With the spotlight on mental illness these days, lots of people are seeking help from therapists and counselors. There are some very good therapists in the field, but there are also some very bad ones. Ironically, many mentally ill people are drawn to be counselors and therapists. This doesn't mean they'll be bad therapists or counselors, but it doesn't mean they'll be good ones, either. This field is a magnet for narcissists, in particular. A good therapist can be immensely helpful to your family and your situation, but a bad or unqualified therapist can be detrimental or even dangerous.
This checklist is by no means all-encompassing. The most important thing is that you feel comfortable and secure with your therapist. If you don't - regardless of the reason - you should find another one.
40 Reasons You Might Think About Finding a New Therapist:
Your therapist does not have the qualifications or experience to treat your diagnosis
Your therapist does not remember your name, your diagnosis or what you last talked about
Your therapist makes judgments or gives opinions about your life or relationships too soon: tells you to leave your marriage during your first session, etc.
Your therapist does other things during your session, such as read email or eat lunch
Your therapist takes calls or sends texts during your session
Your therapist is inappropriately confrontational or aggressive
Your therapist is inappropriately rude or sarcastic
Your therapist tries too hard to be a friend rather than a counselor
Your therapist appears bored or falls asleep (yes, it does happen)
Your therapist tells you too much personal information or talks about themselves too much
Your therapist expresses a personal bias (religion, race, sex, gender, etc.)
Your therapist makes fun of you or makes you feel demeaned
Your therapist insists that you need more therapy when you feel you're ready to move on
Your therapist talks about money or payment too much
Your therapist uses foul language (some people are OK with this, but sometimes it's an indication of a lack of respect - both for you and their job)
Your therapist routinely blames your family members, spouse, partner, parents, etc. and/or encourages you to do so
Your therapist routinely makes inappropriate or diagnostic comments about people they have not met: "She sounds like a jerk!" "He must be bipolar."
Your therapist dismisses your concerns or does not address them
Your therapist dismisses your spiritual beliefs, or conversely, pushes their spiritual beliefs on to you
Your therapist gives you no feedback or feedback that does not relate to your situation
Your therapist will not discuss your diagnosis with you or your treatment
Your therapist does not suggest or help you decide on goals or a treatment plan
Your therapist tries to convince you that things you think are a problem are not a problem
Your therapist tries to talk you out of your diagnosis or displays bias for/against certain things, such as saying things like "You aren't really bipolar. I know a bipolar person and they’re not like you," or, "You don't have Borderline Personality Disorder because you're a guy. Only women can have that.” (If they have a true concern that you’ve been misdiagnosed, that’s different.)
Your therapist makes inappropriate gestures, such as initiating any physical contact like a hug
Your therapist asks for your help with a personal problem
Your therapist attempts to see or contact you outside of the professional relationship, such as going to a movie
Your therapist encourages you to be dependent on them
Your therapist concentrates too much on negative things
Your therapist pushes you too hard and causes you to withdraw or conversely, does not push hard enough and therapy cannot progress
Your therapist will not answer questions about their background, experience or education
Your therapist is not available when you need them, cuts sessions short, cancels a lot or is otherwise unreliable
Your therapist breaches your privacy: tells people about you, allows interruptions in the sessions, discusses other people's cases with you
Your therapist attempts to tell you what to do, rather than help you figure it out for yourself
Your therapist seems too needy or dependent on you
Your therapist teases you in any way or flirts with you (this is a big no-no)
Your therapist does not provide a "light at the end of the tunnel" or let you know how therapy will be considered successful
Your therapist expresses inappropriate feelings for you
Your therapist insists they have the right answers or that they know everything
Your therapist focuses on "symptom treatment" only, without finding out or addressing the causes for the symptoms
Any and all of these things are red flags that you might need a new therapist. They don't all bother everybody but some of them (such as inappropriate feelings or physical contact) are absolute deal-breakers whether they bother you or not because if they occur, the therapist-client relationship has been compromised. Again, the important thing is that you feel comfortable. If you don't, even if your therapist has done none of these things, you should find a new therapist. Sometimes personalities just don't "click" and that's OK. We are all human beings.
Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that the therapy relationship is not supposed to be a totally one-sided situation where you are going to an absolute authority and you must do whatever they say. It is an active partnership where you are both participating in bettering your health.
Please see Part II of this article: Questions To Ask A New Therapist