We're never that surprised when we encounter people who are lackluster at their jobs. Bad waiters, rude customer service people, dishonest contractors, or inept colleagues abound throughout daily life.
But it's interesting that we expect to encounter that kind of ineptitude far less with certain professionals.
As an example, look no further than the world of mental health. The role of a mental health professional seems to denote such a knack for empathy, patience, and social tact that we're stunned when someone says or does something wildly unprofessional--or downright mean.
Nonetheless, there are problematic people dotting every professional realm, and the mental health sector is no exception.
Some Redditors offered up their finest examples of dreadful mental health care interactions.
Plenty of Redditors came bearing stories that were so bad you may struggle to believe them. These mental health professionals managed to say the most hurtful thing possible at just about the worst time.
The examples were almost cartoonish in how unkind these professionals were.
Salt in the Wound
"I was dealing with a lot of family issues at the time and my ex had just broken up with me that week so I was taking it fairly hard."
"My therapist said 'it's because they found someone better' and when I said no and tried to explain she just dug in deeper that my ex had dumped me because they found someone better than me."
Suddenly, a Brainstorm Session for Insults
"14, telling my shrink about how I was bullied in school."
" 'Do they make fun of your nose?' "
" '...nnnno....?' "
"And that's how I found out I have a big nose."
The Exact Wrong Outlook
" 'You'll never do an important job like doctor, veterinarian, firefighter, lawyer, conselor...You'll probably end up in a Walmart for your whole life.' "
"I was 8 years old and still remember how mad my parents were lol."
Some mental health professionals were simply too absent to be of any help whatsoever. These people may not have done anything outwardly mean, but their distant, neglectful demeanor hurt just as bad.
"Nothing. She fell asleep in her chair while writing notes....I was talking about the death of my parents. I was 16. Never went to another therapist" -- Papismurf101
"After reading a few of these I'm convinced some therapists get there education on a milk box. Flipping heck. I'm so sorry that happened to you." -- illthinkofonel8er
When Word and Deed Do Not Align
"When they say things like 'okay I understand how you are feeling thank you for telling me' but proceeds to ignore most of the things I've said. -- PrestigeZyra
"Ugh I hate that. Sympathy is not Empathy."
"Rephrased: 'Based on what you've shared, I think I'm starting to understand what you have been through. Thank you for telling me. Now you said X, would you like to explain that further so I can better understand?' "
"It's called motivational interviewing and that specific technique is 'reflecting' and 'clarification' to ensure the client is able to fully explain their meaning without the provider 'assuming' anything or ignoring the person's statements." -- jhorry
Proven Wrong Almost Immediately
"Go back to work, you'll be fine, you don't need different meds."
"3 times being sent home and psych ward visit later" -- BalancedJoker
"let me guess, diagnosed with depression (unipolar). prescribed an SSRI type antidepressant. turns out you have biploar depression and without mood stabilizers the SSRIs sent you into a strong manic episode." -- SecTrono
Finally, some people's therapists had bizarre hot takes that they just couldn't let go of. They introduced theories to explain a patient's situation, and gladly turned a blind eye to any realistic evidence to the contrary.
These mental health professionals treated the session more like a debate than a healing space.
"I had a psychiatrist who was convinced I was anorexic even though I wasn't."
"It really sucked because my therapist and my psychiatrist worked at the same company and they had a policy where they don't help people with eating disorders."
"So even though I went to a specialist and they confirmed I didn't have an eating disorder I was still banned from that facility and lost my long term therapist."
Throwing Shade on a Healthy Habit
"I use my creativity with art and craft as both a coping skill and as something that gives me extra purpose in life."
"A psychologist told me that doing so is maladaptive. I didn't go back."
"Had a therapist tell me that my soul, long before I was born, chose my parents and subsequent childhood abuse so that I could learn from it."
"By this logic, of course, the abused person is always in control and the abuser is helpless. Argue with that logic. Needless to say I never saw her again."
