Home » Expert Q & A » Counseling » Counseling: Arthur Matthews

Is it just me, or should I fire my therapist?

  • anonymous Asks ...

    I can’t find a therapist that I feel comfortable with. Is this my problem or do I need to keep looking for new ones. I have PTSD, ADHD and general anxiety. I am 5 months into working with my latest therapist and I just find her annoying and it’s uncomfortable. She is my fourth therapist in 2 years. There is nothing exactly wrong with her but she just reminds me of stuck up people in high school who pretended to be sympathetic and then later went behind your back to laugh at you with her friends. She reminds me of a particular person a lot. I hgave a problem with assertiveness but after I worked up the courage to tell her that I wanted to end therapy she asked me to give it 3 more months because I have a history of running away from difficult relationships and I will just have to start at the beginning again if I go with a new person. I feel like I am not making progress but maybe I am on the verge of making progress if I can get past my fear of really opening up. Should I listen to my gut or my brain (my brain says she has a good point but my gut says I don’t like her).

  • Art Matthews Says ...
    Art Matthews

    At the foundation of every therapeutic relationship between client and counselor there needs to be a sense that the therapist genuinely cares about the client, does not judge the client and works to empower and support the client. "Unconditional Positive Regard" is widely considered to be necessary, but not sufficient for a therapeutic relationship to develop and thrive.

    While you tell me there "is nothing really wrong with her" you also say that she reminds you of "stuck up people" and that the experience of therapy with her is annoying and uncomfortable. Sounds to me like it's going to be very difficult if not impossible to create a working, professional relationship with this person. What this situation sounds like in your one-paragraph statement and what the reality of the situation is may be two different things. Could be that she isn't the right one for you, or you are looking for reasons to bale out because the therapy is getting too personal or risky at some point.

    Since you have been at it for 5 months now, the two of you have had ample time to get to know one another and build a working relationship. Since it still hasn't gelled after all this time, I would say it's time to certainly consider moving on even if you have had 5 therapists in 2 years. Think of it as getting the ones out of the way you know you don't want.

    But if you really want to give it the old college try or question if you might be self-sabotaging your own therapy, I would recommend placing your experience and perception regarding counseling with this therapist at the center of a few sessions. You don't need to be confrontational, just matter of fact describing how you feel in relation to what she says and does specifically that makes you feel so annoyed and uncomfortable. Just because you find therapy with her so difficult to bear, doesn't mean you can't grow from the experience. Sometimes our best growth comes out of disappointing and uncomfortable experiences. There may be a secondary gain from ending therapy yet again, you avoid having to face something big, painful or complicated.

    Exploring WHY this is so unbearable may give you the opportunity to learn from your past (and present) and correct errors in your beliefs, behavior and communication that will help you put an end to this cycle. Discuss with her why you are reminded of the "stuck up" people who faked sympathy and were disingenuous. Therapists are people too and she may have fallen into some bad habits such as not paying full attention or focusing on saying the "right" thing instead of listening, validating and supporting you. It would be not only helpful for your own therapy but also good for the therapist and her other clients that you explore this more fully with her.

    So I can't really give you a cut and dried answer. If I were in your shoes, I would talk to the therapist and voice your concerns/perceptions and then decide if you want to move on. If they are a good therapist, they should welcome the discussion and see it as an opportunity to work through this with you and become a better therapist at the same time. With the information they gain from this discussion they may be able to more effectively guide you to a professional who would likely be a good match.

    As always, this is YOUR healthcare. You get to make the final decisions. Just make sure you are making them for the right reasons.


Like what you're reading?

Featured Experts

Find Treatment
Browse by region »