As a caregiver, it is daunting to sit in the waiting room of your loved one’s therapist. You might be wondering how they are doing, what they are talking about, and most importantly, why can’t they share this information with you?

As a loved one suffering from a mental health disorder, it is equally as intimidating as you step out of your therapist’s office and face your caregivers. Mentally preparing yourself for the questions they are going to ask, thinking of ways to ease their concerns, while also processing your own session.

To ensure minimal to no miscommunication, the conversation between the caregiver and their loved one right after their therapy session needs to be delicately and effectively handled. Here are a few communication tips to aid the process:

For caregivers:

1. Working with the therapist

As much as we know you want to help, there has to be a time where you realise your
own knowledge limitations. Your loved one seeking external help does not belittle your
love for them in any way. You have to remember they know you love them, and you are
working as a team to help them. While the therapist gives your loved ones professional guidance, it is important for you to remember your role has not disappeared. The therapist does not live with them or see to their daily needs, you do, and your loved ones know and appreciate that. 

2. Boundaries post-therapy

As hard as it is to control your questions, all your loved ones need to see in the waiting
room is an encouraging smile from their caregiver. The more you bombard them with questions pertaining to their session, the more they will push back. It is important to recognise the difference in roles between you and their therapist. Trust that your loved one is in good hands and let them come to you and share the details of the session if they want to.

3. Communicating with their therapist

 Of course, not all therapists can be the right fit for your loved one. And not all situations
permit a hands-off approach. Instead of asking your loved ones questions, you could arrange a time with the therapist after their session where they can give you any advice to the best of their ability without breaching their client’s trust. You may also want to consider letting your loved one know about your wish to communicate with their therapist, which can help to convey your desire to better support them while also respecting their boundaries.

For loved ones suffering from a mental health condition:

1. Your mental health comes first

 At the end of the day, everyone is on your team to improve your mental health.
Sometimes it could feel like the weight of the world rests on your shoulders, having to
worry about ensuring your caregivers don’t feel left out of the process while also taking care of yourself. Bringing these struggles up with your therapist can aid in your recovery process and overcome your ongoing challenges.

2. Establishing relationships with your therapist and caregiver

 It is up to you how much or how little you choose to share with your caregiver about your
session. Choosing to keep your therapy sessions private does not mean you are neglecting your caregiver, they too are aware of the boundaries set in place. Do remember, everyone is just trying to help you.

That being said, there are a few situations in which the normal rules regarding confidentiality do not apply, which your therapist should have discussed with you in the very first session.

3. Stepping into your caregivers’ shoes

 It is easy to get frustrated with your caregiver. Whenever you feel like they don’t
understand, or are getting on your nerves with their way of thinking, take a step in their shoes. They are trying their best, and feel extremely helpless in the process. Help them help you.​​