Sam: I'm fine. I mean, okay, a little depressed, I guess.
Dr. Fuller: All right — any idea why?
Sam: Probably because I started the Apocalypse.
(Doctor smiles weakly, then picks up his phone)
Sometimes, characters need therapy to cope with what's happened to them, but the events they would need to talk about are part of some Big Secret that would sound delusional to outsiders. Unfortunately, there are no therapists who aren't outsiders. This trope can be used as a way to avert There Are No Therapists but still "keep" the emotional stakes.
To make matters worse, the character can't or won't creatively edit his story. Maybe to add insult to injury, the author finishes an adventure by winding back time so only this character remembers what happened, or has him followed by a shadowy government agency charged with enforcing The Masquerade.
Not a single therapist in the world is "in the know". Especially weird if you consider that if, say, vampires are real, in such a world vampire-related traumas should be at least slightly more common.
You could try to get the help you need anyway, but your Muggle therapist will probably get quite the wrong idea. Cue men in white coats wrestling you into a straitjacket.
- In Black★Rock Shooter, one of the major catalysts for the problems is the fact that the therapist is not a muggle.
- Magic Knight Rayearth's second half opens with the girls' families being deeply concerned over the sudden depression each has developed ever since an ordinary field trip to Tokyo Tower. There's no way Hikaru, Umi, or Fuu can actually say that they were taken to another world and killed two people.
- Averted in Marvel Comics for gamma-irradiated psychologist Doc Samson, who apparently all the supers in the world consult with their problemsnote . Except not lately, because Doc Samson has been evil, dead, or both. Another example is Dr. Kafka, psychiatrist at Ravencroft, the prison for insane super-villains in Spider-Man.
Other Marvel Comics therapists, however, play with this trope, since they were apparently mad to begin with or themselves went crazy from learning their clients' secrets. Moonstone from Thunderbolts is more likely to deliberately make your problems worse for her own fun and profit than to try to help you. Then, in Spider-Man, the third character to adopt the Green Goblin identity was Bart Hamilton, originally the therapist for Norman Osborn's son Harry and took over Harry's villainy.
- In another Marvel aversion, Silk regularly visits Dr. Marie Porter, a therapist who specifically treats heroes and other people with superpowers. Marie was recommended to Silk by Mister Fantastic, who admitted that he'd also visited her about his own anxiety problems. Throughout Silk's comic run, Marie is one of the few characters who is confident that Silk can get her life together.
- Subverted in Zatanna when she attends a group therapy session for people who have experienced supernatural occurrences.
- Love and Capes averts this trope with Doc Karma, an Expy of Doctor Strange serves as their psychiatrist and doctor.
- Black Canary and Green Arrow attempt therapy as civilians using euphemisms to discuss superhero-related stuff. While arguing Oliver accidentally says "deaths" instead of "ice-cream" and startles the therapist. They visit another therapist under their secret identities but that doesn't work either because they aren't being 100% honest with their therapist.
- Averted in PS238: Nurse Newby isn't just The Medic with Healing Hands, she's also a therapist who runs a support group for depowered metahumans.
- Played with in Bird, as the personnel at Alchemilla are all, technically, PRT staff. As such there are no parahumans among them... Except for the Protectorate squad that helps out with security.
- Lampshaded regularly in the Harry Potter fandom to explain why the many characters with serious issues and traumatic backgrounds can't get therapy.
Aaron: Don't joke about what you went through.
- Oh God Not Again! mentions that Cho Chang only got better after years of therapy, and she needed to edit her story because all therapists are Muggles.
- Discussed in Reparations. Draco Malfoy is a therapist in the drug rehab wing of St Mungo's and argues that wizards have to have their own rehab because if wizards only had Muggle therapists and groups, they would have to edit magic out of their accounts and that would sabotage the process and doom the patient to failure.
- The Housekeeper:
Harry: I have to. The magical world doesn't have psychologists or psychiatrists. Just a mental ward in St. Mungo's.
- Reconstructed in The Perils of Innocence when a facility for mentally troubled children treats the muggleborn witches and wizards admitted as any other non-neurotypical child. By showing the children that their condition (having magic) isn't something to be ashamed of, and helping them work through the negative side effects (uncontrolled magic) with patience and compassion.
- Child of the Storm averts this, with Charles Xavier, who functions as a therapist, and it's mentioned that one of his former students, Dani Moonstar (Doctor Moonstar, rather), is also serving as one. Xavier is the one who's usually recommended, partly because while he isn't the only one, there aren't many others, and he's the best (and taught the next best). This is a pretty natural side-effect of decades of being a telepath and therefore having an excellent understanding of the human mind, even when he isn't actively reading someone's thoughts. Also, Harry doesn't actually know about any others for a while.
- Lampshaded in the author's notes of Windows of the Soul, a Mai-HiME fanfic that deals with Shizuru's lingering guilt over her actions late in the series and the implications they have for her relationship with Natsuki.
"Sometimes I wonder whether it would be easier if I just had Shizuru see a psychologist. The problem being, how does she say "I have a huge guilt complex over killing scores of people with my summoned demon named after the legendary Kiyohime" without being put in an asylum? Perhaps the First District has specialised psychologists. Oh, wait. She blew them up. That's what she's guilty about."
