Therapy can be hard, but your relationship with your therapist shouldn’t be difficult. It takes courage to start therapy and let yourself be vulnerable, so you should have a therapist you trust.
If you don’t feel like your current therapist is working out, don’t give up. There are many reasons a therapist may not be a good fit, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a therapist out there for you.
Here are six signs you might want to go shopping for a new therapist:
You feel judged.
Therapy is supposed to be a safe space where you can talk freely about what’s bothering you. You shouldn’t feel judged or shamed. If they “shut you down,” it’s probably time to find a new therapist.
With that being said, your therapist may be trying to introduce a new perspective that you haven’t considered. If you feel comfortable enough, explain why you felt judged or shamed. There could have been a misunderstanding, and if that’s a case, a good therapist will address that empathetically.
Other times, a therapist is just bad. They judge you, and it’s definitely not a misunderstanding. If you’re made to feel ashamed of your body, sexuality, religion, etc., it’s definitely time to find a new therapist.
You’re not seeing improvement.
This one may not be easy to spot. Therapy doesn’t work overnight, and a lot of improvement is subtle.
For me, I noticed changes around the three-month mark when I began seeing a therapist that was a good fit. That’s a long time, but therapy takes time.
Give it some time, but also know that therapy with any therapist won’t work if you don’t put in the work as well.
You just don’t “click” with them.
Rapport with a therapist is a major factor in whether or not therapy is successful.
Your therapist may even notice if the match isn’t good before you do. They might ask if you think you’d see more improvement with a different therapist or approach.
Not clicking with a therapist doesn’t mean you or the therapist did anything wrong. Sometimes the connection isn’t there, but maybe give it a few sessions before you decide it isn’t a good match.
I had one therapist who really wanted to focus on the bipolar aspect of my life. Everything we talked about was connected back to bipolar or a symptom, so her questions were all related to symptoms. Of course, my mental illness will play a part in therapy, but it’s one aspect of my life. I prefer a more well-rounded approach.
They’re constantly running late or canceling.
Many therapist’s offices have “no-show fees,” meaning if you don’t let them know in advance you’re canceling an appointment, they may charge you a fee.
As clients, we can’t charge therapists for lost time, but our time is just as important as theirs. If your therapist is frequently canceling your appointments or running late, they’re not valuing your time. And they’re certainly not worth your money.
Like anyone else, therapists have things that come up and cause a disruption in scheduling. If it’s a constant issue, though, it’s time to look for someone new.
If your therapist is chronically running late, bring it up in session. It’s your time. Most therapy hours are 50 minutes long. It’s a pet peeve of mine when a therapist starts 10 minutes late but expects our session to still end at the original stop time.
They don’t incorporate your feedback.
If you don’t feel like you’re getting much out of the current treatment plan or framework, let your therapist know. If they aren’t open to trying a different approach or taking your thoughts into consideration, it’s time to say goodbye.
I was in a heavily structured therapy program, and while I found the group portion insightful, the individual therapy didn’t help. It actually made me feel worse when I was already severely depressed. There was no room for me to bring up what I actually wanted to talk about. When I mentioned this in therapy, it was pushed aside because it didn’t fit in the structure.
They don’t respect boundaries.
This can mean a lot of things. A relationship with a therapist is a little weird. They know intimate and vulnerable information about you, but you aren’t friends or family. There’s a professional boundary that has to be respected. Neither you or the therapist should cross that.
You may not be ready to talk about something in particular. Though a therapist may encourage you to talk about it, they shouldn’t be pressuring you to the point you’re uncomfortable with them.
Starting therapy isn’t always simple. Some things have to be sussed out, but if you give it time, there’s a possibility you’ll see improvement. At the very least, you’ll feel heard and supported (if it’s a good therapist).