Deciding to start having therapy can be a huge life choice.
The journey to understand yourself better and begin the healing process from trauma or any other challenging experiences signifies that you are ready to confront your past and put your mental health first.
However, it can take a while for some people to find a good therapist with the right emotional energy and credentials to help them begin the healing process.
At first, it may be challenging to differentiate between good therapists and bad therapists.
However, over time, most people can quickly identify when something about a therapy session doesn’t feel right or that the therapist is not suitable.
The decision to heal from trauma or enter into a unique phase of transformation can be fascinating.
Dealing with personal challenges that have held you back for so long while confronting painful feelings is both cathartic and daunting and can make all the difference to your physical and mental health.
However, therapy can become tricky if your therapist turns out to be the wrong match or exhibits poor boundaries that may be conducive to healing.
Finding a suitable therapist is very much like dating; it may take some time before finding the right match for you, and you may have to visit several therapists before deciding on the right one.
Most obvious signs
There may be a list of reasons why your therapist isn’t suitable for you. Perhaps they make you feel uncomfortable during therapy sessions or struggle to find a genuine connection.
On the other hand, you may initially think you have found the right therapist only to discover after a few sessions that this mental health professional doesn’t specialize in the right areas and ends up being unsuitable for your mental health history or past traumas.
In some situations, it may be challenging to determine why therapy isn’t working out the way you thought it would, but that gut feeling that something isn’t right doesn’t seem to be going away.
A healthy therapeutic relationship should be one where both parties feel comfortable and trusting of each other.
A good therapist knows exactly what type of emotional energy and presence to bring to the therapist’s office.
First and foremost, therapy must always be centred around your healing and recovery.
If you feel that your therapy sessions aren’t helping you, you must remember that you are not obligated to continue with therapy.
If you feel uncomfortable during therapy sessions or think that you and your therapist have communication issues, it’s time to start looking for a new therapist.
There may be one red flag or a long list of troubling signs that your therapist is a poor match for you.
The secret ingredient to successful therapy is identifying what you want from the process and knowing when to get those needs matched.
You should never feel judged or leave your therapist’s office feeling attacked in any way, shape, or form.
A good therapist or clinical psychologist gets trained to offer constructive criticism without crossing the lines or violating boundaries. Thus, good therapy gets centred around the ability to provide and accept constructive criticism.
The key thing to understand is that you must always feel safe, heard, and understood during therapy sessions.
No one, not even your therapist, knows you better than you know yourself, and if something feels off or downright unacceptable, you are likely to be on point.
Signs your therapist isn’t right for you
Personal problems and past traumas can be tough to confront; that’s why finding the right therapist is integral to a person’s healing and recovery.
In some cases, lousy therapy can end up exacerbating existing mental health struggles.
For example, if someone with trust issues ends up seeing the wrong therapist, it may add weight to any underlying emotional problems.
According to research, some of the signs of a bad therapist to look out for include:
#1. Your therapist is unethical
Therapists who are unethical fall under a large umbrella that breaches a therapist’s code of ethics.
There are some clear-cut signs that your therapist’s behaviour is utterly unacceptable such as a therapist touching you inappropriately or sexually propositioning you.
In the above cases, you must end all sessions immediately and report the therapist to the appropriate authorities.
All therapists get forbidden from entering into intimate relationships or pursuing their patients sexually.
Fortunately, it is often the case that therapists do not violate the sexual boundaries of the therapist-patient dynamic.
Moreover, therapists rarely manipulate or encourage criminal acts.
Still, this doesn’t prevent therapists from engaging in unethical behaviours that break the ethical code of conduct, such as:
- Breaking confidentiality, such as gossiping to you about other patients and getting the sense that your therapist is doing the same behind your back.
- Treating you more like a friend or family member than a patient. All this may involve wasting valuable time during therapy sessions and inhibiting your recovery, or slowing the process down entirely.
- Asking you to run errands or perform personal favors for them
#2. You find that your therapist is judgmental
In the world of a therapist, breaking the therapist’s code of ethics also includes being judgmental or forcing religious or personal views onto a patient.
