You have the right to be picky when it comes to therapists. After all, what they say can have a huge impact on a person. You air your biggest vulnerabilities to your therapist, so you'd better trust them to lift you up rather than bring you down. So,
finding a new therapist should be in order if you don't feel entirely satisfied with your current one.
"Research shows that the biggest predictor of
success in therapy is the quality of the relationship between therapist and client," licensed marriage and family therapist Lisa Olivera tells Bustle. "Because of this, finding someone you connect with is SO key! Being vulnerable is difficult enough, and it’s made harder when you are trying to force a therapeutic relationship that just isn’t the right fit."
If you've gone through a bunch of therapists and still don't feel understood or valued by them in the way that you'd like, don't give up. There are lots of therapists out there, and now that
online therapy is an option, you don't even need to be limited by your location.
Here are some signs that your current therapist isn't treating you as well as you should be treated and you need to find a new one.
They Talk About Themselves
Your therapist should be mindful that they're not the ones in therapy. "While it might be helpful to hear tidbits of humanness from your therapist, it should always be with the intention of supporting you and helping you and never about your therapist," says Olivera. "If you get the sense that your therapist has a difficult time holding space for
you in session, it might be time to find a new one."
Along the same lines, it's important to find a therapist who you can say anything to without them getting offended or taking it personally.
"If you feel like you aren’t truly being heard, seen, and understood by your therapist, you might consider finding someone who is better able to provide that space for you," says Olivera. "It’s really difficult to truly open up and explore ourselves and our experiences when we aren’t feeling understood by the person listening to us, and this is such an important aspect of developing a therapeutic relationship."
They Tell You What To Do
The "teach a man to fish" theory applies to therapy: Your therapist should help you arrive at your own answers rather than hand them to you. "If your therapist gives you advice and acts as an expert, rather than leading with curiosity and acknowledging that YOU are the expert in your life, you might want to consider finding another therapist," says Olivera. "Seeking help is difficult, and it’s made harder when the knowledge and wisdom you already possess isn’t seen as valuable in therapy."
"You might not be able to pinpoint what isn’t working or why things feel off, but if you just sense that the fit between you and your therapist isn’t the right one for you, it’s completely OK to say so and to find someone you feel a better connection to," says Olivera. "Finding a therapist that you feel comfortable with, supported by, and understood by is crucial in developing a helping and healing space, and we won’t be offended if we aren’t the right fit for you!"
"If you are feeling judged by your therapist in a session, run!"
licensed professional counselor Kailee Place tells Bustle. "Judgement has absolutely no place in therapy. Being judged by your therapist would probably only solidify some of the concerns you walked in with, and that's the opposite of why you sought them out in the first place."
Your therapist will have their own approach, but they should not be imposing their beliefs on you. "If you feel that your therapist is bringing their beliefs and values into session, that's another huge no-no," says Place. "We're human, but we also are trained to keep our biases in check."
They Forgot Things You Tell Them
You want to be able to trust your therapist to make decisions and come to conclusions based on all the information you've given them, and you can't do that if they're not even retaining that information. You should feel like your therapist is listening to you. If your therapist doesn't remember things you've told them in prior sessions, it's time to find a better listener,
licensed marriage and family therapist Gabrielle Freire tells Bustle.
They Don't Say Anything If You Miss An Appointment
Your therapist should be regularly checking in on you, which means that if you miss an appointment, they'll call to make sure you're OK. "If they don't check in with you after a missed session, that shows they may be too busy or not caring enough to be attending to you (the client) and your needs," says Freire.
Don't feel bad about cutting things off with a therapist if you think you could do better. "Ultimately, if you feel the relationship is just not happening and you don't feel connected, then you're not going to get the level of change or the experience you're investing in," says Place. "It's OK to shop around. ... I encourage the people I see to do their research and truly find a therapist that feels right, meets their needs, and will be the best help for them."