12 Most Annoying Bad Habits of TherapistsPsychotherapy is a unique relationship, a kind of connection that is unlike any other kind of relationship a person has in their life. In some ways, it can be more …

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12 Most Annoying Bad Habits of Therapists

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  1. my therapist always seemed shocked when I told him things. Like he’s never heard this ever before!!

  2. I have seen several therapist myself. One was just a pill pusher and didn’t both to get down to the real problems I had which would require different medication. When I would tell her it wasn’t working she would just increase the dosage.

    Another one would eat, drink, and tell me about herself and her daughter who works in the same school system as I do. Not very professional at all.

    A third one who the one above told me that a bunch of people complained about him and that he was no good. He was the one who figured out that I was Bipolar II and not just depressed. However, what made me leave him was that 1. He was never on time, even when I was the very first person of the dad. And 2. he was so dang happy all of the time. I’m sorry but if I’m feeling bad, I really don’t need happyness shooved down my throat. I believe concern would be more appropriate. If I’m discussing something that has upset me, by him being happy go lucky makes me feel that my problem isn’t imporant.

  3. Let’s see:

    I had a therapist that did yawn and rub her eyes during our session. She also dressed up in “finery” and jewelry and made sure her cleavage showed everyday. She also took notes while I talked. She then hugged me and told me she was sorry that my life was so sad.
    Then there was the psychiatrist that told me at every visit that I needed to read some of his religious literature, that it would help me to get better and then continued to shove his religious beliefs down my throat.
    Then there was the psychiatrist that asked me only two (2) questions and told me that I had Borderline Personality Disorder and needed to be institutionlized because (Yes! this is the only reason he stated!) I had seen several psychiatrists in the past and that I had issues with them. I attempted to explain why I had to leave the psychiatrists (change in insurance, the psychiatrist moved away, the psychiatrist retired) but he wouldn’t listen to me. His remarks in my medical records have caused multiple issues with proper diagnosis and treatment for GAD and Major Depression. I paid for my own psychological testing and I was found not to have Borderline Personality Disorder or any other Personality Disorder that interferes or complicates my life.
    Then there was the psychaitrist and therapist (LCSW) that accused me of being “racially biased” because I did not/could not drive an hour to see her at her new location.
    There was also the psychiatrist that held my hand and attempted to force me to take Lithium telling me that I HAD TO TAKE IT and that I could not leave his office without taking it…I left his office in an out-right sprint and that was the only time I stood on the ledge of a parking deck and contemplated jumping off of it…HE HAD NO RIGHT TO DO THAT TO ME!!!
    I resent the psychiatric profession because of the BAD ones that I have had. They try to play GOD with my life and will never accept NO as an answer.
    As for the psychiatrist and therapist I have now…they are acceptable…Do I trust them, NO. And since my therapist can only “make room for me” every 4-5 months, I have to begin the terrible process of finding another therapist. And so the world of psychiatric medicine and psychology rolls on and I am the one who suffers.

  4. I’ve had a lot of bad therapists/psychiatrists, but that is another story…

    I prefer my therapist to be down-to-earth, laid back, human. When they are too professional I just don’t feel comfortable.

    I had one very respectable psychiatrist, one of the best where I live, who kept his dog in his office and his wife was his secretary.

    The Doc was very professional and helpful and I loved the atmosphere, especially the dog. When his dog would sit next to me when I could pet him I felt much more comfortable and relaxed and could open up much more easily.

    I got further with him than with anyone else, until he retired!

    I hate it when I see a therapist whose office and demeanor is cold, reminding me that they are a “professional” and that they run a “business.” I know this but when I am constantly reminded it just makes it much harder for me to feel comfortable with them. I don’t want them to be my friend, I just want to receive good therapy.

    I find this much easier to do when the place and therapist is more human.

