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Talking About Therapy With Your Partner

By Karin Blak

The prospect of talking with our partner about therapy can leave us feeling exposed and vulnerable: admitting to needing psychological or emotional help can evoke anxieties of being seen as weak or letting our partner down in some way. We can worry that our partner will not understand or perhaps that they will leave us, believing we are not who they thought we were.

The truth is that in most cases our partner will already have noticed that we are struggling in some way and may even have considered the possibility that we need a little help. They might have seen a change in our behaviour or reaction in our daily lives. Perhaps we are more tired than usual, or we have lost a spark. Whatever is going on inside of us will be reflected in our reactions to the world outside of us. No matter how we try to disguise our struggles, something will leak through in our interactions with others.

How to talk with our partner about therapy

Talking with our partner about therapy may come as a relief to them as well as us. Our conversations will not necessarily consist of the intimate details of our therapeutic sessions, these are confidential to us as well as the therapist, but will be about our experiences of the therapeutic process.

The reason for us seeking therapy will be a good starting point. Talking about what we struggle with and how we experience this can be the beginning of our partner understanding our inner world. Getting to know a deeper part of us will help to create the supportive space that is so important for the success of therapy.

Talking about our fears and hopes for therapy as we prepare for the first session will be like reaching our hand out for our partner to steady us. It is quite normal to have worries about the first session or two, until we get to know the therapist and the usual process of sessions.

Once therapy is under way and we engage fully with the process, there may be times when we prefer to contemplate our therapeutic conversation before we engage with our partner about our experience, carefully selecting what we want to talk about. On the other hand, there might be times when we want to discuss the detail to clarify issues or to feel supported.

The benefits of talking

Talking about therapy will open the door to our experiences being accepted and understood in our relationship, creating a space where our partner can support us and we can accept their contribution. For most couples, this open and honest dialogue is more likely to bring the two of us closer together than push us apart.

Letting our partner in to our inner world while we are in therapy can open up an avenue to deepening our relationship. Both of us sharing emotional experiences and thoughts that bother or intrigue us, will contribute to a closer bond between us.

Of course, if we haven’t got a partner, or our partner is the very reason why we are in therapy, having a trusted friend or family member to talk with about our therapeutic experiences will provide us with an alternative source of that much needed support through therapy.


Karin Blak is a qualified couples counsellor, family therapist, and psychosexual and relationship therapist. In 2019 she received the East Midlands SME Most Dedicated Relationship Therapist award. Karin has worked at GP surgeries, inpatient units, Sure Start Centres, Relate, Connexions, and in private practice, and sat on the ethics board at the College of Sexual and Relationship Therapy (COSRT). She has spoken on BBC Radio and blogs on Medium about relationships and self-development topics.

Karin’s book, The Essential Companion to Talking Therapy is for those currently in therapy, seeking therapy, considering returning to therapy, or supporting a loved one through it.

The book is available now in multiple formats; order your copy here.

Having a Support Network Outside of Therapy

By Karin Blak

There is no doubt that therapy can be challenging, and we will at times need support and comfort outside of therapy. Trusted friends, family members, or our partner are often the ones we turn to for emotional support or physical comfort in our daily lives. In therapy, this is referred to as our support network. We rarely purposely appoint anyone into this role, it is as if we have an unspoken contract that allows this special relationship to develop without needing to sign a job description.

The purpose of a support network

A support network that will help us through the challenges and changes of therapy is composed of people we trust and who we can rely on to keep whatever we share with them confidential. It isn’t always that we need a deep conversation. There will be moments of feeling emotionally sore after a session and perhaps we need a hug, an uplifting conversation or someone to make us a cup of tea, creating a comforting environment.

A support network is able to provide what a therapist can’t:

  • Physical comfort: hugs or a timeless space to gather our thoughts.
  • Placating: saying everything will be ok or soothing our emotions.
  • Distraction: diverting our thoughts away from what is bothering us.

These are aspects of relationships most of us take for granted in our daily lives. They are also aspects of life that our therapist cannot provide for us. We have to develop these physical and emotional needs with people who are likely to remain in our lives for longer than any therapist will. Remember that therapy will come to an end at some point: the relationship we have developed with our therapist is for a specific purpose and time, where our daily relationships very different and are with us for much longer.

