10 Red Flags That You Need a New Therapist

Finding the right therapist is a personal journey that can significantly impact your mental and emotional well-being. People recently shared red flags indicating it's time to change your therapists.

1. Therapist Burden: When Therapy Is Weight To Bear

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Therapy sessions feel more like a burden than a source of help. According to Jillian Amodio, a licensed therapist and social worker, finding the right therapist is a personal journey; even the most skilled therapist can never be the perfect fit for everyone.

She emphasizes that while therapy can be challenging and require effort, it should also be an experience that holds value for the individual. However, attending appointments should never feel burdensome or cause a sense of dread.

She also suggests asking oneself several important questions. Are you feeling heard, respected, and understood during your therapy sessions? Do you believe you are making progress? Are your needs adequately met, and are you moving closer to your desired goals?

f you receive a negative response to any of these questions, it may indicate that it is time to explore other options and seek a different therapist to meet your needs better.

2. Jack of All Trades, Master of None

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Some therapists tend to be generalists rather than specialists. According to Chong, they often cover various topics, including work, relationships, and upbringing. While this approach can help uncover past traumas, it may not be efficient if an individual seeks therapy for a specific problem.

Chong explains that therapists who try to address various areas without specializing in a particular field may lack expertise and depth. When therapists try to cater to everyone, they risk diluting their effectiveness. That is why they believe therapists must specialize in one specific area, as it allows them to focus their expertise and provide targeted support.

3. Time-Based vs. Results-Based Therapy

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Most of the therapy sessions are often time-based rather than result-based. Typically, individuals attend weekly sessions lasting approximately an hour or less. However, according to Chong, this approach can prolong the resolution of the problem.

Chong highlights that trauma cannot be neatly confined to a once-a-week timeframe. People require additional support beyond the limited session duration, and the lack of flexibility can be a hindrance. When the allotted hour ends, therapists leave their clients to cope independently, which Chong considers irresponsible. It's as if placing a band-aid over a wound without addressing the underlying festering trauma. Chong argues that because the patient may feel okay immediately after the session, they mistakenly believe their problem has been resolved. However, deep-rooted trauma persists beneath the superficial band-aid.

Chong suggests a more effective approach would be result-based therapy rather than simply adhering to a fixed session duration. This way, therapists can work towards comprehensive solutions and address the underlying issues, ensuring a more thorough healing process.

4. Integration Struggles: Applying Therapy Lessons To Everyday Life

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A problem with drawn-out therapy sessions is integrating what is learned into daily life. Dr. Perpetua Neo, a psychologist specializing in therapy for high-achieving women, explains that if the root cause of an issue has not been addressed, it can be damaging.

Dr. Neo highlights that the human mind tends to sabotage itself and resist change. Therefore, therapy should account for this self-sabotage and work to resolve the problem. Individuals must have dependable actions to take in order to properly incorporate what they learn in therapy into their daily life.

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Therapy may fall short of facilitating meaningful and lasting changes without addressing the underlying causes and providing practical steps for integration. Therapy must go beyond the session and support individuals in applying what they learn in real-world scenarios.

5. Unhealthy Attachments: When Therapy Becomes a Toxic Friendship

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Therapy can sometimes foster an unhealthy attachment similar to a toxic friendship. According to Dr. Perpetua Neo, this can result in clients remaining in therapy for years or even decades without experiencing significant improvement.

According to Dr. Neo, clients may not be concerned about the length of the therapy if they are paying a relatively affordable charge, even if it lasts indefinitely. However, this could risk their sanity, confidence, and overall mental wellness. Clients could learn to accept their difficulties as something they must live with rather than solve, leading to pessimism and powerlessness.

Dr. Neo stresses the importance of having someone you can trust with your mind, sanity, and well-being. It can be depressing and discouraging when therapists imply that patients will have to deal with anxiety or any other problem for the rest of their life.

