In Therapy

A user's guide to psychotherapy

How to Cry in Therapy

There is group who truly want to cry but cannot. Or maybe they can cry when they’re alone, but not with other people. Or just not in therapy. The emotion is there, the desire is there, but they’re blocked. They’re emotionally constipated. Read More


For my therapy it was all about that "deeper insight." Before I cried, I really didn't know why my life had become so unhinged. My therapist just kept asking me questions. I answered. And then, in the middle of one session, I cried, realizing what was really wrong with my life. I haven't been the same since. But at least we're on the right track now.

Who has a picture of their

Who has a picture of their therapist? And to get that photo, how do you even announce that? "Smile so I can have a pic on my phone and practice crying!" Wouldn't a shrink be weirded out if a client reached into her bag, pulled out a smartphone (or authentic camera) and said she wanted a photo? I took a photo of my therapist once (the phone was on silent so he didn't know) but I felt really creepy about it. I also hate looking at it.

Many therapists have websites

Many therapists have websites or a profile on a therapy website, such as Psychology Today. I find it comforting to look at my therapist's photo, even though I do feel creepy looking it up all the time. It's just reassuring.

My therapist has a facebook

My therapist has a facebook page and a page of her business. It's weird, those pictures do not even feel like its what she looks like in therapy. I can't even remember her face after therapy.

My therapist is feeling like

My therapist is feeling like a motherly figure/mentor to me. i'ts very comforting to see her picture, and she has a couple of videos of herself talking on youtube - and thats nice. I creep myself out but it eases anxiety.

Such a timely post!

Just this morning, my therapist and I were talking about crying in front of people (as I was crying in front of him) and how much I hate it. I learned at a very young age not to let people know I was crying, which has always been a challenge since I'm one of those that can cry at Hallmark commercials. We had a good, long talk about how it was really okay and how it can actually bring you closer to others.

Crying has always been

Crying has always been perceived as a weakness by the many. Thus, a lot of people would rather cry to themselves than reveal their tears to others. As a consequence, they often display a facade of "strength" whenever hurdled with problems as though trying to say, "I'm not crying."

Stoics tell me I'm weak because I cry and I object

I am an emotional person and I strongly protest at those stiff upper lips/stoics who preach that crying is weak. When I cry I have been surrounded by these wretched stoics who say I am weak and over-sensitive when they've seen me cry. Stoics tell me to toughen up to cope with this tough world and it infuriates me. Most counsellors and therapists are open and accepting of crying and even encourage it. Therapists are of all views and all opinions. One woman psychiatrist said it was wrong to cry at work and I felt angry at hearing this as I have cried at work.

Losing composure

I think it's absolutely the case, as you write, that "it's an intimate moment that can form a bond between two people". It has only been fairly recently that I've really been givin 'er in sessions. It feels so good. And I feel so much closer to my therapist in a kind of cumulative way as a result, which is really very lovely. I find that losing composure in this way is so loaded with so much (and thanks for the link to the saddest commercial ever. An apt title if ever there were one). And how my therapist reacts to me when I lose it shows me that I can do this with other people that are close to me, and the world won't come crashing down - and some people might even care. Thanks for the new post.

Cardboard Box Therapy

I think a therapy technique that included putting me inside a cardboard box would help with this issue! When you don't feel you're being stared at so heavily, I think the emotions would more easily come. Insightful post & great links.

Another tear-inducing video

If you're looking for a quick tear, try the PSA video "Embrace Life - always wear your seat belt" on YouTube.


We have a winner. Thanks!
Buckle up!

Even Manly Tough Guys Should Learn How To Cry

As a teenager, when I attended therapy, I had such a hard time crying because I had an image and a personality to abide to - which was being tough. I learned how to cry despite this though, I chronicled my personal journey here:

Feeling like i have to perform

i've been in therapy for a few months now, and i had a last minute revelation and shed a tear. I haven't since then, but i almost feel like i need to cry to show progress, or that if i don't cry then thiis isn't working. I've told my thearpist i cry at night with the disturbing thoughts and feelings, yet i don't cry in therapy. Do i need to cry in front of her? I've come very very close lately.


The goal of therapy isn't to please the therapist or prove to her that you're making progress - you might want to take a look at a piece called "The World's Best Therapy Client" for more on this. If expressing emotion is one of your goals, working on this in therapy can be helpful. But not if it's for the therapist's sake.

Thanks, Ryan, i actually did

Thanks, Ryan, i actually did read that article and i AM "WBTC". I print her affirmations on a sheet of paper, i printed a guide out on a piece of paper of a meditation she put me on. I bougght a book she assigned me to, i'm really good at homework. I show up 10 minutes early (although she's 10 minutes late). I'm that guy. I love that article, because (and she even pointed out), I always show her how i'm doin gwell and how much therapy has helped. She said men typically do this all the while hiding what is truly wrong inside.

so this week, i'm going to let that "WBTC" go, and go balls-out with her, not literally, but just getting raw, brutally honest, letting go, and showing her me so she can fix that.

I really appreciate your blog, becuase it addresses EVERY QUESTION i had about therapy, especially from a therapists' perspective (does she even care, is she milking me for money, eye contact, tissues, crying, etc)

Im one of those people who

Im one of those people who (almost)cant cry in any situation. I even remember friends commenting on the fact that they had never seen me cry, when we were maybe 9 or 10.
I can relate to the above comment about 'it being an intimate bond that can help form bonds'...because its happened in therapy for me, but it was when my therapist cried and not me. I had been seeing my current therapist for about 4 months and really didn't find much of a connection, until one day,an intense session, I looked up and she was crying. It really caught me by surprise because I didn't think she really cared that much about me(not in a cold,distant way, but just more in a professional role sort of view).

Since then, she has shed a few tears on occasion, but now I'm starting to wonder if she is hindering my own expression of almost 'stealing my tears'. Because I will be talking about something and feel like I want to cry, but when she gets a little teary eyed, I feel comforted and supported. It almost feels like she is feeling my emotions for me. I'm not sure if that makes sense or is a common thing in therapy or in life, but it doesn't really feel like a bad thing...

I dont know. Maybe our society puts too much emphasis on crying. I've heard that running can release the same feel good chemical in our brains as tears do. So maybe I'll pick up running again and stop feeling bad for looking cold-hearted at funerals.

I am trying to learn to cry

It seems like I just can't. I know it will be helpful and I'm actively researching methods that would allow someone to break down decades of practice holding back tears and allow them to come. I could really use some specific advice from anyone who has gone through this.

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Ryan Howes, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, writer, musician and professor at Fuller Graduate School of Psychology in Pasadena, California.


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