5 Red Flags a Therapist Isn't Right for You

Signs You Need to Find a New Therapist


Finding the right therapist can feel a lot like dating, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't keep trying until you find "the one." Although it can be difficult to assess whether a particular counselor is a good fit for you, these five red flags generally indicate the partnership isn't an ideal match.

You feel judged. No matter what you reveal in a session, quality therapists should always be non-judgmental. Although it's fine for your therapist to challenge you at times, he or she should still communicate tactfully. It's important to have a therapist who treats you with empathy. When a therapist is patronizing or insensitive, it can undermine a client's progress. Words matter a lot in counseling relationships. Even if a therapist seems to have good intentions, poorly chosen words can negatively impact your self-worth.

The therapist has shaky boundaries. A professional therapist should establish and maintain professional boundaries to help you feel confident and emotionally safe. Therapists should not seem like a friend or romantic partner. They shouldn't micromanage patients or dominate sessions by talking about their own personal issues or accomplishments. Your therapist should never push you to talk about things you aren't ready to discuss, whether it's your sex life or past trauma. If a therapist seems too interested in your life, uses inappropriate words or seems to be showing personal affection, it's time to end the relationship and find a more professional therapist who understands the importance of maintaining healthy boundaries. 

The therapist seems inauthentic. Since many clients have been mistreated, abused and lied to, they want honest and reliable therapists. When therapists model authenticity, clients tend to have an easier time discovering their true and best selves. If your therapist seems disengaged, disinterested or simply going through the motions, this is a big red flag. When therapists have "I know it all and am never wrong" attitudes, it can also be a sign of concern. Don't ignore your intuitions about your therapist. If you suspect they aren’t being authentic, you are likely right.

They don't specialize in your issue. If your therapist doesn't specialize in your specific issue, it can have a devastating effect. Whether it's postpartum mental health, eating disorders, substance abuse, relationship issues or obsessive-compulsive disorders, your issue requires a therapist who has received specialized training for that specific issue. Make sure your therapist is qualified to treat your issue by asking specific questions about diplomas, certificates and experience. Good therapists should know the limits of their expertise and make referrals if they don't specialize in your issue.

You regularly feel worse after sessions. Ideally, a therapy session should be a cathartic experience that leaves you feeling better afterword. That said, especially intense sessions can leave you feeling emotionally exhausted, especially if you tackled some serious issues from your past. If you regularly feel worse after your counseling sessions, however, this is a red flag that you might need to make a change. Consider meeting with a new therapist and don't get discouraged; you may have to meet with a few different therapists before you find one who suits your needs and personality.

The caring therapists at Foundations Counseling can help you and your family overcome life’s greatest challenges. Contact us today!