Therapists have heard it all. From stories of harrowing childhoods to extreme loss and depression, they are trained to listen and help. Even so, they are still human, and sometimes the painful stories they hear from their patients make them lose their composure and break down. Here patients and therapists share some stories of sessions that made them cry, and some are so heartbreaking, you will too.
I was working with a deeply depressed client who had a lot of negative self-talk about how she was always a failure. We were exploring the origins of this and how young she was the first time she felt self-blame. She told me her earliest story of when she was in the second grade. Afterward, as we were processing it, I expressed that "it wasn't your fault".
She just broke down sobbing and said, "Nobody has ever said that to me before". In between sobs, it hit me, and I cried a little.
My therapist was mediating a discussion between my mom and me. I had a neurodegenerative disease, and my mother was my full-time caregiver. Because of my severe disability, she also had official guardianship of me—even though I was in my 20s—which was all agreed upon. I was in continual pain and ready to leave this earth.
I asked my mom to sign a DNR because I had been resuscitated before. It was a mess, and I didn’t want it to happen again. My mom’s reaction was devastating. She didn’t want to lose her child and wanted to do everything medically possible to keep me alive. The session was essentially me begging my mom to let me go while she sobbed and said she could never sign a paper that would lead to my passing.
It was a terrible situation. No one was the bad guy, and no one was trying to hurt the other. It was someone who wanted their suffering to end versus a mother who did not want to lose her child. My therapist agreed that I should be allowed to make this choice. They didn’t think that my mom was manipulative or evil, just already grieving and trying to hold on to me as long as possible.
I saw my therapist wipe her eyes several times, and they were red by the time we were done. She actually hugged us both at the end.
There is only one time I can recall that I sobbed uncontrollably. I worked with a client for months and months on her substance issues and deep guilt around how she parented her child 20 years prior. She had been making progress, and then, sudden silence. I was unable to get a hold of her despite attempting to call. I was working for a public mental health agency at the time, so outreach was required.
It was very difficult to discharge a client without their permission, but I just couldn’t reach her. After following all the prescribed rules for outreach, one night, I was just reviewing her chart. I didn't really want to discharge her, but we were at that point when I noticed a document in her chart I had never seen before. When I opened it, my blood ran cold. It was a coroner’s report. They had found her body on the street. I cried a lot over that.
I was doing a cognitive assessment for a girl. We were doing tests, and at one point, she started crying, but she was unable to tell me why. She was fine just one moment before. I let her collect her thoughts, then she said softly, "I don't want to be more stupid than my friends". She wasn't. Actually, she was very bright, but she didn't know that she had dyslexia, dysorthograpy, AND dyscalculia.
I realized that she went through THIRTEEN years of school without help. Her parents didn't want to do an assessment as they thought she was just lazy. I told her that she was very brave to decide to get help and things would get better after our evaluation. I felt tears well up in my eyes.
An 11-year-old client of mine fled their country with their mother to escape the cartel. They had lost communication with their father, who stayed behind. One day, they found his father’s body washed up on the beach. I saw my client the day after he received the news. I naturally teared up while he hugged me and sobbed.
I had a sweet little boy tell me about the loss of his father, who was his little league coach. His dad tragically lost his life the week of the big championship game. He went ahead and played the game the day before the funeral. He hit a home run and shared tearfully how the next day, he put the baseball in his father’s coffin at the funeral with his team all standing around him in support.
One day I had a few scheduled sessions that would be done on college grounds. I got through the day and was preparing to leave. It was around 5 PM, and as I was walking to my car, I noticed a student just sitting at the bus stop. I walked by and said something like, "Bus running a bit late, huh"? She replied, "Uh, I don't know".
As I took a moment, I noticed a few red flags. I said hello and introduced myself. I showed her my faculty pass and asked if I could take a seat. For about five minutes, we were just sitting there silent. Then I remembered I had a little pack of Skittles and a Milky Way bar in my bag. I whipped those bad boys out and asked her which one was better, Milky Way or Skittles?