- There is a crossover of Supernatural and Bones called The Dead Man in the Lab by Sameuspegasus where the main characters of the latter are clued in to the workings of the former. Cas, being even more protective of Dean than usual, insists that Sweet 'fix' Dean. Mood Whiplash sets in as Cas goes from ineffectually saying "You will fix him now!" to stating "You will fix him NOW." All while Sweets and everybody else is desperately trying to acclimate themselves to the idea of angels and the apocalypse. Sweets keeps desperately hoping his phone will go off in the middle of his improvised "therapy" sessions and let him off the hook. The story hits the trope straight on, as well, with the line: "Sweets was going to need serious psychotherapy after this. Only there was no-one who could give it to him."
- Had to be taken into account when someone was attacked by a magical monster in "Roll the Bones" by Vathara: "'Set up appointment for Wolf with the department shrink,' he noted down. Thought a second. 'Check morgue audio-tape log. Make sure shrink knows he was not hallucinating.'"
- The reason R!Syaoran refuses therapy offered by the hospital for his PTSD caused by his torture in Shatterheart is that he doesn't want to be seen as crazy and have to explain dimension-travel.
- In Just A Child, Kanna has to lie about her past and family to a therapist she sees, since the therapist does not know about dragons.
- Thoroughly explored and discussed in the Good Omens fic Demonology and the Tri-Phasic Model of Trauma where Crowley sees a human therapist named Aubrey Thyme and initially tries to avoid telling her that he's a demon and the original Serpent of Eden whose trauma stems from both that and almost losing his angelic partner during the almost-Apocalypse. When their therapy sessions hit a wall due to Aubrey not knowing the full story and thinking that Crowley is just lying unnecessarily to her, Crowley decides to tell her the whole truth which she needs a long time and a lot of soul-searching to come to terms with.
- Starfall (Star vs. the Forces of Evil): Earth psychiatrists understandably think Marco has had a psychotic break when he insists he was dating a magical princess from another dimension that no one else remembers. It doesn't take Marco long to learn how to fake taking his meds and just tell them what they want to hear. When he comes back from Mewni briefly, they think he's had a relapse, and when his parents call to explain, the doctors assume he was using hallucinogenic drugs after all, and that his parents got in his stash. Then Star shows up, briefly tries to explain, and uses magic when that doesn't work.
The doctor sat in a destroyed office. The door had been ripped from the frame by a large neon green primate. The office lights had been smashed. Flying anglerfish provided the only illumination. Seated at the desk, the doctor completed notes in Marco's file.
PATIENT ASYMPTOMATIC. DOES NOT PRESENT SIGNS OF ANY MENTAL DISORDER. RELEASED TO SPOUSE. NO FOLLOW UP NECESSARY.
When the file was closed, the magically summoned beings disappeared. The office was now dark. The doctor opened a desk drawer and withdrew a bottle of scotch.
- Hivefled: When Gamzee gets help (over voice chat), he edits his story heavily, claiming to be a human named Gaspar. When he admits he's been lying and that he's an alien, the assumption is that he's delusional and hallucinating.
- The psychiatrist consulted in The Mask doesn't believe that the mask could have any supernatural properties. When Stanley tries to demonstrate, nothing happens. He angrily declares it must only work at night, which doesn't do much to convince the therapist. The continuation has him meet the protagonist as well and still thinks there's some kind of delusion going on. The animated series has him continuing to meet Stanley, on multiple occasions, and not only get caught in the messes the Mask creates but actually ends up wearing it in one episode and causes enormous chaos... and he still believes that Ipkiss is crazy.
- In the Film of the Book The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, Peter and his siblings lived into adulthood in Narnia, a magical land inside a wardrobe, and now are stuck in a world that treats them as children so despite having problems like getting into fights and struggling to relate to other people, trying to explain those issues to a Muggle therapist would probably get them sectioned.
- Subverted in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by 'the Professor', who is quite willing to accept that something impossible happened to them. (The book version eventually explains why.)
The Professor: Well, if she's not mad, and she's not lying, then... logically... she must be telling the truth.
- Subverted in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by 'the Professor', who is quite willing to accept that something impossible happened to them. (The book version eventually explains why.)
- Subverted in Blade: Trinity, where a famous psychologist goes on record on TV that Blade is crazy... but it's revealed that he's a Familiar to the ruling vampires (basically their stooge).
- Likewise subverted in The Forgotten. Dr. Munce not only knows about the alien beings using Telly as a Guinea pig, he's working for them.
- A Nightmare on Elm Street:
- A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors:
- Subverted with Dr. Neil Gordon. He's one of the therapists trying to help the Freddy-plagued kids and while skeptical at first, he's actually willing to admit the possibility that they and Nancy are faced with a supernatural threat.
- Played straight with Dr. Elizabeth Simms. She, unfortunately, assumes they're delusional and has one of them sedated: the worst possible outcome of this trope, under the circumstances.
- Inverted in Freddy vs. Jason: The mental hospital staff in Springwood know damn well that Freddy is for real, and use Hypnocil and fraudulent institutionalization of witnesses to ensure that Freddy's potential victims remain Muggles. That way, the dream-stalking killer can't gain strength from their fear. All of that changes once Jason shows up and gives everyone a reason to fear again.
- A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors:
- Terminator: Dr. Silberman, the police psychiatrist in The Terminator and the hospital administrator in Terminator 2: Judgment Day, isn't for one moment going to take stories of time-traveling killer androids seriously. But as he's continually exposed to the truth, by Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, he's starting to crack - briefly trying to counsel one witness to the two robots' fight about how sometimes "we" think we see things that are impossible, but it's just stress altering the memory. He's visibly struggling with the situation and his own repression of what he saw in the first two movies when Arnold shows up again and he all but messes his pants in terror.
