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What will the therapist tell me about trust? Trust issues

Posted Apr 24 2013 5:00am

What if I tell my therapist that I have trust issues?


Here is what I tell clients with trust issues. I am not too sure just what others may say and would encourage both professionals and client to leave comments about trust issues.

1. Trust is not an all or nothing thing. The mistake we often make is we either trust too much, trust completely, or do not trust at all.

 There are plenty of friends that I trust, mostly, with some things, but I do not trust every friend from work with the pin number to my ATM. Many people who say that they have trust issues have a habit of jumping into relationship without getting to know the other person and then when they are let down they feel this person is not to be trusted.

This pattern of moving into over close and trusting relationships to quickly sets you up when the other person is unwilling or unable to meet your expectations.

Be sure in getting into a relationship, any relationship, and that includes friendships, that you take the time to get to know the other person and find how much you can trust them and about what subjects.

This does not mean that you need to eliminate everyone from your life that you are not able to trust completely 100%. If you cut all the people who are less than total trust worth you may find yourself very alone. There are days I don’t even trust myself completely but I like being with me anyway.

2. People who tell you things may genuinely believe what they say but they may still be wrong.

People often say that others have lied to them and as a result they can’t trust anyone. This happens often when someone in a new relationship repeats things that others have told them. They believe what they say and they may just be trying to be helpful but if the “facts” they have repeated turn out to not be true the other person who acted on the basis of those facts is likely to feel cheated or deceived.

Consider that the person telling you this may be wrong or mistaken and check the facts before you take action based on what someone else has told you.

3. Counseling is a corrective emotional experience.

For this relationship, to be helpful you need to be able to trust the counselor. If you don’t you need to look at why you are having difficulty trusting. Remember that no matter how much you trust that professional there are limits to what secrets they can keep. If you tell them you plan to kill someone they will not keep your secret. If you talk about child abuse they will probably be required to tell that also.

Trust in this and any other relationship should build over time based on how the other person handles the things you tell them.

4. Remember that people, even professionals are people first and can make mistakes

Generally professionals are “trust worthy” but occasionally we find one that is not. They may take unfair advantage of you. Take your time to get to know them and then make your judgment about how much you can trust them and with what.

This extends to friends and relatives also. We often have competing loyalties. Withholding facts from one friend can seem like dishonesty. Telling that person can violate the trust of another person. In romantic relationships we tend to trust a lot when we want things to work. Later when the relationship goes sour and that partner tells someone else our secrets we will feel betrayed and that our trust has been violated.

5. Most people have trust issues for good reasons

The reason you have trust issues may well be that you trusted someone too much in the past and they let you down. If you have an experience in life of having your trust betrayed it is reasonable and normal to have trust issues around that and related issues in the future.

Remember that some people make a habit out of lying. They get what they want by not telling the truth. People in an active addiction get their needs met by misleading others. Sometimes the person you believed has lied so much it has become an automatic behavior.

Consider who you are trusting and do they deserve your trust. Especially be cautious if this person has violated the trust of others in the past. What makes you expect to be the one person that they tell the truth to?

6. People who are not trustworthy often find it hard to trust others.

The person who tells me they are suspicions that their partner is cheating and who want me to find out what others in their family are up to is often the person who has cheated or has done other things they do not want the family to know about.

If you are dishonest it makes it harder for you to trust others.   

Build your ability to trust by following these simple rules

1. Pick people who are generally trustworthy

2. Get to know them and build trust with them gradually watching what they do with small secrets before disclosing larger ones.

3. Make sure you are trustworthy. The old saying goes it is hard to con an honest person. Liars set themselves up to be deceived.

4. Make sure you are able to trust yourself most of the time. When you let yourself down be quick to forgive.

Here is hoping that you are able to overcome your “trust issues” and begin to trust yourself and others in appropriate ways.

David Joel Miller, LMFT, LPCC 

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page . For information about my other writing work beyond this blog there is also a Facebook authors page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at

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