I'm sure there are even more stories out there, and so many egregious comments not included in the list. It's sad but true: some therapists can't help but get in the way of the healing.
Here's hoping you never have any run ins like these.
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On the internet, people tend to say things they likely would not in the real world. The anonymity of a forum or comment section--composed only of verbal contributions beneath made up names--compels us to socialize with less inhibition; we take more risks with the peers we can't see in the flesh.
Unfortunately, that most often ends in ugliness. People use anonymity to bully, hurl slurs or insults, and troll with little repercussions.
But there are shining moments when anonymity gives people the slight boost of confidence needed to make good things happen. People, covered by the internet cloak, might be more forward about lavishing praise--or asking for it.
And the result is an exchange of positive, communal interactions. Evidently, it sometimes takes letting the guard down for connection to feel more within reach.
One recent Reddit thread offered a prime example of anonymity used for good.
starspixie asked, "What's a small achievement you would like a pat on the back for?"
A few Redditors couldn't help but feel very proud of themselves for their deft handling of all that came with adulthood. The needs and navigations of daily life--often touted as either boring or merely a sign that one is getting older--can feel like a feather in the cap.
These folks had no shame in winning mundane life.
"Maybe not small. But my job is sort of essential. I support software that is used by many hospitals and medical facilities."
"I've pretty much worked every day and made sure our sh** didn't blow up whole covid wrecked shop. I get no mention. I get no praise but damnit I'm happy to keep helping fight the fight."
Making All the Right Moves
"Trimming 7 years (so far!) off our mortgage through minor payment tweaks and tax return lump sum payments."
"It takes planning and discipline, but means we'll both be able to retire without house-debt. Planning to surprise SO with this next year once I get it down a little further."
"I finally got the courage to apply to, interview for, and accept another job, and quit the job I've had for a decade." -- whatisgoinghappen
"Good job. I change as well last September. After 14 years it was stressful. Especially with a wife, a mortgage and a kid depending on my income." -- Angio343
33.83 Years of Training
"I successfully plunged a toilet today! For the first time in my 33.83 years of existence! I'm just relieved I don't have to call the guest house manager."
"That'll teach me not to flush toilet paper in India smh."
Some people took a more pragmatic approach when reflecting on their recent achievements.
They thought of their health, and what strides they've made in taking care of the one and only body we each get.
Keep It Going, Keep It Going
"Running 45 minutes to one hour most days for the last four weeks." -- InbhirNis
"That's brilliant!! Geesh if you can keep that up, even if it becomes just a few times a week you are adding YEARS to you lifespan, as well as LIFE!" -- BlueLunarStar
"I been biting my nails all of my life and have finally stopped. I always feel a little silly to show my friends and be like, look, I have nails!" -- mobiuthuselah
"Hey that's awesome! I've been biting my nails for like 20 years, it is a HARD habit to break. 👏👏" -- takethehiddenpaths
Others took a moment to share that success at things that ought not be taken for granted. Often, a lifelong struggle with mental health was a major factor in the difficulties up until now.
But every dog has their day, hopefully plenty of more days to come.
1, 2, 3
"I did three loads of laundry today. Folded and put away too!" -- rockbiter81
"Is..is that humanly possible? I mean put away and everything?" -- AtheneSchmidt
"Several years ago, when I was majorly depressed, laundry was the hardest thing to do. It felt never ending. To this day, keeping on top of laundry is like saying 'I'm doing ok' for me."
"Doing three loads, folding AND putting away is amazing from my perspective! Congrats! Good job!!" -- Smartass_Narrator
Step One, Check
"I've been making a point to try and shower every day."
"It doesn't seem like much, but when I'm going through a rough bout of depression - it's the biggest accomplishment I can muster and I'm very proud of myself and my current level of stinky-ness"
"(current stink level: not stinky!! Yay)"
"Drug addict for the last 10 years, tomorrow marks 2 months clean. May not sound like a long time but it's longest I've gone ever" -- yo_Slick
"Been an alcoholic for 9 years. 2 weeks sober tomorrow" -- IscreamwhenIsh**
Here's to You Making It
"today is my 26th birthday and I'm still around for it" -- b4byd0t
"I've been depressed for decades. I just turned 49 four days ago and I never thought I'd get here. It's been rough for most of those years, but I'm still here and I think of all the people I've helped that wouldn't have happened and it gives me a purpose. Do the same."