- In a deleted scene of The Incredible Hulk, Bruce tries to explain his condition to therapist Leonard Samson, but all he can safely say is that "there are aspects of my personality that I can't control." Samson mistakes it for just anger management problems but does perceive that Bruce is holding part of the info back and is annoyed that he does so.
- Defied in The Rage: Carrie 2. School psychologist Sue Snell, having survived the first film, is the first person to realize that Rachel has Psychic Powers, and makes a special effort to try and talk her through her issues. Everybody else only finds out about Rachel's powers much too late.
- When Phil Conners of Groundhog Day attempts to seek help, people think that his claims that he's trapped in a "Groundhog Day" Loop are just insanity and he winds up in the office of the town's only psychologist. The doctor, of course, is no help, saying that Phil's issues are pretty far outside his usual cases ("I have an alcoholic now!"), and that he'd like for Phil to come back next week for another session; Phil simply covers his face with a pillow and punches it.
- A mundane variant occurs in the film Confessions of a Hitman: the title character attempts to confess his many crimes to a priest, but the priest, thinking he is delusional, refuses him absolution and recommends therapy instead.
- Played with in Donnie Darko. Dr. Thurman initially characterizes Donnie's visions as "daylight hallucinations" but eventually comes to believe that they're genuine.
- In Spider-Man 2, Peter tries to indirectly broach the subject of his increasingly enervated powers during a doctor's check-up by claiming to have had a dream that he was Spider-Man losing his powers. But he quickly figures this might be too suspicious, so he changes the story to it being a friend's dream about being Spider-Man. Peter is still able to convey enough about the situation to get some concrete advice from the doctor — namely, that perhaps "being Spider-Man" (figuratively speaking from the doctor's perspective) isn't so good for his well-being.
- In Stranger Than Fiction, Harold goes to a psychologist to help deal with the voice in his head that has told him he's going to die. Not surprisingly, she diagnoses him with schizophrenia and recommends medication.
- The Dead Center takes place an emergency psych ward, and portrays it much more realistically than most horror movies. Early on, Dr. Forrester thinks his patient has some kind of catatonia or dissociative amnesia. But once he gets John Doe into a trance, interviews him, and a couple of people die, he figures out that it's Demonic Possession fairly quickly.
- In Shards of Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold, Cordelia literally couldn't tell the Escobaran or Betan therapists the truth about what happened to her while in Barrayaran captivity, since that could set off a civil war on Barrayar. They end up thinking she's been suborned, causing her to run away to escape the "therapy" they're offering, which only makes it look worse.
- In The Stepford Wives Joanna, at the request of her husband Walter, sees a therapist from out of town and shares with her about the suspicions she's having about the women of Stepford and how all her friends suddenly became domesticated fembots eerily similar to the ones at Disneyland and her fears about what would happen to her. The therapist merely thinks that Joanna is unconsciously unhappy in her role as a homemaker, the Holiday season is too stressful, she isn't used to suburban life as opposed to city life, and that Stepford just happens to attract that sort of person.
- In Twilight, when Bella's erratic behavior after Edward leaves her borders on clinical depression, Charlie tried to get Bella to see a therapist. She refused, claiming that she couldn't tell a therapist about how the Cullens were vampires and she'd decided that therapy wouldn't work if she wasn't 100% truthful.
- Animorphs: The need for secrecy prevents any of the characters in this from seeking help (as they can never be sure who is or isn't an enemy operative that is searching for them), but the psychological ramifications of being in the sort of fight they're in are explored. The Animorphs have very interesting nightmares and will do so for the rest of their lives. Cassie tries to act as a sort-of therapeutic substitute, but her success is limited. (In one book, Marco lampshades the impossibilities of telling a professional therapist about their problems: "Hello, Doctor Freud? My dad's thinking about remarrying. See, he thinks my mom is dead, but she's not. She's actually a slave to an alien race trying to take over the planet. And did I mention that I'm fighting this alien invasion myself? That I do it by turning into animals? Say what? What size straitjacket do I wear?")
- Subverted in Young Wizards. Nita assumes this about the school counselor, and it's true that he isn't a wizard, but he's in on the secret and even gets the main cast out of school during Wizards at War so that they're free to prevent the end of the universe.
- Subverted in the fantastic-realism novel Prince Ombra. Bentley's psychiatrist, Dr. Kreistein, happens to be extremely well-versed in mythology and realizes that Bentley is the current reincarnation of several heroes of legend, including King Arthur and Susano. Dr. Kreistein becomes Bentley's lifelong friend and advisor, aiding him in his destiny to save the world from Prince Ombra, the very source of evil and insanity.
- Played with in the Monster Hunters universe. There are therapists who know about monsters. Two of them. But the people who follow up on monster attacks don't say, "These are the therapists to go to." They say, "Never tell anyone. They'll think you're crazy. And then we'll kill you, just to make sure." As many real-life psychologists have found, this makes the resulting PTSD much worse.
- Averted in Mercedes Lackey's Music To My Sorrow where we are told that Eric has found a therapist that knows that magic and elves are real.
- The protagonist's therapist in the Stephen King short story The Boogeyman is a horrific inversion; he's actually the titular boogeyman who killed the protagonist's children, and it's implied will now kill him as well.
- Averted in Jim C. Hines' Magic Ex Libris series: Nidhi Shah, while she's a Muggle in the sense that she doesn't have magic, is in on The Masquerade and is specifically employed as a psychiatrist to the Porters. There certainly isn't any shortage of work for her to do.
