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16 therapists share the biggest red flags to look out for as a patient.

16 therapists share the biggest red flags to look out for as a patient.


While it seems like everyone is constantly joking on social media these days that therapy is magical solution to every problem, taking the plunge and booking an appointment is a vulnerable endeavor...

Therapy can be an incredibly helpful tool to reframe your mindset, tackle conflicts, and hold yourself accountable for completing your goals, but finding the right therapist is key. So, when a Reddit user asked, 'Therapists, what are some red flags we should look out for in a therapist?' people who work in the mental health field were ready to share the signs that you shouldn't waste your time.


It's not a red flag in the meaning of the word. It's just something to be aware of. If you have the feeling, after the first initial sessions, you don't work well together: talk about it and maybe find another therapist.

From experience with a few of them I learned that the right therapist is a very personal thing. They might be great professionals and still just not what works for you (therapist and/or kind of therapy, honestly). - deterministic_lynx


Not taking the time to collect enough background information on you (even if it might take more than one session!). Focusing too much on a diagnosis. Non-collaborative style, e.g., not telling you what kind of therapy or direction they’d like to take and why. Poor record keeping, e.g., no receipts for payment, double booking. - Jenergy83


For treating psychiatric illnesses, there's empirical evidence that reflects that really the only variable that matters is whether you the patient are convinced that the therapist is legitimately concerned for your welfare.

So basically, if you feel like your therapist doesn't give a sh*t, you should cease therapy immediately, because your feelings about whether they do strongly predict efficacy of treatment. - [deleted]


Two things: 1) a therapist who is strongly anti-pharmaceuticals. Sometimes approved drugs can help. 2) a therapist who overshares their own personal experiences. The client is paying to share their thoughts, feelings, and experiences -- if the therapist needs to talk, they can hire someone. - Choose_2b_Happy


There's a lot of things but the biggest thing my clients have a hard time doing is correcting me or disagreeing with me because therapists they'd had in the past were so offended when they were wrong. - omglookawhale


In my opinion, the greatest red flag would be any signs of your money being more important to him than your wellbeing. Just like religious leaders, work-abroad agencies, and direct sale agents, therapists are the people who are trusted by desperate minds. It is easy to rip off a desperate.

Additionally, therapists are the profession where you have to stick to one for a long time. Swapping therapists is a waste of time and money. A scammer might use that to his advantage.

So, if you are suggested to have sessions more often, or longer session, while you are barely handling as much as you are already getting. Or when the therapist remains silent for a great part of the session, waiting for you to complete some task. Or when there is no progress at all, and you are just bothered with some random tasks to kill time during sessions. - [deleted]


I'm a social worker. Giving advice, giving opinions to ''correct'' a thought process. Especially if it's not asked before. All types of services are not the same, but I would say this is a good tip for voluntary/hesitant clients. - PalyPhilz


When you interview them, have a notebook or list of questions. (you'll need to know if they can help you) If they don't like that that's a red flag. Some people need to not be influenced, they need a blank canvas to talk things out. So having a therapist that doesn't talk about themselves is needed. There are also different types of therapists, it's important to know what kind you need. - NB_Inferior


Beware of therapists that give advice or talk a lot about themselves. The therapist is a mirror, not a wishing well.

Example. “I drink maybe 7-8 beers a day”

Good therapist. “Do you feel that is excessive, or do you feel that this is unhealthy and/or negatively affects your life in any way?”

Bad therapist. “That is excessive and unhealthy. Drink less. (Goes off on tangent about themselves or another client)

If the client says “no I’m fine” leave it alone. They are not ready for change and you beating them over the head will drive them away.

Act like an investigator into their mind and lead with curiosity while tilting the mirror to help them see themselves. Being non-judge mental is key.

If they learn self reflection they will improve. Just like the mirror you can comb your hair much better in front of it. You are doing them a disservice if you comb their hair for them. - [deleted]


If they don't check in with you about treatment goals and how you feel treatment is going and if they aren't receptive to your wants and needs that you've communicated to them. Therapy is supposed to be collaborative, but the client gets to decide which areas/issues they want to focus on.

I've had clients who wanted me to make those decisions for them, but I would tell often them that while I may be the expert in the room about treatment interventions they are the expert of their own lives.

My job is to help clients gain insight into their problems and feelings and provide the tools to improve and manage them outside of session. Some techniques work for some clients and other's don't, but I won't know what is helpful for a client if we don't talk about it. Some clients may be hesitant to bring up a problem related to the therapist or treatment itself so asking them about their thoughts and feelings about how treatment is going gives them that opportunity.

We can then take time to process their treatment progress and what we should continue our discontinue. Not checking in about these things could hurt the therapeutic relationship and/or lead to a client believe that therapy doesn't work for them and discontinue treatment. - OrchardPotato


How quickly they try to get you in and out - mxttbrx


If therapy is too comfortable. I know people who have had therapy where the therapist was their best friend, listened to their problems, told them they were normal and they had every right to be upset, depressed or anxious. That’s great, but it’s probably not therapy.

Therapy is a treatment and treatments are often challenging. Therapists obviously need to be supportive and not shame the patient for how they feel, but if the therapist never challenged you or makes you feel discomfort it’s worth asking if they’re simply reinforcing the thoughts and behaviors you’re there to try and change. - distantapplause


Therapist here. Here are some red flags for me:

Being arrogant

No respect for your personal choices

Very against medication

Talks too much or shares more than just a little personal info

Cancels on you often

Does not tell you their diagnosis - MillenialSage


Be mindful of how much they let you talk. They shouldn't structurally be interrupting or talking over you, listening is the most important skill for a therapist. And ask them what kind of therapy they do (CBT, behavioral, psychodynamic, etc) and consider if this is the right match for you. That's not necessarily a red flag but it can save you a lot of time and money - rhondavalley


The validation is so important. I feel like I leave therapy so much lighter when I tell my therapist I feel stupid for feeling angry or upset about something and she says 'No, you shouldn't feel stupid at all. You're going through a lot with this and your emotional response is what it is.

If you feel like its a big response, you must be really hurting.' I've cried many times hearing that because I'm the type to think my troubles are petty and that I'm just weak for not handling them well. - PressYtoHonk


If a therapist doesn’t ask what your goals are for therapy, that’s a red flag. also, if they’re pushing their expectations on you that’s not ok. defensiveness is not ok. lack of empathy, undermining your problems, and not validating your feelings is also not good. - fillupthesky

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