Woman talking to a therapist | Source: Getty Images
Woman talking to a therapist | Source: Getty Images

Doorknob Confessions: Why People Make Them and Why They Matter

Kudzai Allan Chidamwoyo
Mar 03, 2023
12:30 P.M.
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People in therapy may have made a doorknob confession without realizing it. A doorknob confession is loosely described as the significant revelation one makes at the end of a therapy session.


During a therapy session, a client and the therapist spend many minutes, even hours, speaking to each other about different topics. Some people want to talk about what is bothering them and, with the help of a professional, figure out how to solve their problems.

However, these discussions can only go on for a while. They are usually timed; hence, when it's time to leave and the patient ends the meeting with crucial new information like "I hear voices in my head," that can be classified as a doorknob confession. Experts say that this is something that happens on many occasions.

Therapist listening to a client | Source: Getty Images

Therapist listening to a client | Source: Getty Images


There are many reasons why people may use a doorknob confession. For example, they might be seeking an extension of the session without saying it directly. The therapists also react in many ways, including shock for inexperienced therapists. Still, there are ways to avoid such scenarios.

What Can Be behind Doorknob Confessions?

According to mental health practitioners such as Dr. Daryl Appleton, often, a doorknob confession comes when there is a hint of guilt or shame. Human beings naturally try to avoid pain, including emotional hurt brought about by certain things, such as judgment. Therefore, people will be afraid that disclosure may change a person's view of them.


Additionally, doorknob confessions may also portray a sign of someone trying to establish control of the their surroundings and the discussion. Sometimes clients may feel like their disclosure may have negative consequences, hence, the attempts to avoid speaking about it at all costs.

Therapist talks to a client | Source: Getty Images

Therapist talks to a client | Source: Getty Images


During the early days of therapy sessions, when the relationship between the therapist and the patient is still young, clients may avoid opening up too much. Hence, as the relationship develops, people will feel secure discussing and disclosing more emotional details about themselves.

The other thing that may cause a doorknob confession is when clients feel like they are not getting time for them to fully share and discuss some of their issues. The patient may also feel like they need more time with the therapist. Therefore, the client will try to prolong their meeting in such cases.

Lastly, some people may have difficulty accepting that their session has come to an end. This usually happens when a client feels insecure and anxious about leaving the therapy office, which they may view as their secure place. Again, this is a case where a client is looking for an extension of the session.

Mother and son in a therapy session | Source: Getty Images

Mother and son in a therapy session | Source: Getty Images

How a Therapist May React to Doorknob Confessions

There are several ways that therapists may react, but in all cases, their response has to be immediate. They may ask themselves questions like, is there a need to extend the meeting or schedule another appointment? Is there enough time to continue the discussion? What are the implications of discussing at that moment or waiting?


This can be a perfect scenario to differentiate between experienced and inexperienced therapists. With time and after several encounters, a therapist will be more aware of what needs to be done. Saying the right words at the correct time is an excellent communication skill that only some can possess and only happens sometimes.

Woman in deep thought | Source: Getty Images

Woman in deep thought | Source: Getty Images


The information may surprise inexperienced therapists as the pronouncement usually comes out unexpectedly and will not be connected to what they would have been discussing throughout the session.

Still, in most cases, therapists will recognize how vulnerable someone feels sharing such deep information and the courage it takes and they will react compassionately.

Dr. Appleton reiterated that therapists are not there to be judgmental and will not judge, that is what they are trained to not do. In most cases, they will not even be surprised with one's disclosure and will quickly formulate solutions to the issues.

Therapist speaks to a client | Source: Getty images

Therapist speaks to a client | Source: Getty images


How to Avoid Doorknob Confessions?

The first step in avoiding a doorknob confession is to know what it is. This will help people recognize when it happens and think about why they will have done it. The therapist will most likely want to dig deeper into your confession, either in that session or the next.

Finding a therapist that one is confident with can go a long way in ensuring the client doesn't have to wait for awkward moments to make their revelation. A client has to be convinced that a therapist is there to be as impartial as possible. They are not judgemental but are there to help.

The relationship between a therapist and their client is critical. When speaking to a therapist, one will most likely get a different response from when talking to a family member or friend. Clients should trust the therapist's knowledge in their field, knowing they are typically more understanding.

Woman lying on a couch as a therapist is taking notes | Source: Getty Images

Woman lying on a couch as a therapist is taking notes | Source: Getty Images

Another essential thing to consider is making a plan for your therapy session. This can help ensure that crucial issues are said when there is still adequate time to deal with it. Setting meeting agendas will help prioritize more critical information and avoid missing some things.

Therefore, before showing up for a session, a client needs to brainstorm and come up with what they think are their most telling issues and how much they need to be talked about. Patients must not feel pressured and should be free to change a therapist whenever they think it's not working.


The information in this article is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content, including text, and images contained on WomanlyLive.com, or available through WomanlyLive.com is for general information purposes only. WomanlyLive.com does not take responsibility for any action taken as a result of reading this article. Before undertaking any course of treatment please consult with your healthcare provider.

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