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As many people can tell you, getting therapy as a way to cope with mental illness, tough times, and trauma is a brilliant move. The right therapist can help you see problems in your relationships from a new perspective, help you learn life-saving coping mechanisms, and also give you the tools you need in order to heal.
The wrong therapist, however, can make your entire situation worse or just be a terrible waste of money. Are you worried that you're stuck with the wrong therapist? Are you wondering if it's a case of the wrong therapist or a "lost cause" issue? If so, you need to watch out for the following signs that you need to switch therapists.
They don't have a license to practice, or aren't certified in the specialization they claim.
One of the most glaringly obvious signs that you need to switch therapists involves professional certification. Though it is legal in a number of states to practice therapy without a license, it's not necessarily the wisest option for patients.
Going to a licensed therapist gives you an indication that they know what they're doing, and also allows you to have legal protection and recourse if they are unprofessional.
If you are going to an unlicensed therapist, there's no guarantee that the techniques they use will be healthy — or even legal. After all, no licensure often suggests that they may not have had the required education or experience to actually help people the correct way.
That being said, this isn't necessarily an immediate reason to drop your therapist. Some unlicensed therapists are actually better than licensed ones, so if you got lucky and it's working out for you, then by all means, continue seeing them.
They bring religion into therapy in a heavy-handed way that makes you feel uncomfortable, guilty, or otherwise upset.
There are some religious counselors and therapists who do great work. However, for every good religion-based therapist out there, it seems like there are six or seven others who just bring religion into therapy in the worst ways possible.
If you get very uncomfortable about the religious statements your therapist is making, it's not a good match. You can't really get therapy if you feel like you have to put on an act just to "look acceptable" to your therapist — nor will therapy work if you have to lie to your therapist just to avoid being called a sinner.
Therapy should help you heal yourself, improve your life, and also just give you the chance to let yourself be vulnerable. If they can't offer that, there's no point in going to therapy with them.
Moreover, if you are getting the feeling that they are using religion as a power play or excuse to control you, it may be a sign that they are not actually competent at their jobs. Using religion as a crutch and an excuse to treat people a certain way is a common trait among cult leaders, sadists, and bullies.
Either way, it's alright to consider both situations to be signs that you need to switch therapists.
If you were honest with yourself, you don't feel comfortable around your therapist.
Whether we want to admit it or not, treating mental illness is not all science. Because of the nature of mental health, there's a human side to it that really can't be made uniform.
Unfortunately, we can't always control who we feel comfortable around. That's just part of human nature. If you don't feel comfortable with your therapist, there's nothing you can do to fix that. A lack of comfort, as we've said before, will negatively impact your therapy quality.
Most therapists actually tell patients that this is one of the biggest signs that you need to switch therapists.
You've told the therapist how you feel, and they've told you that you're wrong for feeling this way.
Mental health groups cite this as one of the biggest, most worrying signs that you need to switch therapists — and fast. If you find yourself arguing with the therapist about how you feel, or literally trying to convince the therapist about something, there's a huge problem in the way that your therapist is treating you.
There's never a wrong way to feel. Therapists should never correct you about how you feel.
If you feel like you're "feeling crazier" after a therapy session, chances are very high that the problem isn't you as much as it is the therapist in question. This signals that it's time to switch, and possibly report the therapist to the local medical board.
You're not really seeing any improvement with your therapy.
Not all of the signs that you need to switch therapists are necessarily immediate. In fact, there are many moments where great therapists just don't work out, even if they used to work well with you before.
The truth is that there many instances where a therapist can help you overcome hurdles, but can't bring you to that next level of wellness. It can happen for a wide range of reasons, too.
When this happens, it's often nobody's fault — and nothing seems off, except for the fact that you're just not seeing improvements in your overall wellbeing anymore. Should this happen, just thank your therapist for their help and try to find a new one.
Your issues actually got worse.
Though this is rare, it does happen, and it's one of the key signs that you need to switch therapists immediately.
One of the most famous examples in which a therapist worsened a patient's life was a woman by the name of Patricia Burgus, who suffered from Dissociative Identity Disorder — more commonly known as multiple personality disorder.
Though she only came in with a small handful of personality schisms, the therapist had convinced her that she had over 300 different personalities, sexually abused her children, and ate human flesh. When it became clear that the therapist was feeding her false memories, she sued him.
Even after the lawsuit settlement, her life was permanently scarred by his abuse. In the hands of the wrong person, therapy can be dangerous and life-ruining.
Therapy shouldn't worsen your condition; it should help it and help you feel comfortable in your life. If you notice your issues worsening, switch therapists immediately. Choosing to stay with that therapist could mean more mental health damage and worse later on.
Your therapist takes sides.
At no point should a therapist ever judge you or rail against you. A therapist should not really take sides at all, especially when there are multiple people in the therapy session.
In proper therapy, a therapist is a neutral individual who should help you lead yourself to your own conclusions. While it's possible for a therapist to agree with one party or another, taking sides on a regular basis is not acceptable — and often can make one party feel attacked.
Obviously, if your therapist openly judges you or insults you, that's a good sign that you should stop seeing them as well.
Simply put, if you feel like your therapist can't stay neutral, or if they actually judge you, then you need to take those instances as signs that you need to switch therapists sooner rather than later.
There has been a boundary violation, or your therapist has been pushing boundaries that they shouldn't press.
Boundary pushing is a major no-no in the world of therapy and mental health care. It doesn't matter if it's an emotional, mental, social, or physical boundary, either. It's still a major violation of your boundaries, and as a therapist, they should know better.
This can actually take quite a few different forms, many of which might not immediately appear like boundary crossing to most people. Sometimes, it comes from a lot of prying and uncomfortable questions. Other times, it may come from being too touchy or being too sexual. These times may be more obvious, but there are some others that are way more subtle.
At times, boundary crossing in a therapy session because the therapist forgets that you're a patient. If you find most of the session is about the therapist, or if he tells you a lot of his own problems, it's actually a professional boundary issue.
Similarly, there shouldn't be any real attempt to socialize, either. This is a sign that things are getting too personal, and that can interfere with the way you're working through things.
A boundary that is crossed is one of the clearest signs that you need to switch therapists and cease therapy with that practitioner immediately.
The therapist in question seems distracted or really just doesn't seem to take your needs seriously.
Therapy is incredibly emotionally taxing, and it's one of those things that requires a lot of understanding, attention, and empathy from a therapist. Unfortunately, there are a lot of mental health professionals that either don't care or just don't show that they care enough.
If you notice that the therapist is distracted, constantly shows up late, or glosses over things that mean a lot to you, then chances are that they really aren't good for you. Should you notice your therapy session ailing from these issues, it may be time to bail.
If you were honest with yourself, you've become totally dependent on your therapist.
There is nothing wrong with relying on the help of a professional therapist to get through tough times. In fact, that's part of the reason why therapy is a good thing to have.
However, there is a certain point where you might get too attached, and believe it or not, overattachment is one of the bigger signs that you need to switch therapists.
The overall goal of therapy is to get you to the point where you can stand on your own two feet with minimal help. If you get too attached or clingy to your therapist, the therapy you're getting is not going to help you reach that goal. Therefore, that's a sign it's time to switch.
You really don't know why you go, aside from habit.
Many people will continue to see their therapist out of sheer habit's sake, even though it's clear that they aren't doing themselves any favors by doing so. They know it's not helping, they know they aren't doing anything but complaining when they go there, and they just aren't getting much from the appointments they make — but they still go.
If you noticed a bunch of signs that you need to switch therapists in your sessions, it might be time to cut the cord. After all, that time could be better used in a number of ways, including finding a therapist who can help you.