Instagram | cunniffeclaire

People Disclose Their Therapy Horror Stories

Paddy Clarke 5 Nov 2019

Therapy can be a fantastic source of support for a lot of people. Having a therapist that really takes the time to work with you through the problems you are facing can provide stability, confidence, and better general well-being.

However, there are sadly a lot of therapists who do not have their client's best interests at heart. So, one person took to Reddit to ask, "Therapists of Reddit, what are some Red Flags we should look for in therapists?"

In amongst the responses were a lot of people sharing their own negative experiences with therapists, and here are some of the most shocking, strange, and unsettling stories.

1. Dead Pet Psychic

Instagram | kandacewesthoff

"I had a therapist who worked out of my psychiatrist's office and would pass along medication recommendations based on our sessions, which my psychiatrist would blindly honor. The whole office was a farce. I saw the psychiatrist once over two years (initial meeting) and after that, all I saw was this t**t of a nurse. The therapist, I found out later, had a side business as a DEAD PET PSYCHIC." — inutska

Yeah, I can see why you wouldn't want to be taking pills suggested by a dead pet psychic. I can't imagine that's a profession that has a lot of qualification requirements.

Load Comments

2. Grocery Shopping

Instagram | chiefshoppingofficer

"I had a therapist sitting in front of me writing on a pad while I was discussing my grandfather's declining health. Seemed normal enough-taking notes or whatever... until she dropped the pad on the ground by accident! Turns out she was writing her grocery list while I'm sobbing across the room."

Call me crazy, but I don't think that planning your grocery shopping is in the therapist handbook. Maybe under "DO NOT DO!" perhaps.

Load Comments

3. Imposing Religious Beliefs

Instagram | salvagehouse_collective

"Tried going to a therapist during university. During the first visit, she asked about my religious beliefs and scoffed when I told her I didn't find any of the arguments for God(s) convincing. And then she implied that was a cause of my difficulties. Needless to say, I didn't go back." — copperpanner

Apparently, therapists trying to impose their own religious beliefs on their clients is more common than you may think according to the amount of responses claiming that this happened to them. You're not there to be converted!

Load Comments

4. "Grounding"

Instagram | chronisches.fernweh

"I spoke to an online counselor one time who said they wanted to try something called 'grounding.' I didn't know what it was, but I was like, 'Ok. I'll try anything once.'

"He showed me a picture of 3 women in tight, short dresses (I am female, btw) and said the one in the middle was his wife. I needed to stare deeply into her eyes and imagine I had the kind of self-confidence she did, that I felt as sexy as she did and I was like, 'This is weird. I'm..uncomfortable with this.' He said it was all part of the process and I noped out of there quick." — KnockMeYourLobes

A lot of therapists replied to this one emphasizing that this is not what "grounding" is, something which I could have probably guessed!

Load Comments

5. Marrying A Client

Instagram | happyhand69

"I had two foster brothers growing up, one of them had no sense of self. He had a list of people he was told to trust and would believe anything they said to him over his own senses. He eventually got moved into a medium-security facility and we were told he would likely never be able to live outside of a structured environment.

"Then he got a new counselor who declared that he was fine and should be released immediately. Oh and then she quit her job and married him." — Fenrir101

That is a shockingly predatory story. Hopefully, this person is no longer working as a therapist.

Load Comments

6. Narcissistic Therapist

Instagram | vimraman Verified

"A red flag I've noticed is therapists who talk about themselves a lot. I interned under one lady who spent most of the time talking about her wedding plans or staring at her computer screen while the patient answered very sterile questions." — V1gumby

You're there to work on yourself, that is very important to remember!

Load Comments

7. Grilling About Sexual Activities

Unsplash | Toimetaja tõlkebüroo

"I had a therapist who, for 3 sessions in a row, grilled me about why I wasn't sexually active, dating, etc. He then told me that, 'You know, I really think it's important that you have these experiences now, because people pair off in their 20s and get married, and if you don't have these experiences you'll be left behind'. I was 16 at the time." — chuggingbeans

Well, that scores pretty high on the creep scale, doesn't it?

Load Comments

8. Ignoring The Real Problem

Instagram | thestyleforwork

"The last guy I saw suggested changing my appearance would 'make me feel more professional.' Like what the hell guy. I’m here to talk through years of childhood trauma. Not my physical appearance." — Brelalanana

Some people will just offer what they perceive as solutions to problems that they are seeing, not what you're actually struggling with.

Load Comments

9. Flirting

Instagram | mhmd_pakbaz

"I had a therapist who began flirting with me and expressing feelings for me three years into our work (he had been really helpful up until then) and the first indication of this switch was everything listed here. First, he frequently talked about his relationship with his father and how it was the source of his own depression. Then he started expressing extremely positive personal opinions about me, like how great, sensitive, smart, open-minded I am. Then he started sitting with legs wide open, running his fingers through his hair and chewing on his lip/pen cap and playing with his wedding ring." — TheWarOn

Apparently, this person eventually left this therapist; however, the flirting didn't start until 3 years into therapy. It is so important that you can trust your therapist, who knows why they would decide to spoil that after so long.

