Therapy already has you in a vulnerable place.
So while you're feeling so emotionally raw and scared, it's important to find a therapist who will be the right fit for you. But how do you know if your therapist is the right fit or if they're just playing you for money?
u/StanLeeIsAwesome asked Reddit:
What are some red flags to look for when considering a therapist?
Here were some of the answers.
After a few visits: They don't remember anything you tell them and you are constantly left re-explaining the same things over and over. Find a new one cuz they won't ever give a sh-t. Had this issue with a couple therapists and stayed waaaay too long.
Post Partum Misdiagnosis
My doctor suggested seeing a therapist for my PPD. I was anxiety ridden and couldn't even leave the house with the baby because I was convinced he would die somehow. The therapist told me I was "just tired" and didn't need the anxiety meds that my doctor had just started me on. Instead I should get a food grinder and mash up food for him (only 4 months old) so he would be full and sleep. Simple. Then out of nowhere she told me I needed to make sure my husband "felt like a man". I did not return after that.
It's The Thought That Counts
They don't ask thoughtful questions EVER (you typically want someone who will help you grow, and a therapist who never asks questions won't do that), and/or they don't listen to you. It dawned on me that my (ex) psychiatrist/therapist wasn't a good fit when I realized on my own I had been showing signs of schizophrenia for a year....but she hadn't been paying tons of attention to what I was saying/my symptoms . Sought a second opinion and ended up finding my current psychiatrist/therapist whom I like a lot.
When they tell you that your anxiety isn't related to school or family or any other stressors you've mentioned, but PMS. Especially if they double down after you tell them that you stopped getting your period a few months before the panic attacks started.
I had a therapist who would be online shopping during our sessions. I know because she would occasionally show me something she was looking at.
Mollify The Abuser
I don't know if it's a real red flag but when I went to a therapist to talk about my stepmother assaulting me physically and I told her that I wish I had called the cops on her when she said that that wouldn't have been the best idea because I should've thought about her children and the relationship between my dad and her.
I've been told I have a bad therapist, and I'm inclined to agree, but she's just the only one available to me right now.
- She constantly tries to push religion on me. Judaism specifically, which is what my family is (and what she is), but I'm Agnostic and she doesn't seem to want to accept that answer. She constantly feels the need to remind me that everything would totally be so much better if I'd just believe in God.
- Constantly tells me that I should take pills even though I've already made it clear that I'm trying to work through my problems with therapy. Hell, even my damn Psychiatrist agrees with me!
- When I've talked about my physical ailments, she's told me that they're probably all in my head.
- Has outright said that despite my mother being physically, verbally and emotionally abusive towards me, I'm "not being abused" and that she "has the right to do what she wants", even when what she does is clearly harmful.
- Has told me that I should not seek the rights to claim my own disability check (instead of my mother) because it "looks good on paper" that I'm apparently incapable of handling my own money.
- Has claimed that I do not suffer from trauma, despite me having total freakouts in very specific situations which are very clearly caused by past abuses.
So yeah, she's just wonderful.
I saw a therapist who spent nearly as much time talking about herself as she did talking to me. She also didn't seem terribly interested in my background and life story. I stopped seeing her when I realized that she believed in this "you chose whether or not to be happy" mentality. I felt that she was taking my issues too lightly and it was demeaning.
This might not be a bad thing for everyone, but I am an atheist and the last therapist I saw just could not accept that about me. He kept on talking about his own near death experience, and how he wanted to start a ministry and he thought I'd be really into it, etc. He would just disagree with my basic belief system as a matter of course- which makes it very difficult to have a meaningful conversation about my feelings and problems.
Avoid a therapist who seems to have an agenda beyond helping you.
I had a therapist who told me I'm moody because I'm a Pisces and gave me some sort of Native American smoke thing that I was supposed to light and wave in the corners of my room to ward off bad spirits.
I'm moody because I'm bipolar and I was worried about intruders because I have anxiety.