- In the strategy guide to X-Wing, it tells the story of the protagonist, Keyan Farlander, as a young pilot for the Rebel Alliance who is Force-Sensitive, but has no teacher, and is learning on instinct alone. He keeps having disturbing visions as the Dark Side is tempting him. He tries to go to the sickbay to ask for help and to figure out what is happening to him, but the medical droid tries to have him grounded on psychiatric grounds when he tries to explain what's happening to him. He has to use a Jedi Mind Trick on the Flight Surgeon to stay on flight status.
- In Foucault's Pendulum, main character Causabon shows up at the office of psychiatrist Doctor Wagner, a minor character from earlier. He recites the story of the book, which concerns secret alchemical brotherhoods, ancient conspiracies, and a plot to control the earth's magnetic field. Wagner's only response is to tell him he's insane. In Wagner's defense, by that point Causabon is an extremely Unreliable Narrator and, after spending so much time immersed in esoteric manuscripts and dealing with delusional cults, probably is crazy. Probably.
- Rainbow Rowell's Carry On discusses this with Baz: his stepmom says he's used to be discreet about his condition so he could probably see a muggle therapist. Baz rejects this idea immediately. The ending averts this. Simon has Skype therapy sessions with one of the few magickal psychologists in the world, and says they really help. Rainbow Rowell apparently got VERY fed up with the idea that Chosen Ones can't get PTSD treatment.
- In Lord Loss, Grubbs ends up in a mental hospital after seeing the titular demon slaughtering his family. The staff does the best they can for him, but they take his repeated claims that a demon killed his family as him being unable/unwilling to discuss whatever more realistic tragedy he witnessed. After Dervish finds him, confirms the demon was real, and advises Grubbs to change his story to something similar but believable (specifically that a madman broke into the house and killed everyone), Grubbs is able to respond positively to treatment.
- The Stormlight Archive: Dalinar's ardents end up with the custody of a madman who believes he is Talenel'Elin, one of the ten Heralds of the Almighty, and spends all his time staring at a wall while repeating a speech about how the people need to prepare for the coming Desolation. He of course actually is Taln, driven insane after being abandoned by the other Heralds to suffer the tortures alone for over four and a half thousand years. His mental state isn't helped by the fact that local psychological treatment is still in its infancy; standard practice is pretty much to just leave him alone in a dark room and hope he gets better. In Oathbringer, Dalinar finally realizes who he is, and by the end of the book he has custody of him again (in addition to Shalash, another Herald, who is insane in a different direction).
- Played with in Super Powereds. Given the Training from Hell and the harsh life all Heroes go through, it makes sense they'd need therapy at some point. However, very few therapists are qualified to handle their issues, especially since the Heroes also have to be able to open up fully, including revealing their secret identities. For the students at Lander, this is handled by Dr. Moran, among her other responsibilities. In book 4, Mary decides that she doesn't want to be a Hero, so she drops out of the HCP and decides to complete her degree in psychology in order to become a certified therapist for Heroes. Given her telepathy and HCP experiences, this would give her unparalleled insight into Hero lives.
- Subverted in Touch. Dr. Natalie Sharpe is a government-employed magical therapist. The protagonist, James, is sent to her after being raped specifically because magic runs in his family and his parents realize that the incident might cause a Traumatic Superpower Awakening. He doesn't learn any of this for a while, however, even after his Flight and wind powers manifest.
- In Alan Mendelsohn, the Boy from Mars, Leonard gets sent to a child psychiatrist, who is obviously incompetent and insists Leonard has mental conditions he doesn't have. Leonard decides to exploit this to get out of school, and tells him the complete truth about his supernatural adventures learning mind-control. The shrink doesn't believe him but later on is introduced to a Venusian who confirms everything Leonard said. Being faced with the reality of Leonard's "delusions", the shrink proceeds to lose his mind and go crazy.
- In Doctor Who, Amy is twice sent to therapy when others find out what she's experienced and can't believe it's real: in "The Eleventh Hour" because of her tales of The Raggedy Doctor, and in "The Big Bang" where all the stars have gone out and young Amy is one of few people in the world who remember them.
- In Torchwood, Suzie exploits this trope as part of a plan for her own resurrection. Under cover of talking through her work-related issues, she attends a support group regularly armed with the drug Torchwood uses to maintain The Masquerade. To her colleagues, this initially appears to be a reasonable solution to the lack of therapists who know about Torchwood and aliens but they soon piece together that she was actually using the drug and the support group sessions to secretly turn her confidant into an Ax-Crazy serial killer and living backdoor to the Torchwood security system.
- In Being Human (UK), Annie was abused by her fiancé, forced to watch him be romantic with his new girlfriend (who was also Annie's old friend), and then found out that he murdered her. Unfortunately, Annie is dead and thus would have a bit of trouble making an appointment.
- Pretty much all the hunters in Supernatural have deep-seated psychological issues which go unaddressed apart from the occasional monster induced psychologically-convenient dreamscape. The reason they can't seek aid is nicely demonstrated by the episode "Sam, Interrupted" where they do go to a therapist and try to explain their problems. Shortly after they start into why they have these issues they get committed. (Fortunately, it was all part of a Cassandra Gambit.) While in the mental hospital, Dean finds a female therapist who has the knack of zeroing in on Dean's issues. However she turns out to be a hallucination. Dean is so disturbed by this he declares the only way to deal with their issues is to bury them. And he does, via sex and booze till the inevitable Heroic BSoD later on in the season.