"Think about anything you've done, even if it's just giving directions to a stranger. You helped that person get to where they needed to be. If you weren't there, they might still be lost now." -- eddyathome
It's a thread that reminds us we're never far away from deserving praise. Sure, we may not all be out here reinventing the wheel or saving the world ever day.
But life can be toilsome, and it's nice to know there's a corner of the internet sitting in your corner.
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2020 has really taken it out of everybody. You can just feel the stress pouring off of people. Of course life isn't always easy or fair; no one said it would be, so people are usually good at holding it together, but humans can only hold so much. There is a breaking point for everyone; a moment or a trigger (big and small) where the mind collapses. And this year is crushing those moments. Sometimes you've just had enough and you're not alone.
Those ClosestDestroy Diary Of A Mad Black Woman GIF by BounceGiphy
Toxic families leave people broken for a long time.
Lack of sleep.... seriously it's one of the most effective torture tactics out there.
Add to that screwing with the victim's sense of time. Keep him in a room with the lights on all the time. Serve him breakfast at, say, 8:00 a.m., then lunch at 11:00 and dinner at midnight.
Breakfast the next day at, say, 10:00 a.m. Keep doing stuff like this, making it impossible to tell how much time has passed. Let him fall asleep for a few minutes, then wake him with by pouring cold water on him.
Within just a few days he'll have sleeplessness-induced psychosis. He'll believe anything. "Remember" whatever you tell him. Confess to anything.
Seeing someone whom you had complete faith in, just switch on you and actively try to hurt you. Yeah it makes you question every little interaction with them.
And then over time you'll start noticing from remembering that time that those little interactions you had actually had sinister meanings behind them.
Horrible realizations however I feel it helps the healing process, knowing and understanding they were never a good person and there's nothing to change from it but learn, grow and live your life.
9 to 5paper airplane rage GIFGiphy
Not being able to leave a crappy job with a toxic environment because people depend on you.
Loneliness. I suffered a mental breakdown because of that in 2017, and still didn't recover completely. It has made my depression worse and it has affected my life deeply.
I get it. I really do. With being separated,empty nest,now lockdown, I totally understand. I also had a few breakdowns. Have you tried any Vitamin B12 and magnesium sulfate supplements?
These will speed up your recovery. Studies show that those who are really depressed and anxious often are lacking in magnesium sulfate, and B complex vitamins. I tried it, and it really helps. As for the loneliness, keep coming to the online platforms, you will find that there are other people who are battling it too. My heart goes out to you. Heres hoping things look up for you real soon. 💛
Emotional abuse. The abuser slowly learns to turn their partner's best traits into their weapons. They use and twist the love, compassion, patience and forgiveness they receive and fuel it with fear. Many victims need years to make sense of their story and trust themselves again.
Nothing can be off....
If you mean failure when you're a perfectionist, then this has happened to me. Nothing causes me to have a mental break except for when I fail at something that I check all the boxes to be perfect at.
The Public Evilscustomer service do not want GIFGiphy
Working customer service.
My son is in customer service and tells me some of the terrible things people say to him every day. He tries hard not to let it brake him but after three years of it I'm afraid it's taking a toll on him.
Lack of trust.
When it's impossible to believe anyone, everyone becomes an enemy.
To add: when you create a system where everyone is afraid of everyone else, anyone can be cracked to collaborate with the state (just threaten their family or livelihood)... it changes the whole populace... and if you are all alone in this... it can totally break you.
A great quote I heard a while back went along the lines of "I'm not mad that you lied to me, I'm mad that I can't trust you anymore."
