A Guide to Psychology and its Practice -- welcome to 
                     the «Questions and Answers» page. Click on the image to go to a general Introduction 
                     with a complete Subject Index to this entire website.

and Answers
About Psychotherapy


Website Menus

Page Contents: Should you give a gift to your psychotherapist?                    


Could you suggest an appropriate gift for Christmas for my therapist; I have been in analysis for the past year.

When you make a donation to this website, you are making a gift of thanks for the knowledge and guidance you have received in helping you to live a more healthy and honest life. But this website, although it’s about psychotherapy, is not actually psychotherapy. In psychotherapy you pay someone to perform the job of interacting with you so as to help you improve the quality of your life by altering your thoughts and behaviors.

The relationship you have with your psychotherapist is not like any other relationship you will ever have with anyone else—except, perhaps, another psychotherapist. It’s a special relationship in which you learn how to be emotionally honest with another person while paying that person to teach you how to overcome the obstacles that prevent you from being honest.

So, by paying your psychotherapist, there is nothing more you can give to him or her. In this context, then, a gift serves only to bypass the vulnerability of your therapeutic struggle to become emotionally honest. Consequently, a gift can be seen technically as a form of the psychological defense mechanism called acting out. That is, by offering a gift, you expect it to “say” what you fear expressing openly and honestly with a changed lifestyle.

Now, you might claim that you simply want the gift to be something more tangible than therapeutic work. But, as odd as it might sound, this sort of yearning for something tangible leads ultimately to many psychological problems. Even the greatest desire of all—true love—has no “reward” but itself. Love is the reward of love—and, in this intangible reality, there is an agony. The agony derives from our existential human lack, a lack grounded in our physical and spiritual separation from each other, a lack that can be bridged symbolically in language but never closed by any human effort in any tangible form. It’s in our desperation to avoid that agony of our lack that we seek out tangible reassurances of “connection” to others, and thus we fall headlong into all the perversions that appear to bring us closer to others and yet endlessly miss the point about real love.

Any psychotherapist who has been well-trained, therefore, has been trained to refuse all gifts within the psychotherapy and, in refusing them, to get to the point that the client, in offering the gift, is trying to avoid.


 Back to the list of questions


No advertising—no sponsor—just the simple truth . . .

If this website has helped you, then
please help support this website

FOR THE SAKE OF TRUTH this website about the practice of Clinical Psychology does not accept any advertising.

Therefore, if my work has been informative and helpful to you, please send a donation in appreciation, even if it’s only a few dollars, to help offset my costs in making this website available to everyone without advertising.

Gratitude is joy to the heart!


Raymond Lloyd Richmond, Ph.D.
San Francisco




A Guide to Psychology and its Practice



Copyright © 1997-2020 Raymond Lloyd Richmond, Ph.D. All rights reserved.
San Francisco


All material on this website is copyrighted. You may copy or print selections for your private, personal use only.
Any other reproduction or distribution without my permission is prohibited.



No advertising and no sponsor—just the simple truth.