Friday, November 15, 2002

Signs Of An Unhealthy Or Abusive Therapist - Or Therapy That Isn’t Helpful

Signs Of An Unhealthy Or Abusive Therapist - Or Therapy That Isn’t Helpful
© (1989) By Mary Beth Flanigan - Reprinted by Permission

Not all therapy relationships work or are helpful.  Sometimes the therapist is unhealthy or clearly abusive.  Sometimes the therapist and client have different styles and values and are not compatible.  Therapists are human and will occasionally make a mistake, but they should be able to admit it and apologize.  The client can trust his or her own feelings about whether or not the therapist and therapy are helpful  If any of the warning signs listed below seem to happen consistently, it could be time to make a change.
  1. Therapist is self-referencing. (“what are your fantasies about me? What do you think of me? Do you masturbate and dream of me?”)
  2. Therapist tell clients about therapist’s problems (Family, marital, financial, etc.).
  3. Therapist is dogmatic and condescending and encourages a power imbalance by considering himself or herself the “expert” and the client as a “patient”.
  4. Therapist is cold and aloof and has a stony blank stare.
  5. Therapist falls asleep during sessions (Client should not be charged for session if this happens).
  6. Therapist suggest clients have an alcoholic drink or take drugs to relax or become uninhibited.
  7. Therapist suggest meeting outside the office to have a drink together, see his or her apartment, etc.
  8. Therapist tries to impress client.
  9. Therapist breaks client’s confidentiality.  Therapist talks to client about other clients and reveals their identity.
  10. Therapist interrupts sessions, arrives late for sessions, ends early, or forgets sessions.
  11. Therapist says client may NOT get outside information about therapy, psychology, or self-help from books, tapes, support groups, or other resources.
  12. Therapist is controlling and client is passive.
  13. Therapist does not listen or really hear the client.
  14. Therapist holds client responsible for “inducing” all of the therapist’s feelings.
  15. Therapist is inflexible and insists on seeing client at unfair hours or always schedules client last after scheduling others.
  16. Therapist interprets everything as sexual.  Sessions are always sexually-oriented.  Therapist says client’s basic problem is sexual.  Therapist asks many questions about client’s sex life.
  17. Therapist tells client about therapist’s sex fantasies.
  18. Therapist suggest sexual touch or that the client and/or therapist takes off clothes.
  19. Therapist does not set healthy boundaries.
  20. Therapist labels client (borderline masochistic, hysterical, etc.)
  21. If client disagrees with therapist, then therapist says client is resisting transferring, avoiding, etc.
  22. Therapist takes advantage of client vulnerabilities.
  23. Therapist and client have a value conflict. Therapist is hung up on areas unimportant to client.
  24. Client feels down on self after sessions.
  25. Client feels forced into a generalized mold or treatment model.
  26. Therapist minimizes sexual violence history (i.e. rape seldom has a negative effect on a person. Forget about your assault, after all it didn’t include intercourse”)
  27. Client feels trapped and addicted to therapist
  28. Client feels sorry for therapist and feels obligated to take care of therapist and stay with him or her even though the therapy is not helpful.
  29. Therapist threatens client.  (I’ll take you off medication.  I’ll hospitalize you.  I’ll tell your family or friends about such and such.”)
  30. If client considers leaving therapist, therapist says things like, “You’ll fall apart without me. You’ll never get better".  No one else will work with you.  You’ll become alcoholic again.  No one else will care about you like I do.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this. I'm still recovering from therapy abuse from a psychiatrist. He'd threaten me that if I went into the hospital again, he'd terminate therapy. He'd get angry, get up from his chair, and stand over me, haranguing me if I in any way questioned him. He'd mock my surname and make other sarcastic or put-down remarks. He'd blame me for his mistakes--he couldn't apologize. He treated me like a label, not a person, and would make terrible comments about other patients with the same diagnosis. And worse.