Checklist: 12 Signs It ‘s Time to Change Your Therapist

ON THE WAY TO PSYCHOTHERAPY CARE, there are many obstacles: after overcoming your own fears, prejudices and stereotypes, you still have to choose a psychotherapist you can trust. We’ve already talked about what to look for when looking for a professional, and now we have compiled a list of signs that it might be time to turn to someone else.     

Lack of contact

The active participation of both parties – the client and the specialist – is a prerequisite for progress. The principle of partnership and contact is one of the key principles in psychotherapy; it is a team work in which trust and understanding are important. As in the case of any other doctor, it is important to find someone with whom comfortably – this is normal, if the search is “their” man will take time and will have to apply to the representatives of different schools and directions .         

The personality of the therapist plays an important role. If you do not feel that you are heard and understood correctly, you can not get rid of the feeling that the psychotherapist’s worldview and coordinate system are too different from yours and this affects his work – it makes sense to continue searching.          

Too close contact 

The credit of trust given to the therapist is colossal, but sometimes it leads to blurring of boundaries. If this happens during the first experience of seeking psychological help, it may seem that “as intended” and psychotherapy are soulful conversations in an atmosphere of close friendship. But extremes are fraught with problems, and too close contact is just as counterproductive as a complete lack of understanding. Psychotherapeutic interventions have certain regulations, and a good specialist carefully monitors their implementation.     

The danger can arise after long-term cooperation: in this case, communication begins to look more like friendly meetings, conversations concern topics not related to psychotherapy, the doctor shares the details of his own life, passes a comfortable level of intimacy for you, or allows informal communication outside psychotherapy sessions. It does n’t matter on whose initiative the required distance was reduced; if this condition is violated , it’s time to look for another specialist. You cannot help a client learn to build healthy boundaries without having this skill on your own.      

Lack of support

If the issue of distance is more or less intuitively clear, then the issue of neutrality is somewhat more complicated. In theory, the therapist is a neutral and impartial figure . But in practice, the client is in a situation of vulnerability and needs unconditional support. In other words, it’s important to be supported, encouraged, and praised.       

A competent psychotherapist will help you see progress and teach you to appreciate the work done. Each small step in the right direction motivates and gives strength to move on and look for solutions to the tasks set. If , before meeting with a psychotherapist, you have a feeling of a guilty student or a painful feeling of loneliness and anxiety , this is a reason to look for a new specialist.         

Strange working methods

There is no strict regulation of the sphere of psychological assistance in our country yet – and because of this, one may encounter unprofessionalism, strange unproven methods or an openly commercial attitude towards the client. If the therapist does not cope with answering your questions, can not clearly and clearly explain the goals of his actions, insists on exercises, practices and methods that are unacceptable and uncomfortable for you – perhaps you are faced with an incompetent self-taught person who is not guided by professional standards, but own fantasies and “author’s techniques”.              

It is no less dangerous if they are trying to impose non-existent diagnoses on you and delay therapy. The painful feeling that you are simply being used as a source of income is a reinforced concrete reason to turn to another psychotherapist.    

Inattention or forgetfulness  

In most cases, psychotherapy is a long process, so it is important that the therapist has a certain “working memory” and shows a sincere interest: he does not forget important facts and details of your life, does not get confused in events, knows about the peculiarities of your psyche.       

It does not matter how this will be achieved: a good memory, mnemonic techniques, or simple notes in a notebook that the doctor reviews before each appointment, it is important that you do not have to retell the same experiences or events several times. If you and your life confused with someone from the other clients may suffer and privacy – and this is definitely a reason to finish the relationship.       

Extreme discomfort

Psychotherapy can very well be a source of negative emotions and unpleasant experiences. Often, the path to solving the problem lies through the “traumatic” period, dissection of fears and complexes and re-living situations that, in fact, forced them to seek help. This is not the most pleasant process, but understanding the goal and the algorithm of actions together with professional “support” compensate for the painful experience.   

It is important to “storm” is not delayed and is not turned into the leitmotif of your work with a therapist. Psychotherapy should not turn into a series of feats and a constant race to survive. The feeling of hopelessness of efforts, fear of telling the truth, constant anxiety and depression, lack of a sense of relief is a reason to audit the interaction with a psychotherapist.            