She said Skittles, so I passed them to her while asking how her week had been. Then, she just started to let it all out. She had been dealing with a miscarriage, her sister passing, her mother and boyfriend leaving her, as well as end-of-year exams. It was enough to make anyone break down. It was then around 6 PM, and I hinted that we should contact family or a friend to come and pick her up.
We sat, and I waited with her while we continued talking. As her ride arrived, I asked her if she would ever like to speak again, and to my joy, she did. I gave her the appropriate contact information and said goodbye. I got to my car, and I had a good cry.
I've gotten misty-eyed several times but had outright tears only fall once. My client was very vividly describing the week her newborn daughter spent in the NICU, ending with the day that they knew she would die. She told me what it was like to hold her baby as she passed in her arms. The feeling of grief that filled the air was just too much for me to hold in, so a few quiet tears rolled out of my eyes.
I was sitting with someone who was struggling with drinking and couldn't get clean. At the same time, my very best friend in the entire world was dying because of alcoholism. I couldn't get to him because it was the beginning of the pandemic, and it was tearing me up. However, I went to work anyway, which was fine—except for this one person.
I had to stop the session, explain a bit, and then go back to her. The grief just sort of caught me off guard.
I was in a session with my therapist. I was talking about self-worth and how my loved ones spoke to me for my entire life, including during my early childhood. I spoke about specific things, including being called "stupid" and "idiot" almost constantly, being treated like a failure because of my severe, undiagnosed mood/mental health issues, and the trauma I had experienced.
I felt as if I would never amount to anything because no matter what, I got negative feedback and criticism any time I did anything or tried to share something I was proud of. My therapist waited for me to finish because she knew how I would conclude. I said, "But I know I'm an adult, and it shouldn't get to me, and it's not a big deal".
What she said stopped me in my tracks. She replied, "No. I want you to look at me right now". I did. She had fury and tears in her eyes, and I started to apologize for making her feel that way, and she cut me off again and said, "No, I want you to see this. I am angry for you, so angry, and angry that no one has told you this is wrong or stopped it. I am angry because no one protected you when you needed it most and still failed you in the most basic ways. I need you to see that this is something people should be angry for".
It hit me really hard and stuck with me.
I've usually cried after sessions if a client has shared some trauma or life experiences that have set them up for a difficult life or feelings of unworthiness. However, while in session, I have cried more when clients share big successes or are graduating from services because they've met goals and such. One example was when a client—who struggled with discussing their struggles with mental health due to peer perception at school—wrote about their pet passing away for a writing class.
In the writing, they shared how helpful their pet was in coping with their struggles and how losing them had been very difficult. They were so afraid to submit it because it would be the first time they shared about their mental health outside of a handful of people. They were on a stage six months later, sharing the same struggles with an auditorium filled with strangers. I cried during both moments.
One day, I was in a session, and it began to get difficult. I explained that I was practically forced to move because my dad had remarried. It was the summer of my junior year, so I never got to say goodbye to my friends. It was so hard for me because it was already a hard time in my life. My childhood dog had passed, I was considering estrangement from my mother, and a friend that I knew for a short time—but had a significant impact on me—ended their life the year before, and I was still feeling the effects.
Not only that, but my brother went to an inpatient care center because he was considering ending his life, and on top of all that, my stepmom turned out to be terrible toward me. I got very close to crying during that session, and I could see the sorrow in my therapist's eyes even if she didn't full-on let loose and cry.
I had a client who lost her husband. She talked about how due to a miscommunication at the hospital, she thought she would have time to say goodbye after he was taken off a ventilator before he passed. She told me that when she came back into the room, he was gone, and she wasn’t there for him as he took his last breath. Everyone got to say goodbye except for her.
She loved him so much, and it totally broke my heart. Her whole story was extremely sad, but that was the icing on the cake.
I originally started seeing my therapist so I could start making changes to the negative thought patterns/habits I had ignored for years. Shortly after I started with her, my partner was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. She was there for the lengthy diagnosis journey, and when I had to tell her that it was indeed cancer, I could see tears well up in her eyes.
