Trying Out New Habits in Relationships: Counseling As an Emotional Petri Dish | Justin Lioi, LCSW - Brooklyn, NY

I write a monthly column for GoodTherapy.org where I often talk about the experience of counseling. The purpose is to take a look at different aspects of what we’ve come to call therapy: sitting and talking about things we spend the rest of our lives trying not to think about at all. We do this in the hope of greater happiness, or relief, or in pursuit of some other goal. Whether you come to counseling reluctantly or excited to explore yourself and your world, I’d love to hear your thoughts about the process. Sometimes the comments get intense, but I like hearing what others say.


In this month’s piece I write about counseling as an emotional petri dish.

Whatever your aim is when beginning treatment, we often (not always, but often) discover that how you express emotion is getting in the way of that aim. Perhaps it’s more in how it’s seen and interpreted by others. Maybe you don’t consider yourself “emotional” and what you know to be an expression of anger or sadness doesn’t actually allow for a full outpouring–this means that the emotional is partially “stuck” inside you and comes out in other ways such as

  • anger:sarcasm
  • sadness:headache
  • anxiety:insomnia

The list of non-seeming emotional ways that emotions come out could go on and on and on…

After you’ve established trust with your counselor and feel you won’t be judged or abandoned or taken advantage of for being angry at him, being vulnerable with her, then you’ll get to really reap the advantage of what your therapy is all about.

Let me know what you think! And if you’d like to talk directly please contact me.