustrating for me. Codependent and blamed everyone else for her suffering without taking any accountability. During a session, I was tired of hearing yet another story where everyone else was at fault and tried to have her accept some accountability for the role she played. She skirted it (of course). I wanted to try a more subtle approach and have her step down to it, but couldn’t find the words due to my frustration. She got annoyed and yelled out “would you stop asking me that! Why do you keep asking me the same question I already answered you!” I apologized and tried to repair but she was so upset she fired me.

  23. I fuck up all the time. First family session: they were indirectly expressing their anger, I absorbed it and handly it very badly (finger pointing happened). First and last family session with the family. They fired me.

  24. When I was a social worker in a 24/7 facility, I gave one of my teens the finger. I reacted pure emotionally and I felt really really bad afterwards. I gave him and myself 30 minutes to calm down and I went up to his room. He wasn't ready to talk with me, but I showed up telling him that I wanted to talk it through. Two days later, as soon as I started my shift, I saw him smoking by the frontdoor. I took him with me for a small walk and we talked it through. I apologized for what I did, but also told him that what he did that led up to me giving the finger was not okay. I always saw him as the clown of the group, but he actually was very mature during the walk we had. He apologized, told me that I wasn't the one who needed to apologize and also told me that everybody has some personal things going on that influence the way they react. We concluded that the both of us had that.

  25. I had a similar interaction with a kid. He was a teen with a lengthy substance use and homeless history, struggled a lot with women in general. Our staff client relationship was always rocky but at the time of the incident we were doing alright.

  26. Anyone who's been practicing long enough has been there OP, I misstepped with a BPD client and was gravely sorry! The client stormed out and I was gutted. However, you just gotta take it as an opportunity to deepen the work.

  27. I don’t know how to share without sucker punching HIPPA, so I will just say that I empathize with this BIG TIME. I have given myself copious opportunities to apologize to my clients for mistakes on my part big and small. Someone else said this more articulately but we can be a healthy model of how to mess up and make amends. You’re doing hard work- practice doing what you’d want them to do and give yourself some grace ❤️

  28. One that stands out to me is one where I was working with a couple--hate couples work btw. You marriage therapist are an enigma to me.

  29. Lol this was great. I’m making 2 to 3 sincere apologies every week to clients. The goal is to not sincerely apologize to the same client twice in one week, but to spread out the fuck ups throughout the whole caseload.

  30. I was listening to a CT and was outlining the letters on a card he just showed me from his partner. Luckily he thought it was funny, I didn't have any awareness of what I was doing. I felt horrible for weeks. That guilt at the time benefited no one. If I mess up today I just stand up and apologize. Be the first to admit my part. When we get defensive or avoid responsibility we perpetuate the issue.

  31. We’re all human, that’s what makes fuck ups actually one of the best learning tools of therapy. The repair, the conversation, and the vulnerability to communicate what went wrong and how you want to fix it. This is where we grow!

  32. In a day program with teens, one was being consistently disruptive due their lack of interest in treatment, which was messing up the flow of the day for everyone else. In the group I was running I had to redirect them a few times and gave them a warning. While I was writing on the white board (back turned) someone said something inappropriate, and I sent the disruptor out of group for a 10min break with some speech about hurting the rest of the group. They argue, saying it wasn’t them, I don’t believe them. The moment they leave, the rest of the group confirms it wasn’t them. I go out and try to apologize but the didn’t accept and wouldn’t come back (understandably).

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