5 Ways to Know You're with the Wrong Therapist
Seeking therapy is an incredibly courageous step towards self-awareness and healing. It requires vulnerability, trust, and significant investments in time, money and personal effort. When it's right, it can culminate in one of the deepest and most profoundly impactful relationships in your life. And when it's wrong...well...not so much. Like any relationship, not every therapist-client connection is a perfect fit (and some are downright awful). Here are five signs that you might be with the wrong therapist:
- You Don't Feel Heard or Understood
The experience: You find yourself frequently repeating points, or you leave sessions feeling like your therapist missed the essence of what you shared. Instead of feeling validated, you feel dismissed or misunderstood.
Why it matters: A foundational element of therapy is the therapist's ability to actively listen and empathize (seriously, this is therapist 101). This doesn't mean that they should agree with everything you say, often, quite the opposite, but you should always feel acknowledged and that your feelings matter. If you're constantly feeling unheard, therapy can become a source of added stress rather than relief and it's time to find someone better able to hear you.
- The Therapist Crosses Boundaries
The experience: Perhaps the therapist shares too much about their personal life, making sessions feel more like a catch-up between friends. Or maybe they push you into discussing traumatic events before you're ready, despite your clear discomfort.
Why it matters: Boundaries are crucial in therapy to maintain professionalism and to keep the focus on your healing journey. When therapists overshare, it can blur the lines of the therapeutic relationship. While your therapist will likely (and should) deeply care about you, they should always maintain their professionalism. On the other side of the coin, a therapist pushing you too hard can be re-traumatizing. While a therapist's job is to help you shift out of what might feel comfortable, they should respect your pace and boundaries, guiding you gently towards deeper self-exploration.
- There's No Clear Plan or Progress
The experience: After several sessions, you still don't have a clear understanding of your therapy goals. You might feel like you're just aimlessly talking without any clear direction or purpose. Or maybe you've been discussing the same issues for months without any strategies or tools offered for coping or progressing.
Why it matters: Therapy is a journey, and like any journey, it's helpful to have a map. This doesn't mean everything needs to be structured, but having goals and regularly checking in on them ensures you're moving forward. If you're stuck in a cycle of discussing the same issues without any resolution or coping mechanisms, it may be time to evaluate if this therapeutic relationship is beneficial.
- The Therapist Doesn't Respect Your Beliefs or Identity
The experience: If you find that your therapist is dismissive or judgmental about fundamental aspects of who you are, be it your race, religion, gender identity, sexuality, or any other intrinsic part of your being, this is a huge red flag.
Why it matters: Therapy should be a safe space where you can be your authentic self. This is actually the whole point. It's a space outside of your everyday interactions where you can explore literally everything that comes up for you without any ramifications in your outside life. If you're constantly defending or explaining fundamental parts of your identity, not only does it hinder the therapeutic process, but now your time is spent defending yourself rather than exploring and moving towards your goals. This doesn't mean that a therapist needs to be the same as you. In fact, getting respect or care from someone who shares some form with those you've experienced as harmful in the past can actually be deeply healing. But they should never emulate these harmful interactions in practice. Simply put, a good therapist seeks to understand and respect all facets of your identity, providing support tailored to your unique experiences and challenges.
- You Just Don't "Click"
The experience: While everything we've covered so far includes some pretty serious breaches of professional conduct (and may even be reportable to the state licensing board!), sometimes, it's as simple as you just don't "click." This is fine! You might find that, despite the therapist being qualified and well-intentioned, or even a really great person, you just don't feel a connection. Some good signs that this might be the case are that conversations feel forced, you find yourself unable to bring up thoughts or topics that you know you should, or, worse still, you find yourself dreading your sessions or canceling them outright. This is a great time to bring it into the room. Your therapist wants you to succeed, and it’s part of our job description that if we’re not the right person, for any reason, we’re here to help you find the person who is.
Why it matters: The therapeutic relationship, like any relationship, involves chemistry. Trusting your gut is essential. If something feels off, or if you don't find yourself opening up and connecting, the therapy won't be as effective as it could be. Remember, it's okay to seek a therapist you resonate with; after all, the therapy is for you!
If you recognize one or more of these signs, it might be time to consider a change. However, before making a decision, it's always worth discussing your feelings and concerns with your therapist. They might be unaware of your feelings or might offer insights and adjustments that can enhance the therapeutic experience.
If, after discussing your concerns, things don't improve, or if you believe the relationship isn't salvageable, know that it's okay to move on. Finding the right therapist is a personal journey, and you deserve a professional who aligns with your needs and supports your path to well being.
If you're experiencing any of the above with your current therapist, or interested in finding your first, Lifeologie Counseling is here for you. Meet our many specialists at and find out which therapist in our practice is right for you.
About Richard Aab
Richard Aab, LCMHCA, has a BFA in Theatre from NYU and received his Clinical Mental Health Counselor, M.Ed. (Master’s in Education) from North Carolina State University. He is a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor Associate (LCMHC-A) and Nationally Certified Counselor (NCC). Richard has a deep commitment to working with individuals overcoming developmental and childhood trauma, and he combines cutting-edge, neuroscientific research with traditional existential and behavioral therapeutic modalities. He is supervised by Elizabeth Grady, LCMHCS, and sees adult clients by telehealth.Meet Me