Most Common Topics Discussed In Therapy

January 19, 2018  |  
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If you have a friend who has been in therapy for years, or if—perhaps—someone has suggested that you attend therapy, you might be thinking, “What do people even talk about in there? How much is there to say?” Well, so long as you are living, there is a lot to say. Therapy doesn’t have to simply address a one-time traumas or times of crisis. Simply being alive can be complicated, confusing, and difficult. Some people attend therapy knowing exactly what they’d like to fix. Others go to therapy because they don’t feel they can help themselves, but they don’t quite know what they need help with yet—they just know that they’re unhappy. Some people think they know what their issue is, but that’s often just a distraction they’ve come up with to look away from the real problem. Either way, there’s a lot to talk about, but much of human discussion and deliberation focuses on many of the same common themes. Here are the most common things discussed in therapy.

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Critical, overbearing parents

Parents who are too involved in or critical of one’s life. They call too much, give their input where it isn’t wanted, openly disapprove of their child’s career, romantic partners, lifestyle, and more. And their children don’t know how to have a close, loving relationship with these parents, without feeling judged or just plain angry after every encounter.

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Self-involved parents

This is quite the opposite of the last issue, but just as difficult to deal with—the self-involved parents. Perhaps because they have their own relationship issues or career problems, they forget to nurture or take an interest in the lives of their children, leaving the children to parent themselves (and their parents!)


Feeling underappreciated in their relationship

Many people attend therapy when they are unhappy in their romantic relationships. Regardless of the specifics, it usually boils down to not feeling heard, seen, understood, or appreciated.


Struggling to find a relationship

This one naturally comes up a lot. It’s pretty common for people to attend therapy because they think that the reason they’re still single is that something is wrong with them.


Low self-esteem

Low self-esteem is a very common problem, and something therapists can be quite helpful with. Low self-esteem can interfere with one’s career progress, their ability to find or keep a relationship, and their friendships.

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How their parents messed them up

Ah yes. This is quite the popular topic: how my parents messed me up. And for the record, it’s an important thing to discuss. The truth is, you spent your most formative years with your parents, so they made you who you are—for better or for worse. Dissecting how they’ve influenced and molded you is an important part of forming your independence from them.

“People depend on me”



Many people seek out therapy when they worry they are falling into a depression, or have been in one for a long time that they cannot pull themselves out of without help.


How messed up their friends are

It’s common for people to complain to their therapists about how messed up everyone else in their life is. But, of course, surrounding oneself with people one doesn’t like is just a symptom of that person’s own issues, which is what a therapist will eventually get at.

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Competitive or selfish siblings

Two of the most common disputes between siblings are: 1) My sibling is selfish and I put in most of the effort with our family, picking up her slack and 2) My sibling is competitive and can never just be happy for me.

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Body issues

Therapists can provide a lot of help with body issues, since body issues—from eating disorders to disliking one’s body—typically stem from emotional and mental issues.

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Sexual issues

Using sex to run from unhappiness, experiencing a sex drought in one’s relationship, or feeling insecure about sex, are all very common issues experienced by nearly everyone at some point.

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Bad habits that are hard to break

Whatever the bad habit may be—overspending, overeating, gambling, excessive casual sex, drinking too much—it’s usually just a symptom of a deeper issue that a therapist can help you discover.


Having been cheated on

Having been cheated on can really hinder one’s ability to get into a healthy relationship for quite some time. It causes feeling of inadequacy, a paranoia that it will happen again, and much more.


Wanting to cheat

The desire to cheat on a spouse can take up a lot of time in therapy. It’s something that most people don’t feel comfortable discussing with their friends or family, and a desire that can have a very strong hold on someone.


Having cheated

If someone has cheated this, too, can make it very difficult to get into a quality relationship again for some time. They feel enormous guilt, they feel unworthy of trustworthy partners, and they even worry that others will cheat on them.

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