I feel that this is very similar to what you're saying. I've had a few close friends lie to me about some potentially serious matters and now it pains me to know that level of trust and confidence is gone.
I really don't think people understand how bad this is. I have a host of problems because of a few months of chronic stress, things that seem like a real disease. I now even make more mistakes while speaking and am super spaced out a lot. Stay away from hyper stress. And most of all, don't stress about being stressed.
Lots of people just break when they lose their spouse, kids, friends or family. Either to death, or taken away by authorities.
I've always wondered how hard it must be for a parent to lose a kid. Basically your entire life's purpose ripped away unlike a child who knows that their parents will die and be gone someday and they will have to live through it. But most parents don't think they will have to live through their own children's death.
Being StillDaffy Duck Waiting GIFGiphy
Doing nothing for too long.
Maybe some people can handle it. But I remember many years ago I was not going to school or working for about 6 months and just about lost my mind.
Bullying. (that's underrated, isn't it?)
Damn right. If you're a decent person you just think the bully needs to see what a good person you really are and it will stop, so you try hard to change their mind about you. When the bullying then continues, you can really start to believe there is something defective about you.
I was Wrong
Realizing that one has misplaced his trust in someone.
Even if trust was misplaced not because the other person was ill-intentioned, but just incompetent.
Points multiplied by the amount of trust one used to have.
Please Don'tDanny Devito No GIFGiphy
The threat of being tortured.
Experts say more information is given up while anticipating torture than actually during it.
In high school, you learn a subject over the course of a year. In college, that is condensed down into one semester. It's just a lot of information in a shorter period of time so you have to really stay on top of studying or you will quickly fall behind.
A Time to Heal
My sibling works in a psyche ward. The answer: a lot of things. Like any part of your body your mind can break as well. Be it financial stress, drugs, even being kicked out of a band. What's surprising to most people is how common it is. The good news is it's also very common that, like a broken bone, it just needs a bit of time to heal. The vast majority of her patients are only in for a week or two before they have gone through their healing process, and are ready to move on in their life.
Being in an awful workplace where you are bullied, harassed and discriminated against will do it. It makes it even worse if your disability means you'll struggle to find elsewhere and you need a job to feed, cloth and put a roof over your child's head.
For me is was a wave of tragic deaths.
My mom's death due to alcohol induced organ failure
My step grandfather's death, who I just discovered was my biological grandfather
I was a wreck. I had always had depression but this was just bad.
My anxiety and stress was so through the roof that I put on 40 lbs and was starting to have major problems with my vision. I thought I had torn a retina, when it was actually just a great amount more pressure in my eye. And my cycles were so out of whack that my Dr thought I might be starting early menopause (which does runs in my family, and I will have to deal with eventually, but I'm not even 30 yet).
Anyway I'm all better now. In fact I'm happier/more content than I've been my whole life.
Living Singleliving single dancing GIFGiphy
Dating can. You have enough people treat you like crap or refuse to give you a chance because of a trait you have that is totally out of your control, it makes you give up and just accept you will be alone forever.
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To provide a productive therapeutic environment, therapists are trained to "meet people where they're at."
That means accepting a client and their struggle regardless of how alienating the specifics may be. That acceptance allows a safe space to form where the client can verbalize their feelings and responses, and understand their internal states more closely.
But therapists are humans.
Sure, they're ideally well-trained humans especially skilled at noticing certain thought patterns and human tendencies. That said, they do have knee-jerk initial responses to the people around them.
They then mindfully work around those responses to continue to provide good care. But nonetheless, the occasional moment of shock does come about every now and then.
Judging the Context
"Therapist here. To piggy back on what others have said, it is highly unlikely for me to have moments where I judge my clients."
"It happens sometimes, but I'm able to shut down those thoughts quickly in my head and return to being present for the people I see."
"People are so incredibly complex that my judgment wouldn't have any meaning anyway and it doesn't have a place in our work together."
"I will admit though, something that does get me feeling a little salty is when I have a client's parent that attempts to sabotage the therapeutic relationship I have with their child..."