I'm not sure if it brought up feelings for her own personal experiences or if it was because she felt just that emotionally invested in mine.
I had to do an assessment for a young female client so that she could have a diagnosis to receive psychiatric care at the clinic I was working at. She was very sweet and seemed very friendly, innocent, yet vulnerable. She spoke at length about being repeatedly harmed by her father and uncle growing up. Her description was told in a way that showed she had learned to normalize it in the worst way.
She also told the accounts with obvious shame and guilt. I couldn't keep it together and just cried.
I had a patient for a couple of months who had been declining. He was the kindest guy you could get as a patient. He was always in a good mood despite the pain he was in. Instead of going to hospice, he got accepted into special treatment. On the second day of my work week, I was getting ready to start my rounds. About 40 minutes after getting to work and getting the report from the night shift, his wife came out of the room and said, “Come check him”. I had a terrible feeling.
I nodded and started walking down to her. Then she said, "I think he's gone". I assessed him, and when I saw that he was, in fact, gone, I immediately had that giant lump in my throat, and tears were already rolling down my face. I patted her shoulder and told her I had to grab the RN.
I made a therapist cry once by telling her about my mom. I had a very rocky relationship with my mom. We never really got along after I was around ten, and going through puberty, I really closed her off. We just didn’t know how to deal which each other's reactions. She would tell me off, and I would close off because I learned early on that it was never a fight I could win.
However, she interpreted it as I didn’t care, but I was just protecting myself, or at least I thought so. The more she would tell me off, the more I would close off, and the more she would aggravate me to get a reaction from me. It was a vicious cycle. When I was 14, she was diagnosed with cancer. She was only 44. I remember we had a disagreement, and then she broke the news to me at dinner.
I was like, “You’ll beat it, and it’s all gonna be okay”. I truly didn’t believe that my mom could lose her life that young. I went to walk the dog and bawled my eyes out, but never in front of her. I had to move out for the last four months of her life because she didn’t want me to see the end, but I took it the wrong way. When I went home for Christmas, she was extremely skinny and had so little hair.
Her body couldn’t process water or food anymore. I knew I couldn’t talk to her in person, so I wrote her a letter with everything in my heart. She took the last piece of energy to get to her chair and reply to me. We then spoke in person, and it was the first heart-to-heart conversation we had. She soon had trouble breathing. I went to get my dad, and I couldn’t bear to go back in.
A few moments later, she was in a coma, and she passed the following day.
I had been working with my therapist for four years. She learned about the substance misuse and gun violence present during my upbringing, the many friends who lost their lives to it, my absent parents, the dad who was heavy-handed when he was around, my struggles in school, and my dreadful brain injury, but never once shed a tear—until one unforgettable day.
She helped me sort out my depression and anxiety and to think more confidently. She was wonderful. And with her hard work and my new psychiatrist, we cut out the depression and anxiety meds and switched to Adderall. We learned I had ADHD my entire life, and my upbringing made it hard to diagnose. Many of the symptoms overlap with ADHD and childhood trauma for those who grew up in rough neighborhoods like myself.
She cried when I told her that Adderall had changed my life. She was sad it took four years for her to figure it out and apologized for not seeing it sooner, but I wouldn't change it. She helped me realize my life was not the norm, and I didn't need to continue to suffer from my past experiences.
I see a therapist individually, and my partner and I see her together. I was chronically ill, and my partner and I were discussing with her things that had gotten harder to do and how they were affecting me. I had started crying about not being able to shower properly and that I needed help now. My partner reached over and grabbed my hand and said, “Even if you weren’t sick, I’d wash you.
“I’ll wash your hair, I’ll wash your feet, I’ll help you go to the bathroom whenever you need. You don’t have to do anything alone. I’ll help you”. I was crying, and when I looked at my therapist, she was crying as well. She said, “That’s so beautiful”, and wiped her tears away. I think my partner's genuine expression of love was just the thing that touched her and is the sort of thing that is why she does the job that she does.
