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15 Red Flags When It Comes to Finding a Therapist, According to Patients

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Admitting that you need help takes a lot of courage, which is why you want to make sure you get the help you deserve from someone who is qualified to give it. A bad therapist might be worse than not talking to anyone at all. And when you found out you’ve been seeing a bad one, it sucks.

It sucks so bad, AskReddit put out a call for red flags to look for according to both experienced patients and other therapists. Hopefully this’ll help keep you away from any real quacks.

#15. Bad advice.

“When your 3 month pregnant fiance is killed suddenly and the therapist says “You shouldn’t cry.”

Lol. Im tough as nails… but yeah bro. Bad advice.”

#14. You’re gonna see someone else.

“When they get angry that you’re gonna see someone else… my old coworker said that to her therapist and that lady flipped out on her…”

#13. No other comments or helpful dialogue.

“Asking questions like “What can I help you with?” and getting short or frustrated with you when you have trouble producing a tangible issue with an elegant and easily forecasted solution.​

Asking “How does that make you feel?”, or something similar over and over, with no other comments or helpful dialogue.”

#12. Gee, thanks lady.

“from my old therapist: “But emotional abuse isn’t really abuse, right?”

Gee, thanks lady.”

#11. When you pay in advance.

“He offers complementary Prozac when you pay in advance for 3 sessions or more.”

#10. Therapy isn’t one size fits all.

“This is a less glaring red flag, but a therapist should always tell you that it’s okay if their style of therapy doesn’t work for you. They should be open about the fact that it’s okay to stop and see someone else. They should also tell you that they’d like you to tell them if they make you uncomfortable/mad etc.

I feel like so many people would have better experiences with therapy if therapists were open that they aren’t perfect, all-knowing, brain-fixing psychics. Therapy isn’t one size fits all.”

#9. Turns out he got paid.

“They get kickbacks for prescriptions.

I had a therapist keep me on an SSRI that made my moodswings worse to the point I tried to kill myself. Every time I expressed concern, he told me to “just keep giving it a chance,” and got angry when I quit. Turns out, he got paid for every patient he got on Celexa.

Edit: Because everyone points it out, yes he was a psychiatrist. I just misused the word therapist.”

#8. Confidentiality.

“They break confidentiality by talking to your parents, spouse, etc about your sessions.”

#7. She forgot key details.

“Mine was okay at first but later forgot key details in what was going on with me, began to judge some lifestyle choices in ways that were pretty much just “oh it’s only a phase” and kept repeating to me that I have a hulk inside me and need to just keep it under control as his only “technique.” Still in the market for a new one but there aren’t many where I live

Edit since there were a few questions being asked:

I was absolutely a very angry person before. I ruined things with my ex because of how easily I would become upset/angry. But I’m a teacher and I’m genuinely struggling to become a better person both for my sake and the sake of my students. I genuinely tried to implement what this therapist was discussing with me, and I know these are just words so maybe it’s difficult to believe but when I had to answer the questions “who is x person, and who is y person? And fell me where you work again?” over and over again, on top of the therapist forgetting that my parents are divorced and so on, it was difficult. I gave him the benefit of the doubt for a long time, but I’m surprised this information was not in his notes.

And for the most part, all that he offered was, again, breathing techniques to calm down and stop the hulk within. First off, I wasn’t so angry to the point I would punch things or anything like that. I would get more upset than angry. I struggled a lot wondering if I was a good person and being treated like I was this hulk just made me feel worse. To some extent I can see why that might sound like something I don’t want to hear. But the reality is that I needed more than just anger management and I didn’t want that to be the main focus and reminder of the damage I had done to my life.

Nowadays I’ve learned to just not stop moving. I wake up early to do a few chores, go to work and spend nearly ten hours of my day doing that (that includes commuting). I come home and I’ll exercise, cook, read, game, watch tv, write…anything to just keep moving. If I stop to think too much I get severely depressed so i think i know now to just not stop. But frankly it’s tiring. That’s why I’m going to do my best to come to terms with everything and that’s why I’m searching for a therapist who can guide me and show me the skills needed to do so.

I am considering online therapy but I would prefer in person because I think that works best for me. I have already looked into a therapist about two hours away from me and plan on making monthly trips if that works out. Thank you all for the support!”

#6. Professionalism.

“Lack of punctuality or professionalism. Showing up late, last minute cancellations, deciding to take a non emergency call during a session etc. These show that they are not committed to helping you and don’t value your time.”

#5. The first guy I saw.

“The first guy I saw was cringing with a fake smile on the whole time I talked. Like what I said was beyond crazy and not things every 15 year old says. It was off putting and I’ve really not gone back.”

#4. Facial expressions.

“Facial expressions of disgust or condescension while their mouth is professing compassion or understanding.”

#3. Texting.

“She’s texting while you’re talking.”

#2. Yes, that’s why I’m here.

“I had a therapist once who simply said “that must be so hard” to basically everything I said. Yes, it is, that’s why I’m here, do you have any way to make it better?”

#1. Go find you a good one.

“Starts the session by telling you that he was once formally disciplined for having an inappropriate relationship with a patient, and then ends it by inviting you to meet up to do some 1-on-1 yoga with him. Later that week, he shows up in your LinkedIn feed for having viewed your profile.

PS – If you have a bad experience with a therapist (like this one that I had, described above), don’t write off therapy. There are bad counselors just like there are bad dentists and bad teachers and bad hair stylists. Walk away from that one and go find you a good one.”

Be happy and healthy, my friends.