QUIZ: Is Your Therapist Actually Part of the Problem?
Shitty therapists can be a massive pain in the ass, and they’re sadly more common than we think. In the midst of our vulnerability, we may not even realize they're problematic. If you think something might be off with yours, read the following ten statements. Keeping in mind your current therapist, psychiatrist, or mental health professional, decide whether or not each statement is true or false. Check out your results at the bottom.
1) Your therapist doesn’t take the time to get to know you.
Consider the following: Do they ask you questions about you and your situation? Are they using the entire session effectively? Are they answering questions you have about your issues, illness, or treatment? Are they present and listening to you speak? Are they diagnosing you right away without taking the time to understand you or your history? Are they eager to throw medication your way? Are they rushing through your visits?
2) They make you do all the work.
A common myth about therapy is that you do all the talking and the therapist sits and nods. If your therapist is legit, this isn’t always the case. Some sessions you’ll do more of the talking, and other times there's a balance. You shouldn’t feel like you have to push your therapist to help you, though. Typically you’ll work together to carry the conversation along. If you’re stuck, the therapist might say something to get things flowing again. Unless your treatment adheres to a strict process, it helps to clarify with your doc the way in which you prefer to walk through your sessions. Consider what they suggest as well so you can co-create an environment that works best for both of you.
3) They use your time together as their personal time.
Are they distracted by other patients? Are they spending your session talking about themselves? Is your session their sushi break? Are they checking their phone? It may seem obvious, but let me tell you. The number of sessions I’ve had interrupted by mail carriers, text messages, and iced coffee sips is an unfortunate one.
4) They are unprofessional.
Is your therapist bailing on appointments? Are they making fun of you, your illness, appearance, or the things you say or do? Are they failing to give advanced notice of changes in schedule or session cost? Are your physical surroundings conducive to privacy and safety? For example, I once had a therapist ask me to conduct a session at a very busy, and public coffee shop. Therapy on its own is intense enough. Confessing confidential problems in front of a patio of patrons is pushing it.
5) They push their personal beliefs on you.
Do they judge or shame you, your actions, or your problems? Do they attempt to get you to admit to things that are false? Are you feeling manipulated? Do you feel as though you need to lie to them to be treated with respect? Do they treat you poorly because of your beliefs, culture, lifestyle, gender identity, income, or sexual orientation? Do you feel pressure to act a certain way in front of them? Do they label you unfairly or plant seeds of doubt? For example, a therapist once told me my inability to motivate myself stemmed from laziness instead of depression. News flash: that is not fucking helpful!
6) They put you in danger.
Do the things they say feel abusive? Do they threaten you? Do they make sexual or inappropriate comments or advances? Are they sharing your confidential information when it's not appropriate? Are they touching you without your consent? Are they violent or hot-tempered? Are they rude and condescending? Do they suggest harmful, or unattainable treatment methods? Are they diagnosing illnesses or prescribing treatments for issues outside of their area of expertise? Are they properly licensed to be practicing under the title in which they market themselves? For example, do they refer to themselves as a therapist but only carry the certification of a life coach?
7) They don't respect your time.
Do they cancel, frequently reschedule, or ghost on appointments? Are they late more often than not? Do they consistently avoid talking about important issues? Do they frequently move the discussion off topic?
8) They are never available outside of therapy.
Most therapists allow you to contact them outside of your sessions in the event of a crisis, or if you have questions. If your therapist doesn’t offer this option, you may want to find another. For real, though. Having a therapist and not being able to reach them in a time of crisis can sometimes be a matter of life or death.
9) They don't set healthy boundaries.
Has your therapist tried to follow you on social media or asked you to follow them? Are they asking to spend time together outside of (or in a manner that is not related to) therapy? Are they contacting you for reasons unrelated to your treatment? Are they confiding in you as if you are their therapist? Are they sharing with you private information about other clients? Are they disclosing information about themselves that makes you feel uncomfortable?
10) If you try and fire your therapist, they attempt to keep you in therapy against your will. Do they shame and guilt you for wanting to seek treatment elsewhere? Do they refer to you as hopeless or untreatable without their guidance? Do they become insulting or hostile if you try to go your separate ways? Do they insist they are the only ones who know what’s best for you?
If you scored 0 points - It’s likely that you found yourself a mighty fine mental health professional. They key word here, however, is “likely.” The above scenarios are based on my personal experience in therapy and don’t reflect a complete list of red flags. That being said, if you scored zero, but you still don't feel satisfied with therapy, it may be a good idea to start that conversation in your next session. Explain what aspects of your treatment are not helpful and see where you two can go from there.
If you scored 1-10 points - Your therapist is most likely a lint-licking loser. If you can’t work things out with a conversation (and in some cases, like if you feel you are in danger, for example, you shouldn’t even try), then hunting for a new therapist is probably a good idea.
Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional which means this quiz is not intended to diagnose or treat any illness. This quiz is strictly based on my personal opinions and experience with therapy and is not backed by scientific or medical research. Please, do not take the words and advice in this quiz as medical advice or guidance. Thanks, for not being a dum dum!