What's The Deal With Doorknob Confessions During Therapy?

If you have ever been in therapy, you may be guilty of making a doorknob confession. Picture this — you've spent the last hour talking about all the things that are bothering you, taking apart the past to try to figure out why you feel as you do now, then as you stand up to say goodbye, you drop one heck of bombshell on your therapist (via Psychology Today).

It's categorized as a doorknob confession because it comes out of nowhere at the end of a session and is usually a significant revelation. Like, here you are rolling out of your session and you turn to your therapist to say, "Oh, by the way, I was kidnapped by the neighbor for a few days when I was five years old — see you next week!"

From the outside, this doesn't seem like the best way to get the most out of therapy. According to experts, however, it's not uncommon and there is a reason behind it.

Why people make doorknob confessions

As much as we're supposed to spill the beans to our therapist and be as honest as possible, the fact remains that therapists are still human, and being forthcoming on some subjects can feel awkward.

"In my experience, it is often because [patients] are feeling timid or unsure about sharing with their therapist," licensed clinical social worker Brittany Morris tells HuffPost. "Individuals may feel like dropping this kind of information at the very end of the session will keep the clinician from being able to give a negative response or make a judgment on the information they have shared... Clients should know that being comfortable with your clinician and [feeling] like you can share information is absolutely necessary to make the desired progress."

In addition to the fear that there may be some judgment, there's also the theory that doorknob confessions are somewhat of a Freudian slip (via Simple Practice). They've made it through a whole session without dropping whatever bombshell they were keeping under wraps — et voilà! — it just falls out of their mouth on the way out the door.

How to avoid doorknob confessions

Once you're aware of what a doorknob confession is, you might be able to pinpoint the times when you've done it. Regardless of what your underlying reasons are for dropping a doorknob confession, your therapist most likely isn't going to let it slide. Depending on what the remark is, they may either extend your session or be sure to bring it up in your next one, per American Family Physician.

Ultimately, doorknob confessions have to do with the relationship between the therapist and the client. Unconsciously testing boundaries, the client's comfort level with the therapist, and the level of trust between both parties are a few factors that may play into doorknob confessions (via Psychology Today). A lack of trust in your therapist is understandable early on when you're just getting to know them, but it's important to realize your therapist is here to help, without judgment. There's also a very good chance that whatever you're ashamed of sharing, they've definitely heard far worse, far more outlandish, and far more shocking.