  5. We are talking of what is not expected of a person in professional life. The fact, however, remains that s/he too is a human being after all. And, mind you, which profession doesn’t have black sheep! Let us not paint all professionals with the same brush.
    Those professionals who don’t come up to our expectations form only a minority. For us to have a total picture in front of us, to be truly balanced in our assessment, let us also have a TWELVE (if not more) MOST ANNOYING HABITS OF COUNSELEES, who too are human. = Gurudatt, selfhelp support group facilitator, Pune, India

  6. We are talking about Therapist. I had one who wouln’t let me seek another therapist or try to get any other help. She took it personal. She would say, I can do what they do.I quess I felt oblgated to stay with her. Even though her therapy wasn’t working. I guess she has a self-esteem Problem. But that didn’t help me.

  7. Where is the list for the worst habits of patients?
    Get a life, live and let live. Sure, some habits are annoying. To my thinking a patient/therapist relationship is about keeping communication open and honest. Why not just tell the therapist that the certain behavior is getting in the way of your progress? If nothing is said or happens it is the PATIENTS responsibility to change therapists. You are responsible for your own life and decisions. I find that I get frequently annoyed hearing complaints against professionals. Generalization of a group is just wrong. If in fact an innapropriate action occurs, report it to the proper authorities and then LET IT GO!

  8. There are many reasons why a patient might not feel comfortable bringing up such bad habits, primarily because of the power differential in the relationship.

    Also, not all therapists take such feedback or criticism well. Not all patients want to risk the work they’ve done and their progress over a bad habit.

  9. Oh..How I see my own therapist in this report. I often wonder if she has something else to do that is much more important, as she watches the clock incestantly. She is also on that computer and says she MUST get the paper work done FIRST. She is already late, anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes after our scheduled time, before she opens the hallway door to announce 11:30 Group! and it is now 11:50 ! , but regardless of how late SHE is; our session ends promptly at 12:30, BUT my INSURANCE IS BILLED FOR THE FULL HOUR ! She often apologizes for eating (she says finishing, but she has just taken it her salad from the refrigerator and is putting dressing on it) her lunch during our sessions ! She often forgets our names during Group sessions and must be reminded what our nmae is. She says that paperwork is the reason she is always behind, but I really can’t see that because she is always doing her paperwork the entire time we are in session ! I think your write up indicates true concerns of Patients.Being a Patient myself,I certainly feel qualified to state that every one of the 12 items that you mentioned DO create a tension or cause that ill at ease feeling. And to address the Denise: Denise, letting it go is not that simple. We are given forms, by Park Center Decatur, IN, to address concerns or compliments for services afforded us. I, and I do know that several others as well, have listed all of our disapprovals of the aforementioned problems with our therapist. We are asked to put our names on these forms and we have done so. The message on the form states that we may be contacted regarding our complaints or concerns. I have never been contacted, and I have been told by others in my group, that neither have they been contacted. As far as we can tell no action has ben addressed or taken. I say this because our Therapist continues with her same bad and unprofessional habits. My Insurance company is still billed for a full hour of service, when it has only been 45 minutes or LESS spent with the Therapist and during this time, she has completed my paperwork. Upon seeeing this write up, and seeing my own complaints shown here, I do not believe this is just a ‘generalization’ as you contend.

  10. Per Dr Grohol’s, and prior to his that of Denise, I think it is nothing less than fully appropriate for a patient to raise concerns if therapists’ behaviors are impairing the psychotherapy process.

    If a clinician is going to do something to compromise the therapeutic alliance because they as professionals cannot take a well intended concern or criticism from the patient, then such individual should not be providing care. If the comment is in error, it could be used to enlighten or empower the patient to see where the flawed assessment or opinion came from, and see that responsible and well intended feedback or disagreement in treatment style or intervention can be processed and worked through.

    Yes, I agree with your last comment that patients do not want to risk losing progress if the said concern comes up after treatment started, but wasn’t the point of this post to educate and empower patients to have some idea what to not tolerate or endure by an alleged professional?

    As per Denise’s comment, I totally agree, and I think what I read in alot of comments at psych blogs these days represents what I call characterological features, not necessarily frank personality disorders, but I read a lot of inflexible and rigid commentary by some, and that is not going to improve with meds alone, nor by coming to a stand off with a professional because the patient, in the end, does NOT really want to change. Just an opinion.