6. Forgotten Narratives: When Therapists Lose Sight of Who You Are

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Many therapists try to serve everyone at once despite having an excessive number of clients. According to Chong, this may cause therapists to lose crucial patient information.

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For instance, Chong shares an example where a client had to remind their therapist of the work they had previously done in each session because the therapist had forgotten. When therapists fail to retain crucial information, clients may feel that therapy is not effectively benefiting them, and they might perceive their therapist as indifferent or uncaring.

If individuals frequently repeat their stories and their therapist fails to acknowledge or remember their previous discussions, it is a significant indication that they should seek a new therapist. A successful therapeutic relationship requires active listening and a deep understanding of the client's history and progress. When this aspect is compromised, it becomes challenging to establish trust and make meaningful progress in therapy.

7. Fighting Sleep: Signs of an Inattentive Therapist

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A concerning sign of a therapist's lack of investment is if they repeatedly fall asleep during sessions. Emma Jackson, a psychotherapist and president of Unicorn Health Care, LLC, explains that although unforeseen circumstances can occasionally occur, such as the therapist falling ill or experiencing drowsiness due to medication, this should be a rare exception if it happens at all.

If a therapist consistently dozes off during sessions, it indicates that their attention and dedication are lacking. In such cases, seeking care elsewhere becomes necessary. Falling asleep during therapy sessions is not what clients are paying for, and it undermines the trust and effectiveness of the therapeutic relationship. Clients deserve an engaged and alert therapist who can support and guide them.

8. Withholding the Truth: Fear and the Need for a New Therapist

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If you find yourself hiding important details out of fear, it might indicate that your therapist is not the appropriate fit for you. According to Emma Jackson, there was a case where one of her former clients failed to disclose their extramarital affair for nearly three months.

In this instance, the client expressed fearing judgment but felt relieved when Jackson still expressed willingness to continue working with them. However, suppose you have an important secret related to the issues you are working on but cannot share it with your therapist. It indicates that you should seek a different therapist in that case.

Honesty and open communication are essential components of therapy. If you cannot trust your therapist enough to disclose important information, it hinders the progress and effectiveness of the therapeutic process. Having a therapist with whom you feel at ease being truthful and transparent is crucial, ensuring that you receive the support and guidance necessary for your well-being.

9. Beyond Talk Therapy: Recognizing the Limits of Traditional Approaches

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Traditional talk therapy may not work for everyone, which is perfectly acceptable. However, according to Chong, therapists can sometimes be inflexible in their approach, failing to adapt and learn alongside their clients.

Chong attributes this inflexibility to the ego of certain therapists. If their established methods have proven effective, they may resist the need for change. However, in such cases, it becomes the responsibility of the client to seek out an expert who can better cater to their needs. Otherwise, it would be akin to “the blind leading the blind.

Acknowledging that talk therapy may not be the most suitable approach for everyone highlights the importance of therapists being open-minded and willing to explore alternative methods. Adapting to clients' individual needs and embracing different therapeutic modalities can lead to more personalized and effective treatment outcomes. It is critical to find a therapist who is open to new techniques and willing to modify their methods to fit the client's needs better.

10. Outgrowing Your Therapist: When New Directions and Expertise Are Needed

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It is normal to develop an attachment to your therapist, but there may come a point where you surpass their capabilities. According to Jackson, individuals may initially seek therapy for assistance with anxiety and depression. However, over time, they may need to address other aspects of their lives, such as sexual intimacy or gender identity. They might also require a different therapeutic approach, such as eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy (EMDR), which their current therapist may not offer.

When such situations arise, Jackson explains that she supports her clients through transitioning to a new therapist because some clients may resist the change. Recognizing that clients' needs may extend beyond the therapist's training, Jackson emphasizes the importance of referring clients to other professionals who can continue their growth work.

Therapists must recognize their limitations and understand that clients may require specialized expertise or different therapeutic modalities as they progress. Assisting clients in finding the appropriate resources and professionals demonstrates a commitment to their overall well-being and ensures they receive the necessary support to continue their personal growth and development.

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