If you are in counseling now or consider seeking a therapist in the future, it is important to choose a counselor who is the right fit for you. I am always saddened to hear of an individual or couple giving up on counseling after one bad experience. Therapists are each unique in their specific approaches and you deserve one who is qualified to meet your needs. Here are a few signs that you may need a new therapist.
#1 Connection is Missing
#2 No Improvement
You see a therapist for several months and do not feel that any progress has been made. You might even feel worse after every session. Some issues take longer to solve or learn to manage than others, but if there is no hope for change…you might need a new therapist.
#3 Lack of Boundaries
Your counselor seems to forget that you are a client. They talk to you in depth about their own personal life or problems with no apparent therapeutic purpose. Maybe they seem a bit too interested in the details of your sex life. They want to be buddies outside of the therapy room while you are still a client. It sounds like they have boundary issues.
#5 Focus is on the Therapist
It is not a good sign if your counselor monopolizes your therapy hour by talking about him or herself. A certain amount of self-disclosure is probably therapeutic, but the therapist should not do the overwhelming majority of the talking. If you cannot seem to get a word in during your session, you need a new therapist.
#6 Never Neutral
Your therapist clearly always aligns with you or with your spouse on every issue. Yes, there are times when a therapist might agree with one person on a concern, but this should not be a constant taking of sides. It makes me think that the therapist has a personal issue that is appearing in the therapy office.
#7 Feeling Shamed and Judged
#8 Violating Your Belief System
Every therapist has his or her own set of personal values. We cannot “not” have them. As counselors, we are not allowed to push our beliefs on others. This does not mean we cannot explore issues like spirituality, but simply that we cannot force our own values on you.
#9 Not Qualified or a Specialist
Some therapists claim to be able to treat a wide variety of issues. Many therapists truly are generalists, but I recommend that you seek a therapist that specializes in your presenting issue. They may have specialty certifications or degrees in that area. I have heard horrible stories about a therapist blaming a spouse for a client’s addiction, and the therapist was simply not trained properly in addiction. This can be very damaging.
#10 Cancelling or Showing Up Late
In the end, you need to trust your gut. If you have a bad feeling about a therapist, I would find a new one. If you have a bad feeling about ten therapists, then something might be off with your gut feeling. Do you agree with these red flags? Please share below.
- Martin, D. J., Garske, J. P., & Davis, M. K. (2000). Relation of the therapeutic alliance with outcome and other variables: a meta-analytic review. Journal of consulting and clinical psychology, 68(3), 438.
Check out Summit Family Therapy in Peoria, IL to learn more about Dr. Courtney Stivers’ professional work.