Load Comments

10. Invalidating Client's Emotions

Unsplash | Kristina Tripkovic

"When I was a teen I used to self harm a lot and when my therapist saw my scars she said they weren't deep enough to be of concern. This obviously led me to start cutting myself more intensely (deeper/more frequently)." — sk_kaleigh

Having a therapist who doesn't care enough to take the time to work through your struggles appropriately can be sometimes more damaging than not seeing a therapist at all.

Load Comments

11. Knitting Instead Of Listening

Instagram | mi_knit5656

"Mine would knit during our sessions, which to be fair I initially agreed to, but eventually it became apparent that she was focusing more on keeping track of her pattern than what I was saying. The last straw was when she asked me to look at her knitting and see if I could fix it for her. She should have been paying me!" — shutpuppy

You should be your therapist's only concern during your sessions, not their archaic hobbies.

Load Comments

12. Falling Asleep

Unsplash | Maeghan Smulders

"Just flipped my sh*t on a provider because the case manager literally used a meeting to take a nap while I talked to him (I ended up turning off the lights and leaving). Dude seriously sat there and fell asleep while I was telling him how stressed I was by some things going on in my life. Oh, he forgot about my first meeting. We had planned to meet after a week, he forgot that too." — ACaffeinatedWandress

And to think that I used to feel bad for falling asleep in lectures!

Load Comments

13. Putting Patients Into Boxes

Instagram | tempora_expo

"My one and only time I went to counselling it felt like she kept trying to categorize me into a box... Like I was talking about how my parents are really manipulative and she went on like 'Guilt is a very common parenting tactic for Jewish people, are you Jewish?' and then when I told her I wasn't she stuck to saying that what they were doing was legitimate anyway.

"When I was talking about my mom and how she had a ton of brothers and sisters she said 'Oh, was she French Canadian' [...] I told her no and was kinda thrown off by those questions. It was bizarre and put me off therapy." — neitheryounori

Load Comments

14. Grabbing Clients Wrists

Instagram | cunniffeclaire

"I've had therapists who weren't content with simply offering advice: they forced on me their view of what I 'should' do or 'should' be able to do. And to be clear, some of this 'advice' was well-intended. But the manner in which it was forced on me -- by grabbing my wrists and refusing to let go until I promised not to self-harm anymore, for example -- left me more damaged and sick than I was before starting therapy." — ImmiSnow

Thankfully, this person went on to explain that they eventually found an amazing therapist who is helping them immensely. Finding the right therapist can be difficult, but when it works, the results can be astounding.

Load Comments

15. Unprepared To Talk With LGBTQ+ Clients

Instagram | lgbt_advice_and_safe_space

"Recently saw a therapist because I'm about to transition, and within the first 30 minutes of seeing him he told me he doesn't think I'm trans, but that I'm 'confused about my sexuality', despite being very confident about being bi, and very determined to transition.

"He then kept giving me advice that was about 20 or more years outdated, wouldn't listen to me when I told him I'm not interested in genital surgery as of right now and did not use accurate terminology at all.

"The last time I saw him, he mentioned that he had been 'intimate' with a trans woman [...] and told me a graphic story about a hate crime one of his patients from years ago experienced." — OptimalOstrich

This person does not sound appropriately trained to discuss LGBTQ+ issues with clients.

Load Comments

16. Sleeping With Clients

Instagram | purezone_australia

"I know an acquaintance that went to a therapist for a sex addiction problem. She had sex with him. So yeah, flirtation happens." — exitpursuedbyagolden

It's hard to imagine that anyone could actually be that unprofessional as to sleep with people in their care.

Load Comments

17. Promoting Their Dietary Choices

Instagram | padocadoalex

"I was going to a therapist for a while (the only one in my network who would help me for my suicidal ideation), and several sessions were spent on her talking about how wonderful the paleo diet is and how my depression could be chalked up to not eating the right things. I've literally been suicidal since 9 years old but okay, sure, bread is the cause of my depression." — spellbookworm

Load Comments

18. Pocket Book

Instagram | @drafithailaender

"Emphasizing how important it is to pay them for their sessions before they even start trying to work with you," this person shares, "My first therapist spent most of our first session talking about how her pay structure works, etc. (at the time I didn't have health coverage and was paying for treatment myself) and did very little "work" in regards to why I was there."

Load Comments

19. Sexism

Instagram | @humanhanded_58

"I was seeing a psychiatrist as a preteen who told my mum I was just a hysterical female," this woman shares, "Sexist therapists are a fat f**king NO."

Load Comments

20. Only Child Syndrome

Instagram | @hearthomeandtreasure

"I had a therapist who said I would have been less traumatized if I had a sibling," this person shares, "Because they’d have been someone I could talk to."

Load Comments

21. Keeping Information From The Patient

Instagram | @pics_by_repent

"Mine diagnosed me with a disorder without telling me," this person writes, "I found out months later from my family doctor after I was no longer even seeing her."

Load Comments

22. Do It For The Gram

Unsplash | NeONBRAND

"If your therapist tells you, you have to clear every social media post with them before you post it, they're bad news," this person writes.

