If you have wondered how to recognize a bad psychologist, in this article you will find some signs that should make you suspicious. Would you like to know them?
Receiving psychological therapy has many benefits for the quality of life, both physically and psychologically. However, there are professionals who engage in harmful or unethical practices. For this reason, it is vital to learn how to recognize a bad psychologist to avoid being a victim of such actions.
Bad psychotherapists are found in all parts of the world in different settings, and sometimes it is not easy to detect them. Following this line, psychological malpractice can have many negative effects on mental health. Here we will teach you the signs that will allow you to know when to change therapist.
How to recognize a bad psychologist effectively?
Starting a process of psychological accompaniment can significantly increase your general well-being. In therapy, people have the opportunity to go deeper into their emotional world and to externalize their internal conflicts. They also discover and develop personal resources to deal with the situations that afflict them in their lives. Added to this, it is a self-care behavior that raises self-esteem.
However, all the benefits mentioned depending on two factors: the disposition of the patient and the ability of the therapist. If either of the two fails, it will be very difficult to get results in the process. Thus, a professional who practices an incorrect practice will be unable to generate any change, the investment that the patient is willing to make.
Therefore, if you want to increase the chances of good results, it is better to know how to recognize a bad psychologist. While it can be difficult for those without training in this area, it is not impossible either. There are clear signs that a professional is not doing their job as they should.
It should be noted that this way of acting is not always a reflection of a lack of knowledge, skills or bad intention. There are many factors that can explain why a professional is not putting into practice the best actions for the patient/client.
How to recognize a bad psychologist: 8 warning signs
Returning to the above, the psychologists of each country organize their work according to different ethical and legal codes . It is a good idea to be aware of the laws that regulate the practice of psychology in your region. In this way, you will know if your therapist works according to established guidelines. On the other hand, the following red flags are useful if you are looking to recognize a bad psychologist.
1. Perform pseudoscientific practices
Pseudoscience is understood as any discipline that lacks verifiable scientific evidence. An example is homeopathic medicines whose effectiveness has never been verified. Along the same lines, within psychology, there are practices that do not have solid foundations such as graphology, family constellations, and NLP.
Taking the case of graphology, Dazzi and Pedrabissi published a study in which they evaluated its validity. To this end, they administered the Big Five Questionnaire (a personality test) to 101 university students. Likewise, they were asked for a sample of neutral writing (without personal information).
The manuscripts were delivered to two graphologists and their analyzes were compared with the results of the Big Five Questionnaire. As a result, it was stated that there was no correlation between the handwriting evaluations and the personality test.
How is this interpreted? In summary, this work shows that graphology lacks empirical validity. The same applies to other practices that do not have experimental evidence. Therefore, you should be alert to any professional who promotes this type of treatment as it can be dangerous to your health.
2. Makes inappropriate comments about other patients
Another useful indicator on how to recognize a bad psychologist is respect for the confidentiality of his patients. All information that patients provide in consultation is private. Therefore, if a therapist tries to give you information about his other cases, you should be careful because he could do the same with you.
3. Try to impose their beliefs on yours
The job of a psychotherapist is not to judge the lives of their patients based on their personal beliefs or experiences. In this sense, the work of the psychologist is characterized by objectivity, which means that their value system should not interfere. Even if he is contrary to yours, he should take a respectful position.
If during the process your psychologist does not respect your beliefs or values and tries to impose his, put a stop to. No matter what your principles are, there is no reason to question them, and doing so is considered unethical.
4. Cross professional boundaries
The therapeutic alliance is defined as the bond that the psychologist and the patient establish to achieve the goals of treatment. This is a purely professional relationship in which the therapist’s feelings shouldn’t interfere, but it does happen on occasion.
For example, if your psychologist claims to be attracted to you, it is important to know that it is inappropriate. Developing feelings for a patient beyond the clinical setting prevents the professional relationship from continuing. Your partner cannot be your psychologist, in the same way, that your boss cannot be your lawyer when you decide to use your company.
Furthermore, it represents a form of abuse. Let us remember that the psychotherapist is in a position of power, because of his technical knowledge and the personal history of the patient. Consequently, taking advantage of that place to satisfy your desires is a mode of aggression.
5. Doesn’t pay the necessary attention
A good psychologist practices active listening when serving a client. This implies putting all your senses focused on understanding the problem with all the affective nuances.
If you find that your therapist is constantly distracted while you are there, it may be better to change. It is not a good sign that you look at your mobile while you talk or interrupt you to attend to other things.
6. Lack of empathy
In psychology, empathy is the ability to understand the emotions and thoughts of others. From various perspectives, it is said that empathy is crucial for the success of psychotherapy and the evidence seems to support this claim.
Gimeno Peón (2015) developed a work in which he evaluated the relationship between the therapist’s empathy and psychotherapeutic results. The results showed that patients who had improved perceived greater empathy from their psychologists.
If during the process you feel that your therapist does not understand your problem, underestimates your feelings or judges you, be attentive. The lack of empathy is a clear signal that facilitates how to recognize a bad psychologist. Let’s not forget that consultation is a space where understanding and listening are sought.
It is understandable that sometimes a psychologist is late for an appointment due to factors beyond their control such as traffic or an emergency. However, if he is frequently late for the appointment and makes trivial excuses, you have the right to point it out.
Remember that your time, as well as theirs, is valuable, and being late is disrespectful. A good professional should try to be on time for all your appointments.
8. Communication is not very effective
An important part of the success of the intervention has to do with the quality of the therapist-patient / client communication. It is essential that it be clear and honest so that there are the fewest verbalizations that can be interpreted differently.
Clarity must prevail over ambiguity. On the other hand, it is important that both parties comply with the agreements that they sign verbally.
Thus, if for the next session the therapist announces that he or she will have an activity prepared or that it will affect a point, you are in a position to assess whether he or she is fulfilling their own plans. Any intervention is of little use if it is not adapted to the circumstances, but also if there is no planning that is the consequence of a previous evaluation.
What to do if you have a bad psychologist?
If you identify several of the items on the list, it is possible that their practice is unethical. In this situation, you can take the initiative and let them know. However, you are also free to finish the process and find another professional.
Finally, now that you know how to recognize a bad psychologist, it will be more difficult for you to be a victim of unprofessional practices. Remember that your mental health is valuable and deserves to be in the hands of a professional who knows how to help you and is willing to do so.