Three Signs your Therapist is Bad


Hi everyone! Dr. Liz here. Today’s video is three signs of a bad therapist.

3 signs that your therapist is bad

Now, I may throw in a couple more, so that you know, but I want to get these top three out there.

Okay so I have a whole other video about how to break up with a therapist. So you might want to give that one a view if that applies to you, but right now, if you have any of these signs of a bad therapist, you need to watch the other one too: how to break up with them.

(1. a) You don’t get better.

You may call a therapist and feel good on the phone but then in person, it feels a little bit different or something that sometimes happens or you think that they’re a good fit on the phone and then they don’t actually do much. Like you don’t get better.

Okay so I have a whole other video about how to break up with a therapist. So you might want to give that one a view if that applies to you, but right now, if you have any of these signs of a bad therapist, you need to watch the other one too: how to break up with them

(1. b) Your therapist texts in session.

I am a therapist. This actually happened to me with somebody that I took my daughter to. When the first time it happened, I thought huh, well maybe that’s an exception. I’m going to give her one more shot, and then she did it again the next session and I was like, okay this is a pattern, right?

No therapist should be texting in session and believe me when I told her this, she got very defensive and it’s like yeah, because you know you shouldn’t be texting in session. Now, it’s one thing to grab your phone if you’re trying to give somebody a resource like sometimes a book that I’m going to send them and I want to make sure I get the title right. Something like that but not texting.

(2) Unwanted affection.

Okay, now this may vary around the world but in the U.S, we do not typically give a lot of affection to our clients particularly if we have not asked permission. So again, depends on what kind of work you’re doing.

If you’re doing work with a therapist who does a lot of like hands-on, you should know that before you go in but even like a hug or something like that, if a client asks for a hug then it’s like, yes they can give that but your therapist should not be initiating hugs with you, really.

If you have a therapist that’s like “Oh, I’m a hugger” and just hugs you, no no no no no. Unless you really like that, of course, but if you have a therapist like that and it makes you uncomfortable, you either need to tell them immediately like “no hugs please, that makes me really uncomfortable” or if you don’t feel like you can do that, find another therapist because they shouldn’t be making you feel uncomfortable in that way.

Therapy is hard work sometimes and emotional stuff comes up and that gets uncomfortable for people but that’s part of therapy. Uncomfortable affection is absolutely not. If they’re making like sexual comments in any kind of shape or form, NO. That’s like get the [ __ ] out of there, okay.  Get out of there. If there’s any kind of like sexual innuendo going on, absolutely not.

That’s a boundary issue. It’s a violation. You have my full permission to ghost them just like never sponsor the calls, don’t make another appointment, cancel the one you have already scheduled and disappear. Find another therapist.

(3) Doesn’t understand your circumstances.

So if they truly don’t, you don’t feel like they truly understand what you’re going through then that may be something to consider. Now I ask a lot of clarifying questions so I can get a good idea of what someone’s going through and I often say that I want to make sure I understand this but if you constantly feel misunderstood: sign of a bad therapist. In the same vein:

(4) Someone who doesn’t ask the right questions or any questions.

I had a friend who went to a therapist who said she didn’t ask them any questions, like zero and I’m like, “What? Like how’d she even get to know you?” and they’re like “Well I basically had to talk the whole time.”

I call them “The Grunter”, I had another friend this was like 20 years ago or something who said that his therapist would just go do “[just grunting]… yeah.” Like again, no questions! He had to generate everything and unless you’re in psychoanalysis or something, you know that’s a whole other vein but if you’re just seeing like a regular therapist these days, they should be asking good questions.

In fact, I consider my whole job to ask good questions. That’s my whole job: to ask good questions because if I’m not asking good questions, I don’t get the understanding that I need to be able to help someone.

If you don’t like answering questions, then perhaps you should consider different forms of therapy that don’t require that but typically, that’s it.

(5) Only focuses on surface goals.

Only focuses on surface goals, not really like deeper things that you want to accomplish. Now if you’re going in for surface goals, great, but often that falls into like coaching versus therapy.

I do some good coaching as well but that’s more like “Did you get XYZ done?”. This is sort of different if let’s say you have ADHD and you’re going to a therapist and you want to work on executive function and that type of thing. You’re going to have to expect some coaching there but now they actually even have ADHD coaches that help you work on that. They differentiate from therapists, that’s a little overlap there.

If you feel like you’re never talking about what you want to talk about, like the deeper stuff and you really want to talk about deeper stuff then that’s a sign that maybe you’re not a good match.

That’s not necessarily a sign of a bad therapist but maybe you’re not a good match.

I hope that helps someone out today and you can find out more about me as a therapist at Have a wonderful day!

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Peace and Health,
Dr. Liz