Load Comments

23. Mirror Mirror

Instagram | @feda_federica

"Mine used to tell me that I had a 'healthy sense of narcissism,'" this person reveals, "What kind of a person says that?"

Load Comments

24. The Dark Side

Instagram | @animetoons_art

"If they take your abuser's side and tell you that if they came to visit you, you're not allowed to have boundaries and you have to let them in your house," this person shares.

Load Comments

25. Pride

Instagram | @nyulgbtq

"Any therapist who thinks your sexuality is a phase isn't a good therapist," this person writes, "Find a new one."

Load Comments

26. Just A Feeling

Instagram | @f.l.o.e.e.s.n.e.l

"The worst is when you leave the appointment feeling worse than you came in," this person writes, "My therapist used to make me feel like that all the time."

Load Comments

27. Why So Serious?

Instagram | @mascara_convictions

"During the first session, she suggested that I didn't take psychology seriously and that it was the reason I didn't come earlier," this person shares, "It was not the case and if anything it made me feel a bit hostile against her."

Load Comments

28. Personal Agenda

Instagram | @jazg93

"I had a therapist in my early twenties who needed patients for a clinical trial," this guy writes, "Within 30 mins he has 'diagnosed' me with Borderline Personality Disorder. I had seen therapists in the past and was studying abnormal psychology at the time. I might be many things but I didn't have BPD."

Load Comments

29. Allowing Violence

Instagram | @myigish

"I went to couples therapy trying to salvage a 3-year relationship with a toxic ex GF," this guy writes, "In the first session, my ex became enraged, then asked the therapist if she could hit me.

"The therapist said 'sure' and my ex slapped me across the back of the head so hard that my hat flew across the room. The therapist looked a little surprised. She said, 'I thought you were just going to punch him in the arm or something' Then she handed me my hat from the floor, and continued the session like nothing had happened."

Load Comments

30. Your Fault

Instagram | @_beers_and_burgers

"I’m not a therapist," this person writes, "But had one once tell me, after I described the abuse my husband was doing to me in his alcoholic states, that I needed to just submit to my husband and treat him better and maybe he wouldn’t abuse me."

Load Comments

31. Introduction

Instagram | @cc_chapman

"I once had a therapist introduce herself to me on the SECOND appointment," this person shares, "She had no memory of the first until I reminded her. It had been one week."

Load Comments

32. Confidentiality

Instagram | @kellyleigh42

"I had such a great relationship with my therapist but I found out she would tell everything I told her to a family friend," this person writes, "My mom found out from our family friend and I stopped seeing her. I already had trust issues and she knew it. It still hurts."

Load Comments

33. Put It Back

Instagram | @kraina_decu

"I once had one tell me to 'put it back in the box' after I explained to her that 4 years of repressed trauma felt like a box had finally burst open," this person shares.

Load Comments

34. Conflict Of Interest

Instagram | @katieruthkx

"When they start dating your ex," one person writes, "run out the door!"

Load Comments

35. The Future Is Bright

Instagram | @pandapan

"I tried talking to a therapist about the abuse I'd suffered as a child," this person writes, "She shut me down and said we should "be talking about positive things and looking forward to my future."

Load Comments

36. Their Opinion Is Fact

Instagram | @ed_jones_co_

"My (ex)partner and I had started couples counseling," this person writes, "At some point, I revealed my negative opinions about cops and the entire law enforcement system (grounded on personal experience).

She told me her husband was a retired cop & argued with me. She had a contentious attitude in the next session."

Load Comments

37. Bereavement Counsellor

Instagram | danielaestalagem

"My worst counselling experience was a bereavement counsellor after my partner died. She asked me 'are you angry that he left you?' and when I said no, absolutely not, it wasn't his fault he got cancer and he would have done anything in the world to be able to stay with me she said 'well I'm angry at him for leaving you'. It was so fked up, who the fk was she to say that? I didn't go back." — charlytune

What on Earth could possess someone to say something like that? You're better off not going back to someone like that!

Load Comments

38. Talking Exclusively About Themselves

Instagram | louisesverden

"Had a therapist once who would make every session about him and his childhood abuse. Like yeah, I was a suicidal 16 yr old in an abusive home who was largely at risk of running away or killing myself but let's talk about you and your problems dude. That's what the state is paying you for. But hey, at least he gave me a script for sleeping pills so my nightmares couldn't bother me." — witchy_betch1014

Load Comments

39. Unhealthy Power Dynamic

Unsplash | Nik Shuliahin

"I think there is a misconception that advice giving is what is most helpful. Therapists don't often give advice but rather they offer alternative perspectives and create space for a collaborative approach to explore new ways of overcoming obstacles. We, as therapists, shouldn't ever assume we know what is best for a client to do. It is their life. If you have a therapist telling you what to do, I would have to assume there is an unhealthy power dynamic occurring which can have a variety of negative outcomes." — sahcratik

This one isn't so much a horror story as something which I think is really important to consider. There have been a lot of negative stories about therapists here, and while you should be careful choosing a therapist, there are some amazing ones out there who are dedicated to helping people overcome issues and live better lives.

Load Comments
Next Article