It might be more common than you think
You aren’t sure why you’re relationship is crappy, here’s why:
You go to your first appointment and things look great. A warm, empathic, relatable counsellor is sitting opposite you. He or she introduces you to the world of therapy and you’re eager to learn more. You want to find out answers or at least some guidance as to why you’re experiencing your current problems. After all, the therapist/counsellor is there to guide you. Be it for financial, work, personal such as family, spouse or social reasons. It seems your counsellor is listening to you, or are they? Do they really seem to reflect their understanding of your issues back to you? Are they allowing you feedback for each session? You think well, not much of that has happened but you give benefit of the doubt and allow the counsellor to do their thing. But a few sessions later and you wonder where this is all going? Are you even headed in the right direction, were goal settings even discussed with you at any point during therapy or is there a possible disrupt in the therapeutic relationship between you and the therapist?
Here are 5 reasons your therapist might suck or probably doesn’t get you:
1) Your therapist may generally be competent and good at what they do. They’re essentially trying their best to help you. After all that’s what they trained for. But you find there isn’t much inspiring during sessions. You feel bored or find that the sessions are lacklustre. This is probably because the therapist may struggle to engage with you and think they’re going off script every time you do or say something they aren’t expecting. I mean this is ok to some extent when the therapist is freshly qualified and in time that will improve, but other times some therapists don’t push themselves to better themselves so when they’re challenged, it comes at a cost of not knowing how to respond to the client’s needs, making it harder for them to relate to the therapist. Not good!
2) Your therapist has their own set of issues that they are currently experiencing but thing is, that in itself isn’t bad. The issue is that the counsellor keeps bringing up their own issues towards you. How so you may wonder? Simply by saying ‘I’m going through a hard time too, it’s not easy’ or ‘my husband/wife does that too, it irritates me, have you tried xyz?’ etc. It’s about keeping boundaries unless you absolutely think the therapist’s personal examples are useful to you and overall therapeutic relationship. I’m not saying this means your therapist is careless, it usually is an automatic response by them, however the contention is that the therapist needs to recognise these subtleties and fix them before any lasting damage is done.
3) Your therapist is bad at scheduling. Now this may annoy the hell out of some people. Some clients like consistency i.e. same time, same week, same day etc. That’s fair enough if your therapist can accommodate that however sometimes the counsellor’s schedule is so full that they’re struggling to keep up with it. So to accommodate you, they make changes, they delay the therapy session for weeks to fit you in their schedule, or they might even forget they even need to see you today, yikes! Please be aware that the counsellors role is a caring role however they might misjudge how busy they really are. So if you find your therapist keeps forgetting appointments, or keeps cancelling because their schedule is hectic, it’s best to move on.
4) You’re therapist hugs, pats you on the back or leg or inappropriately rubs you on your arms or legs thinking it’s a sign of affection and care, then again, they’re crossing boundaries. Now, this is a confusing one, because usually outside of a therapy session physical gesture would indicate warmth and compassion but really, we can’t just touch people, breaking our boundaries despite you being in pain e.g. crying. This sounds difficult but there have been many cases where sexual inappropriateness between therapist and client has occurred, usually from a case of mixed signals, other times, from genuine intimate feelings for each other. This in itself isn’t necessarily a dangerous thing, but for the therapeutic relationship, it certainly does more harm than good and it’s only right to warn you, do not get involved in ‘dual’ relationships; that of a client and that of a lover. It is against the rules of regulatory bodies throughout the country and the counsellor can lose their licence to practice. Let’s keep therapy about seeking help and healing, not for love making.
5) Your counsellor does more harm than good by not knowing how to apply a certain tool or skill to good use and instead, makes the problem worse for you. This means that they are incompetent in trying to help you. Say they use a technique that’s not suitable for your type of anxiety or problem area but they just give you generic notes and homework, this can limit the results of therapeutic benefit. This is because therapeutic techniques should always start with a basic formulation then trickle to down to specific techniques that help for your problem. This can mean you get frustrated and think you will never get better, making your worries worse than they should be. You can try to be more open to your therapist and let them know that the technique doesn’t help you. If the therapist doesn’t rectify their mistake then it’s best to leave and find a new therapist.
These are the tips of the iceberg (really). There’s always little things that can manifest in to big issues. As they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Neither were therapeutic **** ups. We all make mistakes but if they aren’t addressed then that can cause potential complications later on. Counsellors are here to learn and develop so that we are more efficient in identifying your problems and helping you in the shortest and best way possible. Therapy is always collaborative, it doesn’t matter what type of therapy is used. If there is a power or relationship imbalance, don’t be afraid to discuss this with your counsellor. You have every right for things to be made clear to you and for the complex to be broken down and understandable. So if any of these signs resonate with you, leave a comment if you’ve ever been affected by therapist mistakes and how you resolved it. See you next time.