Mental Health is vital to your overall health and wellness. We often recommend therapy to improve your life and overall happiness. Dealing with unresolved trauma, diagnosing mental health issues, and simply having someone in your corner to help you handle the stressors of daily life can be immensely beneficial.
However, not all therapists are good. Sometimes, a therapist can be so bad that they make matters worse!
How do you determine whether the mental health expert you’ve paid such a high price to see is worth the money?
While scrolling through my favorite Reddit community, R/askreddit, I stumbled upon a thread asking users to share signs they’ve discovered through real-life experience that they should switch therapists.
Here’s what to look for when seeking your mental health expert.
Your Suffering is Punishment
One Redditor shared the heartbreaking comments a friend heard from a trusted therapist. “A friend of mine was told by a therapist that she must have done some horrible things in her past life to have the problems she had in her in present life.”
A therapist is supposed to be in your corner. Their job is to guide you through trauma and help you become the best version of yourself.
This therapist threw their hands up and blamed their patient without even knowing the story of the past. The assumption that a current situation is a punishment for something in the past is disgusting and antithetical to everything therapy is meant to accomplish.
Even if you’ve done awful things, a therapist is a professional, and their sole purpose is to help you understand why you did those things and help ensure you don’t repeat the behaviors.
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They Fall Asleep
When paying high prices for someone to listen to you, they better listen!
“My most recent experience was that she fell asleep during our appointment. Multiple times, kept dozing off,” replied one user.
“I was charged $195 for the session,” they added.
“Holy cow!” responded another Redditor. “I wouldn’t have paid her. I would’ve walked out without rescheduling.”
I agree I wouldn’t pay a therapist who fell asleep during my session, and I sure wouldn’t go back!
Therapy isn’t a one-and-done event. It requires building a relationship between the doctor and patient, numerous sessions, homework, and idea sharing.
Some Redditors shared that their therapists forgot everything about a previous session.
“I had one once who literally forgot everything we talked about in the last session,” said one. “She would give me exercises and when I reported back would ask why on earth I would do that,” adding, “We did not last long.”
A therapist who forgets everything about a previous session can’t be trusted to nurture the relationship.
When you have to wonder who’s the therapist in the room, it might be time to seek someone new. Although therapists can share examples from their life that help patients see their problems from a new perspective, over-sharing and focusing too much on their own experiences is a red flag.
One user replied to the thread stating, “They spend a lot of time talking about their own mental health issues and personal life.”
Others agreed, sharing stories of therapists who focused on themselves.
“My childhood therapist did this so much!” exclaimed one user. “She would start telling me about her —- relationship with her father a lot. I guess she was trying to relate to me? Idk, but she failed.”
Some people love essential oils, constantly extolling their virtues. And if they work for you personally, that’s great.
However, there’s no evidence that oils have the benefits many claim they have. So, it could be a red flag when a therapist pushes essential oils as an alternative to actual therapy or medication.
One user shared a story where a therapist pushed oils and alternative medicines rather than proper therapy.
“I came out of a crisis stabilization unit after a near life-threatening panic attack. I was having major residual episodes afterwards,” they began.
The user “went back to the therapist I’d been seeing prior, and she handed me a vial of lavender and said, “Smell this. It’ll calm you down!” Then I asked what to do about my insomnia. She told me to eat a Pop-Tart and then ride the sugar crash to help me fall asleep.
“I had asked her about cognitive behavioral therapy prior. She said that that’s not really what she does at her practice.”
Bringing Religion Into It
Religion has its place. If a patient specifically seeks a religious-based counselor, discussing religion and spirituality in a session is perfectly fine.
However, if the therapist doesn’t claim a religious-based practice, and the patient isn’t seeking religious-based therapy, religion should be left out of it.
Far too many Redditors had terrible experiences with therapy because the counselor decided to inject their own religious views into the session.
One user said their therapist blamed their problems on a lack of religion. “He told me my fear of my family dying was because I don’t have a relationship with God.”
“My sister went to a therapist her boyfriend recommended, and he told her that the reason she was struggling was because she was living in sin and having sex outside of marriage with her boyfriend, which he knew from conversations with the boyfriend. It was basically the first thing he told her before she’d told him anything about herself,” shared another.
Its All In Your Head
One user shared a tale of a therapist who confusingly told them their trauma was all in their head.
“I was dumbfounded that she would say that!” they exclaimed. “I canceled all sessions with her and am currently looking for a new therapist.”
Of course, it’s in their head; that’s why they’re at a therapist, right?
Others were just as confused.
“Therapist: “It’s all in your head” Patient: “So… I’m in the correct place, right? This is… what you do, right?” snarked one.
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Therapists are supposed to listen. However, a good therapist will interject to ask probing questions, forcing patients to consider events and behaviors from different perspectives.
“They don’t bother making eye contact and barely acknowledge your points, mostly just nodding or going “mhm” don’t offer any useful advice,” one user said.
Another agreed, saying, “ I know they’re supposed to listen, but if they’re not gonna reflect on much of what I’m saying, I may as well go talk to a wall.”
Hitting on You
Therapy is supposed to be a safe space. Therapists should never hit on their patients.
One user shared that a therapist opened with, “you look hot today.”
Others said that making romantic advances violates trust and can cause a therapist to lose their license in many states.
Your Condition Isn’t Real
We are only just beginning to unravel the secrets of mental health. Conditions such as Autism, ADHD, Depression, Anxiety, and more have only recently been explored, and scientists are still working to discover how these conditions work and affect the brain.
Therapists should stay on the cutting edge of neuroscience. However, some have dug in deep and refuse to accept the reality of certain conditions.
“They tell you they don’t believe that XYZ condition is a real thing… like ADHD isn’t real, Depression isn’t real, etc.” offered one user.
Another shared a negative interaction with a therapist regarding ADHD. “I went to a therapist about my ADHD, and I started crying and talking about how I have always felt stupid,” they began.
She got all uncomfortable and said, “you’re not stupid; you just need to try harder. Look at your friends, they are all doing better because they are putting in effort. Let’s not talk about that, let’s work on writing in your planner. It’s easy, look.”
That therapist clearly didn’t understand how ADHD works.
Therapy is Only as Good as the Therapist
Therapy can be a fantastic experience bringing you peace and healing. However, the wrong therapist can make matters even worse.
Redditors in this thread shared some significant warning signs of bad therapists, but they aren’t the only ones. When seeking therapy, shopping around and sticking with the therapist that best meets your needs is okay. It’s also OK to fire a therapist at the first red flag.
Therapy won’t work if you and your counselor aren’t on the same page, so take control of your mental health and ditch any therapist showing red flags.
Melanie launched Partners in Fire in 2017 to document her quest for financial independence with a mix of finance, fun, and solving the world’s problems. She’s self educated in personal finance and passionate about fighting systematic problems that prevent others from achieving their own financial goals. She also loves travel, anthropology, gaming and her cats.