I work with individuals with neurodegenerative diseases. I saw a young woman and her husband, who was her caregiver. Unfortunately, her disease had progressed fairly quickly. She had decided to transition to hospice care that day. At the end of our session, I made a devastating realization. I knew that it was the last time I would ever see her.
We were all full of tears that day. Due to the nature of my job, losing a patient isn’t super uncommon, but that day hit me hard.
I spent more than ten years as an overnight camp counselor. I got the opportunity to work with kids with terminal illnesses, kids who have lost loved ones, kids from harmful backgrounds, etc. I’ve definitely heard some devastating true stories. One week, my brother and I were placed to work with children who had lost siblings.
There was a set of siblings—both younger than ten—who had gone to check on their less than a year old baby sister in her crib. That’s when they made a chilling discovery. She had died. This pair of siblings gravitated towards my brother and me since we were the only pair of siblings on staff that week. On the last night, they told my brother and me about the moment they found her.
We held them as they cried themselves to sleep. Later that night, my brother and I took a walk to the river to have some alone time from the rest of the staff who were around the fire. We cried. I still get chills thinking about the entire situation. It was absolutely heartbreaking.
I had a client who was escaping nine years of domestic violence with her two daughters from her husband. Her crying about how she was now homeless, risking it all, and having to explain to her children why they could not go back to the house with all of their toys was so heartbreaking. This mother was so devoted to her children and so brave to flee everything.
I admire anyone who has the courage to leave a harmful domestic situation, but this one got to me the most. I sat and cried with her.
I had a patient who sat quietly for five sessions. Then one day, he spoke for the first time. He said, “It’s my mom’s birthday today”. He proceeded to tell me his story of how he had been harmed by his father ever since he was ten years old. He described the sting of the cigarettes that his father would put out on his back and inner thighs.
The shouting of his mother when she needed a fix. The smell when he came home from school one day and found both his parents in front of the TV, no longer alive, with syringes in their arms and blades in their hands. He said all this without any emotions and didn’t shed a tear. He was only sixteen. I sat in shock as CPS had not shared any information except that he was a troubled teen.
He then said, “Yesterday’s abused are tomorrow’s abuser. They have no today because they don’t exist. How can they”? He then burst into tears and screamed but immediately covered his mouth with both his hands. He pushed his hands so forcefully that his tiny, malnourished face crumpled like a ball of paper. I could see white marks around his fingers as he suppressed his own voice.
I only saw his eyes filled with unbearable anguish, pain, and fear. For the first time, I forgot I was a therapist and became only a mother. Before I could reach to hug him, he ran out of the office. I cried a lot after that session for days and heard his muffled screams many sleepless nights. It had such a profound impact on me that it changed the way I saw my two sons—8 and 12—and all other men in my life.
It was also the last time I saw him. He never returned for his next session, and CPS would not share any information. I tried to find him but never did. I asked a friend to draw me a painting of a boy pressing his mouth with his two small hands. The picture still sits on my desk.
I worked as a classroom therapist at a school for children with behavior challenges. Most of my kiddos were ODD, ASD, ADHD, or had a conduct disorder. I’ve cried twice while working with them—once in front of them—which still bothers me. The first time was when I was pregnant, and a kid told me he hoped my baby dies inside of me.
The other time was after a one-on-one session where my student showed me cuts on her arms and said she felt that no one cared about her. I’m used to kids threatening or talking about wanting to off themselves, but the scars on the 12-year-old girl’s wrist were too real.
I had a client in my caseload who suffered a long time and had a nerve disease that made him more paralyzed by the day, bit by bit. He didn't go outside his house for three years because he was scared something would happen to him. In one talk with him, we went outside together. He enjoyed it so much and kept thanking me. I didn’t know what a difference it made.
For personal reasons, I had to say goodbye to him, which was hard. However, I later heard from a colleague that since that time, he went out almost daily. I felt so proud of him and what he was able to overcome.
