This post contains mentions of depression, sexual assault, abuse, and more.
Going to therapy can be an important step in your mental health, but just like everything else, it's important that you and your therapist can see eye to eye in order to make good progress in your mental health journey.
1. "My therapist would reveal what happened in our sessions to my parents. It created a huge rift between us. Luckily, we're okay now and worked out the issues without the help of the therapist."
2. "I've been in therapy since I was around eight or nine, and I'm almost 24. I've been in and out of therapy, trying to find the right therapist. I'm very picky with who I open up to, more so now than ever. I met this therapist during an intake appointment, she was very harsh and made sure to type very aggressively on the keyboard. I chalked it up to being a bad day because everyone has them. Things got worse after several sessions. I was in a very deep depression and was around bad people, so I shoplifted from Walmart. I got caught because I'm an idiot. I told her and she literally threatened to kick my ass."
3. "I was in therapy for depression and anxiety when the pandemic hit and we switched to virtual sessions. I was the primary COVID person at my preschool. I got certified as a contact tracer, took an online course in infectious disease/virus basics, and was up to my neck in keeping on top of the CDC, local, and state regulations for childcare providers. Obviously, my anxiety skyrocketed so we increased the dose of my anti-anxiety (my therapist and PCP were in touch to manage my meds). In July 2020, when we were starting to plan how to reopen the preschool, I started having stress nightmares. Her response? 'Well, you’re just going to have to get over that.' I immediately terminated and started looking for a new therapist."
4. "She told me that I needed to commit to living on campus in an unfamiliar city and not go home or visit my mother, even though I had severe anxiety and attachment issues. Then, when I had the inevitable breakdown and had to be hospitalized, she shamed me for being 'weak.'"
5. "I've had a therapist tell me she would pray for me after I told her I was an atheist. I've had a therapist ask what I was wearing when I was molested at four years old. I've had a therapist tell me I couldn't possibly have PTSD because I couldn't remember every detail of my rapist. I've had a therapist recommend I go on a diet to help my mood after telling her I have a history of disordered eating. I've had a therapist tell me bipolar disorder isn't real and that my mood swings were related to my menstrual cycle. I've had a therapist tell me that growing up poor with divorced parents who were addicts was a blessing."
"I've had a therapist tell me I was attention seeking when I told her about my intrusive thoughts. I've had a psychiatrist tell me he wouldn't medicate me for bipolar disorder, PTSD, generalized anxiety disorder, and insomnia because I was too pretty to be that sick. I've had a social worker report me for child abuse when I said I needed a break once in a while. I was a single mom of three, working two full time jobs with no help."
6. "I had a therapist practically demand to see my self-harm scars because she couldn’t help me if I didn’t. They were on my upper thighs and I didn’t want to remove my pants or show them to her. She didn’t care when I told her I was uncomfortable. Thankfully, found a different therapist who was very respectful."
7. "My therapist hated the way I dressed. So basically I’d wear the same outfit every time, a pair of khaki shorts/pants and a T-shirt until my work switched to button-up polo tops. I never had time to change after work so I would just go to therapy. This woman HATED this and said it was inappropriate, I have no idea why. My friends nor my mom could figure it out. Half of our sessions were her lecturing me on wearing clothes that normal people wear. One day I get so fed up with it, that I wear something I know will piss her off, she hates inappropriate so I get inappropriate. Despite being, nonbinary and masculine. I find the smallest mini skirt I can find, the tightest most revealing shirt I can find."
8. "I had a therapist who kept nodding off during our sessions. When that would happen I would sit there silently until he noticed. After the third time, I said this wasn't working for me and he told me that it was because I was boring him always talking about the same thing. Oh, the thing I'm in therapy because of? That same thing? He was also the director of the place where I was going to therapy and refused to find me another therapist in the place, which was the only place I could afford after a long initial search."
9. "My ex and I struggled with addiction before we got back together. We'd both been through separate, effective therapy before reigniting our relationship as sober individuals. Once things started going south again on a strictly emotional level, we sought a couples therapist. What a MISTAKE it was letting this elderly woman know we both had addictive histories. Rather than address the intrinsic issues we had based on individualized trauma, this woman would waste our hour (and our limited funds) preaching about AA (we were not alcoholics and again, had been in recovery) and how our issues were based on staying sober together."
10. "Without going into too much detail because it's not something I feel comfortable sharing. I had to ghost a therapist because she suggested my intrusive thoughts were 'secret urges' I wanted to do. I stopped seeing her after that because she clearly didn't understand OCD and intrusive thoughts."
11. "I've had a few therapists, some better than others. My last one had a LOT going on in her life and kept telling me to read the same book over and over that I had already read and we discussed together. She could not remember this. Just me knowing about the stress level of her personal life made me not care when she never texted me back to reschedule for the zillionth time. I've got my own problems, I can't take on my therapist's too."