- Out Of This World (1987): Evie goes to therapy and brings her mom and dad, or at least, the glowing crystal through which her alien dad communicates. The therapist is very much a muggle but believes them and they appeal to doctor/patient confidentiality to keep their secret safe.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
- Buffy sees a counselor in "Beauty and the Beasts" who has no idea about vampires and the like, though he turns out to be a pretty good counselor anyway, and figures out what her problem essentially is minus the supernatural elements. Then he gets killed by a Hulk expy.
- Inverted a bit, however, in season 7, where Buffy herself becomes a counselor at the rebuilt Sunnydale High School. Buffy will sometimes tell when students are having supernatural problems even when the students are muggles.
- Played with in "Conversations With Dead People", when a newly arisen vampire turns out to have a psychology degree, and he and Buffy have a very long chat. Although, aside from knowing that vampires exist (and only because he is one), he gives no indication of knowing anything else supernatural exists.
- The comic book continuation has Xander start seeing a "Dr. Mike" in season 10 due to trauma and anger issues. It actually works fantastically well for those things it helps that the we're now in The Unmasqued World to the point of Xander being to help his friends with similar advice, but when Xander's issue involves the potential ghost of an ex that may or may not be real (it's complicated) Dr. Mike's advice proves disastrous since it fails to take the potential ghost's feelings into account.
- In Blindspot, while the situation is not explicitly 'supernatural', protagonist Jane Doe has to deal with issues such as complete amnesia caused by a unique drug and the discovery that her pre-amnesia self was a ruthless terrorist. Later in the series, her psychiatrist Doctor Borden is revealed to be a mole for the organisation that Jane 'originally' worked for and was basically manipulating her treatment to go along with their plan, but after Jane recovers her old memories, she is forced to go to Borden for help putting them in perspective because every other therapist she consults requires too much background information to properly diagnose her mental state.
- In Red Dwarf after the original crew is brought back to life Kryten is sent to a counsellor. The counsellor, having been brought back from the dead and being unaware of the passage of millions of years, assumes Kryten is crazy for believing himself to be constructed in (what is from this counsellor's perspective) the future. Though maintaining a cheerful disposition as he hears about his good fortune at not being dead anymore, he repeatedly requests Kryten confirm that his chair is still securely screwed down.
- In Sliders, all the sliders need therapy, given that they (usually permanently) leave one universe for another every couple of days and the experience isn't always pleasant. Hell, the original sliders' home Earth is now in the hands of a bloodthirsty humanoid race with a taste for human eyeballs. Only one episode involves a visit to a shrink, and that one involves Rembrandt needing to vent his doubts about whether Professor Arturo is "their" Arturo. The shrink thinks that Rembrandt is completely nuts and calls a mental hospital to commit him. After witnessing a slide, he himself suffers a breakdown and is taken away.
- In Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, John Connor and Cameron both see a therapist as part of a plot to kidnap a terminator's daughter. The psychiatrist quickly diagnoses the teenaged John with something like shell shock because he checks the exits like a combat veteran and he wonders if Cameron is autistic. John has real problems but he can't be honest with the therapist about them. Naturally, the therapist correctly identifies him as a liar.
- Subverted in Teen Wolf: when Stiles sees the school counselor, he glosses over the werewolf part of his problems - completely unaware that she knows exactly what's going on.
- Actually nicely subverted in Chuck; when Chuck is sent to a therapist by the CIA, he spends quite a bit of time trying to talk about his problems without mentioning classified information until the therapist mentions that yes, he was fully briefed because he was a CIA therapist whose entire job is treating people whose problems are highly classified.
- In GARO, Kaoru regularly sees a therapist, though she glosses over the whole "being hunted by demons" aspect of her life and focuses on her job-related troubles. Subverted, when we find out that her therapist is actually the Big Bad, and that he has been using his position in order to monitor her so that he may eventually use her as a host-body for the queen of the Horrors.
- Played with in Awake: while neither therapist actually believes Britten is traveling to another world in his dreams, Lee thinks that indulging in his "dreams" are bad for his mental health, while Evans thinks they may be useful as a coping and problem-solving tool.
- Played with in Once Upon a Time. The town's only therapist, Dr. Hopper, isn't a muggle. He's Jiminy Cricket. However, like everyone else in Storybrooke he has amnesia and doesn't know this, so he tries to help Henry but doesn't believe what he says about the curse. At least, not at first. After the curse is broken, he continues to act as a therapist, most notably to Regina. It doesn't work very well, but not because he's ignorant about the nature of the universe.
- Ned of Pushing Daisies could probably use some professional help, what with his abandonment issues, anxiety problems, and fears of both physical contact and emotional intimacy... but since all of these difficulties are tied up closely with his ability to bring things back from the dead, a secret he is too terrified to ever voluntarily reveal, he doesn't get it. Of course, since one of the major arcs of the show is him gradually loosening up and making human connections, he's better off than he could be.
- Subverted in Stargate Atlantis. The expedition has a staff psychologist. Generally, she deals with fairly normal issues that don't differ too much because of their science fiction cause, but then there was the time that Dr. McKay had another person's mind trapped in his head, and they shared control of the body. She acknowledged that this wasn't exactly something she was trained in, but that it was clear that both of them would need some psychiatric attention, so they did the best they could.
- Subverted in Haven, where Dr. Claire Callahan reveals she specializes in treating Troubled people.
