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  • Writer's pictureAlayna Dorfman

How to Build Trust with your Therapist: Best Tips For Going To Therapy

Updated: Apr 9

Deciding to go to therapy can be both daunting and hopeful. It marks the beginning of a process where individuals seek support and guidance to navigate through their challenges, whether they be emotional, mental, or relational. However, the initial step of building trust with a therapist can sometimes feel challenging. 


Trust forms the cornerstone of the therapeutic relationship, facilitating open communication and vulnerability necessary for progress and healing. Yet, establishing this trust requires time, effort, and sometimes, a leap of faith. 

In this discussion, we will explore the complexities of building trust in therapy and offer practical tips to foster a deeper connection with your therapist.



a counselor sitting in a green chair talking to another therapist on a blue couch in a therapy office in. st petersburg fl, going to therapy, therapist in st petersburg fl

What Can Building Trust Look Like?


Building trust in therapy can sometimes feel like a complex process that differs for each individual. It involves creating a safe and supportive environment where clients feel comfortable sharing their personal experiences and emotions. While some may feel apprehensive about opening up to someone they don't know well, it's important to recognize that these feelings are natural and understandable.


Various factors can affect one's ability to trust a therapist. Past experiences of betrayal or trauma, as well as societal attitudes towards mental health, can play a

significant role in shaping a person's trust level. Additionally, cultural norms and the power dynamics inherent in the therapeutic relationship can also influence how quickly trust is established.


Therapists work diligently to foster trust by demonstrating empathy, respect, and understanding towards their clients. Through active listening, validation of feelings, and transparent communication, therapists aim to create a space where clients feel heard and valued. Over time, as the therapeutic relationship develops and clients begin to feel more comfortable, trust can deepen, paving the way for meaningful progress and growth.


Signs you may be holding back in therapy sessions – Is there a lack of trust?


Here, we listed some ways that individuals may be holding back; this can stem from a lack of trust with the therapist. Then, we provided an example of each one to help those know if they may be doing this in their own sessions. 


  • Limited Disclosure: You find yourself hesitant to share certain thoughts, feelings, or experiences with your therapist, leading to incomplete or guarded communication during sessions.

Example: You avoid discussing your past relationships with your therapist, only providing vague details about your experiences without delving into deeper emotions or insights.


  • Avoidance of Vulnerable Topics: You actively avoid discussing topics that evoke strong emotions or discomfort, preferring to focus on surface-level issues or less challenging subjects.

Example: Whenever your therapist tries to explore feelings of abandonment from your childhood, you quickly change the subject or minimize the importance of those experiences.


  • Minimal Engagement: You participate in therapy sessions passively, providing brief or superficial responses to your therapist's questions without delving deeper into underlying concerns or experiences.

Example: During therapy sessions, you respond to your therapist's questions with one-word answers or provide superficial explanations, lacking depth or insight into your thoughts and emotions.


  • Resistance to Feedback: You react defensively or dismissively to feedback or insights provided by your therapist, resisting introspection or exploration of alternative perspectives.


Example: When your therapist suggests exploring patterns in your behavior, you become defensive and dismissive, refusing to consider alternative perspectives or insights.


  • Reluctance to Explore Past Trauma: You feel apprehensive or unwilling to explore past traumas or painful experiences, fearing emotional overwhelm or re-traumatization.

Example: Despite experiencing significant trauma in your past, you avoid discussing those events in therapy, fearing that revisiting them will be too emotionally overwhelming or distressing.


  • Dishonesty or Concealment: You withhold important information or present a curated version of yourself to your therapist, fearing judgment or rejection if you were to be fully transparent.

Example: You intentionally withhold information from your therapist about your substance use habits, fearing judgment or consequences if you were to be fully transparent about your behaviors.


  • Difficulty Establishing Boundaries: You struggle to assert your boundaries or advocate for your needs within the therapeutic relationship, leading to feelings of discomfort or resentment.


Example: You struggle to assert your boundaries with your therapist, allowing them to push you into discussing topics that you're not comfortable with or violating your personal space during sessions.


  • Inconsistency in Attendance or Engagement: You frequently cancel or reschedule therapy appointments or express disinterest in engaging in therapeutic homework or exercises recommended by your therapist.


Example: You frequently cancel or reschedule therapy appointments at the last minute, citing vague reasons or expressing disinterest in engaging in therapeutic activities recommended by your therapist.


If you recognize any of these signs in yourself, it's essential to explore the underlying reasons for your hesitation or reluctance to fully engage in therapy. Discussing your concerns with your therapist openly and honestly can help address any trust issues and facilitate a more collaborative and productive therapeutic relationship.


Can I Tell My Therapist that I Don’t Trust Them?


Yes, absolutely. It's crucial to be honest and open with your therapist about your feelings, including any lack of trust you may be experiencing. Therapy is a collaborative process, and your therapist is there to support you, even through difficult conversations like this.


