Annie Lane: Trying therapy and feeling blocked

Published 5:38 pm Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Dear Annie: I’ve been seeing a therapist for around five years, and I find myself unsure what to say. My wife first encouraged me to speak with a professional to help me better understand myself and deal with some buried anger. One of my major realizations in therapy has been that I have difficulty sharing my thoughts and emotions, and this can make therapy difficult. I’ve realized this is a common theme throughout my life, as nobody in my childhood ever tried to engage emotionally with me. My therapist will encourage me to discuss what I’m thinking; yet, I struggle to articulate it.

I do understand that the therapist is there to help me and that I should open up to her, but I can’t. I tend to work through thoughts in my head and find it difficult to articulate what I’m thinking to my therapist. She believes that I never learned to express my anger, so I suppress it and move on. I can understand this, and yet I can’t seem to change.

You frequently encourage your readers to seek professional help. How does one maximize the value of this help when they can’t seem to open up? 

Email newsletter signup

-Unable to Open Up

Dear Unable to Open Up: Therapy is a process to better understand ourselves: what built us and how we can learn to improve our lives. Just by seeing a therapist, you must be interested in improving yourself, and that is commendable. Based on the realization you’ve had about yourself and how you were raised, it seems that you’ve been making progress. Recognize these little steps, celebrate them and focus on building off of them. Each session, try discussing a thought or action that you from the last week and how it made you feel. These insights into your thoughts will help a therapist better understand you and will likely lead to insightful conversations. Like a Lego set, each brick adds to the finished product.

• • •

Dear Annie: I’m responding to “Confused” who is frustrated with her mother’s constant plea to call when she arrives home. I could have written that letter. When I was leaving my mother’s house, she would ask me several times to call her to let her know I arrived home safely. I know it annoyed my husband, but I called nonetheless, even when it wasn’t convenient. I could hear the relief in her voice when she picked up the phone. It was a brief exchange with reassurances that all was well, so I guess I got something out of it as well. As annoying as it can be sometimes, there is comfort in knowing that there is someone out there who cares that deeply for you. My mother is gone now, and I miss that sweet request. 

– Missing My Mom

Dear Missing Mom: I am so sorry for your loss. Thank you for offering a beautiful perspective.

“How Can I Forgive My Cheating Partner?” is out now! Annie Lane’s second anthology -featuring favorite columns on marriage, infidelity, communication and reconciliation -is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to