- This trope is actually the reason why Constantine starts with John Constantine as a self-admitted patient in a mental hospital. He knew that the doctors there wouldn't believe in demons and black magic, and after years of shouldering the guilt of watching a little girl get dragged down to Hell by a demon he himself summoned, he hoped that they could make him believe it was all a delusion, too.
- In Roswell, Max is sent to a therapist by the beginning of season 2. Since he had just endured torture a couple of months ago due to his alien status, it's quite likely his behavior had been erratic enough during summertime for his parents to notice something was wrong. Needless to say, he can't tell the doctor anything beyond, "it's just teenage stuff".
- One episode of Charmed has Piper and Leo going to see a marriage guidance counsellor. They have to use a lot of euphemisms or at least pretend that what they're saying are euphemisms ("When you say she shattered you, that's..?"/"Metaphorically speaking") but fortunately the therapist is easy-going enough to take it all in his stride and give them some decent advice.
- Averted on Birds of Prey; Helena believes her therapist Dr. Quinzel is this, but in reality, not only is Dr. Quinzel entirely privy to Helena's world of metahumans, she is actively using their therapy sessions to do reconnaissance work against Helena to help her get her revenge against Gotham and the heroes protecting it.
- Averted in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: May's psychiatrist ex-husband knows all about SHIELD, does psychological profiles of agents and "gifted" individuals, and in fact part of Coulson's unexplained absences were appointments with him.
- Over the course of Daredevil (2015), Matt Murdock regularly goes to talk to a Catholic priest named Father Lantom for spiritual and moral advice. Lantom catches on that Murdock's situation is unique in the first episode when Matt comes in for confessional to atone for what he's about to do while leaving the details vague. That vagueness continues throughout the first season as Matt constantly brings up the nature of justice versus revenge and whether killing an evil person is any better than letting that person kill others. By the end of the season, Lantom is able to fill in enough gaps to realize that Matt is the Devil of Hell's Kitchen.
- Early in Iron Fist (2017), Danny Rand has just about convinced his therapist that he is, in fact, the long-lost heir to the Rand Corporation. He loses them when he starts on about K'un Lun in the Realm of Heaven and being the Immortal Iron Fist. That said doesn't completely dismiss the possibility until Danny is unable to demonstrate the superpower he claims to have - a delusional belief in having superpowers being a recognized phenomenon in the Marvel universe.
- Person of Interest: Root has some serious psychological issues, mostly based around her misanthropy. Her therapist correctly identifies her misanthropy and lethal intent, but also believes she has delusions of grandeur paired with a persecution complex. Actually, she thinks she's been chosen by her god for a higher purpose because an omniscient AI really has chosen her as its "analogue interface", and she thinks someone is coming to kill her because they really are. When she escapes using extremely detailed knowledge her god is whispering in her ear, including nonlethally taking out the government assassin assaulting the hospital, he's clearly ready to believe. For added irony, Root herself was impersonating a therapist when she first appeared in the series and was the first character to deduce the existence of The Machine on her own.
- In season 3, there is a flashback to Finch making use of therapy to treat his survivor's guilt for not having prevented Nathan's death at the ferry bombing. Of course, Finch faked his death at the occasion, so he can't open up about the real circumstances and tells a more roundabout version - to which the therapist replies that it reminds him of the survivors of the ferry bombing.
- Reese also deals with one of these in season four. In his cover identity as a detective, he is given a department mandated psych evaluation. Unlike most cases, Iris almost instantly sees that he is lying and is actually almost entirely correct about his issues, zeroing in on his Hero Complex.
- Hemlock Grove: Subverted. When Roman tells his uncle Norman (a clinical psychiatrist) the truth about the werewolf terrorizing the town, he asks him if he's gonna call for the men in white coats. Norman chooses to believe him, given all the bizarre stuff he's already witnessed.
- The Flash (2014): Played for Laughs in season 4. Various characters go to Dr. Finkel for psychiatric help, without really bothering to explain any of the weird stuff going on in their lives. Finkel is very confused when Iris complains that her husband (who is sitting right there) died without talking to her, then runs off after getting a text. Later, Cecile and Joe go to Finkel due to their problems caused by Cecile's new mind-reading powers, and Finkel doesn't understand why Cecile keeps complaining about things Joe is thinking before he has a chance to say anything.
- Lucifer: Dr Linda Martin is Lucifer's therapist, and has her hands full trying to help him while dealing with his 'elaborate metaphors' and 'roleplay' about being the Devil and associating with demons and angels and being targeted by God, instead of just sticking to who he 'really' is. The trope is subverted when he eventually reveals his true face and, after being terrified for a while, she carries on treating him. For several seasons she's the only mortal on the cast with full 'inside knowledge', making this something of an inverted trope.
- Subverted in The Bright Sessions. The therapist is a muggle but knows more about what's going on than her patients. Additionally, her patient, Caleb, decides to use his ability to detect others' feelings to work in therapy or social work.
- Discussed in episode 9 of Sequinox. When Jake wonders if Yuki's tried therapy for everything they went through in the first arc, Alan asks him how she's supposed to tell a therapist that she and her friends died, came back, and are kind of demi-gods.
- Both Old World of Darkness and New World of Darkness use this a lot:
- Vampires in either setting can't see a shrink without breaking The Masquerade unless they are extraordinarily careful, nor can they take antidepressants because drugs don't affect the undead, so insane vampires (and eventually, they're all at least slightly insane) are screwed.
