8 Provoking Red Flags of A Therapist That You Should Never Compromise With
Therapy is a life-changing process. It brings many positive changes in your life and improves your mindset in ways you could never think of. However, you need to consult a good therapist so you can invest your time, money and efforts in the right place.
In this article you will understand the major red flags of a therapist that will help you to make the right decision.
I was around 18 years old when I went for my first therapy session. Going to therapy in itself is a conflicting process. There are a hundred things running through your head.
What if others find out that I take therapy? What will they think about me?
Am I so weak that I need to take therapy?
How will I afford the sessions?
Is something actually wrong with me?
I was quite skeptical too. However, I was in a terrible phase of my life and I needed some clarity and guidance. After days of contemplation, I finally booked an appointment with a ‘renowned and experienced therapist.
The session was the worst experience of my life. I left the clinic feeling like a fool.
Instead of acknowledging my feelings and thoughts, the therapist demonstrated how insignificant my problems are and gave me a few Instagram quotes as a motivational boost.
These were such major red flags of a therapist that I did not know at that time.
That was my first and last therapy session in quite a while until I completed my degree in Psychology and understood the work ethics, values and skills one needs to be qualified as a psychologist or a Counsellor.
My foremost experience with a therapist scarred me but it also set a benchmark of ‘what a therapist is not
Fortunately, my second attempt to take therapy turned out to be positive and improved my life in many amazing ways.
Hence if you are contemplating taking therapy then let me tell you one thing- therapy can change your life but only if you are willing to put in the effort and find the right therapist to work with.
The former part is something that you will need to inculcate within yourself. And as for the part of finding the right therapist here is a solid list of 8 red flags of a therapist that you should watch out for.
1. Lack of credentials
The foremost requirement of a therapist is to have the basic credentials and qualifications that are needed to practice therapy or counselling.
A Master’s Degree in Psychology with given specializations and additional certifications in specific forms of therapy adds to the knowledge and skill set of a therapist.
Hence, always look out for a therapist who has a credible degree from a reputable institute or university. Do not hesitate in asking important questions to understand their educational background.
Unfortunately, there are many ‘internet gurus’ and ‘influencers’ who sell therapy without having any relevant background or experience. Therefore, lack of credentials is the #1 red flags of a therapist.
A therapist will increase your self-awareness by using certain ways of questioning, objective assessments or other therapeutic tools.
Self-Awareness opens your mind to different perspectives and helps you to find solutions to your problems. This means that the ultimate goal of a therapist is to boost your ability to manage issues on your own.
However, if your therapist is more prone to giving advice and telling you what you should do or not do then that could be one of the glaring red flags of a therapist.
3. Passing judgements
A non-judgmental attitude is a prerequisite to creating a safe space for the client so that they can feel comfortable opening up and talking about their experiences and emotions.
In fact, fear of judgement is one of the major reasons why many people hesitate to go to therapy. Hence, passing judgements or being critical about the client’s choices and views is a major red flags of a therapist that hampers the whole therapy process.
If you feel that your therapist is judging you then it is best to be upfront and let them know how you are feeling. Being honest about your feelings can help you to understand whether your therapist is actually judging you or if you are simply projecting your own fears on them.
4. Rescheduling or cancelling sessions
Another important red flags of a therapist is a sense of unprofessionalism in them. Cancelling sessions at the last moment, rescheduling them often, showing up late for the sessions, and wrapping up the session in a hurry are signs of unprofessionalism that you should not put up with.
It is quite understandable if these actions happen a few times but if they are often and repetitive then consider it as one of the red flags of a therapist that should not be ignored.
5. Breaching Confidentiality
Privacy, safety and trust are non-negotiable values of a therapist. Naturally, if you see your therapist violating any of these then consider it as one of the red flags of a therapist.
If you find your therapist sharing irrelevant details about other clients or talking about their problems without any context or purpose then you need to understand your therapist’s personal values and work ethics.
6. Poor Communication
Active listening is one of the most valuable skills of a good therapist. This means that your therapist is not only listening to you but also effectively communicating their understanding back to you.
The first therapist I had would let me talk freely but would never respond using verbal or non-verbal gestures to assure me that she was listening. At one point I felt like I was talking to a wall. Once I am done talking, she immediately gets to how I can solve my problems or feel okay about my current situation.
On the other hand, my second therapist would keenly listen to what I had to say and encourage me by using verbal reassurances or nodding her head. She would even summaries or paraphrase my conversation to make sure that she has understood it properly.
These simple gestures made me feel heard and I felt more connected with her.
One of the most detrimental red flags of a therapist is ineffective communication and lack of listening skills.
7. Violating Boundaries
Maintaining physical and emotional boundaries is the duty of a therapist because they are well aware of the negative effects it could have on their client’s growth and progress.
Being too emotionally attached, showing strong emotional responses or trying to get personal or intimate are the major red flags of a therapist.
A professional tone, body language and boundaries need to be maintained by a therapist and if that is not happening then you need to stand up for yourself and let them know that you are feeling uncomfortable.
8. Lack of Transparency
A good therapist will be open and willing to answer your questions and clear any doubts that you may have in relation to therapy.
I remember how my therapist took 20 minutes to carefully explain to me the basic outline of a therapy process, financial costs, her experience and qualifications. She encouraged me to ask questions since I would be investing time, energy and money into this.
Hence, if your therapist is hiding certain details or is showing reluctance in sharing them then view it as one of the red flags of a therapist.
Other red flags of a therapist may include having a know-it-all attitude where they make you believe that they know you better than you know yourself, or when they appear too detached towards your concerns.
Other important red flags of a therapist are the manner in which they respond to your feedback or criticism. Strong reactions to criticism or getting defensive is a big red flags of a therapist.
These red flags of a therapist will help you to find the right therapist who can actually be an important aid in your healing journey and bring positive changes to you.
If you notice any of these red flags of a therapist then take a step back, do a bit of research on them or the best solution is to open up to them about your feelings and see how they respond.