Why Do People Occasionally Lie to their Therapist? Understanding Trauma and Human Reflexes
There are many pills and tonics to treat physical ailments. But finally, people have started acknowledging the mental turmoil and suppressed personality disorders that emerge as a result of traumatic or repressed incidents of the past.
Today, many people are seeking help from therapists. Yet, in a study conducted by Counseling Psychology Quarterly, 93% of the 547 adults who had gone into therapy confessed to lying to their therapists. This is definitely a big proportion of people who are not being completely open to their therapists.
However, it is not always deliberate.
Most of the time, patients are unconsciously covering information or misquoting incidents due to their personal qualms about a certain memory. After all, the mystery is why would someone lie intentionally to therapists when they are willingly scheduling the therapy session and sitting through them for hours?
The few reasons that psychologists identified behind the misinformation conveyed by the patients are discussed below.
1. Impression management- being ashamed of their deeds thus hating to confess
One of the central reasons why patients often lie to their therapists is because they loathe revealing the unpleasant side of their character. They themselves are so riddled with guilt, and a heavy conscience about their character deterioration and the misdeeds they may have performed in their moment of weakness or agony, that they hate to own up to it. Patients are wary that the therapist will apportion them with blame for their imperfect life, thus they try and evade their own flaws when narrating the story. After all, who would like to pay for a session to be told that the problem is with the person himself?
2. Therapists are strangers and resultingly unreliable.
Most of the people in therapy have a turbulent past. Therefore, they are always hesitant in establishing trust. There is always this underlying fear of discovering a knife thrust at their back. This is the reason why usually consecutive therapy sessions are charted because initially, it takes time for the patient to establish trust in the therapist. The first few sessions are spent building a rapport and laying the groundwork for crude confessions.
3. The first-person narrative may be flawed by personal misgivings
As discussed earlier, the patient may be subconsciously evading critical information or misinterpreting it. For example, the patient may have discovered a betrayal by their closest family member but, chooses to gloss over the incident by revealing contorted facts. This is not always intentional. Similarly, a person may be an alcoholic but describe himself as an occasional drinker. These are just examples of how usually the patients may lie to their therapists to find a solution to their problem without disrupting their fantasy of having a perfect life.
There are also instances when a patient may reveal fragmented information about himself at the therapy because they fail to make the connection between their problem and the cause. A student failing consecutively in exams might not be able to recognize his parents’ separation as the reason. The key to successful therapy is trusting the therapists, and if after repeated sessions, you are still wary of him, you must change your consultant. The first step to a change in life is to appreciate that you need to change.
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