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Dear Therapist: How Do I Recover From Multiple Bad Therapists?

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Published:
April 25, 2024
April 22, 2024
Feeling defeated after a bad therapy experience? Our licensed therapists offer advice in our new "Ask a Therapist" series.

Dear therapist,

What should I do if I have had a bad experience with my previous therapists? i.e. — one therapist fell asleep on me, one shared their own problems with me (on my time I was paying her), and another said I had the most depressing childhood he's heard of. I have sorta given up on therapy, even though I'd love to go back. I just have bad luck with it…

— Defeated Patient

Dear Defeated Patient,

First of all, I am so sorry to hear that you've had so many issues with the therapists you've tried working with. Trust between the client and therapist is essential to effective therapy. As you've experienced, falling asleep, too much self-disclosure, and judgemental statements are definitely not trust-building behaviors. But I don't want you to give up because therapy can be incredibly healing and rewarding when you find the right person to work with. In fact, research consistently shows that the biggest predictor of a successful outcome in therapy is the quality of the working alliance between the therapist and client. And I know so many incredibly dedicated therapists out there who take their profession seriously and would never fall asleep on their clients or take over the session with their own issues. A great therapist who is a good fit for you is out there!

To help you find a therapist who is a good fit for your needs, start by thinking about some of the qualities you are looking for in a therapist. For example, do you want to work with someone who is trained in a particular treatment approach or has a certain specialty? Additionally, you'll want to consider the therapist's style. You can likely get a sense of their approach to therapy and style based on their website bio but you can also often request a 15-minute consultation to chat with your potential therapist and ask your questions. This consultation call can help you get a sense of their style and their approach to therapy. After the call, take a few minutes to reflect on how you felt during the call and how the therapist answered your questions. This should ideally give you a good sense of how they will interact with you in sessions.

I often say that finding the right therapist feels a little bit like dating. You might have to try out a few therapists before you find one that is a good fit. Don't be afraid to listen to your gut and keep searching if a therapist is not a good fit. Use that experience to help better refine your search. Trust me, the process is worth it because when you find the right therapist, you will get to experience the amazing transformation that therapy can facilitate when you have a strong working relationship with your therapist. 

— Julia Hogan-Werner, LCPC

Creators:
Grotto, Julia Hogan
Published:
April 25, 2024
April 22, 2024
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