A therapist is the person you turn to for guidance, perspective, and treatment. There is a wide range of therapy settings such as private, group, online, school, etc. and an even broader array of purposes in which to seek out therapy. But are all therapists the same? Is there a right and wrong way for a therapist to handle your specific situation? Are there signs to be aware of? When it comes down to choosing and trying out a therapist, you should keep in mind that they are paid to help you work through, overcome, and guide you as much as they possibly can; in a professional and hopeful manner.
There are good people and bad people in every single field of work; good therapists and bad therapists. Everyone has their own personalities, habits, and characteristics. Having the tools to identify a bad therapist is essential in preventing an unpleasant experience as well as wasting time and money.
10 Signs of a Bad Therapist That You Should be Aware of
1) Doesn’t provide a clear therapy plan for the client.
- After or within the first session, there should be a clear and goal oriented plan created for the specific area in need.
- Sometimes there are multiple reasons for the client to visit a therapist; not just one. Sometimes the therapist discovers other areas within the client’s life that need to be analyzed. This would prompt the therapist to create multiple plans for each individual examination.
- There should always be a plan or goal in which the client can meet.
2) Feedback is never given and breakthrough never occurs.
- Feedback helps the client understand their perspectives and can help grasp new views and outlooks.
- If the therapist never speaks, the client will have a hard time digging and sifting through their situation. The therapist should always provide comments and positive hopeful insight.
- A breakthrough is a huge accomplishment that should be acknowledged and rewarded; regardless of how big or small it is. This gives the client hope that they will eventually understand and overcome their circumstances.
3) Goals are never achievable and plans are never followed.
- If the client has an unachievable or impossible goal/plan that is supposed to help them work through their situation, the client will never feel like they are reaching any sort of resolution.
- Plans and goals should be slightly challenging but ultimately within reach. They should also be followed unless otherwise discussed and re-assessed.
4) Appointments are always cancelled or re-scheduled by the Therapist.
- When appointments are made, the client should be able to rely on that date and time.
- Having a wishy washy, flaky therapist can give off the impression that the clients time is not important or valued.
5) Phone calls are answered in the middle of a session.
- Everyone’s phone should be on silent during a therapy session; otherwise discussed beforehand.
- The client should not be forced to wait or pay for time that is spent with the therapist on the phone.
- When there are little to no interruptions, that sets a calm engaging atmosphere and portrays importance and worth to the client.
6) The therapist constantly looks at their watch.
- The client should never feel like their time isn’t valued and they should never feel rushed.
- The only time it is appropriate for a therapist to look at their watch is when the session is over or coming to a close.
7) The therapist talks about themselves too much.
- Unless it is a story that they’re sharing, which will undoubtedly shed some light on the current situation at hand, there is absolutely no reason for the therapist to share their personal life or constantly talk about themselves.
- The sessions should be about the client speaking and the therapist giving feedback or asking questions.
8) The therapist is eating.
- Lunch should be spent outside of sessions and should not be taken in front of any client.
- Unless otherwise discussed, nobody in the session should be eating or snacking.
- Eating while in session causes distractions and could potentially trigger negative behavior or emotions from the client.
9) Discomfort or Inappropriate physical or verbal language.
- A client should never feel uncomfortable during a session.
- Maybe it’s the clients very first session and the discomfort in due to a new environment or nervousness; which is normal. However, if the therapist is using inappropriate language or touching the client, other than a handshake, that is not only wrong but unethical.
- The therapist should never impose their own beliefs and spiritual views on the client. They should also never discredit the client’s religious views, race, or background.
- Their job is to make you feel welcome, heard, accepted, and comfortable.
10) Giving bad opinions/advice and stepping outside of their scope of practice.
- How can bad advice be recognized? When they tell their client that they are at fault or wrong, with little to no insight, that is a bad opinion.
- If the therapist tells their client that they are at fault for someone else’s actions or decisions, that is bad judgement.
- Suggesting that a client should move, spend money, or do anything that puts the client in danger or in a worse situation, is bad advice.
- The therapists job is to identify mental illnesses and behavior issues as well as guiding their clients through life situations that revolve around the mental wellbeing. A therapist should not step outside of that scope of practice.
- Anything outside of their scope of practice, a therapist must refer the client to the appropriate health care professional.
There are many characteristics and behaviors to be aware of when searching for the right therapist. However, it is very important to keep an open mind and understand that all therapists are different. Feeling better than you did when you arrived, is a great sign that you have a good therapist. The most important things to remember, when trying out a therapist, is feeling comfortable during your sessions, feeling hopeful, and seeing progress.