Psychological therapy is useful for overcoming many problems that arise throughout our lives.

But, unfortunately, the bad practices of some professionals may be present in any therapeutic relationship in the field of health (medicine, psychology, etc.). Despite the fact that, on occasions, it is the patient him/herself who is not predisposed to change and does not benefit fully from psychotherapy, it may happen that the psychologist or therapist does not carry out his/her work properly, damaging the mental health of the patient.

Recommended article: 10 reasons why psychological therapy may not work

Viktor Frankl , existential psychologist and author of the book The man in search of meaning, coined the term Iatrogenic neurosis to refer to the negative effect generated (or worsened) by health agents, doctors, psychologists and therapists on the patient’s health. This is because, despite the fact that a significant percentage of patients who attend psychotherapy sessions improve, on occasions, psychological therapy can be counterproductive (it can aggravate the problems presented by the person).

You can learn more about the life and work of this psychologist in our article: "Viktor Frankl: biography of an existential psychologist"

Signs that give away a bad psychologist or tearpeuta

But, what signs betray the bad professional practice of some psychotherapists? What reasons can cause the patient not to improve due to the bad therapeutic and professional habits of some psychologists?

In the following lines we explain it to you.

1. You feel you are being judged

You should never feel judged or criticized by your therapist, because no one in this life is perfect.

The psychology professional should try to understand your situation, and even if he does not share it, he should not impose his opinion . The therapist-patient relationship is a professional relationship in which the psychologist must give you the necessary tools to be able to improve your psychological well-being. A therapist who judges and openly criticizes his patients is not a good professional.

2. Not an expert on your problem

The professional you visit may not be the psychologist you need.Within psychology there are different specializations, and not all psychologists have the necessary skills to help you with any kind of problem .

For example, a psychologist with expertise in personal development does not necessarily possess the knowledge or skills needed to address eating behavior problems. In addition, the psychologist should understand that some patients work better with cognitive-behavioral therapy and others, for example, work better with Mindfulness therapy. In other words, not all therapies are the same for all people .

3. Therapist talks too much about himself

It’s okay for the therapist, during the therapy session, to give examples of situations similar to your problem so that you can identify.

This can help you to understand the problem from another perspective and can also promote a climate of trust or rapport. However, when the therapist talks too much about himself, it is not positive at all . Some therapists may be tempted to talk about their achievements, their dilemmas, their work, articles, families, etc. But it is even worse when they reveal personal aspects of everyday life, such as sexual practices.

4. The therapist’s communication is not correct

Studying psychology can give you knowledge about mental health and psychotherapy. But in addition to this knowledge, therapists need to master certain interpersonal skills and communication skills.

One of the keys to the therapist-client relationship is that there is good communication and understanding between both actors , so that a good therapeutic alliance is created. If there are problems in this professional relationship, it is possible that the expected benefits will not be produced. The problem may be the attitude of the therapist or simply that there is no feeling between the two.

5. Cross the line

Although it may seem strange to many, some therapists may feel an emotional connection with clients that goes beyond the professional relationship .

If, for example, the psychologist is physically attracted to his patient, he may no longer be objective in his treatment of the client. If you notice unprofessional behaviors, such as repetitive hugs or touches towards you, the therapist may be crossing the line. In addition, it is counterproductive to have a healthy therapeutic relationship if therapist-patient encounters occur outside the office.

6. Does not listen actively

Therapeutic sessions are spaces for interaction where emotions can be at their peak.

Therefore, the therapist, in addition to giving guidelines for action, must actively listen (i.e. be with the five senses) to the patient. Therapists who continually interrupt the sessions, cause the connection and the feeling of confidence that has been created to be lost. But besides interrupting, it is also not good if the patient does not remember important facts about your case.

Recommended article: “Active listening: the key to communicating with others”

7. Underestimate your problem

It may happen that the therapist underestimates his client’s problem by misinterpreting the information received . This may cause him to choose the wrong treatment, making the client’s symptoms worse.

8. Talk about other patients’ lives

The information that the patient provides to the terpeuta is confidential information that cannot be shared with other patients .

In the event that the psychologist shares with you private and confidential information about other clients, you should know that this professional is incurring in a malpractice, and can be denounced for it.

9. The therapist imposes his own value system

As explained in point one, the therapist should not question or criticize the patient .

But, in addition, if he imposes or promotes his scale of values or beliefs, he is seriously damaging the therapeutic relationship. Therefore, even if the psychologist does not agree with the patient’s political or religious ideas or beliefs, he/she should never question them.

10. Does not refer to other professionals when necessary

It may happen that the therapist detects that the relationship with the patient has come to an end for different reasons .

It is possible that the relationship between the two is not appropriate, that the patient needs the help of another professional who is an expert in a certain subject, or that it simply does not fit with their therapeutic model. In these cases, the therapist should refer the patient to another professional so that the latter can benefit from the help provided by another health professional. If he or she does not do so, he or she is committing malpractice.