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Bad Therapy 3 / episode 22 show notes

Updated: Mar 27, 2020

TO PILE IT ON… These mirror some themes we’ve talked about

Don’t give advice!

  • After telling a therapist about an upsetting conversation I had with my cousin, the therapist asked if I could “just block [my cousin’s] number.”

  • I asked for help reconnecting with my husband and she told me to get a divorce.

  • My couples therapist was going on maternity leave and pushed me to leave the relationship. She later called (after my divorce) to apologize for rushing a resolution before her leave. To be clear, I made my own choice, but the sessions did not feel safe at a vulnerable time.

  • A counselor told me to sleep around to get over the heartbreak of leaving a 3 year plus relationship.

Religion, negative expectations, inability to work with trauma, didn’t refer out

  • After working with a therapist for a few months on normal teenage issues (was 16 at the time) and trauma from an abusive childhood, she threw a couple “coping mechanism” worksheets at me and then said blankly “I’ve done all I can do for you. Jesus is your only hope.” (I can laugh now but at the time it felt very lonely and hopeless.)

Medication compulsion -

  • Had one therapist say she cannot go forward with me if I don’t take medication. PS: I’ve gotten myself to a good place WITHOUT medication.

One for Mercedes -

  • He was barefoot in our first session together. Therapists don’t do this. Total Seinfeld episode.


Hi. I just watched the live video about an hour ago and I cried when you said that it was OK to ask for what I needed and what I thought might be helpful. I’m a pretty good communicator and I do have some ideas of what may help me. But, I have had three therapists who never made space for my requests. And of course in those times I feel like I must be doing something wrong then. I have these battles in my head where I know I am not being unreasonable, and I am being articulate, and I believe what I’m asking for is going to help me… because I know me. But based on the responses or lack, I flip back again to thinking that there must be something wrong with me. I try to figure out where I am wrong, so I can make it right. And it all makes me sicker.

  • Why aren’t these therapists listening to the client?

  • To “make space” for a client is exactly the point of being a therapist

  • Reinforcing client’s negative self-image

  • Invalidating appropriate assertiveness

  • Therapeers, in session 1, give your clients permission to ask for what they need.

  • “Makes me sicker.” To all listeners - you’re not sick. You’re stuck. You’re not abnormal but probably survived something that was.

“For over a decade, I worked with an older female therapist that helped me tremendously in working thru my severe childhood traumas. She was beyond helpful. However, since my mother had been wickedly abusive causing me to run away when I was 16, my therapist kept wanting to actually step-in & be my new mother. I know that may sound sweet on one level, but I found it confusing & inappropriate while I was literally trying to walk thru the fiery truth of processing the horrific hurts inflicted by my real mother. I needed a therapist, not yet *another* mother. I needed to heal from the one I had. It felt like a boundary violation during a time & in a place that I needed to feel safe, so i could go deep. Instead, I felt judged & like I was disappointing her for not accepting her offer. Regardless, I am deeply grateful for her teachings & her guidance. She was imperative to so many life saving advances I have made on my healing journey. Sometimes, you just have to know when to part ways.”

  • Therapist needs to respect the client’s pace and boundaries

  • When a therapist pushes for their own needs to be met, it creates distress within the relationship leading to clients taking on feelings that are not their own (i.e. “like I was disappointing her”).

  • “You just have to know when to part ways.” Yes!

  • Don’t solve their problems.

I was with my first therapist for almost two years and we were building a great relationship. I finally went to therapy to face my horrific trauma of emotional/sexual abuse and neglect from childhood. I am very disorganized in my attachments; the tension of longing to be close but not having the ability be close is torturous. My therapist was the first person I allowed myself to trust in my life. I attached to him quickly and in a way that took over my life; I thought of him all day everyday. I didn’t let him know because I knew it sounded crazy and I thought he would abandon me. After doing tons of research on transference and realizing that the intensity of my attachment was a reflection of the intensity of the trauma, and a normal response, I finally mustered the courage to want to talk about it with him. Well I did, and he didn’t take it well- he told me to email him for another appointment. After emails, phone messages and texts, he never responded again. Done. The saddest part though, is that I really love the therapist I have now, but I can’t convince myself that he cares for me at all. The same intense attachment happened with him, and he’s been completely comfortable with working through it with me. The opportunity for an amazing therapeutic relationship is just out of reach because after a year and a half with him, I want more than anything to trust him, but can’t. I just can’t stop believing that he secretly despises me is going to dump me. Thank God he’s very patient and reassuring.

  • This client sounds awesome

  • Research, awareness, wants help, ready for change, ready to be open

  • One therapist’s mishandling sets the client back for the next one

  • Come on, Therapeers!

  • Treatment abandonment

  • AAMFT Code of Ethics - 1.11 Non-Abandonment - Marriage and family therapists do not abandon or neglect clients in treatment without making reasonable arrangements for the continuation of treatment.


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