Expressing your concerns about trust can be a valuable opportunity to explore underlying issues and work towards building a stronger therapeutic relationship. Your therapist can help you explore the reasons behind your mistrust, address any misunderstandings or concerns, and work together to rebuild trust over time.


a laptop with zoom participants on the screen and a coffee mug sitting next to the laptop, therapist in st petersburg fl, going to therapy

Remember, therapy is a judgment-free space, and your therapist is trained to handle conversations about trust and other challenging topics with empathy and understanding. Sharing your feelings openly can pave the way for deeper healing and growth in therapy.


Tips for How to Build Trust with your Therapist

Here, we provided some practical tips for you to personally utilize in therapy. We also provided examples to help demonstrate how it can be applied. 


  • Communicate openly: Be honest and transparent with your therapist about your thoughts, feelings, and concerns. Open communication fosters understanding and strengthens the therapeutic relationship.


Example: Instead of minimizing your anxiety symptoms, openly discuss the extent of your struggles with your therapist, including how it impacts your daily life and relationships.


  • Establish boundaries: Clearly define your boundaries and preferences within the therapeutic relationship. Respectful boundaries create a sense of safety and trust.


Example: Let your therapist know if there are certain topics or questions that make you uncomfortable and discuss alternative ways to approach them in therapy.


  • Give feedback: Provide constructive feedback to your therapist about what is helpful or challenging for you in therapy. This helps ensure that your needs are met and builds mutual trust.

Example: If you find a particular therapeutic approach ineffective or triggering, share this feedback with your therapist so that adjustments can be made to better support your progress.


  • Set realistic expectations: Understand that building trust takes time and patience. Be realistic about the pace of progress and allow yourself to gradually develop trust in your therapist.

Example: Rather than expecting to fully trust your therapist after just a few sessions, acknowledge that trust is built over time through consistent communication and positive experiences in therapy.


  • Explore past experiences: Discuss any past experiences or traumas that may impact your ability to trust others, including your therapist. Understanding the root of trust issues can help address them effectively in therapy.


Example: If you have a history of betrayal in past relationships, explore how these experiences influence your trust in others, including your therapist, and work with your therapist to build a sense of safety and reliability.


  • Be patient with yourself: Trust-building is a gradual process that requires patience and self-compassion. Allow yourself the time and space to feel comfortable opening up and developing trust in your therapist.


Example: Recognize that it's normal to feel hesitant or guarded in the beginning stages of therapy and give yourself permission to progress at your own pace as you gradually build trust with your therapist.


  • Celebrate progress: Acknowledge and celebrate small milestones in your trust-building journey with your therapist. Recognizing progress can boost confidence and motivation to continue working towards deeper trust.


Example: If you notice yourself becoming more open and vulnerable in therapy sessions, take a moment to acknowledge and appreciate your growth, and share this achievement with your therapist.


By implementing these tips and examples, you can actively contribute to building a trusting and supportive relationship with your therapist, fostering an environment conducive to personal growth and healing.


Reminder: Building Trust with Your Therapist Can Take Time!


Building trust with a therapist is a process that unfolds gradually over time. Just as trust is not built overnight in personal relationships, the same holds true for therapeutic relationships. Trust requires consistent effort, patience, and mutual understanding between you and your therapist.


Initially, you may feel hesitant or guarded, particularly if you've experienced past betrayals or struggles with vulnerability. However, as you engage in open and honest communication, set boundaries, and work collaboratively with your therapist, you'll gradually begin to feel more secure and comfortable sharing your thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Trust-building in therapy is a journey marked by small victories and setbacks, but with time and dedication, it lays the foundation for deeper exploration, healing, and personal growth.


Therapy in St. Petersburg, FL at Be Your Best Self & Thrive 


At BYBS, we pride ourselves on fostering a safe and supportive environment where individuals can embark on their journey towards personal growth and healing. Our holistic therapy practice prioritizes creating a safe zone for our clients, where they can feel comfortable expressing themselves and exploring their innermost thoughts and emotions. Our team of clinicians are dedicated to providing compassionate and understanding support to each individual we work with. 

We understand that building trust in therapy is a gradual process that requires patience and empathy, which is why we take the time to establish a strong therapeutic alliance with our clients.


Our clinicians are highly trained and experienced in helping clients navigate their trust issues, whether they stem from past traumas, relationship difficulties, or other sources. We believe in meeting our clients where they are and tailoring our approach to meet their unique needs and preferences. At BYBS, we are committed to walking alongside our clients every step of the way as they work towards building trust and achieving their therapeutic goals.


Therapists in St. Petersburg FL | BYBS Clinicians


headshot of nicole malene a therapist in st petersburg fl at be your best self and thrive counseling, holistic therapy, therapist in st petersburg fl

Areas of Specialty: relationship issues, anxiety, depression, stress reduction/burnout, life transitions, chronic pain, spiritual health and wellness.