    By the way, to Vickie, better to have gone through the process in filing a complaint than just let things ride as is, because you have started a paper trail, and if the supervising authorities have any real interest in protecting the public, documentation has an impact in the end, so I applaud your efforts, even if you feel not effective in the end.

  11. I just started seeing a psychiatrist a couple of weeks ago for the first time. He sat me down in the room and basically asked “so whatsup?” without any getting to know eachother talk or anything to make me comfortable. It was so akward, I just started crying and eventually had to say something so that he would stop staring at me and nodding. Is this normal??? I thought it was a bit bizarre. Things are better now and I feel comfortable talking to him, but I just thought that was so strange that he couldn’t make me more comfortable at a first session.

  12. I have a question that I hope someone can answer… My therapist was late for a session so after waiting 15 minutes for her to show I just left. She called me another 15 minutes later and asked that I return. I declined, told her I didn’t appreciate her unprofessionalism, and never went to see her again. Now she is threatening to take me to small claims court if I don’t pay the bill for the session that day. Does anyone know who is in the right here? I believe I am, but I don’t want to waste my time if she is correct. Advice?

  13. I just read this tonight, August 2, and would like to take a stab at Jim K’s question.

    report this person to whatever professional board your state has in place to consider unprofessional conduct by a licensed professional. Because, as I used the word professional several times in the last sentence, this person’s behaviors and subsequent actions are as far from professional as I can see. And make sure anyone who has an interest in your situation knows about it. Word of mouth can be effective. And make sure this idiot knows you are letting others know she is clueless and will be labeled as unprofessional. My advice, use that term very deliberately if you choose to contact this unprofessional clinician.

    Anyone who takes a patient to court better realize there are two sides to a story, and some will see through the clueless side!

  14. Interesting! I think my comment was erased! It was the last one of 163, and now…

  15. Sorry! Never mind!

  16. One more thing – I don’t care if your feet hurt. Leave your shoes on! It’s distracting (and kind of repulsive) to fixate on the fact that my therapist prefers pantyhose with reinforced toes. Ick!

  17. For four years I saw a psychiatrist who told me she had psychotherapy and CBT training, but actually didn’t. This was discovered when my situation got worse/more complicated as a result of many of her well-intentioned, but hackneyed suggestions/theories. When I finally got the strength to leave her (it was hard for me to leave someone I had been seeing for so long), I decided to do my research when it came to finding my next therapist. I looked up names of individuals trained in CBT and I contacted the local universities psychology department for referrals. I ended up with a list of four individuals, and I interviewed all four over email.

    The one I settled on changed my life for the better. I had to pay out-of-pocket for his care, but it was worth every penny.

  18. The last time I saw my therapist (LCSW), she took notes during the session using her computer keyboard. She put the keyboard in her lap and tapped away on it during the session. She didn’t look at the monitor and mostly kept eye contact with me but it was really very distracting. In the past, I would notice her jotting things down occasionally but that didn’t bother me. About halfway through the session, I told her that I didn’t like the keyboard and she informed me that doctors and other health professionals were moving to this kind of system. She told me that I would get used to it. In my view, therapy is different from other health professions and some how being aware of her observing and documenting me changed the dynamics of the session for me. I’ve seen her off and on for 3 years and she has helped through the loss of my mother and the breakup of my marriage, but I don’t think I’ll be going back.

  19. I just started seeing a therapist. The first session was me giveing her TONS of info on my family growing up ect… at the end of the sessions she said there’s alot there and so many themes. I was pretty excited thinking we’d make some break throughts and she would help me with some action and coping skills. I felt like I got alot out the first session,second session there must have been a total of fifteen or twenty minutes in dead silence just starring at eachother and her later telling me she was waiting for something to come up.So out of the 50 minute session twenty minutes was wasted. Nothing was coming up for me and I found it a bit annoying and a waste of my money that there was all this dead air time. I felt like leaving at one point!
    Forawhile she would just stare at me with a half smile on her face. This just feels awkward and lazy in her part to me.