Pressure and insecurity  

Working through negative periods is not an easy task in itself, and it is completely unacceptable for the therapist to become a source of additional discomfort and negative emotions.  

Devaluation of your feelings, value judgments towards you or others, inappropriate jokes and sarcasm, ridicule, passive-aggressive tone, inattention, neglect and disregard of requests, condescending attitude, lack of flexibility and empathy, condemnation or attempts to impose “correct” outlook on life – all these are signs of unprofessionalism and a reason to immediately abandon further interaction.         

Breaking the context

The other extreme is a psychotherapist who tries to artificially neutralize difficult moments and solve problems for you, that is, goes beyond analysis and counseling to become a “counselor”. Imperative instructions, imposing your own vision of the situation, peremptory instructions, attempts to control your actions and manage the course of events, ready-made answers to questions instead of joint reflection are evidence of incompetence. Another unacceptable situation is the behavior of the therapist, when you start trying to please him, earn encouragement and approval.        

The professional community has developed protocols and guidelines for psychotherapeutic interaction for almost all occasions – for example, there is a guide for dealing with acute stressful conditions , a guide for working with LGBT clients , protocols for dealing with chronic depression or helping patients with breast cancer . A competent psychotherapist follows the appropriate regulations and ethical principles, and “manual management” of the client’s life is not included in them .            

Problems with discipline, respect and ethics

This point may seem obvious, but due to the lack of uniform standards and regulatory mechanisms in a huge number of cases, psychotherapists do not follow the elementary rules of professional (and sometimes purely human) ethics and norms of interaction. It is perfectly reasonable for you to not tolerate being late, disrespecting your time and effort, indiscipline, or breaches of confidentiality.      

Indifference to your needs and violation of agreements is also a reason to end the relationship and turn to another specialist. It is clear that force majeure can happen to everyone and it makes sense to use common sense and seek compromises. However, eight out of ten cases are no longer force majeure, but a pattern according to which conclusions should be drawn.          

Lack of a clear and clear purpose 

When you seek help from a psychotherapist, in most cases you have a specific request. Even if you did not fully formulate it when you addressed, after a certain period it is reasonable to expect that together with the psychotherapist you will understand “what is wrong”. A vision of the situation should appear, which will allow us to set specific tasks.          

The psychotherapist’s job is also to help you create a comfortable roadmap, define a goal that you would like to move towards and which allows you to measure progress. Psychotherapy for the sake of psychotherapy does not make sense, and if at each session you pour from empty to empty, perhaps this is a case of insufficient competence or just greed.    

Non-compliance with professional requirements

Another obvious point, a kind of checklist inside the checklist: regardless of the direction, type and school of psychotherapy, there are a number of conditions , if violated, you should not even start cooperation. An obligatory requirement is a high-quality, thorough and systematic education (confirmed by a diploma), continuous professional development, compulsory personal psychotherapy and supervision. Participation of a specialist in international professional associations and conferences is also desirable.        

A narrow specialization on specific problems and tasks is an optional condition, but, as a rule, it speaks of expertise, experience and high competence, whether it be working with family relationships, addictions or certain diagnoses.       

No result 

If you have spent adequate time in therapy , agreed in advance, but intermediate goals have not been achieved, there is no positive dynamics and a sense of progress, you feel that you are just marking time, it makes sense to evaluate the effectiveness of the approach or professionalism. In successful therapy, it also happens that after a long work, all the resources of a specialist or method are exhausted – and it’s time to look for something new. Such situations should be discussed without hesitation; together (the therapist in such cases consults with his supervisor) you will be able to figure out which course of events will be optimal. If your doubts, negative feelings and feelings of crisis are ignored , this is an excuse to complete the interaction unilaterally.             

It is important that from the very beginning of cooperation, the psychotherapist should inform you as much as possible about the course of therapy and the possible risks. For example, the fact that you might feel worse initially shouldn’t come as a daunting surprise. The principle of informed consent of the patient, which guides medicine, also applies to psychotherapy.

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