- This was part of a Hand Wave in the original Vampire: The Masquerade to keep people from tampering with the Malkavians, who more or less run on crazy, mystically speaking.
- In Vampire: The Requiem (and maybe other nWoD products) it's also a way of enforcing Derangements for those with low Karma Meters.
- In Werewolf: The Apocalypse, psychological trauma and Garou-specific depression (Harano) are natural result of fighting the Wyrm. Because of the Veil, however, seeing a therapist would be out of the question unless s/he was Garou or kinfolk. That said, the setting does have a number of counselors amongst the tribes dedicated to helping people break through Harano, and even has Garou-oriented psychiatric facilities like the Valkenburg Foundation (dedicated to treating Lunatics, Garou who experienced a psychic break during the First Change and have little control over their transformations).
- In Mage: The Ascension Tradition mages could work out psychological issues through their Avatar, usually during a Seeking. The science-oriented Technocracy greatly values therapy, psychology, and psychiatry, but it's also exploited by the New World Order faction to indoctrinate the other factions to keep them in line. Part of the reason the Void Engineers have such autonomy compared to other Conventions is their own psychiatric branch, ostensibly specialized in dealing with the abomination of outer space, that also removes NWO programming from its own agents.
- One of the parts of the tightrope act of Changeling: The Dreaming is that the Kithain often undergo Chrysalis at a young age, split their time between their mortal lives and changeling lives, and spend a lot of their time interacting with chimerical creatures that no one else can see - which often leaves parents suspicious and psychiatrists suspecting delusion. More than one changeling has been "treated" back into dormancy. On the other hand, outright embracing your fae nature and leaving all of mortal life behind means you're going to go into Bedlam (that is, actually go crazy).
- Hunter: The Vigil: most Hunters avoid therapists because of, y'know, the inherent risks of telling someone that you're stressed because you spent all of last night hunting a werewolf with a shotgun and a two-by-four.
- Invoked, played straight and defied in Changeling: The Lost. Having a psychotherapist who isn't a changeling (or at least Ensorcelled) does give a penalty to therapy rolls, but there's an entire Prestige Class based around the idea of changelings becoming therapists to help out their own kind.
- Vampires in either setting can't see a shrink without breaking The Masquerade unless they are extraordinarily careful, nor can they take antidepressants because drugs don't affect the undead, so insane vampires (and eventually, they're all at least slightly insane) are screwed.
- This is why most Call of Cthulhu characters who don't end up dead get committed. note
- Averted in Eclipse Phase for Firewall agents, who have access to therapists in on the masquerade. Though people who aren't in Firewall and suffer Stress from witnessing Exsurgent activity, particularly asyncs aren't so lucky, but at least the standard Muse most people have in their Mesh Inserts has a 60 (on a d100) in Psychology.
- Unknown Armies has rules for psychiatric trauma and care for characters exposed to the various horrors of the occult world. However, good luck getting a therapist to believe you when you try to talk about your problems - and a therapist in the know probably has some serious damage of their own.
- Warhammer 40,000: The problem is less the "Muggle" part (psychic powers and horrible things from the Warp are known to exist, though the exact degree of knowledge depends on the local level of control (and Lawful Stupid) by the Inquisition, Ecclesiarchy and Munitorum), and more the "therapist" (the Imperium has a very simple solution to people mouthing off about said horrible things from the Warp). The Imperial Guard is mentioned to have chaplains who the troops go to after a mission goes wrong (in order to sneak xenos diplomats out safely, they had to murder a picket line of allied Planetary Defense Forces), and Damnation Crusade has Gerhart go see his company's Chaplain when he and his brothers believe his head is getting a bit swollen.
- Israeli playwright Anat Gov's Oh, God is about God getting therapy. His therapist is naturally incredulous at first, but when she finds out who He is she is initially furious at him for everything he's done to humanity. Then it turns out he came to therapy because he was losing his powers, and it turns out that the reason for that is that he's racked with guilt over his abuse of Job. At the end of the play, she points out the huge strides he's made in accepting responsibility and trying to atone for what he did to humanity: when he kicked Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden, he spent time and effort making clothes for them, and much later, when he realises how horrible he was to Job, he starts giving up his power altogether.
- The cast of Persona 3 is a group of teens who frequently go into a twisted, bloody version of their school where they are in danger of being killed by their repressed feelings and fight monsters by shooting themselves in the head with guns that fire psychological trauma. Ken is so bad he was going to commit suicide after getting his revenge against a certain individual, and he's eleven. But since no therapist would believe them about the Dark Hour, they're on their own.
- Persona 4, which features an alternate TV dimension that only select people can enter and is filled with horrific monsters is closely related to Persona 3, and the main cast do have issues, ranging from the mild (bored and lonely) to the severe (sexuality issues- maybe) and these problems literally manifest and attack the party in boss battles. However played with, as at the end of the boss battle the character accepts the negative, repressed, or otherwise hidden parts of themselves and start becoming more happy and well adjusted. Apparently beating the shit out of the physical manifestation of your problems does wonders for your psyche.
- One of the Camarilla Primogens, Alastair Grout, in Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines actually was a psychiatrist in life. Unfortunately, at least his initial education was pre-Freudian, and the fact that he happened to have been Embraced by a Malkavian (who are all mad) probably helped contribute to scrambling his later experiences (who in any case only seems to have gone up to the point when lobotomy was standard practice). He is also dead by the time you get to him.