    I know she explained to me she was waiting to see “what comes up” but she just got done saying the previous week there was tons of stuff and these,the pevious week when she was gathering info I even cried about some stuff….can’t she draw on that to spark some feeling or what she thinks might need to be addressed first? This is a womans clinic and she is actually an intern in her 50′s,so she’s just getting out of school.

    am I the only one who experienced this? and does anyone else find it rude and annoying?

    I was just a bit annoyed by her stare therapy approach and wasting my money ticking on the clock. Honeslty I could have talked to my friend about the same thing over drinks.

    • Its your life. What to do you think you should talk about? In today’s managed care world you’re fortunate actually that your therapist wasn’t leading you through a manualized ” evidence based practice” cookie cutter treatment process. That said there is productive silence and unproductive silence…

    • It sounds more like your own discomfort in the session. Therapists are actually trained to sit in silence even when it is uncomfortable. It is not their job to set the agenda, but yours. If you feel it was a waste of your time, perhaps you could have used your time better. You don’t just sit there and expect the therapist to do the talking. That would be the mark of a bad therapist.

  20. I know this thread is old but I want to say that “How does that make you feel” is definitely preferable to “That must make you feel…” I had one therapist who did that a lot but I liked her otherwise. Finally I told her that “must” is a command and she was telling me I had to have feelings that I didn’t have, which made me feel like I was even more abnormal than I thought! Or that she thought I was abnormal in areas where I had normal feelings. She agreed & put a stop to it.

    My current therapist takes notes frequently and then she brings stuff up in later sessions especially if I contradict myself. Sheesh. The reason I’m in therapy is because I have mixed feelings about things and I want to sort them out! It’s almost like “gotcha” journalism sometimes and I’m starting to be careful about what I say in case she’ll haul it out later.

  21. All right I’ll take a crack at this one too. I’m on my seventh therapist (I’ve moved a bit) and of them I can say that two of them have really been excellent, two good, one ok and one who was such a rip snorting bitch that it felt like I might have walked into Eva Braun’s office by accident.

    One of the good ones had the highly annoying habit of comparing my situation to her or her other client’s lives. This would not have been so bad if I had been there for relationship problems or adjustment issues, but I was actually there to process a highly traumatic event, and frankly, many times the comparisons she was making didn’t even come close. At times it was actually was quite insulting, and even though I liked her and she did help me, I eventually stopped seeing her because I never gained the level of trust in her that I needed to fully disclose what had happened to me.

    This was very frustrating, and ended up causing me some suffering as I was having a hard enough time with ptsd without worrying about how to get out of the therapeutic relationship. I also wondered how much of my (anonymized)story was being discussed with her other clients, and that made me very uncomfortable as well.

    Fortunately I was able to end that relationship and after a short break found someone who I feel very comfortable with. I have been able to open up completely and I can sense a real improvement in my symptoms, which feels great. It makes me wish I had moved sooner!

  22. What Dr. Gohol said previously….about if you had a plumber type problem, you would simply call a plumber…How much damage could he do!?

    Except for perhaps doctors/surgeons, there is no other profession that can be dangerous to your health of not done ethically.

    How scary to think that the profession has so many unprofessionals. “Above all, do no harm.”

    I’ve talked to so many people who had terrible expriences…..one was a woman who was in abusive marriage, lost her job, tried t commit suicide 2 times and was a cutter. her therapist had sex with her….he then decided to try and work it out with his wife and dumped her. Unfortunately, this stuff goes on more than we know.

  23. My now former therapist once mentioned her political views in passing. Maybe it’s my fault, but for whatever reason I wasn’t able to get past this for a very long time. I don’t think I ever did until I met my current T.

  24. My therapist wears knee length dresses.
    Every session I look up her dress and see thigh.
    Today I saw panties and she asking caught me looking but didn’t move

  25. So the first thing that annoying about my psychiatrist is that he is alway 15-20 minutes late to the appointment, which would be bad enough seeing as I’m always a few minutes early to any aponntment if it was not for the fact I’m the first one of the day and therefore locked out of even the waiting room untilled he finally shows up. Then he has a tendency to check mail and faxes which often envolves him swearing clearly audiobly in another room.
    He then spends more time making the tea he drinks during the appointment.