Quite the contrary, therapists should encourage you to gain insight into your life and help you make informed decisions.
You should never feel judged for your sexual orientation, drug abuse background, financial irresponsibility, family history, or other life experiences.
Negative feelings such as judgment between therapist and patient stunt good therapy development and prevent the patient from opening up and growing.
Remember, your reasons for seeking therapy are to get help for your issues.
Avoiding your problems or pretending that you don’t have any to avoid judgment or criticism is conducive to getting the help you need and will delay the process.
#3. Your therapist is unable to help you
As mentioned earlier, you may struggle to find reasons why therapy isn’t working out for you, despite having a relatively good relationship with your therapist.
All this might be because your therapist isn’t qualified in a specific mental health area, for example, trauma or complicated grief disorder.
You may feel comfortable talking to your therapist about your personal life and be on the same page as your therapist in every other way.
However, if you grew up in a family where domestic violence was an issue, and, as a result, you have symptoms of complex PTSD, your therapist may not be qualified to treat your specific symptoms and prevent you from healing and growing in the right way.
If you are unsure about your therapist’s specialities, you may find it helpful to look up their specialisms online. Most therapists advertise on therapy networks and online directories such as Psychology Today.
Is your therapist qualified in trauma treatment? Do they have adequate training and experience in the areas needed to help you recover?
#4. Your therapist is too opinionated
The focus of therapy practice should always get centred on you and your thoughts and emotions.
Unfortunately, some therapists are biased and may hold stereotypical views of people who don’t share the same backgrounds.
For example, if your therapist has made negative comments about your sexual orientation, racial background, or other aspects of your life, this mental health professional is not for you.
Therapists must not explicitly or implicitly make comments or remarks about a client’s lifestyle choices or personal background.
Sometimes bigotry can be indirect, such as through eyebrow raises or a sarcastic laugh.
However, people must pick up on an overly-opinionated therapist’s subtle cues since it can substantially inhibit the therapeutic process.
Your therapist must view you as a three-dimensional human being.
Suppose your therapist is surprised by your college education or that you can speak articulately and have a complete, happy family.
In that case, it may be that this provider isn’t right for you and maybe allowing their bigoted views into the therapist’s office.
#5. Your therapist is forceful
There’s a difference between being enthusiastic and overly pushy.
Your therapist must never push you into doing things you are not ready to do or that you feel uncomfortable about doing. Therapists are trained not to solicit advice directly to a client or make a session feel forceful or stressful.
The same goes for personal disclosures and discussing emotions. The therapist’s job is to listen attentively to clients and pay attention to what a person is saying.
Some of the signs your therapist is bad for you may be that they are a bad listener.
For example, suppose you tell your therapist you are uncomfortable going into detail about a traumatic aspect of your past, such as domestic violence or childhood abuse.
It is vital to ask yourself whether they respect your wishes or seem forceful about discussing the issue.
A good therapist works with your best intentions and well-being in mind. A positive therapy session leaves people feeling seen and heard, not humiliated or embarrassed.
On the flip side, if you discuss your personal goals with your therapist and they come across as too pushy or set unrealistic or weighty goals, this may be another bad sign.
For instance, say you tell your therapist that you want to exercise twice a week, and they set a goal of five days, or perhaps you declared that you want to save a hundred dollars a month, and they advise you to double the amount you save.
These are all signs of a pushy therapist.
You know yourself better than anyone else does. If you think that your therapist is too forceful with their views or suggestions, it may be time to start looking for another provider.
To get positive results from therapy, people must take time to research a potential therapist.
By researching their specialisms and experience, people wanting to enter therapy will have a more comprehensive understanding of what their therapists can do for them and how they can get treated moving forward.
When entering treatment, clients must feel comfortable talking to their therapist, and the therapy must go at the client’s pace, not the therapist.
Inherently, the decision to enter into therapy is a life-changing one. Only you can know what feels right and what doesn’t.