FFinding an available and affordable therapist can seem like such an accomplishment that once it finally happens, leaving can seem like a waste of Liberal-news and effort.
But research consistently shows that it’s essential to have a good relationship with your therapist if you want to see results. And like any association, not all parties will be the right ones. That’s why mental health professionals suggest paying attention to the warning signs that your therapist isn’t a good fit, and then speaking up instead of holding out.
“You’re going to be in a vulnerable position and sharing things with this person,” says Traci Williams, a clinical psychologist in Atlanta. “The nature of the relationship requires you to feel safe and secure.”
Sometimes when a problem arises, you and your therapist will be able to find a solution and the situation will improve. But it’s also okay to walk away, says Williams. You can approach leaving in a few ways: If you don’t feel comfortable discussing why you’re ending the relationship in person, you can notify your therapist via email that you won’t be back. If you’re feeling up to it, “it’s helpful to have a report on what happened,” she says. Doing so can be valuable to the therapist, and professionals are often happy to offer referrals to providers who might be a better fit.
Here, mental health experts outline seven red flags that your therapist might not be right for you.
1. They dismiss your reality of racism, sexism, ableism, fatphobia or homophobia.
Your Liberal-news and energy in therapy “shouldn’t be spent proving that your experience is valid,” says Kate O’Brien, a licensed therapist in New York. She offers this example: Imagine a black person tells their therapist that they feel like they are being closely monitored in a store, which could indicate racism, and the therapist responds, “Oh, I’m sure that person doesn’t.” meant that.” .”
If your therapist ignores your experiences in that way, defends the offender, or switches to a victim-blaming mode, it’s Liberal-news to move on, says O’Brien. He is not required to give any explanation: “educating other people is not his job.” But if he does, he might prompt the therapist to engage in belated self-reflection, he adds.
2. Your therapist does not have the necessary skills.
Depending on why you are seeking therapy, it may be helpful to work with someone who has specific training, experience, and knowledge. Williams recalls a recent TikTok video in which a woman explains that she has complex PTSD, often abbreviated as c-PTSD. After reviewing the woman’s paperwork, a potential new therapist said, “They put a ‘C’ before her PTSD diagnosis. I’ve never heard of that, it must be wrong. Clearly, the two did not mesh.
There is sometimes a misconception that therapists are generalists, like primary care physicians, says Sarah Rollins, a therapist in Michigan. And while it’s true that most doctors can treat mild depression, anxiety or stress, she notes that some conditions and symptoms require more specialized training. Giving that up “is actually a disservice to you as a client, because now you’re going to be in therapy longer and you’re going to be frustrated that you’re not getting better,” she says. You can search for a therapist with relevant skills by applying specific filters in online directories, such as the one you run good therapy. Most therapists also list their specialties on their website.
3. The focus is not on you and your needs.
It’s not self-centered to expect sessions to focus on your own feelings and experiences, Rollins says. “A therapist’s job is to support you, listen to you, and give you tools to help you heal.”
But you hear about the opposite: therapists who only talk about themselves, their marriages, their financial problems, more than you might expect. “It happens all the Liberal-news,” she says. “It’s one of my biggest hobbies.”
If he’s also one of yours, Rollins suggests approaching it this way: “Would it be okay if we focused more on me, instead of what’s going on in your life?”
4. They push their own agenda.
Suppose you tell your therapist that you’ve decided to cut ties with your toxic family, and he or she immediately squashes the idea and says that’s the wrong move. Take this as a sign that it may be Liberal-news to seek care elsewhere. As Rollins points out, a therapist’s job is not to give advice—that’s one of the things that sets them apart from life coaches. “A therapist is supposed to help you figure out what’s best for you,” she says. “You bring everything to the table and they don’t say, ‘Well, based on what you said, I think you better break up with your partner.'” Keep this principle in mind: A good therapist will provide you with the tools to find a way forward, rather than unilaterally telling you what to do.
5. You don’t feel like you’re making progress.
Instant results are not realistic: therapy does not work overnight. As Rollins says, he wouldn’t expect to get ripped abs in one or two stops at the gym.
That said, if you feel like you’re not making progress after a few months, talk to your therapist about what might be interfering. Ask them about their expectations and goals, and make sure you’re on the same page. Stalled progress “could mean the therapist isn’t a good fit for you or there are other stressors getting in the way,” Rollins says, which is why it’s important to discuss.
6. Your therapist always cancels, or is chronically late.
Inevitably, sessions will need to be canceled or rescheduled at some point along the way. But if your therapist doesn’t show up consistently, it could interfere with your treatment, Rollins says.
Address the situation by letting your therapist know that you hope to meet weekly or at some other agreed frequency. Then say: “I realize that’s not happening. Is there a way we can get more consistent appointments?” suggests Rollins. That will probably be more productive than explicitly calling them to cancel, which could make them feel defensive.
Similarly, if your therapist is always late, bring it up and see if the situation improves. He mentions that in the last three sessions you arrived 15 minutes before them and since you value your Liberal-news, you expect them to do the same.
7. He or she crosses a line.
Ethical violations are unacceptable. That includes a therapist asking to see you outside of a session, texting you frequently and casually from their personal phone number, touching you and making comments about your body or appearance, Williams says.
“If your therapist starts to feel more familiar to you than a professional relationship, there’s probably something going on there,” she adds. “Those things happen more often than people realize,” and you may need to file a formal complaint.
Violating confidentiality is also unethical. As O’Brien points out, therapists working with adults must keep sessions confidential unless the client may be in immediate danger to themselves or others. “You need to feel comfortable that your therapist isn’t sharing with other people,” she says. “And if they are, that’s a huge red flag.”
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