by Andrea M. Darcy
Therapy is really a relationship between two people – you and your therapist. And like any relationship, it doesn’t always work out, and you can be left thinking, “I hate my therapist!” What next?
[And read our connected article, too, ‘What to do if you don’t like your therapist‘.]
Questions to ask if you don’t like your therapist
‘Hating’ your therapist can also be a sign of other things altogether. How can you tell if “I hate my therapist” means move on – or something else? Go through our handy question list.
1. Have I taken my time to come to the conclusion that I don’t like my therapist?
- How long have I been seeing this therapist?
- Is it long enough to question if they are the right therapist for me?
- Have I tried the rule of four?
Much like dating, where you can be somewhat unsure of someone but then they grow on you, it’s suggested you give a therapist at least four sessions (three plus an assessment) before deciding it’s a fit or not.
2. What are my concrete reasons for not liking him or her?
- Can I clearly list my reasons on paper?
- Are my reasons emotional, or rational?
- Can I find facts and evidence to support each reason?
There are valid reasons to not work with a therapist, and if a therapist ever crosses a professional boundary then it makes sense to leave immediately.
But if your reasons are ‘a funny feeling they don’t like me’, or small details like the way they look, speak, or move their hands, you might be secretly sabotaging your own progress.
3. Is this about my therapist, or therapy?
- Is the process of therapy making me feel at all uncomfortable or vulnerable?
- Did I choose to do therapy or was I pushed into it by someone?
- Is it my therapist I don’t like, or the process of therapy itself?
Therapy is a strange concept, if you think about it. And it’s not always pleasant. But it does work. So do consider if you are panicking because it’s an all new experience, and remember things take time to adjust to.
4. Is this situation familiar to me, if I’m honest with myself?
- Do I often not like people at first?
- Do I have troubles making friends? Or forming lasting relationships?
- Would it be fair say that I have trust issues? Or find intimacy hard?
Many people who attend therapy have issues letting people close. And if you don’t trust others, why would you suddenly trust your therapist? It’s okay to need time to do so. Look for the possibility of trust instead. Do they seem like the person you might grow to trust over time?
5. Am I seeing my therapist as they really are?
Therapy is an intense process, and strange dynamics can happen. Projection is when you transfer your own feelings onto someone else (in this case your therapist).
Transference is when we unconsciously transfer feelings about someone from the past onto our therapist.
Neither of these mean you should quit working with your therapist – once recognised they can be tools for exploration and growth.
6. Have I fully committed to therapy?
- Do I often quit things you start? Relationships, projects, even jobs?
- Have I doubted therapy all along?
- What is it that makes me doubt therapy?
If you are a commitment phobe, who worries and doubts most things they get involved in, then therapy will be no different. Deciding your therapist isn’t good enough or that you ‘hate your therapist’ can just be self-sabotage in disguise.
7. Have I approached this situation in an appropriate way?
- Have I been honest with my therapist that I’m not sure it’s working?
- Could I at least let them know the process itself is making me uncomfortable?
It’s possible you find telling people how you really feel embarrassing. But remember, you are paying for therapy. And your therapist is trained to handle people’s honest thoughts. The very act of trying to have an open conversation with your therapist can be learning curve in communicating that can make all you’ve gone through in the therapy room worth your investment, even if you do decide to leave.
Time to change therapists or move on?
If you’ve answered the questions above and it seems that your feelings about your therapist could be confused with your feelings about therapy in general, try to keep going. Another therapist will likely produce the same effects, meaning you have sabotaged your progress and started again for no good reason.
But if your answers show this is not about therapy or your own issues but that your therapist is not good at their job or is someone you will just never relax around, then don’t quit therapy. Quit the therapist. Like dating, it can take a few attempts before something works out.
[You might find our piece, ‘I want to fire my therapist‘ a useful read, as well as our piece on ‘finding the right therapist for you‘].
You might even be engaged in the wrong kind of therapy for your personality and issues. Another kind of therapy altogether can be a revelation that means you end up loving the process and your next therapist. Read or guide to different schools of therapeutic thought if this might be your real issue.
Need a new therapist? Harley Therapy strictly vets therapists to ensure they are highly competent. We offer counsellors, psychotherapists, and counselling psychologists in London as well as worldwide via online therapy.
Andrea M. Darcy is a mental health and wellbeing expert with training in person-centred counselling and coaching. As well as being a popular writer she works as a consultant helping people plan their perfect therapy journey. Find her on Instagram @am_darcy