Many of us who live with and/or suffer from depression have sought the services of a mental health professional or therapist to ease the pain of depression. Sometimes you hit the therapist jack-pot and find someone who not only suits your personality but is also effective at helping you to reach your therapeutic goals. But then other times you sit there and wonder why you chose therapy in the first place. I have had both experiences with lucking out with a wonderful therapist I stayed on with for years in my twenties but in my thirties and forties I have experienced seeing a few stinkers posing as therapists. I am sure many of you have had a mixed bag of experiences like me.
Having these experiences tells us a lot. We learn right away what isn't so kosher in therapy...those things therapist may say or do which can be deal breakers.
The following is my short list of the 5 worst things a therapist can say or do:
1. Too much disclosure: If I am delving into painful topics such as my sexual abuse, I don't want my therapist to begin disclosing their sexual abuse in graphic detail. It muddies the waters as to who is the patient and who is the therapist.
2. Psychiatrists who refuse to hear anything about your personal life or environment before dispensing meds. I am taking this example straight from a post written by one of our members, Donna, who describes a letter her psychiatrist sent out pretty much stating that he only prescribes meds and does not want to hear about your personal or psychological problems. Unacceptable doctor! How can you prescribe meds without understanding what challenges the patient may be coping with in the day to day? The docs make more money this way but this may be one reason why talk therapy is a dying art in this country.
3. Therapists who don't actively listen. Seriously, you gotta do more than sit there and stare at us. You have to engage or at least give an indication that you are alive. These "old school" tactics of psychotherapy maybe seen on shows like Mad Men don't really work in today's culture. Don't give us a reason to ask, "What am I doing here?"
4. Therapists who want to be your buddy or friend. Had a therapist who wanted to hug me when I showed up (this was within the first few sessions of therapy) and would declare how much he missed me. Did I ask to be hugged by you? Personal space dude! Boundaries are important in therapy for it to be effective. My therapist is not my friend, lover, or parent. Likewise I don't make my friends mini-therapists. Some therapists need to be more well versed on how tranference works and how to deal with it.
5. Therapist who say there is no hope. At one of my low points I pleaded with one therapist, "Is there hope for me?" Of course I was asking for some sort of validation to hang in there and keep working. Instead he chose to quote the phillospher Nietzsche that hope was a delusion of the masses. The exact quote is: "Hope is the worst of evils, for it prolongs the torment of man." Who says this to a patient in need? Some therapists need to keep their philosophy to themselves.