Why Can’t I Make Eye Contact with my Therapist? | Kati Morton

Hey everybody. Happy Thursday. If you’re new to my channel, welcome. Make sure you subscribe and turn your notifications on.


Hey everybody. Happy Thursday. If you’re new to my channel, welcome. Make sure you subscribe and
turn your notifications on because I put out videos twice a week, and you don’t wanna miss them. But let’s jump into today’s question. Hey Kati. I recently started therapy
and I find it impossible to make eye contact with my therapist. Do you find it harder to connect with your clients if they
don’t make eye contact? Do you think it affects
the recovery process? Thank you for taking time out of your week to make these videos. They’re super helpful. You’re very welcome. I’m glad you’re finding them helpful. Now the first thing that I
wanna address is the fact that making eye contact in
therapy can be difficult for a lot of different reasons. Number one, many of my
clients on the autism spectrum find it really difficult to
make eye contact in general. Second, if we’re talking about a trauma, or talking about something
that’s embarrassing, maybe something that we
haven’t said to someone before, making eye contact while we talk about that thing is nearly impossible. And I say all that just to
let you know that it’s normal. Nothing’s wrong with you. A lot of people struggle to
make eye contact in therapy. Now the first portion of this question, she asks if it makes it
harder for me to connect with my clients if they’re
unable to make eye contact. And the truth of it is, not really. And I say not really because if a client can’t make eye contact when
they’re talking through a trauma or something difficult, that’s okay, and that’s something that we’ll work on. And I will encourage them, I’ve done this with many my clients. I’ll encourage them to
move their eye contact a little bit closer to
me slowly but surely. Sometimes I’ll say look
at the table next to me. Do you see that figurine there? And it’s kind of done partially as a way to help them move closer
to making eye contact, but it’s also a way to keep them grounded. To make sure that they’re with me while they’re talking about the trauma, or the abuse or anything that happened that maybe making the
eye contact difficult. However, if a client isn’t
able to make eye contact ever, it can be difficult in my
practice in an outpatient basis. I do not specialize in
autism spectrum by the way, which I believe would be
a little bit different. And it’s a whole different specialty. But in my practice, if a client was unable to make eye contact at
all, it would be difficult for me to feel connected to them, and to make sure that they’re okay. That they’re not dissociating. To know when things are hard or easy because if they’re next
making eye contact, it’s really hard for me to read them. But that being said I could
play devil’s advocate to myself and say well body language
can tell me a lot as well, but eye contact is just a little extra that helps me better understand
where they’re coming from. Listening to them. Feeling connected with them. And like it gives me all the information so I can help them the best that I can. Does that make sense? I know it’s kind of difficult, but think of talking to someone and them not making any
eye contact with you. It can be really difficult to you know, we sometimes try to make
eye contact and like hey. Do you get that? Does that make sense? And I do a lot of check
ins with my clients when I’m giving homework to ensure that they hear me, that they understand, and we’re on the same page. And a lot of that is
done through eye contact. Now to move into the second
portion of the question, she asks if it can affect
the recovery process. So a lack of eye contact,
can it make recovery slower? And it kind of depends on the patient. But my short answer would be
yes and the reason for that is because eye contact is so grounding. Like I said I use it with a lot of my clients as a grounding technique. To make sure that they’re
present and they’re with me. It allows me to check in more quickly, so that I don’t let
them become dissociated for a really, really long time. And if we are dissociating for many of you who’ve been watching a lot
of my videos for years, you know that I’ve talked about
how if we are dissociating, we’re not able to process
through the trauma, because essentially we’re not present. And so if I can’t check
in with my clients, then while we’re working
through the trauma, or working on the recovery from whatever they’re struggling with, I won’t know if they’re really with me. I won’t know if they’re
actually processing through, and hearing what I say and understanding. We could potentially work on different body language
techniques for them to be able to express to me that they
are listening and are present, but it just makes it a
little more difficult. And it can, therefore, slow
down the whole recovery process. Overall I hope that you
hear that struggling to make eye contact is completely normal. It canmake us feel really vulnerable. When we look someone in the
eyes for a length of time, it can makes us feel connected
and that can be scary. It can also be scary to
look someone in the eyes and tell them something
embarrassing or shameful. So know that it’s normal and it’s okay. What I hope this video
does is encourage you to at least try to make eye contact, because it’s something
maybe it’s like muscle we have to work out and make it stronger. It’s something we’re gonna have to work on with our therapist. And the cool thing about therapy
is that it’s a great place to practice those relationship skills. Things maybe we’re not great at, or we don’t really know how to do, but we really wanna learn. And it’s a safe place to do that. So if you find yourself
struggling, bring it up in therapy. Maybe write it down and just read from it, if it’s hard for you to say
it out loud and look at them. If that’s the struggle,
maybe just reading. Keep your eyes on the page could maybe make it feel a little more safe so you can get out what
maybe’s causing it. What your worries are. If it’s always been a struggle for you. It’s something that we should communicate with our therapist, because then and only
then can our therapist gives us tools and tips and tricks and ways to enable us to make eye contact, and feel safe doing it. This video has been brought to you by the Kinions on Patreon. If you would like to support the creation of these mental health videos, click the link in the
description and check it out. As always though, leave in the comments. Are there things that you’ve done with your therapist or in your own life to help you be more
comfortable with eye contact? Or are there other reasons I missed as to why it’s really hard for you? Let me know. And I will see you next time. Bye.

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