Through my clients, I often get to vicariously live moments of joy, triumph and success. I am also trust to witness heartache, pain, and the darkest moments of someone’s life.
We are taught to be objective and authentic. We are also sent the message that it would not be the greatest idea to cry during a session because we have to be strong for our clients. This can be very hard, at times. There have been times when a client sits with me and recounts moments of abuse, terror, fear, heartbreak or loss, and I have to emotionally check out because I want to cry for them. And, if I cry, do my tears weaken my therapeutic position and send the message that I am weak? Or, will I strengthen the relationship by being 100 percent authentic and human, my emotions communicating, I hear you, that must have been awful and I’m sorry that happened to you, rather than my words which fall short of the true experience I am sharing with him/her.
It is not that it is about me, but it is about showing my client that I hear them, and I feel their emotions (alternatively showing excitement for their joy). Of course, the first ethical guideline is to do no harm. Thus, illustrating my internal debate of do I cry or do I not. The answer lies in what would be most beneficial for that particular client and the relationship that we have established at that particular point in time.
I was thrilled to find this article published by the APA (American Psychological Association), telling their members that despite what textbooks print, yes!, it is OK to cry. In fact, many therapists admit to crying in sessions with their clients. It is a quick and easy read. I encourage all colleagues and clients to read the article, and please leave your comments on what you think! Looking forward to reading them!