Signs that you’re with the wrong therapist

Having a negative experience with a therapist/counsellor may demotivate you from seeking good therapy. So, it is important to be aware of the possible cues that your therapist/counsellor is not the right one for you)

  1. Judgemental
    • You feel shamed, judged or emotionally unsafe.
    • You feel uncomfortable divulging sensitive information with them, afraid of their response to it.
    • When you share an important piece of information about you, a good therapist/counsellor will listen to you from an unbiased stance and will not respond with comments that could hurt you.
  2. Unethical Behaviour
    • They are reluctant to disclose their qualifications/credentials with you
    • They are quick to make a diagnosis without exploring your concerns enough
    • They cross personal boundaries that you are not comfortable with. It is unacceptable for a therapist/counsellor to take advantage of the therapeutic relationship or in any way, make romantic or sexual advances.
    • They break confidentiality when it is not justified. The scenarios in which a therapist/counsellor may potentially break confidentiality must be discussed with you at the start of the session. For example, if you pose a threat to yourself or anyone else, they may be legally required to divulge that information. Also when they are legally obliged to, like in Child sexual abuse cases.
  3. Inappropriate behaviour
    • They dictate what to do without factoring in your perspective.
    • They share too much of their own personal information/experiences or talk a lot about themselves, essentially shifting the focus off you.
    • They seem overly-distracted during the session (e.g., attending to their phone)
    • You feel like they are disinterested in you (e.g., they often fail to remember the important aspects that you share with them)
    • It is never okay for your therapist/counsellor to initiate touch or any kind of physical contact, regardless of whether it is a part of therapy, without your consent.
  4. They don’t specialize in your issue.
    • If you are someone who processes their issues via talk and communication, you wouldn’t do well with a therapist who emphasizes structure and homework and does most of the work in therapy, or vice versa.
    • Another kind of example pertains to the client’s identity and the issue they’re facing. It’s important to seek a therapist for the issue you’re facing at the time, in case you’re aware of it and know that it is the trigger. For example, therapists specializing in therapy for abuse and violence survivors.
  5. Their recommendations go against your beliefs.
    • The therapist/counsellor is not sensitive to your own personal beliefs/opinions.
    • They aren’t queer-friendly and/or identity-affirming. A therapist should never invalidate your identity or hold beliefs that do.
    • Conversely, that they force their religious, political or social beliefs onto you. Regardless of what their beliefs are, no professional should ever compel you to attest to their beliefs.
  6. They undertake an exclusionary approach towards your issues.
    • Therapist/counsellor’s focus is on thoughts and cognition, excluding your feelings and somatic experience.
    • Therapist/counsellor focuses on feelings and somatic experience, excluding thoughts, insight, and cognitive processing.
    • A mental health professional negating or neglecting any part of your mental and emotional well-being is not a good sign.
  7. They are unwilling to learn from you, about you.
    • The therapist/counsellor talks, acts and presents as if they know what you’re feeling, before letting you clarify what you’re feeling.
    • Making assumptions about your emotional response to an event you recount to them.
    • They do not take into account your own opinion and intuition about yourself and the situation you’re in.
    • Their responses are not placed in the context that you give.
    • They lack the openness to receive feedback or become defensive when you tell them something is not working out for you.
  8. They dodge your questions.
    • They avoid all questions you ask them unequivocally.
    • While it’s okay to avoid some questions to keep the focus on the client, if even questions pertaining to their credibility as a professional are dodged, it’s not a good sign.
  9. They minimise your issues.
    • They say things like “That’s not a big deal”, or “That’s not a big problem”, or “That’s just in your head.”
    • A good therapist/counsellor works through the problem with you, instead of making it seem like you’re not handling the problem well.
  10. You tend to feel worse after your sessions with them.
    • You leave your therapy session feeling worse about yourself.
    • Leaving therapy dissatisfied and unhappy is a common occurrence.
    • Even one session of feeling “not right” or unhappy afterwards is a cause for concern and a sign that your therapist/counsellor is not right for you.