Nicole understands that the foundation of effective therapy lies in a deep therapeutic alliance. Nicole creates a safe and nonjudgmental space where clients feel heard, understood and respected. Through active listening and empathy, she collaborates with her clients to establish mutual goals and tailor treatment plans to meet their unique needs. Her warmth, compassion, and dedication empower clients to explore challenging emotions and experiences with confidence, paving the way for healing and growth.


headshot of rochelle young an anxiety therapist in st petersburg fl at be your best self and thrive counseling, holistic therapy, therapist in st petersburg fl

Areas of Specialty: stress management, ADHD, anxiety, depression, trauma, grief/loss, family issues, life transitions, communication, women’s issues, family issues.


Rochelle believes that establishing trust is fundamental, as she recognizes that vulnerability inherent in seeking mental health support. Rochelle takes the time to truly understand her clients’ concerns, listening attentively to their experiences and validating their emotions. Through her calm and compassionate demeanor, Rochelle creates a safe environment where clients feel empowered to share their struggles openly without the fear of judgment. 


jamie molnar a couples therapist in st petersburg fl at be your best self and thrive counseling, holistic therapy, therapist in st petersburg fl

Jamie Molnar CEO/Clinical Director


Meet Jamie Molnar, the CEO and Clinical Director of Be Your Best Self & Thrive therapy. With a passion for mental wellness and personal growth, Jamie leads her practice with a mission to create a safe and welcoming environment where individuals can feel comfortable on their journey towards healing.

At BYBS, Jamie understands the importance of trust in the therapeutic process. Her commitment to fostering trust is evident in every aspect of the practice, from the carefully curated team of compassionate therapists to the nurturing atmosphere designed to put clients at ease.


Are you interested in scheduling a free 15-minute consultation with Nicole Malene or Rochelle Young? Start here


Building Trust with your Therapist: Bringing it all Together

In conclusion, building trust with your therapist is essential for effective and meaningful therapy outcomes. Recognizing when you're holding back and acknowledging any hesitations or reservations is the first step towards fostering a trusting therapeutic relationship. It's normal to feel guarded initially, especially when sharing personal struggles and vulnerabilities. However, taking proactive steps to communicate openly, express concerns, and establish clear boundaries can pave the way for deeper trust and connection.


To gain trust with your therapist, it's crucial to prioritize open and honest communication. Be willing to share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences, even if they feel uncomfortable or difficult to articulate. Engage actively in therapy, ask questions, and provide feedback to ensure that your needs and preferences are being addressed. Additionally, trust-building is a collaborative process that requires mutual respect and understanding. Take the time to get to know your therapist and their approach to therapy and express any concerns or preferences you may have along the way.


It's important to acknowledge that building trust with your therapist can take time. Trust is earned through consistent, reliable, and empathetic interactions over time. Be patient with yourself and with the therapeutic process, allowing space for trust to develop naturally. Remember that therapy is a journey, and trust-building is an integral part of that journey.


With patience, commitment, and open communication, you can cultivate a trusting relationship with your therapist that serves as a foundation for growth, healing, and transformation.


Frequently Asked Questions for Building Trust With your Therapist


What if I'm having trouble trusting my therapist?

Trust issues can stem from past experiences or fears of judgment. It's important to communicate these concerns with your therapist. Together, you can explore the root of these issues and work towards building a stronger sense of trust.


How can I know if my therapist is trustworthy?

Trustworthiness can be gauged by factors such as empathy, competence, and respect for boundaries. Pay attention to how your therapist responds to your concerns and whether they create a safe and supportive environment for you to express yourself.


What can I do to feel more comfortable opening up to my therapist?

Start by setting small goals for yourself, gradually increasing your level of disclosure as you feel more comfortable. Remind yourself that therapy is a judgment-free zone where you can explore your thoughts and feelings without fear of criticism.


How important is it to establish boundaries in therapy?

Establishing boundaries is crucial for building trust and maintaining a healthy therapeutic relationship. Clearly communicating your boundaries to your therapist ensures that your needs are respected and helps create a sense of safety and trust.


What role does confidentiality play in building trust with a therapist?

Confidentiality is a cornerstone of the therapeutic relationship and contributes to building trust. Knowing that your therapist will keep your discussions private fosters a sense of security and encourages open communication.


How can I address trust issues that arise during therapy?

Addressing trust issues requires open and honest communication with your therapist. Express your concerns and fears openly and work together to explore underlying issues and develop strategies for building trust.


Are there any specific exercises or techniques that can help build trust in therapy?

Techniques such as mindfulness, role-playing, and relaxation exercises can help build trust and strengthen the therapeutic relationship. Your therapist can guide you through these exercises and tailor them to your specific needs and goals.


What should I do if I feel like I'm not making progress in building trust with my therapist?

If you're struggling to make progress in building trust, it's important to address this issue with your therapist. Together, you can explore potential barriers and develop strategies to overcome them, such as adjusting therapy techniques or discussing alternative approaches.


Message from the BYBS Content Creator


Hey everyone, Alayna here. As someone who has also gone through the process of building trust with a therapist, I understand how it can feel challenging when opening up to someone new. As a gentle reminder, practice and patience are your companions here!


Warmly,

Alayna Dorfman


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