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We go to a therapist with clear expectations. We want to be listened to, we want to be supported unconditionally, and we hope to be guided toward a clearer understanding of ourselves and the internal states that drive us.


So it can be jarring when our therapist cuts against those expectations. It feels like the rug has been pulled out from the place that, by definition, ought to be a safe space in a world that doesn't always feel like that.

Unfortunately, as a recent Reddit thread illustrated, those moments of poor therapy are all too common.

Redditor Eesah_adams asked:

"What's the most annoying thing you've heard from a therapist?"

Many people talked about the times a therapist trivialized the issues that were significantly impacting their lives. There's nothing worse than feeling the need to justify your feelings to the professional who is supposed to believe them.

The Power of Baths

" 'you're a child you have nothing to be upset about' and also a common one within like 'have you tried to cure your depression with tea or a hot bath?' in the most condescending tone ever" -- bigfrogbi***

"How about a HOT BATH in TEA?" -- Karam2468

Oh I Hadn't Thought of That

" 'Have you ever tried not drinking?' I had been struggling with alcoholism for ten years by this point. I walked out after he said he didn't think I had tried hard enough." -- ftsunrise

"I had a GP say this to me after I told her my anxiety was exacerbated by alcohol. It's so condescending and unhelpful." -- noiesferatu

Fanning the Flames

"Went in because I had started having panic attacks. Was told by a female pdoc that I should have a baby and go back to college."

"Yep - the best way to deal with stress is to become a first time mom at 40, work full time, and go to school at night. Wtf? I got a referral to a therapist and never saw that doctor again."

-- CranberryCakes

Why the Follow Up?

" 'You're not ill enough to be here, please don't make any more appointments.' "

"It was our first appointment, I was having panic attacks nearly every day and could hardly function."

"She called me again a few months later asking why I hadn't made any appointments and I told her to fu** off."

-- FreddieGregg

Other Redditors described times when the therapist said something so demeaning it actually made them feel worse than when they walked into the session.

Bit of an Escalation There

"Years ago I got an appointment with a therapist that was supposed to be an expert in memory loss associated with mental disorders. I have Bipolar disorder and my memory loss is linked to that."

"She seemed really nice and easy going to talk until she told me 'you know, people like you can kill someone and will not remember it'... I was just like... I'm most likely to forget I have already had dinner and have a second dinner... Never went back."

-- ariamar

Did She Hear the Whole First Part?

"I was talking to her through my program because I was experiencing burnout and severe anxiety as a result. I couldn't get out of bed in the mornings because the anxiety was so debilitating."

"During our first session I was telling her about the cycle of trying to push myself to do stuff, committing and then having debilitating anxiety about it and not being able to get out of bed to show up. And how that would lead me to be more anxious from the guilt of not going and it was becoming a vicious cycle."

"And she said 'well that's just disrespectful to those whom you committed to and you need to just show up.' "

"Umm yeah I know it's disrespectful. I am talking to you because I need to figure this out. She was only interested in clearing me from a safety perspective so my program could sign off on my continued participation."

-- tryingtofocusreally

Piling It On

"Beginning of lockdown, schools are closed and my husband and I are attempting to manage a toddler, home school 2nd and 3rd grade children, and work full-time hours in industries where the workload increased dramatically."

"Took it in turns to teach the kids in 2-hour chunks and relied on Disney and minecraft to keep them otherwise occupied. Worked from 8am to 11pm most days, no down time for us for 6 weeks. Called the EAP due to increased stress and guilt."

"Was told that my kids were consuming too much screen time and I would be a better parent if I restricted them to a maximum 30 minutes a day."

"Strangely, that advice did not reduce my feelings of stress or guilt."

-- BonzaSonza

Other times, Redditors were simply taken aback by what their therapists said. These comments either came way out of left field or showed a total lack of good judgment.

Plot Twist

"I don't know if this counts, but I was expressing how anxious I was to my therapist a few years ago. She stops sipping her drink, sets it down, and goes:"

" 'Oh, yeah, I diagnosed you with an anxiety disorder the day I met you. I just didn't tell you.' "

"The day I met her had been a YEAR previous to this conversation. I was appalled and furious. Why wouldn't you tell me?????"

"Anyway I have a new therapist now and I love her."

-- Blue-Eyed-Lemon

Hot Take

"Okay so I love my therapist but sometimes psychoanalysts stretch things a bit. Anyways when i was 15 I did a lot of creative writing and showed it to her. The piece of writing I was showing to her had characters traveling through an underground tunnel. So she said."

" 'your mother had a C - section. I think you write about tunnels because you subconsciously miss the experience of traveling through the tunnel at birth.' "

-- Kisskissyangyang

Not What They Had In Mind

" 'You're gay? You should move to San Francisco. There's a lot of gay people there.' " -- LollipopDreamscape

"I agree. Wanna pay for my apartment there?" -- Veauros

"Was this 1952? WTF?" -- Yeeteeth_thy_baby

Here's hoping that if you ever do need some help working through things, you get it from someone who doesn't say wild stuff like this.

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