12. "Mental health practitioners have A LOT of power so it is so important to be able to work with the right one. I once saw a couples therapist to help my second marriage and I happened to interrupt my (now ex) husband and rather than stop me and say 'This is his turn for talk,' the therapist said to him, 'You need to learn how to muzzle your wife.' Before I got up and left I told the therapist that just because he has paper certificates on the wall saying he was credentialed doesn’t make him a good therapist. Then I left and never went back."
13. "I broke up with my therapist most recently because I felt like we got too close! She was super kind and friendly and easy to open up to but I started feeling afraid to tell her how I was doing because I didn’t want to upset or disappoint her, so my sessions weren’t benefiting me at all. I have a tendency to play down my mental health issues to my friends and family and I knew I needed to find someone new when I started seeing my therapist as my friend."
14. "The final straw came when my grades slipped because of an abusive relationship and I was dismissed from grad school because of it. I was having a complete breakdown in her office, sobbing about how I didn’t know what to do, and was completely devastated. As soon as I stopped talking, the very first thing she asked was, 'So what does this mean for your insurance?'"
15. "I had a great therapist in high school but stopped for a bit when I went to college. After a mental break down I tried to go back to her and realized although she helped me before, she couldn't help me anymore. She wasn't terrible, I just realized I'd grown out of her therapy style and needed to move on."
16. "When she continuously told me that she wanted to 'set me up' with her son, and would love to have me as a daughter-in-law. She knew my schedule and that I went to Pub Trivia on Thursdays, and one day a man approached me there and introduced himself as her son. I immediately left and never spoke to her again. I wish I would have reported her for the breach of my confidentiality."
17. "My grandma had died a few months ago and I’d just moved countries and was at the lowest I’ve ever felt. She asked me to tell her about my grandma and I explained how young, active, and healthy she was, and how she died from COVID-19. My therapist asked why she was in the hospital in the first place, and when I told her, she began invalidating everything saying once an 'old person falls, they’re dead.' My grandma was almost completely recovered when she got sick. Then, my therapist told me to resolve the trauma I had to write a letter to my grandma and then perform it for her out loud in front of my therapist. I told her multiple times I didn’t feel comfortable and offered alternatives, but she kept pushing it. I haven’t seen a therapist since."
18. "My therapist and I had differing religious views, and when I told him that I did not believe in heaven or hell, he went on a rant about… I kid you not… demons. He proceeded to tell me that an experience my loved one was having regarding a mental breakdown was in fact NOT a mental breakdown and she was probably being controlled by a demon. I literally could not believe that I was listening to what he was saying. I got so pissed. It was a Zoom session during COVID so I ended it then and there."
"Not only did he skirt over how I was feeling about a loved one having a mental breakdown, he told me that it WASN’T that and she was being controlled by a demon. WHAT. I don’t care what your beliefs are, you don’t impose them on your patient. And he wasn’t even there and didn’t experience taking care of this person like I did, so what the heck did he know? It was so insulting on top of bizarre on top of unprofessional. This conversation devastated me even more when I was already dealing with a lot trying to help my loved one through an extremely scary time. This dude should not have a license."
19. "She stopped caring. She had some personal issues going on in her own life, which I completely understand, but she started having our appointments with her camera always off, gave short answers, and stopped working with me on solutions and coping mechanisms for the problems I was having, namely the sexual assault I had experienced only a few months prior. It got to a point where all I heard was 'Oh, really?' or 'Wow, that sucks.' I even heard her texting! I could have gotten the same amount of help talking to my wall. I dropped her and found a new therapist who’s helped me make a lot of progress!"
20. "I broke up with a therapist after they made me feel guilty for my anxiety. I missed a session due to having a panic attack right before I left for our session. I couldn’t breathe and I was in no condition to drive safely. I called and was notified of my cancellation. At our next session, I was told that 'Panic attacks aren’t a good reason for missing an appointment. You need to do better or else you will never help yourself.' This made me feel awful and I never went back."
21. "When I was diagnosed with depression at age 10, the therapist who diagnosed me said, 'Don't cry, children in Africa have it much worse than you.' That only made me cry harder. I told my mom what happened and I never had to see her again."
22. "I had a therapist who, at first, was helpful because I'd just vent to her all my problems. We connected and I really liked her as a person. But after a while, venting doesn't really give you progress anymore. I needed someone who will challenge me and tell me the hard truth instead of just listening and giving me attention. I needed exercises and questions to deepen my understanding of my own thoughts. I appreciate her help, but I didn't see the progress I needed."
The National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline is 1-888-950-6264 (NAMI) and provides information and referral services; GoodTherapy.org is an association of mental health professionals from more than 25 countries who support efforts to reduce harm in therapy.If you or someone you know has experienced sexual assault, you can call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE, which routes the caller to their nearest sexual assault service provider. You can also search for your local center here.