- In the third chapter of morphE, Tyler gets to call his sister who works at a behavioral health clinic. He desperately wishes to tell her that he has awakened to magical powers and has been kidnapped by someone who wishes to train him up in their use. Unfortunately, he cannot and must instead pretend that he is in mental care after failing a suicide attempt. She begins to assert that she should be present and has his case file, unable to lie anymore Tyler hangs up.
- Downplayed in El Goonish Shive: Susan notes that she might be able to get a therapist who isn't a muggle, but she isn't comfortable enough with what that would entail to actually look into the idea, and normal therapists aren't an option because they'd probably assume she's delusional.
Susan: [...] Someone like me would probably be considered delusional by any therapist not specifically trained by the secret shadow agents of the government who keep magic and aliens secret.
- This was abused by the government in A Girl and Her Fed. Because their cyborg program was intended to brainwash the agents and keep them mentally unstable, in order to properly use them as weapons, it was ensured that none of them would receive any psychological treatment other than exceedingly overmedicating them. Once the project was made public, one of the first things that OACET did was make sure that every one of them received substantial therapy.
- Averted by the SCP Foundation. Not only does the Foundation employ a bunch of therapists who are in on The Masquerade, but in instances where saving lives involves being Necessarily Evil, regular counselling sessions are mandatory. However, there might still arise situations where none of the available therapists have a high enough security clearance level to be authorized to listen to your particular problems. They also have a Memory-Wiping Crew on hand for especially disturbing duties.
- Played with in Worm, where government-sanctioned superheroes can receive therapy from muggles who know all about them. However, it's by no means mandatory, and teen heroes can be out of luck if their base's commander thinks Therapy Is for the Weak. Additionally, therapists rotate on a weekly basis. This is officially to prevent young superheroes being subverted by any particular therapist, but a knock-on effect is that it makes therapy much less effective as the patients have less chance to form a bond of trust with their confidant.
- Subverted in The Sanguine Chronicles: Marko's therapist was a muggle—until he turned into a werewolf during a session and threw her desk across the room.
- Glowfic subverts this:
- Aether decides to continue her therapy course because the peal clearly needs one.
- Boots actually gets her magical therapy degree and averts the Miriel plot by installing a behavior block and even helps the Maitimos who have gone through Angband be less suicidal and generally offers therapy to everyone who needs it, which is a lot of people.
- Subverted in Batman: The Animated Series—Harley Quinn began as the Joker's therapist at Arkham but of course soon demonstrates the Go Mad from the Revelation option of this trope and becomes a supervillain herself. Now, she is his right-hand woman (and an occasional guest back at Arkham). The character, created for the animated series, became so popular that she has been retconned into the comic book universe.
- In Invader Zim, Dib is sent to the school guidance counselor, Mr. Dwicky, and immediately tells him that he's trying to stop Zim from taking over the Earth. Dwicky appears to believe him... but is actually playing along in the hope of getting Dib to reveal his "real" problem. Dwicky does learn that Dib is telling the truth, but winds up leaving the planet with the evidence that Dib gathered.
- Played for Laughs in the Rick and Morty episode "Pickle Rick"—There's not really any Masquerade in this setting, so the family is free to tell their therapist, Dr. Wong, all about the insane nonsense that Rick brings into their lives. (This includes Rick showing up at the end of the session, transformed into a pickle and covered with blood and feces.) Dr. Wong takes this all completely stoically while giving insightful analysis of everyone's psychology, which Rick, of course, completely ignores.
- Young Justice subverts it as well. After the scarring events of "Failsafe", the team get some much-needed therapy with Black Canary.
- Some schools of thought advise against a therapist working with people who share their circumstances (such as a particular upbringing, trauma, or medical condition). The idea is that the therapist may identify too strongly or allow his or her experiences to color his or her approach (e.g. a therapist who had an abusive father figure that they later reconciled with may be more inclined to advise clients towards reconciliations themselves, assuming all abusive fathers are just like theirs). These schools of thought typically have a huge aversion to the expression "I know how you feel" for this reason.
As an aversion, other therapeutic theories hold that only someone who has experienced similar circumstances can provide emotionally informed counsel. note Programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous use this as a core principle.
- It can also be an issue for people involved in need-to-know national security issues or outright black ops: "this never happened" doesn't leave a lot of room for the people involved to deal with the resulting emotional issues. We can only hope that at least one therapist in our nation has top security clearance.
- According to this article, American psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, and clinical social workers tend to be less religious than Americans in general. This can create friction between secular therapists and religious patients. (Alternatively, a therapist may be extremely religious and the patient is not.)
- Historically, this was a major problem for gay, lesbian and transsexual people prior to the rise of the gay rights movement, with homosexuality being widely regarded as a mental illness that needed to be cured. Thus, psychologists were regarded as the public authority on homosexuals, not the gays themselves. While the views of individual psychologists ranged from the sympathetic to the downright bizarre, few were actually gay themselves (and in many places a doctor who was openly gay would no longer have been allowed to practice). A gay person admitting this to their therapist risked medical, legal, and social persecution, so understandably many chose to avoid doctors as much as possible.
- This is sometimes called the "Martha Mitchell Effect". In the 1970s, a woman named Martha Mitchell talked to her therapist about her husband and his coworkers plotting some sinister, shadowy, illegal stuff, and that they had on one occasion sequestered her in a room and forbade her from calling anyone. Her therapist promptly redirected the sessions back towards her, and why she had such persecutory delusions. Her husband? Richard Nixon's Attorney-General, who was later sent to prison for his role in the Watergate Scandal.