Differences Can Save Our Lives
The thing is, a relationship with a therapist is a very individualized thing. I was going through a bit of a tough patch recently and a friend recommended me her therapist and after one meeting I knew this woman was horrible...for me. She talked about her own personal stuff, bragged about how young and limber she was for her (relatively old) age, and was even hostile to me when I talked about my own history as a dancer. To me, this woman shouldn't be treating anyone for anything except athlete's foot, but for my friend she was wonderful. They clicked.
Long before that, l had a therapist who not just saved my life, but remade it, allowing me to live so many of dreams I can't even count. But, for the first year or so, I actually really didn't like her and thought she was a bit dumb. I was desperate when I met her, I was incredibly depressed and I called a few therapists, since it was August only one was around and returned my call, and it was her. I met with her and she didn't knock my socks off at all but I just didn't have the energy to keep looking. Plus, her office was right near where I worked. We ended up working together on and off for ten years and she took a lost, chubby, girl who didn't know how to make friends or what to do with her life, and helped her become a dancer, a writer, a scientist, have a life full of good quality friends and fall in love an end up with someone that girl would have thought was way out of her league. She retired, hence why I look for other ones from time to time.
So, the answer is, go with your gut, but don't be put off by someone just because they challenge you or don't completely buy you bullshit. Part of their job is to see through your BS into your real self and your problems, and not just tell you that you are doing everything right and the rest of the world is the problem.
I had a therapist that seemed pretty good and I saw him for a few sessions until he pulled out a deck of angel cards and started talking about my "spirit angel" and cosmic healing and I noped out of there.
Big red flag.
No Help At All
If they don't help you make any progress and stare at a wall while you talk. My previous psychologist let me vent but wouldn't diagnose me with anything or help me achieve a goal. My current one is already at it at a third session.
The Human In Front Of You
When your therapist doesn't listen to you. It sounds obvious, but it's taken me most of my life to find a therapist who genuinely listens to me and my feelings. A good therapist will listen to your input and thoughts about your treatment. A bad therapist insists you do things their way. Example:
Me: I've been struggling with my self-esteem lately.
Therapist: Get a journal and write three positive things about yourself every day.
Me: I've tried that before and I've had no success. If anything, it makes things worse because I can't think of anything to write.
Therapist: Just try it anyway. You probably weren't doing it long enough.
Me: I spent a month trying last time.
Therapist: I want you to try again. Let me know how it goes next week!
I didn't see her again after that.
A Far Cry
When you tell them that you think you ended up gay partly because your mother was too free with her body and functions...and the therapist proceeds to inform you that Ted Bundy told investigators he ended up a serial killer because his mother walked around in her bra and underwear. Great, now not only do I have crippling anxiety and depression- but I'm absolutely terrified that I'm somehow a serial killer.
Get Out Of There Now
They tell you your sexuality is the result of trauma and recommend "further therapy" to make you heterosexual again. Me being attracted to more than one gender does not mean I'm broken, thanks. Saw him once and never went back.
Religion Versus Cognition
When all they try to help you is by trying to get you into religion. She even knew that I had issues because of all that went down in church.
My best therapist was the one who I opened up about what happened to me and did not bring up religion again. In fact, she put away some of her religious items on her desk to put me more at ease.
If they don't counsel certain demographics its a bit worrying.
I had a therapist go on a tangent about how women have become too eager to behave as victims due to the #MeToo movement. Uh. Haven't gone back. This was in the context of a discussion about emotional abuse, specifically.
They ever dismiss you're feelings or what you've been through, they ignore you're concerns, or they think they knows what's best without listening to you. I've been through my fair share of s**** therapist, and been through all of that above. I've had a therapist ignore my constant state of being bullied in high school, and when I wanted to do online school to escape it, said that I could survive the bullying. And I've had a therapist try to tell me what to do, what psychiatrist to see, what would work best for me, all on the the first appointment with her.
Therapy is a relationship, a two way street. You both must work together for your improvement. If you are in a bad situation with your therapist, you will find that therapy isn't going to work. Most of the time when people tell me that therapy doesn't work for them, it's usually only because they had a bad therapist.