A Bad Psychologist Can Cause a Lot of Harm

· June 17, 2017

Sometimes, we trust health professionals almost blindly. Cognitive psychologist Daniel Goldstein said that “psychology is an owner’s manual for your own mind.” But what would that manual become if it fell into the hands of a bad psychologist?

Logically, a bad psychologist can inflict a lot of damage to your psychejust like with any other health professional. A bad doctor, physical therapist, or therapist could not only prevent you from getting better, but could also make the problem worse.

Existential psychologist Victor Frankl uses the term “iatrogenic neurosis” to refer to problems that originate from having a bad psychologist. But are we all alone in these situations? If you’re not a doctor or a therapist, how can you overcome the problems caused by their neglect?

How to detect a bad psychologist

In order to detect a bad psychologist, there’s nothing better than knowing the profession well. To do this, put yourself in the hands of Juan Armando Corbin. This expert in organizational and coaching psychology has developed a list that reveals a few key points for detecting a bad therapist

Do you feel judged?

Your therapist isn’t there to judge you. Their job is to understand you, not impose their will on you. They don’t have to share your point of view, but they have to be empathetic. With understanding and the proper tools, they can help you, but if they criticize you, they’re entering into personal terrain that trespasses the boundaries of their job.

girl with head in knees

Are they unable to help you?

There are many different specializations within the branches of psychology. Obviously, professionals can encounter an enormous range of cases, so if they don’t have the proper skills, it’s best to stop seeing them. 

Remember, there are psychologists who specialize in pretty much any problem related to psychology. Having said that, it’s more common for a psychologist to have a broad perspective on many problems, but only be fully prepared to treat a specific set of them.

Do they focus too much on themselves?

If your therapist focuses too much on themselves, they’re probably not very good. Some professionals use examples from their own lives to create an open atmosphere and find common ground with the patient, but if they end up focusing the discussion on a long list of their own personal achievements and life situations that have nothing to do with your problem, they might not be the best person to treat you.


Do they foster a healthy emotional connection?

The therapist should make the patient feel comfortable, but they should never break emotional boundaries. There needs to be trust in the relationship, but it should be strictly professional. Physical attraction, for example, is considered to be an obstacle to successful therapeutic intervention in most branches of psychology.

psychologist with patient

Do they listen actively?

How can a psychologist treat their patient if they don’t utilize active listening? Your emotions are vulnerable and sensitive during therapy as you open yourself up to the professional. Therefore, each one of their five senses should be alert. They have to know how to interpret all of your words and gestures, or at least dedicate all of their attention to serving this purpose. Otherwise, they’ll lack a connection with you and miss out on important details that could help them treat your problem.

“The ability to be in the present moment is a major component of mental wellness.”

-Abraham Maslow-

Do you think your problem is actually important to them?

What might be trivial to one person could be an entire mountain of problems for someone else. For this reason, the professional should value all of the patient’s problems in the right amount. If they minimize them, they won’t understand the patient’s symptoms very well or be able to offer the proper treatment.

Do they talk to you about other patients?

Therapists are bound to complete confidentiality with their patients. They should never talk to other patients about your problem, or vice versa. So if you think they’re providing you with private information about other people they’re treating, that amounts to malpractice, and you could even report them for it.

Do they understand your value system?

Everybody has their own value system, and it’s possible that yours doesn’t align with that of your psychologist, but that doesn’t give them the right to question yours. If your psychologist judges you and thinks that their beliefs are better than yours, they’re making a mistake. They might not like the way you think, but they have to respect it.

psychologist and patient

Do they refer you to other professionals?

Some problems can’t be solved strictly with psychology. Other professionals could also be of great help, such as nutritionists. Or it could be that the therapist just isn’t able to offer you any more advice. At this point, they should refer you to another specialist. If they don’t, they’re committing malpractice.

“Psychology helps to measure the probability that a goal is attainable.”

-Edward Thorndike-

So if you think you’re in the hands of a bad psychologist, leave them immediately. Rest assured, they’re not doing you any favors. Make sure that your psychologist doesn’t have these characteristics, because unfortunately, not everyone who calls themselves a therapist has the proper knowledge and attitude to help you.

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