Over at my other blog, reader Sreed asked this question: “Is it true that a person has to ‘believe in’ mental health treatment for it to work? A heart patient does not need to believe in the pill that helps his ticker, but I have been told that mental health treatment requires an attitude of belief.”

As I wrote about some of the literature concerning therapeutic outcome expectation (I responded to Sreed’s question with a conditional “yes”), I was reminded me how challenging it must be to enter therapy for the first time. In my years as a clinical psychologist, no one has asked, “why should I trust you?” But I know the question must be on minds of most people who enter my office.

I’m hoping that those of you who recall the experience of entering therapy for the first time will tell me what it was like for you. Did you sense that the therapist was on your side? Did anything give you the impression that you could or could not trust the therapist?

Someone once told me that anyone who asks for your trust probably doesn’t deserve it. Yet we psychologists are implicitly asking you to trust us each time you cross our thresholds. What do you think… do we deserve your faith?

You can read my response to Sreed here.

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Dr. Smith is a psychologist in Denver, Colorado and the author of The User's Guide to the Human Mind: Why Our Brains Make Us Unhappy, Anxious, and Neurotic and What We Can Do about It. You can read the introduction and find other goodies at guidetothemind.com.

About the Author

Shawn T. Smith Psy.D.

Shawn Smith is a licensed psychologist in Denver, Colorado.

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