"...or pulling them out of therapy entirely when some of the things we talk about challenges some potentially unhealthy family dynamics."
"I don't feel anger toward the parents, mostly I feel bad for the kid."
Out of His Wheelhouse
"When I was under age, I got caught with a drink on bourbon street and got a minor in possession."
"I was telling my therapist about it, and said that the police caught me with a 'hand grenade' in New Orleans."
"He didn't realize that a hand grenade was a type of drink, and it was funny to watch him try to process that his patient might have just casually told him that he had been caught with a fragmentation grenade."
"He took a big long pause, and said, 'where did you even find a grenade?'"
"I realized the misunderstanding quickly and corrected him. But for a moment he definitely was thinking 'holy sh** how do I deal with this?'"
Sometimes, it's Just Too Much
"I'll never judge someone, especially someone who has come to me hurting. The world is full of a**holes already."
"That said, I found out while I was still doing internships that I'm very uncomfortable working with abusers, so I don't do it."
"It took one recount of a man describing in detail how he was strangling his wife up against a wall and making her look at the beam he was gonna hung her from."
"I got out of the office and told my supervisor I just couldn't do it. (It's worth mentioning, I was just an observer back then, I didn't act as the therapist, my supervisor was."
"She wanted me to be prepared to work not only with victims, but with victimisers as well)"
Don't Get Pulled In
"Actual therapist here. I get moments like that sometimes, but by the next session, I've usually reached a place where I'm more ashamed of myself for judging than I am surprised by my client."
"For example, people with symptoms of borderline personality disorder can really elicit reactions like that for me."
"One day they might be saying that they really value someone's friendship, and the next they might be ready to cut that person out of their lives completely over a disagreement."
"Or they'll be working on expressing more emotions one day, and the next day "I'm never talking about my feelings again."
"My first (internal) reaction is usually 'Dude, what??'"
"But then I take a step back and remember that this type of behavior is the exact problem they're trying to solve. And that there's probably really important experiences that shaped them to respond in this way."
"Okay, real therapist here. I got one. Some of my clients are SHOCKINGLY BAD at giving themselves credit, holy sh**!!"
"Like they might get a nearly straight A GPA in a brutal major while battling depression, or overcome years of phobia and get behind the wheel again, or write a literal novel..."
"...or raise a kid as a single parent with low income, or build new relationships after being burned, or cope with OCD well enough to hold down a job."
"And they'll talk about themselves as if everyone on earth is better than them, as if their accomplishments are worthless."
"And I know it's because of depression or anxiety or another condition, but I'm often stunned by how differently I see them compared to how they see themselves."
More of an Ongoing Concern
"Not a judgment - you kind of train your brain not to judge, because you are seeking to understand and help. When you do those things, you can't simultaneously judge."
"We could all use a little more of that in real life, I suppose."
"I'll share this though. I do feel concerned about this recent phenomenon of young people I worked with self-diagnosing, sharing, and identifying very closely with mental illness..."
"...as if the pendulum quickly swung from 'never, ever share your feelings' to 'OMG, you're depressed? All of us are too!'"
"Life's challenges can be tough and they don't need a scientific-sounding label to be valid and real. You are not your diagnosis. We can find validation and support in healthier ways."
Not Judging, but Stunned
"I'm a licensed psychologist and I'll tell you I've never judged my patients. The world is so full of judgement and it's my job to objectively look at someone who's suffering and offer them empathy and a path towards healing."
"The one thing I've judged is the situations that people survive and continue to live their lives."
"I've worked with torture survivors, survivors of genocide and famine. I've worked with people whose entire villages were wiped out because a war lord wanted the water well that was sitting in the town."
"It always gives me pause in terms of the anguish some people face and their resilience. So if I have one message, it would be in the words of RJ Palacio, 'Be kind for everyone is fighting a hard battle.'"
"Well, I quit my last therapist because I made him cry uncontrollably. He tried not to, but he just couldn't hold it back. I felt guilty and won't see him anymore."