    Most appointments start with him venting/complaining about what’s going on with him and an excuse for why he was late this time. Fallowed by 15-20 minuets of awkward silance whale he waits for “something to come up” which I can’t stand its very uncomfortable and dose not really lead to progress because i judt start saying what ever I think he wants to hear to make the dang silance end.

    Then there is the total lack of any concreat stated goal or path to it and a dismissive attitude when I bring up wanting one or possible sidecefects of the medication I don’t like. I also don’t like the constant feeling That I’m being abserved like a lab rat but not being told why or for what it makes me feel uncomfortable and like a freak.

  26. I have only just found this blog but interested in it as my therapist always looked bored and seemed moody. She analyzed what I told her and turned it in to a personality disorder. I am not sure if she wanted to write another paper or was particularly excited by a vulnerable client. I felt unable to say what I felt with her and felt I was protecting her by keeping quiet, a mistake I would not make again. I just agreed with everything she said to keep the peace in case of making her annoyed. I was training to be a psychotherapist and didn’t want to provoke her through fear she would talk to my tutor, they all knew each other. TA is a very small world, all chummy and I don’t believe that anything we spoke about was sacred, I dropped her like a hot potato, she continued to write to me and I asked her to stop as it was becoming abusive. Dangerous stuff!.

  27. I wish I had read this 4 years ago before I allowed my therapist to send her husband to my house, to pick up the cat they bought for me, She made me feel like I owed her something so I joined her suicide task force, took her safe talk suicide first aid training all at the same time I was suicidal but could not tell her or no one fear of letting her down. She talked about me to to her family and husband, her husband went to his job and talked about me to my neighbor who also works where he does but he didn’t know it. My final straw with my therapist is when she allowed her husband to listen in to a phone session, than after I confronted her she says I am confused I do not see where I done anything wrong. Hello, what happened to the code of ethics with therapist. It got to the point where I was so confused about what therapy really was suppose to be, we always talked about the task force and the cat no more therapy the last year. I withdrew from her and finally ended therapy and filed a complaint with the licensing board.

  28. Actually, some therapists do engage in Pet Therapy. Certain states allow you to get licensed or certified as a pet therapist. It’s one of the many undervalued expressive therapies. I don’t use it in my practice, but I’ve seen it used with a wide variety of practitioners with different theoretical orientations. So technically, That can be taken off the list

  29. Annoyances:
    A therapist getting mad at me for talking too much. The therapist could have kindly pointed out to me that I was talking so much it was not allowing them to say anything. I never went back. A therapist should try not to sound mad or frustrated.

    4 therapists I tried out I think in the name of their theories and philosophies, or something, err on the side of coming across overly reserved and cautious, like they are afraid of the patient. They end up coming across standoffish. I would like to have someone’s tone of voice and body language at least feel a teeny bit empathetic, compassionate, caring which I believe can be done while maintaining a professional level similarly to what one would expect from a primary care physician or any other physician or healthcare professional.
    Therapists should not have more than a 6 week wait time to get in for an appointment at the very most! and that is not even very good, a month at the most, and 2 weeks is more ideal. When you are hurting and they tell you, you can come in 4 weeks?!? One therapist I had this way would not allow you to schedule another appointment until she had seen you for the initial time as a new patient, then being told another 4 weeks!! Try being in chronic pain, depression, being told 4 weeks for one appointment, then once that time another 4 weeks to get in again. By that time it’s the end of the year and you can’t go back because your deductible is not met!
    Another time I was a new patient, and the therapist canceled the night before or same day 3 times! When I finally did see her, she talked about her personal health issues that had prevented her from making her appts. The office should have found me someone else in the network and got me in right away being new. I never went back.

    Therapists: please find ways to manage your allergies. The same therapist I waited in chronic pain and depression for 4 weeks, had an allergy attack for half the session. She seemed standoffish as described above, then her eyes started watering and it was obvious she couldn’t concentrate. I finally told her it was fine if she needed to go take something, it was obvious she wasn’t able to pay attention anyway. She should have charged me for half the time on that visit and scheduled extra time to get me back in right away. I have allergies too which are managed very well now with acupuncture and herbs, and nasal saline w/ occasional over-the-counter meds.
    Many of these issues caused me not to go back for a while. I’m finally sticking it out with a therapist. If I ever want to change now I’m afraid I’ll get accused of doctor hopping.
    Also, I sometimes feel like being so booked w/ patient after patient therapists let the session time get eaten up not really giving 100% on their part during the session, not enough focused energy, not working hard enough as a worker who lets their work day time go by just to get through the day.

