I could end this blog in one sentence by simply saying, yes. Your therapist can be mad at you.
Since that wouldn’t help you gain any insight into the therapy process, which I assume is the reason you are reading this blog, I’ll go on.
What’s the Point of Knowing Whether Your Therapist Can Be Mad at You?
You might wonder what the point of this blog is. I mean, who cares if your therapist can be mad at you?
Seriously, they are a tool you are using to achieve your goal, right?
I completely agree.
Therapists are a tool you are using to achieve your goal.
Some People Care Whether a Therapist is Mad at Them
Believe it or not, some people care whether their therapists are mad at them. And most of the time, their therapist is not mad at them even though they think they are.
But What if my Therapist IS mad at Me?
Here’s the thing.
If you “know” your therapist is mad at you, you are either:
(1) Wrong or
(2) You’ve triggered an unconscious issue in your therapist that they have not completely resolved or
(3) You have crossed a boundary that elicits a protective response from your therapist that is totally legitimate.
1) – How Do I Know Which One It Is?
To be honest, it’s mostly going to be case number one. And if it is, your own expectations of how the-person-in-front-of-you will react to some authentic part of you is beginning to become apparent to you through the therapy relationship.
Therapy is a great place to be able to explore those expectations, how they unfold, and how they affect your life negatively, out in the real world.
2) – Therapist Issues
If it’s case number two and something in you has triggered one of your therapist’s unconscious issues, you might go through an awkward session until your therapist takes some time (before the next time they see you) to do their own work and stop putting blame on you for something of their own.
Therefore, confronting them about the way you feel is a good way to start the process of distinguishing whether the anger is a false perception on your part, or something you’ve legitimately picked up on from the therapist. A competent therapist will welcome this kind of exploration.
3) – Is There Such a Thing as Legitimate Therapist Anger?
The last case where your therapist might be angry with you is pretty extreme. It takes a serious boundary violation for a therapist to actually get legitimately angry at you. In other words, you’d have to do something like deliberately breaking something, repeatedly violating the privacy or space of other clients, or flagrantly violating explicitly stated boundaries around the therapy relationship.
In that case, the therapist will most likely model a response that includes a reasonable and moderated level of protective energy that very well might feel like anger to you.
It’s important that you understand that this protective energy does not necessarily mean that your therapeutic relationship has to end. In fact, unless you are unwilling to change your actions going forward, the experience can create the possibility for a lot of growth on your part.
A continued relationship will have to be negotiated between you and your therapist. And boundaries will likely be stricter for your own protection as well as that of your therapist and other clients. But there is a strong possibility that it can continue.
Ready to start your own journey into achieving emotional success and navigating the scary waters of relationship anger along the way? Call me. We’ll talk.