"I think he may have lost a child before. I described watching my aunt grieve over her son's body. I felt so much pain losing him, but was explaining how watching my aunt was dramatically worse."
"The details about her is what made him lose it. I could tell he was reliving something inside his own head."
The job of a therapist is multifaceted.
They have to be excellent and active listeners. They must be masters at holding space for people that need a safe zone to spill it all.
They must know when to interject and push a behavior change, and when to let the client discover the need for change on their own.
So it really is quite rare that a therapist actually makes the move to give advice to a client. It's usually a careful decision to intervene when all other therapeutic approaches haven't yielded results.
Unfortunately, it doesn't always do the trick. In fact, one recent Reddit thread asked people about the times their therapists gave truly terrible advice--so bad it left the patient scratching their head about whether to continue on the following week.
taiwanna asked, "What is the worst advice a therapist has given you?"
Never Good to Guilt Trip the Patient
"I give you a safe place to cry and you don't cry."
"I have bipolar and this was after my husband died. I was in a mixed episode. Because of my meds I seldom cry. It was as if she expected me to cry on cue."
Tough to Prove
"A 'therapist' once told my friend the reason why she fought so much with her sister was because they were enemies in a past life, reunited to solve their problem." -- TunyG
"What the actual f***? Surely this wasn't a licensed professional. If so, I imagine they lost their license soon after."
"Hopefully." -- Basgerin
Chances are it is NOT Pokemon
"My first childhood therapist thought that Pokemon was the root of all of my problems. Turns out the root of all of my problems was severe childhood trauma." -- mouthwordpasta
"I'm so sorry to hear that Pikachu mistreated you that way." -- kirotheavenger
"Omg! Mine said rap music was my problem. Hahahaa! Not all the trauma or death of my father... no rap music was my problem. 🤦♀️🤦♀️" -- Andandromeda3821
Only One Way Out
"I had a therapist who really, really insisted that I have to believe in a higher power of some sort. Yeah, I know that has proven positive effects for some people."
"Doesn't mean it works for me. Plus I'm not just suddenly going to start believing in something I haven't for decades, so can we move on, please?"
Heather, the Nonbeliever
"I had one tell my homophobic parents during family therapy 'Don't worry, a lot of teenage girls think they're bisexual. She'll pick a side before she's 21'"
"I'm almost 22 and still haven't 'picked a side', so f*** you Heather."
An Extremely Morbid Approach
"One therapist asked me what I wanted for myself. I said I wanted peace. She said: You will have peace in the grave." -- wintersweet05
"W H A T" -- DaktiloTuna
"what the actual—" -- thatonebandgeek
Seems Like a Personal Choice
"'You need to have another baby'" -- sidewhiner
"Wtf, a therapist said that? Like an actual f***ing therapist? Bruuuuuuh" -- Cheese_globe
"How was that supposed to help you?? 'Here, have another responsibility and more stress. That will solve everything.'" -- bookishweirdo
Just Stop Being You, Okay?
"Stop being sad and speak to people...im depressed with social anxiety and autism" -- DuplicateSolace
"I once had a therapist tell me I should go to events alone, and start talking to randomers, when I told her I might have social anxiety. Stopped seeing her after that comment.." -- theantonia
Sure Fire Way to Explode Later On
"To keep my feelings to myself in order to not cause problems with my family." -- Sigridhavorrk
"f***ing YIKES" -- ThermonuclearCream
"Bottle it up lol duh"
"I mean, really, how did these people get certified? They're teaching the exact opposite things to do. Even I know you don't do that, and I'm f***ing stupid." -- Basgerin
The Least Fun Fact
"Saw a therapist because of my OCD."
"Told her I had to make my bed every morning in a very particular way, and, in an attempt to get me to 'break that habit' she decided to tell me that 'actually, making your bed traps all the germs in your sheets, which is actually way more gross, so it's better to not.'"
"Result: I was both scared to make my bed and not make my bed. Great."