Choosing a counselor that is right for you isn’t an easy task. The best counselors help to motivate you, treat your problems, and help you discover new traits about yourself, but some of the most ineffective counselors can end up causing their clients more harm than good. Just like in any profession, there are going to be counselors that aren’t as good as others. Here are some red flags that the counselor you’ve picked isn’t for you.
They Don’t Accept Feedback
Being a counselor doesn’t involve just providing you with ways to help you cope with things that you’re struggling with to help you grow. Your counselor needs to grow along with their clients as well, in their therapeutic relationship. One way to do that is to listen to the feedback that their clients give them and adapt their treatment plan accordingly. However, if the therapist gets aggressive after criticism, or they continue with the same treatment that the client wasn’t happy with, it may be time for you to consider another therapist.
They Put You Down
A good therapist will use psychological techniques and empathetic communication to help a client understand that some of their problems may be self-perpetuating, and this will help the client to accept the feedback, as well as change their approach to whatever issue it is that they’re working through. However, a therapist that harshly criticizes, berates, or does not realize how they communicate is upsetting the client or making them defensive is not one with whom you can have a constructive therapeutic relationship.
They Don’t Respect Your Beliefs
A counselor needs to be empathetic towards and sensitive to all different types of backgrounds, experiences, and beliefs. Each counselor has their own set of beliefs, but they need to put these aside when working with their clients. If your counselor is trying to force their views on you, or convert you to or convince you of their beliefs, this is a bad sign. Unless you’re in a potentially harmful environment, you shouldn’t feel like your therapist is challenging your beliefs.
They Don’t Respect the Privacy of Other Clients
A therapist needs to practice the utmost confidentiality at all times. If your situation is similar to another client’s, the therapist may mention the client in general, but they cannot give any information that identifies the client. If they are casually mentioning other clients’ names, or giving identifying information other than their name (e.g., where they work), then this is a problem.
They Are Hardly on Time or Available
Sometimes, a counselor may not be on time – incidents and emergencies happen. However, a counselor who is constantly late, repeatedly canceling appointments, or is always difficult to reach may be someone who you don’t want to work with.
They Barely Talk
A therapist needs to be a good listener, but there comes a time when they need to respond and offer feedback. If you feel like you’ve been able to vent but unable to practice any new coping skills since you haven’t learned any, there needs to be some kind of intervention in the therapeutic relationship and process. You need a therapist who can not only listen, but also respond with constructive techniques that will help you cope.
Other than the reasons listed above, you can also read reviews from other clients and see if a certain counselor is right for you before you even attend your first session. Online counseling services such as BetterHelp try to pair you with a counselor who is best for you as soon as you sign up, but as with any other therapeutic relationship, it may take more than one try before you’re paired with the counselor who works with you best. Don’t be afraid to take charge of your mental health journey if you feel like you are stuck with a therapist that isn’t working for you, and make an effort to find someone that helps you achieve your goals, not keep you from them.
Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health- related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.