Finding Red Flags in Your Therapist

It is a growing trend – a meme even – to call out red flags. Red flags in people, red flags in relationships, red flags in strangers, in situations. You name it, people are throwing out red flags, for things as silly as how a person cuts their sandwich to as serious as how they speak to wait-staff at a restaurant. 

Man on one knee with bouquet of red flags offering to a women. 
Meme caption reads "A dozen red flags?! I love them"

Tiktok has filters dedicated to calling out your red flags, and yes sometimes it’s scary accurate. Other times maybe not so much, but just like horoscopes they can be good for a laugh once in a while. 

But redflags are also important to look out for and identify. Like a stop sign or at a construction site, red flags show you potential threats, and when properly used can save you from minor inconveniences, or serious danger. 

The dictionary defines “red flag” as a verb: “to identify or draw attention to (a problem or issue to be dealt with).” If you would like to see another post about red flags to look out for in personal relationships leave a comment below and we can have a separate post dedicated to that. However, this post is dedicated to red flags you should look out for in your therapist or potential therapist. 

Last week we worked through how to interview your potential therapist to try and find the one that is right for you. This article will go hand-in-hand with that to add more tools to your toolbox to help you either find the right therapist, or help you identify red flags in your current therapist. 

A big tip 

Trust your gut. If you are getting “the ick”, or an overall bad feeling with your therapist, it may be time to start looking  around for someone new. 

Your gut is there to tell you things to keep you safe, both physically safe but also mentally safe, and you should listen. Maybe you didn’t get that bad feeling right away, maybe it was gradual. You used to look forward to your sessions with your new therapist and all of a sudden you are a month, 6 months, a year, or more down the road and you are dreading sessions. You feel uncomfy going to the office or logging onto the call. 

Trust your gut, see the red flags and move on. 

Do you have a personal relationship? 

If the answer is yes, Red flag. 

If you are friends with your therapist out in the real world then they shouldn’t be your therapist. They can help you find a suitable therapist to assist your needs. They can be a support outside of a professional setting. BUT your friend, cousin,uncle, or friends’ partner etc, should NOT be your therapist. 

This is a huge red flag as it shows unethical practices! Just the same as how they don’t allow surgeons to operate on their own family, a therapist should not be treating their friends and family. 

This leads us into our next point

If they are not following best practices,

For a therapist, HUGE red flag. This takes a variety of forms, including what’s mentioned above, but your therapist needs to be upholding an ethical way of practice. 

They don’t have their listening ears on. 

Now I’m not talking about them asking you to clarify details or repeat yourself once in a while. But if they are constantly having you repeat yourself or are clearly just not listening. This is a big deal. A therapist’s job is to listen (and to provide guidance but most of that is listening). 

You deserve to have a therapist that is engaged in your sessions and in your treatment plan. You can go somewhere else if they cannot provide what you need. 

If they are going outside their specialties. 

When you are needing help in a specific area outside of a therapist’s expertise and that therapist offers to bring you on knowing they aren’t trained in what you are looking for that is a red flag. 

A good therapist will realize they are not the right fit for you right now and offer to point you in the right direction. They may tell you what to search for to help you find a specialist better suited for your needs, or offer you a list of therapists in your area that offer what you are looking for. 

A dentist even decide that a therapist that was once a perfect fit is no longer serving you. 

Trust your gut, pay attention and be on the lookout for unethical practices. 

Ask trusted friends their opinions as well. If something your therapist is doing or saying seems off to you, run it by your friend and see if they also feel like that seems off. Friends are often much better at finding red flags than we are.

Don’t be afraid to go out and find what you deserve. 

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