During our final session together, a client and I shared a good cry together. We had spent months processing a ton of trauma related to her previous bad relationship. At first, she had been terrified to work with me—a male therapist—because she didn't think that she would ever trust a man again. Slowly she felt more and more comfortable opening up as she felt heard, understood, and valued for who she was.
When she started crying and thanking me for being what she needed, I couldn't stop my own tears from flowing. We worked together and learned a lot from each other on her journey. The combination of knowing I had made an important difference, that we would probably not see each other again, and seeing that she had the capacity to end a relationship in a healthy way was more than my heart could take without welling up.
I like to think that she saw that feelings are okay to experience and share and that a truly caring person will accept them.
I’ve teared up many times with my clients. One memorable instance was with a teen client who struggled a lot with grief, trauma, and severe depression. She told me what college she chose for the fall, which meant she would be moving into a dorm and getting a fresh start with the college experience. It was a mix of joy and pride that she chose a college to go to.
I was also remembering how overwhelmed I was preparing to go away to university and how transformative it was for me and my mental health. I let my excitement show, then tried to contain it and told her how happy I was for her, all the while tearing up.
I cry frequently immediately following sessions. I work with chronically ill kids in an area that suffers from crime and poverty. The kids go through so much. I’m good at keeping the tears in my eyes and not letting them run down until I can get to my office and let it out. Being a mental health provider is extremely hard. Taking on people's pain, anger, sadness, etc., can be exhausting.
However, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. There was only one time I wasn’t able to hold it in. It was when I was driving kiddos to their group program. They were talking about how excited they were for Christmas and what they got their mom. Meanwhile, I knew that they were going to DHS after group because they had to be urgently removed because of their mom's neglect.
But they still wanted to go to Christmas with her. It was gut-wrenching.
There was one time that an 11-year-old girl was brought in because of an attempt at taking her life. I sat with her on the bed while she explained what had happened. I am not usually an emotional person—I was just following procedure. However, something about this girl just felt so strong and consuming. In a way, I saw the universe in her sad eyes.
It was as if she was carrying the weight of every pain and every sadness. She then went on to describe the repeated harm she experienced from her uncle and stepfather. I kept my composure, even though it felt impossible seeing the bruises on her arms and neck. I completely broke when she ended her story by saying, “It’s not that I don’t want to live anymore. It’s that I’ve never even felt alive”.
I made my own therapist cry. I told her how grateful I was for the person I used to be. That mess of a person who couldn’t go to the grocery store without having an anxiety attack, who struggled to form lasting friendships with people, who lashed out constantly at the slightest provocation, who had no drive or thoughts of their future, who thought they would no longer be alive by the age of 23.
I told her, sincerely, how much I loved and valued that person. Because even though they were holding on for dear life every day and barely scraping by, they survived. They made it so that I could take the steps to get better. They gave me time to decide to go to therapy. They saved my life. I would not be who I am now without that version of myself, and I would always have nothing but gratitude for them. My therapist was a mess after hearing me say those words.
I had a client disclose that her daughter died at the age of 12 in a hit and run while she was riding her skateboard. My client shared that she enters a charity run in her daughter's honor every year, and just hearing how committed she was to gathering her support team and friends of her daughters to be a part of it made me choke up.
She also celebrates her daughter's birthdays every year.
I am a therapist, and tears come with the job. Usually, I'm able to hold it together until after the session. You need time between clients just to breathe and recenter yourself. One of the most challenging examples I had was a client who was on the autism spectrum. He was taken away from his mother due to her substance use.
He was placed with his father, who then proceeded to harm him and his sister for the next five years. He finally got out of there and into a supportive environment when his closest friend lost his life in an accident. I couldn't help it. I got teary during the session, and afterward just wept.
I’ve cried several times. I worked with children and teenagers, and seeing them achieve their goals brings about tears. There was a kid that was finally able to run with her peers in PE class; a disabled teenager that worked hard to be able to get into college; the parents happy because their kid was smiling and being a brat; a disabled teenager that wanted to be able to ride public transportation on his own; parents thanking the therapists.
