In my most recent blog, I talked about the dangers of therapists who may not have properly addressed their own psychological wounds, and may even be in denial about that. Perhaps they did a counselling or psychotherapy training, where they were told it wasn’t necessary to undergo their own personal therapy, or just felt that they were not in need of it.
For clients, what are maybe some of the potential signs to look out for to indicate that a therapist may have poor boundaries, or is not adhering to the ethical framework of whichever accrediting body they hopefully belong to ?
He or she :
- Regularly misses, cancels or is late for therapy appointments
- Fails to stick to time boundary of the session
- Discusses other clients with you
- Over discloses about his/her life by spending a lot of the session talking about him/herself
- Pushes you to disclose or discuss anything before you are ready
- Tells you what to do rather than exploring your feelings, and needs and wants from therapy
- Expresses anger towards you
- Is defensive if challenged by you
If you have had a troubling experience with a therapist, then maybe the first step is to try to broach it with him or her, and see if you can resolve it informally and quickly. However if that doesn’t work, or you don’t feel it is appropriate, then you can raise a complaint formally with the counselling or psychotherapy accreditation board they belong to. For example the BACP, which I belong to, has a Professional Conduct Procedure, but I have to say that it’s a lengthy procedure lasting between six and nine months. Of course this assumes that the therapist does belong to an accrediting body such as, for example, The British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) or The UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP) and not all do, so worth checking this out first when you are looking for a counsellor or psychotherapist.
If this sounds pretty bleak then it’s not meant to, as of course there are many brilliant safe and healthy therapists out there. I am really grateful to have had a couple along the way who really helped me to transform my life, and I am lucky to now know and work alongside some, whose opinions and experience I have huge respect for. I am sure the majority would be as horrified as I was, when hearing about the experiences of the people I spoke to, and most therapists I know are committed to their own personal development – not because of any course or professional requirement, but because they are also on a journey of self discovery like their clients.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about this post or anything else, or would like to book a consultation.