Choosing our support network

We might already unofficially have created a support network. If this is the case, we will probably know who within our circle of trusted friends and family members are likely to be the most appropriate people to ask for a little extra support while we go through therapy. We need people who:

  • We can trust to keep our conversations confidential.
  • Can provide a hug or physical comfort when we need it.
  • Are good to laugh and be active with.
  • We can call on when we need to chat or when we are feeling down.
  • Are interested in our progression through therapy.

It doesn’t have to be just one person we rely on for our support, in fact it is best if we have a couple of people who can be there for us. Choosing carefully, and talking about this with our therapist, will provide us with a support team, increasing the likelihood of our success through therapy.


Karin Blak is a qualified couples counsellor, family therapist, and psychosexual and relationship therapist. In 2019 she received the East Midlands SME Most Dedicated Relationship Therapist award. Karin has worked at GP surgeries, inpatient units, Sure Start Centres, Relate, Connexions, and in private practice, and sat on the ethics board at the College of Sexual and Relationship Therapy (COSRT). She has spoken on BBC Radio and blogs on Medium about relationships and self-development topics.

Karin’s book, The Essential Companion to Talking Therapy is for those currently in therapy, seeking therapy, considering returning to therapy, or supporting a loved one through it.

The book is available now in multiple formats; order your copy here.

Talking About Therapy at Work

By Karin Blak

In the past, going to therapy used to be taken as a sign that we couldn’t cope and if our line manager got to know, our career prospects would be seriously damaged. Thank goodness those days are, for the most part, gone. The question now is: how do we talk about therapy at work, who should we talk with, and what should we say?

A lot of life’s experiences need coping strategies that we don’t necessarily possess. Whether that is births, deaths, relationship break down, or a situation at work; any situation that causes us to experience additional stress can affect our work performance. Therapy can provide us with a confidential space to develop the skills and strategies we need and talking with our trusted colleagues and line manager about our experiences can ease our process of recovery.

Talking with colleagues

The conversation about anxiety and depression is becoming acceptable at work and is more readily recognised as a part of life. Talking about therapy on the other hand still seems too personal for some, yet it is one of the major solutions for gaining coping mechanisms to reduce the effects of anxiety and depression on our life.

The kind of conversation about therapy we can have with trusted colleagues could be about our general experience of the process. It can even be reassuring for our closest colleagues to know that we are taking action to work with our mental health issues. Saying that we are seeing a therapist who is helping us through talking about our experiences is probably all our colleagues need to know.

No doubt there will be some curious colleagues who will want to know more, and they might be brimming with questions about our therapeutic experiences. How far we take those conversations depends on how comfortable we feel talking about the subject. However, we need to look after ourselves and make sure we are not venturing into an area that will overwhelm us and so stop us from working. For that reason, it is advisable to:

  • Only talk about therapy as a general topic.
  • Be ready to tell our inquisitive colleague that we’d rather not go any further with the conversation.
  • Know our own boundaries, something our therapist can help us with.
  • Rely on our support network outside of work for our more personal and emotional needs.

Talking with our line manager

Our line manager will want us to perform the best we can, and they should be supporting us in doing so. If we have been struggling at work, they might have helped us get in touch with a therapist linked to an employment support scheme or encouraged us to see our physician for a referral.

Of course, we might have sought therapy without encouragement from work. Whichever it is, if our line manager is the supportive sort, they will want to know that we are looking after ourselves and developing coping skills. Letting them know that we are seeking therapeutic help for a specific issue can enable them to provide specific support for us for the time we are in therapy or while we need it.

In general, work is not the place most suitable for the deeper explorations of our therapeutic experiences. It is a place where we are paid to perform a specific role. Opening up the general conversation about therapy with colleagues can begin to generate a wider acceptance of therapy and become a resource of understanding in our working lives.


Karin Blak is a qualified couples counsellor, family therapist, and psychosexual and relationship therapist. In 2019 she received the East Midlands SME Most Dedicated Relationship Therapist award. Karin has worked at GP surgeries, inpatient units, Sure Start Centres, Relate, Connexions, and in private practice, and sat on the ethics board at the College of Sexual and Relationship Therapy (COSRT). She has spoken on BBC Radio and blogs on Medium about relationships and self-development topics.

Karin’s book, The Essential Companion to Talking Therapy is for those currently in therapy, seeking therapy, considering returning to therapy, or supporting a loved one through it. The book is available from 9th February in multiple formats; pre-order your copy here.

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