However, not everything is rosy. I still remember the day a grandma asked me when her grandson would be able to walk again. He had muscular dystrophy. It's a progressive disease. He used to be able to walk and was now using a walker. It was a matter of time until he had to get a wheelchair. I didn't know what to tell that lady other than, "Sorry, but your grandchild will never be able to walk again since his disease is progressive".
It really broke my heart just thinking about it, and I had to leave for a few minutes to cry.
I am a school-based therapist at the same school district where I taught fifth and sixth-grade science. During my last year as a sixth-grade teacher, I had this kid who was chaos on two legs. However, he was one of my favorite students. His family life was no less chaotic either. His house had been riddled in a drive-by, and a bullet almost hit his little sister as she slept.
His parents were dealers and his stepdad wears blue, if you know what I mean. Therefore, he was around less than ideal characters day in and day out at home. The good thing that he shared one day was, "This is the longest I've been in school without having to go to detention". Later, I had his younger brother and sister as clients of mine, helping them process a bad experience and doing behavioral work with them.
In one session, the brother started telling me about how his older brother got taken in on charges, and when officers came to the house, he got upset and started yelling. They tased him to get him to comply. The thought of this happening to that kid was heartbreaking and infuriating at the same time. As my client was telling me about everything that happened during the incident, I teared up and started crying as I listened.
I had a 19-year-old client who had made many attempts to end her life. The reason behind them was that the family wanted her to have only friends from their community, religion, and culture, as well as marry someone they would find from their community. She didn’t want that. She wanted to have friends from other cultures too.
The family was against it and put a lot of pressure on her. She couldn’t cope. Even during her attempts, the family didn’t rethink their claim. They still put pressure on her. Eventually, she succeeded. To this day, the family still doesn’t understand that they were the problem. I was crying when I found out but was also angry with the family.
After having 1–3 sessions weekly for three years with my therapist, on our last session, I gave her a large potted plant with a card. It read, “From the deepest part of my heart, thank you for helping me have a second chance at life”. She cried for a minute, then she looked at me and said with mixed amusement and exasperation, “I bet you're very satisfied now when you finally managed to make me lose my professional facade”.
I mostly do marriage and family therapy, and I cry relatively often, when appropriate. The last time I cried in a session was during a family session when a father told his adopted son about his sister and dad's untimely and terrible deaths for the first time. They cried and hugged together, and I sat and cried, watching them.
It was an honor to be there in that moment with that family.
I worked at a hospital and was called to the ICU for a pregnant woman who tried to take her life. As her story unfolded, I was shocked. She started telling me about the torment she endured during her life, first from her parents and then her former partners. Then she told me how she lost custody of her children to one of them.
Later was homeless and mistreated by other homeless people. It was all horrible, but the thing that almost made me cry in front of her was when she said, "All I've ever wanted was someone to love me".
I was working in inpatient with teens. A mom brought the family dog to my office so the kid could say goodbye. The mom was taking the dog to be euthanized right after due to its old age and cancer. The child sobbed and told the dog how much the dog had meant to him. I was overcome by bearing witness to my client’s grief.
A client was worried about her estranged sister, who was in a potentially harmful relationship, and felt paralyzed about being unable to help. I had previously experienced some countertransference with this client, as I saw a lot of myself in her. But at that point, I saw myself in the sister—whom I had never met—and thought, "Is this the kind of stuff my sister worried about when I was in a bad relationship"?
The interaction affected me.
I worked at a youth treatment center. One day, I saw this gal who had graduated from our facility working at a cash register at the local grocery. She looked so great. She had a life plan, goals, and financial arrangements, and she was clearly well past her substance use. That’s when it happened. She looked so great that suddenly I teared up from pride.
She was really low when she came to us, and she left much better. To see her in the store made me feel fulfilled.
I had too many terrible stories to recall, but one stuck out to me. A young girl who was 15 was raised in a "hyper Christian" household. At the age of 12, she came out to her parents as gay. Her parents were absolutely furious. They tried so many horrible ways to "cure" her. A few of the "treatments" were carried out by her whole family—even her siblings and members of the church.
