Maybe you’ve been going to therapy for years. Or maybe you first found yourself in a therapist’s office circa, oh, I don’t know, let’s just say November 9, 2016. Either way, I’m of the belief that anyone can benefit from having an unbiased professional who allows you to air your grievances in a safe space, without taking sides or making assumptions, and talk that shit out.
My therapist has been nothing short of a superhero for me, talking me through everything from breakups to panic attacks to an open relationship to a family member’s suicide attempt to a super rough — and not-exactly-planned — pregnancy. I think she deserves an all-expenses paid vacation for her holiday gift, honestly. But probably not from me. So I'm looking for something small, yet still nice enough for her to get the message that I'd be lost without her.
But, you ask, isn’t gift-giving, like, totally unethical within the therapist-patient relationship? Not necessarily. “The theories behind the ‘don’t give your therapist a gift’ idea vary from setting to setting, and among the theories of psychotherapy,” explains therapist Leslie Rosenberg, LMSW. “Certainly in [some settings, say if you're working with a therapist who practices psychodynamic theory] it is very discouraged, but this approach is less common these days. At times, I think it can be important to accept a patient’s gift, in terms of the relationship. And across the board, I’ve never heard of anyone discouraging cards or notes of gratitude, and those mean the world to me when I receive them.”
So maybe hold off on the jewelry, or expensive tech — but even The National Psychologist concurs that small, inexpensive, and symbolic gifts and cards can be appropriate.
Of course, you have absolutely no obligation to get your therapist a gift at all. But if, like me, you’re looking for a token of appreciation that’s not too much, look no further. We put together a whole list of therapist-friendly gift ideas. On top of that, we included items appropriate for all those pseudo-therapists in your life — the family, friends, and professionals who help you stay chill, zen, and, you know, at least somewhat functioning. There’s something for all the healers, teachers, and helpers ahead.