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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5762
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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What do therapists usually do when a patient cries

Resolved Question:

What do therapists usually do when a patient cries
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 5 years ago.

Hi, I'd like to help you with your question.


Usually, when a patient cries, a therapist can do two things. Either give the patient time to express themselves by stopping the interaction for a few moments. Or they can comfort the patient by asking them how they are feeling and letting the patient, at their own pace, talk about why they are crying and how the discussion before affected them emotionally. It is usually a very good sign in therapy when a patient can express feelings in such a manner and for some patients, it is considered a breakthrough, particularly if expression of emotion was complicated for that patient for some reason.


At no point should a therapist do more than than offer verbal comfort. A therapist should not touch the patient or attempt to comfort them physically. Offering them comforting things such as a tissue or a drink of water is fine, but no more.


I hope this helped you,




Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Thank you that did help, but I do have a follow up question.

I have severe anxiety and depression, I have not been able to cry and I'm scared that is the reason why I'm not getting better. But I'm scared to cry in therapy.
Do you think that even if I'm resistant it would be important for me to cry
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 5 years ago.

No, not necessarily. It is common that someone with severe anxiety has trouble crying. Crying feels like a loss of control, which is what anxiety is about, not losing control.


Crying is never a mandatory thing in therapy. There are plenty of people who feel uncomfortable with the thought of crying in front of others, including therapists, and save their crying for when they are alone. That is fine.


What becomes a problem is when you cannot cry at all. Then you should bring this up with the therapist so the reason behind it can be explored as part of treatment. It is not a serious problem. Not being able to cry is a symptom of something deeper that needs explored. It can be a learned behavior from abuse or a way to keep feelings inside for fear of loss of control. It is not a sign of serious mental health problems.


Please let me know if you have any further questions.



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