They included tying her hands together in the prayer position to "remind her of her faith". They would place her in a small chest and lock it at night to prevent her from acting on her "sinful tendencies". Her father would "beat the gay out of her" by booting her between her legs and hitting her in the calves with a yardstick. He also choked her to the point of passing out, pushed her down the stairs, and even tried electroshock therapy with a CAR BATTERY.
This continued in various forms of "treatment" all the way up to her 15th birthday, when her dad decided she didn’t like men because she had never been with one. So he and members of his church harmed her for months. She finally arrived at our facility because she wanted to take her life. We got child protection services involved, but she was unfortunately released back into the care of her horrible family. She took her own life two weeks after leaving our facility.
I worked with children in foster care. A little girl wanted to talk after a bad dream. She told me about how her birth mother couldn't get them warm enough in the winter because the heat was out, so she put the little girl and her baby brother in the oven together and turned it on. The girl's coat caught on fire, and her brother died. She still had dreams of him crawling across the ceiling at night.
She cried, and so did I. I cried like a baby for the next hour. I can still recall every moment of that conversation.
A patient was a survivor of childhood abuse at the hands of her mother’s new husband. It started when the patient was about two or three years old and went on for 13 years—but that’s not the most twisted part. The mother knew about it and was angry at the patient, not the husband. The patient told me of one instance when she was five.
She had a sister two years younger than her, so she put herself in harm’s way to protect the little sister. She was just a child. I cried during the session, and after she left, I went to the bathroom and puked. Imagining what she went through still makes me sick to my stomach.
I cried after I worked with a kid who described an emotionally difficult situation with a sibling. The kid’s experience aligned very closely to something I went through with my own sibling when I was the kid’s age, and I hadn’t realized how much hurt I was carrying from the experience. Being a therapist sometimes means being confronted with things you didn’t realize had such a substantial impact on you.
Luckily, I have a stellar therapist of my own with whom I can work through these moments with.
I cried a few times in session with the children I worked with. The biggest one that comes to mind for me happened when working with a four-year-old. He was very violent and had meltdowns often in session, which turned into him hitting or kicking me. I had just found out I was pregnant and spoke to my supervisor.
We had decided if I had a clear discussion with this kid about the baby in my belly and how it was imperative that he doesn't hit me, maybe the boy would understand. It worked in the first session. During the next one, it took a disturbing turn. The boy became upset, and as his anger grew, he crept closer to me and whispered, "I'm gonna kill your baby".
I started crying and excused myself from the session. I quit working with the boy immediately.
I had a patient who had made it to 95 years old. Her husband and son were both gone, and she had a personality disorder that made her behavior unbearable for her environment after her husband was gone. Every person who was still in her life was paid to be around her. But there was one thing she said that really broke my heart.
My patient cried and told me, "There's nobody on this planet who loves me anymore". I cried when I left because I knew she was right. She passed on a few months after that conversation.
I had a teenage client who asked me to listen to their life story, which was part of the 12-step program they were in. They didn't want me to correct their grammar, just to tell them if it made sense. It started off with, "The first time I got high, I was nine years old when my mom and her boyfriend injected me". I listened patiently, and as soon as we were finished and they left, I cried bitter tears at how cruel people can be.
Sometimes this field is like staring into the abyss of human suffering.
I had an elderly client. I teared up during one session when he went on to describe how his grandchildren never came around once they were able to drive. He was widowed and just adored those children. He used to see them all the time, take them fishing, and do other fun stuff with them, but now it seemed as if they didn’t have time for him anymore, and he never saw them.
I had a therapist cry once. Before my session, I was at a friend's house, and the house next door caught on fire. I proceeded to recount the story, where I was, and what happened. But there was something that I didn’t know. It turned out that my therapist was very close friends with the homeowners and was sad that her friends had lost their house.
Nobody was hurt in the fire, but it was actually touching seeing her feel for her friends.
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