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Warning Signs of a Bad Therapist

Posted Oct 05 2009 10:01pm

Abuse & Trauma, Hope & Healing

Who can I trust? Not again! I hate having to tell my painful life history over and over. And even if I do, will the 'therapist' even know how to treat me? I certainly don't want to open myself up andfind out that the counselor doesn't know 'how to put me back together again.' Why should I even disturb my life?It isn't great, but at least I am somewhat managing the important stuff."

These are the common thoughts of so many people hurting from being abused or traumatized. How can one find a good therapist?

Talkingchairs Finding a good therapist is like trying to find the right church or best friend. Unfortunately, it often takes experiencing some bad therapist to helps us recognize a gem. The absolute given in looking for a therapist is to make sure she is a solid believer in Jesus as her Lord and Savior. All wisdom comes from God, so she needs to have a personal relationship with Him. Many people say they are Christian, but few allow God to be the central core of their life. You are looking for a therapist that is Spirit-led, and active in her fellowship with other believers. You want a therapist that prays with you and looks to God to lead your therapy session. She knows apart from God you will never be thoroughly and permanently healed, because He is the Healer!

Your therapist, with God's help, will be one of the most influential people of your healing process. I have been to at least a dozen different therapist. From experience, I can tell you the warning signs of a bad therapist. If your current therapist has several of these signs, I encourage to seriously consider your decision and maybe even seek another professional. A bad therapist can cause more trauma and serious emotional pain that can set your healing back a long time.

Signs of a Bad Therapist:

  • Therapist is a clock watcher, cutting sessions off abruptly when time is over.
  • She acts non-interested, yawns, or makes no comments.
  • You ask questions, but she has no answers or her answers are not biblical.
  • Therapist focuses on non-issues, talking about easy problems but avoiding the elephant in room.
  • She is not attuned and lacks empathy, showing little compassion or comfort.
  • You call during crisis times but she does not return calls timely, has no one on-call during vacations, or requires you to make appointment instead of handling crisis on the phone.
  • Therapist talks frequently about her family, her personal journey, or compares you to her family.
  • She makes comments minimizing your suffering, past abuse, or your inability to function.
  • You discover she talks to others even about you and disregards the code of confidentiality.
  • Therapist meets clients late when no one else is in office, making you feel vulnerable or unprotected.
  • She mixes professional relationship with friendship, and doesn't teach, coach, or advise for proper professional interactions if you see her in social setting or in public.
  • If you freeze, are unable to speak, or unsure what to do next, she doesn't provide guidance and leaves you speechless.
  • Therapist frequently spends time with idle talk, wasting therapy time, or providing un-biblical suggestions.
  • She makes you feel defensive with insensitive or demeaning comments.
  • Therapist has little or no experience with your specific illness or type of abuse.
  • She doesn't participate in professional continuing education staying up-to-date with therapies related to your needs. She seems to have few resources and/or doesn't have interest in learning more.
  • Therapist is impersonal or distant, and may addresses you by your last name, instead of first.
  • When you share details of abuse, she appears uncomfortable, surprised, shocked, or detached.
  • She is an observer during therapy, not supportive and doesn't get in the trenches with you.
  • Therapist makes you fit therapist model instead of allowing a client-led session.

I know this is a long list, but each example is an important indicator alerting you to unprofessional, lazy, or potential dangerous therapist behaviors. Think about it, read back over the list, and decide if you would allow a doctor to do open heart surgery on you if she displayed even some of these signs.

Stonecounselor A clinical therapist is also doing open heart surgery. In your sessions you will be laying your heart open, 
as you progress toward healing from past abuses and traumas. You have already been through so much pain; be cautious as you search for the therapist God wants you to have. Ask a lot of questions, and don't hesitate to have more than one "initial" therapy session. It may take a few times before you both settle in together to see if she is therapist you need. Don't go to a questionable therapist, thinking at least she is listening to you or fearing if you stop you will never find another person who can help you.

God loves you too much. He will help you. He will guide you to the therapist you need. He is the Person you can always trust!

Lindy Abbott

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