  30. Recently I started seeing a Dutch therapist, since I live in the Netherlands. I am an English native speaker, and speak Dutch with an accent. Dutch people aren’t always very kind to people with accents. Even though I’ve lived here for 15 years, and have worked as a translator, my Dutch therapist asked me if I could read Dutch before giving me some forms to fill out. She came late to our appointment, was very cold, asked a bunch of rude questions about my religious beliefs, then proceeded to ask if I could read! I’ve gotten pretty used to being treated badly. I guess that’s just the lot of foreigners (I even have a Dutch passport), but I was so shocked by her unprofessionalism, I didn’t say anything. I have found the professional level here to be quite a bit lower here than what I was used to in the US. It’s just so infuriating. The person before her spoke slowly to me so “I could understand,” and the psychiatrist didn’t even bother to read my file. It seems like there just aren’t any good therapists here, or perhaps they’re only good for Dutch people.

  31. A therapist who talks about himself just puts me off.The same therapist making comments about my looks put me off. But the worst was when he rolled his chair so close to me & freaked me out. If I wanted a date I wouldn’t pay %35 for it.And of course, he’s married.

  32. The red flags are all very helpful but what about the therapists who are true predators. By this I mean the ones who don’t do any of these things until you have known them for a while. They earn your trust and then they start to do some very upsetting things??? By then you already trust them and it makes recognizing all of these red flags very difficult. By this point, you aren’t really sure you are experiencing things correctly because they keep telling you you’re not.

  33. something I have found is very common is the returning of phone calls only once per day, and not answering their phone – only accepting voicemail messages. For example: I call therapist and leave a message. Therapist calls me back the next day (so far so good – return call within 24 hours). I miss the call and return the call sometimes this can be anywhere from 30 seconds to an hour after their call. The call goes to voicemail and I leave a voicemail and receive a return phone call the next day. I miss their call and call them back and leave a message. Then I receive a phone call back the next day, on and on. I can certainly understand therapists having clear boundaries and having “phone time” once per day, and also not answering incoming calls, because, understandably, the rest of their day is spent in session or spent outside of work. However, this takes on truly bizarre proportions after several days of this scenario. This can happen even if I leave times that I’m free to receive their call, because even if they call during those available times, I may just miss their call by a moment and call them right back. Communication can certainly help ameliorate this with a therapist I work with regularly, but recently this phenomenon has come to light during a search for a therapist, where it happened with several therapists concurrently over many days. This led to unnecessary delays, in my opinion, and an overall curiosity that they were possibly either not easy to work with, too old-school phone-wise, and/or a bit rigid in their phone boundaries. I don’t expect a therapist to be available 24/7 either before or after I’m their client. I do, however, expect some sign that they’re easy to get a hold of, at least a little bit administratively savvy and that they value my time and effort.

  34. HOW ABOUT WHEN A THERAPIST INSULTS YOU ESPECIALLY ON A TOPIC THAT WAS NOT AN ISSUE I NEEDED HELP WITH

    Yesterday was my second visit and she fell asleep both times. In addition she insulted me that day. I came to her office to deal with family issues and at the end of yesterdays session she says “I been meaning to ask you, why are your clothes big on you”. I was stunned especially since my issues had nothing to do with my clothes. Also almost every day I get complimented on what I am wearing. I dress very chic and elegant, I do not dress slutty. The blouses and sweaters are not tight on me at all. I asked her why she said this and she said “I want to know if you have body issues”. Again I was stunned. I told her that the way I dress is none of her business and I always get compliment on how I dress. All of a sudden I felt very insecure about the way I dress. I told her I will never come back to see her again and she had no right to put down the way I dress. When I got to my car I called my best friend and she was stunned as well

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