Oversharing in Therapy

Back when I was manic last year, I talked a lot to everyone about everything.  My mouth just wouldn’t stop moving in front of coworkers.  My fingers wouldn’t stop typing in e-mails to new friends who soon knew more than my old friends knew about me.  After I started treatment, this behavior persisted for quite some time.  I got used to being open with everyone whether they’d earned that openness or not, and I’m still learning to build up relationships before dumping my personal issues on people.  I must say, as a blogger this is hard because the whole concept of blogging involves sharing personal information with people I don’t even know.

I recently met a whole group of new people and I was doing a great job at keeping secrets and getting to know them on a superficial level first.  There was one person in the group who did the exact opposite.  On every one of our dinner outings she spoke in great detail about the loss of her job and a tragic death in the family.  Her audience was slightly different each time, so I think I was the only one to hear this story over and over.  It reached a point where it seemed like she couldn’t possibly be benefiting from telling this story again – like it was just keeping the wounds fresh.

I spoke about this to my therapist last week and she asked if this gave me some perspective on what oversharing felt like from the other side.  I know why she asked this, and I know that she was absolutely not saying “See how it feels for me?”, but I got to wondering if it is possible to overshare in therapy.  Intellectually I think it’s not.  The whole purpose of going to a therapist is to have someone who must listen to whatever you need to discuss.  Emotionally I’m feeling something quite different.

I’ve always had a rule that I’m honest with my therapist.  I don’t lie to her and I don’t leave out anything that seems important, because it would be a waste of my time to talk to her if I did.  That doesn’t mean I’m open with her though.  I’ve been seeing her for a year and have yet to show any real emotion in front of her.  I still go in and joke around and laugh even when the content of the conversation is serious.  There was only one time the facade started to crack, and all that happened then is that I had to look away while saying that something was difficult for me.

There are things on my mind all the time that I feel like I can’t discuss in depth with her.  I feel like she doesn’t want to hear them, like she’s steering me away from focusing on my thoughts and back to the DBT skills.  Always the DBT.  For example, when I came to her office for the first time after my overdose last year, I felt like she didn’t want me to discuss what had happened.  I am still stuck on that event, especially on how much it bothers me that I can barely remember that day, and on how scared I was that they let me leave inpatient so soon afterward.  But now it’s been 6 months and the time to bring it up has long passed.


9 thoughts on “Oversharing in Therapy

  1. I have a tendency to over share, too. I convince myself that I’m making the other person at ease by sharing my own stories. And sometimes I do it because if I talk the other person can’t and I’m scared about what they’ll say to me. What both of these have in common is that I am actually worrying about the other person and not really thinking about myself, even though I’m talking about myself the whole time. The effect this has is seldom the one I want. I don’t know how similar your experiences are to what I’ve described, but I thought I’d SHARE it with you to add to the convo. ;-)


    • I think I fall into the “making the other person at ease” category. I mean, I’m sure there have been some moments when I’ve made people uncomfortable, but more often they turn around and share something with me that they wouldn’t have otherwise shared, and I feel privileged to hear those stories.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m a therapist, and I would encourage you to be vocal about this. This very fact that you feel you can’t be open about what is important to you is significant. This needs to be addressed. It could be that she isn’t aware of this, hasn’t asked the right questions, has failed to check in with you, or is unable to process those things with you due to her own limitations. Unfortunately, we therapists are still human and human error can interfere inadvertently. If you bring this up and she isn’t willing or open to address these concerns, then I recommend looking for another therapist. Good luck!


    • I plan to write about this when I get some more time (hopefully later today), but I sent a link to the post to my therapist and she read it and we discussed it in my appointment yesterday. We concluded that I was using a lot of emotional reasoning and that my initial suspicion that she was disinterested came from her not prying about the overdose in an attempt to avoid making me uncomfortable. It’s not that she didn’t want to hear about it, she just didn’t want to force me to talk about it.

      I’m actually very assertive with her, as compared to pretty much all my other social interactions. I usually have to do it in writing to avoid the crippling anxiety, but I do tell her when things aren’t working and I want to take a different approach. For some reason, this one issue slipped by.


      • I’m happy to hear that you we were able to address this issue and that the assumptions of her not being interested were incorrect. It would have been interesting to see how things might have been different had your therapist discussed her hesitancy about forcing you to talk about something that seemed emotionally significant. Who knows.


  3. Pingback: Please Pry | Stuff That Needs Saying

  4. Thanks for sharing. I am dealing with something similar at the moment and it’s nice to hear that I’m not the only one thinking about these issues.


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