10 Red Flags to Help You Avoid a Bad Therapist : Did you know that four in ten Americans have seen a counselor at some point in their life?
As the stigma surrounding mental health begins to break, people are beginning to feel more comfortable seeing therapists and improving their wellbeing.
If you’ve never seen a therapist before, you might feel a bit intimidated. How do you know that you’re seeing the right professional? Will the conversations always feel this awkward and unnerving?
Thankfully, you can identify a bad therapist before wasting too much time with them.
Therapists are human too, so don’t immediately search for a new one if yours shows one of the signs below. It’s best to chat with them about any poor interactions you’ve had and work to resolve the issue.
But if you see more than one or two of these signs, it might be time to seek help elsewhere.
A Break in Confidentiality
Therapists are legally prohibited from sharing your information with anyone else. Your therapist should never share anything you discuss in a session unless you have expressed signs that you are putting yourself or someone else in danger. It’s also a red flag if your therapist shares information about their other clients with you.
Approaches Diagnoses Poorly
Therapy should be about identifying problems and working to overcome them.
Some therapists jump to diagnose you with every psychological condition under the sun. While it’s important for your psychologist to note any potential signs of conditions, focusing solely on that can detract from the progressive part of therapy.
On the flip side, some therapists will blatantly ignore any signs that you may have a mental illness or condition, even if you directly bring it up. Some will go so far as to shame anyone with a mental illness.
If your therapist is overeager to diagnose you or is flippant about the process, it might be time to switch.
Attempts to Build an Intimate Relationship
Your therapist is providing you with a service, and they should in no way try to build a relationship with you beyond the office.
This should very clearly mean they should not attempt to initiate a romantic relationship with you.
However, an attempt to build a friendship is also a sign that you should see a new therapist. A therapist is meant to have a more objective view of your life, and developing a relationship outside of their practicing hours and affect your therapy sessions.
Any practitioner who behaves condescendingly to their clients is a bad therapist.
You should strive to have mutual respect in your relationship with your therapist. Yes, they are educated in their field, but you are not lesser for needing their assistance.
That doesn’t mean they won’t tell you things that are hard to hear, but they shouldn’t do it in a belittling manner. Therapists should be working to inspire confidence in you, and shaming you or acting as if you are inferior counteracts this.
They Are Not Qualified
It can be difficult finding a psychologist who’s compatible with you when you aren’t sure what you should be looking for.
First and foremost, make sure your therapist is qualified to be practicing counseling. If they diagnose you with anything, be sure that they have the credentials to support that diagnosis.
Someone with no background or education in therapy is not going to provide you with the services you require.
Pushing Their Beliefs on You
Therapy should be as objective as possible. So, if you have a different religious belief than your therapist, they should not spend time trying to push their own religious agenda (or lack thereof) on you.
Furthermore, you should stop seeing a therapist if they try to preach that a certain moral code or belief system will be the fix for your problems.
You should be the main focus of your therapy session.
It’s a red flag if your therapist is checking their phone, looking at the clock, or eating a snack during your session.
You should have their undivided attention, especially since this is a service you are paying them for.
If you call your therapist, it isn’t unreasonable to expect them to return your call within the next day or two. If your therapist is difficult to reach and doesn’t return your calls or emails promptly, they might not be the right one for you.
Furthermore, if they are constantly drowning under a pile of notes during your session and rarely interact with you, they are lacking professional qualities and likely not retaining much of your conversation.
This will be evident if they struggle to remember what you discussed in your previous therapy sessions.
Attempts to Keep You in Therapy
At some point, you might find that you no longer need to see a therapist. If your therapist becomes defensive at your desire to leave therapy and attempts to keep you from ending your business relationship, you are seeing a bad therapist.
Talking Over You
Therapy, ideally, should give you the opportunity to talk about anything and everything that’s on your mind.
Your therapist may interject at times with an anecdote that relates to the situation and can give you more perspective or build trust between you two. They should not monopolize the conversation, though.
Therapy is ultimately about you. Your therapist should be included in the conversation, but they should not be the one doing the majority of the talking.
If You Have a Bad Therapist, Find One That Builds a Relationship on Trust
While therapy can be uncomfortable at first, you should find that it benefits you in the long run. If you continue to feel awkward and uncomfortable with your therapist even after months of work, you might be seeing a bad therapist. The signs above should help you evaluate if this is the case.
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