How to spot a bad therapist: 5 major signs you need to move on


SONY DSCAre you looking for a therapist? Do you currently have one? Do you know someone who is looking for a therapist or thinking of changing therapists? If so, this article is for you. Looking for or being comfortable with a therapist takes time. A therapist-client relationship takes time to develop, but if your therapist isn’t a good one, the relationship will never develop!

I often recommend to my clients to watch carefully for subliminal behaviors that may be hard to identify during a first, second, or even third session. Some of these behaviors may include:

  1. You feel judged: You should never feel judged or condemned by your therapist. No one in this life is perfect. You go to a therapist to be heard and helped. You should never walk away feeling like the therapist enjoyed hearing about your problems.
  2. You are a number: If your therapist has so many clients that he/she cannot remember your name or your case, you need to move on. Anyone can have bad memory or fail to remember certain details, but if your therapist appears disconnected, disinterested, and over-worked, move on. You will never get the attention you need. You are a number for insurance!
  3. You don’t get the paperwork: It is always courteous for therapists to explain or briefly review confusing paperwork. We therapists have had to have someone explain the paperwork to us, much less to you. Make sure you know what you are signing.
  4. You feel lost/confused: Again, everything should be briefly reviewed with you. If not, you may want to question if this was a simple oversight or the personality of your therapist. If it is personality, nothing will ever be explained. Run!
  5. Nothing is clear: There are times when I have walked away from meetings with people and thought “what the heck was the meeting for!” You should never walk away from a consultation or therapy session not knowing what the point was. If you feel this way, ask for clarification and if it still isn’t clear, move on.

All of these signs are important to consider, no matter how minimal they may appear to you. Every sign is important to consider with wisdom and discernment. Don’t ignore or minimize behaviors that could signal what type of person you are attempting to work with.

Until next time, I wish you all the best!

Note: To my anchoredinknowledge followers, visit PsychCentral/Caregivers, Family, & Friends to read more on this topic!

Photo credit: Martin Boose

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4 thoughts on “How to spot a bad therapist: 5 major signs you need to move on

  1. one more if the therapist brushes aside issues like you meation an eating disorder or issues.. and they say. “sure we could do things different if you were 12 and on a feeding tube run and find someone new

  2. I was new to the ‘therapy business’ and a female therapist at our county mental health center said to me, “I think you have multiple personality disorder and it just so happens I’m writing a book about that and would really like to include your story!” Keep in mind I’d only seen her about three times! A couple of weeks later I’m at work and the radio is on and I hear she’s just been arrested for having lesbian relationships with her clients and embezzling.

    1. Wow! She obviously had a serious problem she thought was well out of reach of the naked eye. Sadly, a lot of therapists enter the field because they themselves are struggling with things. The idea is that “I can help people because I too have struggles.” While this is good in some cases, the level of disturbance or intensity of that problem is what will determine if a therapist is mentally sound enough to offer any type of therapy. Hopefully she isn’t doing therapy today.

      Thanks for your comment!

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