I Don’t Like My Therapist: What Should I Do?
There are many, MANY reasons why people don’t like their therapists. Maybe they said something that offended you, fell asleep during your session, or you just don’t like their vibe.
While researching options for counselling, you might have wondered what will happen if you put tons of time and effort into getting therapy, carefully select who you think is the perfect therapist for you, and then, BOOM! You end up hating something about them.
As a potential or current client in therapy, you may be wondering: What should I do if I don’t like my therapist?
Working with KMA Therapy since 2008, I’ve seen many clients who have discovered that their therapist isn’t a fit for them. And don’t worry: it’s totally normal. Therapy, like any kind of interpersonal relationship, needs chemistry for it to work. So if you don’t like your therapist, don’t worry – you’re not a bad person.
Our goal is to give you all the information you need to know what to do if you don’t like your therapist. This information will help you feel empowered to take the next steps.
To help answer this question, we’ll dive into:
- The most common reasons people don’t like their therapist
- What are some signs you should give your therapist a second chance
- Next steps and how to handle not liking your therapist
By the end of this article, you’ll know whether or not you actually need a new therapist, and what to do next.
The 5 Most Common Reasons People Don't Like Their Therapist
There are a few key reasons why people don’t like their therapist, and all are totally normal.
1. Personality differences
Do you value certain personality traits and appreciate people who share those qualities? For example - you may love to laugh, swear and tell funny stories while your therapist is dry and uptight? Or are you shy and appreciate it when people dig a little more and be patient while you open up.
While personality differences might seem like a superficial reason to not like your therapist, it is a completely valid reason.
2. No rapport
A therapist may be a perfect match for you on paper but the energy falls completely flat in person. No one can truly predict when this will happen and it can definitely make us dread going to therapy. Sometimes we simply can’t feel comfortable with someone when we’re not feeling rapport.
3. Therapist only listens and doesn’t offer feedback or solutions
Many clients want the experience of receiving feedback and challenges from their therapist based on all the time spent during the assessment phase of therapy. A therapist who is only listening is not using therapeutic tools and interventions and most clients do not benefit from this.
4. They feel judged by the therapist
Nobody wants to feel judged. Let’s be real - in therapy we’re opening up about our deepest and darkest secrets. Feeling judged can quite literally halt any progress we are making in therapy and make us feel shame.
5. The therapist did something unethical
No therapist should be doing anything unethical, but we’ve all heard horror stories of a therapist answering a non-urgent phone call during a session or even falling asleep.
One client even told us a story of another practice she was attending who’s receptionist broke confidentiality by telling her that her friend “Michelle” was also a patient. Experiences like this are unforgettable if you’re a client, and break any trust that was building up.
Whatever the reason, if you feel uncomfortable with your therapist, you’re likely not going to be able to make progress in the rest of your therapy.
What are three signs you should get a new therapist immediately?
1. You’re not feeling the vibe
If you’re not vibing, i.e., feeling at ease and comfortable with your therapist, especially if you’ve been for more than three hour-long sessions together and you’re still not feeling it, it’s probably time to move on. It might feel like a sunk cost of time and money, but if the therapist truly isn’t right for you, it’s better to make the decision sooner rather than later.
2. You can’t picture yourself making progress with this therapist
If you can’t visualize yourself achieving your goals with this therapist, they’re probably not the right fit for you. A good fit will make your goals feel possible, and you should leave most sessions feeling encouraged, not frustrated.
3. You’ve addressed an issue and they don’t take it seriously
If you’ve addressed an issue with them - whether you’re not making progress, you feel unheard, or they’ve been insensitive in some way - and they respond by not taking the issue seriously or blowing you off, you know it’s time for a new therapist.
What are three signs you should actually give your therapist a second chance?
1. You do have good rapport but just got off to a bad start
First impressions matter. So getting started on the wrong foot with your psychotherapist (even a logistical issue like a scheduling error) can really throw things off and make everything about them seem wrong. But sometimes a first impression can be just that.
If you feel they are genuinely well intentioned but things just went wrong, you might want to give them a second chance.
2. It’s not actually them, it’s your own stuff coming out
Do they remind you of your dad? Does their office furniture remind you of your parent’s house and it’s triggering you? Do their mannerisms match your first partner who was abusive to you?
It’s very important to be mindful of these small triggers - sometimes the reasons we don’t like people have nothing to do with them at all. Sometimes we can actually make great therapeutic progress with someone who initially triggers us.
3. You’re judging them based on your own biases
We all have biases. Do a quick check of yourself to see if there are judgements you’re making about your therapist based on their looks, clothing, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, or overall presentation.
What should I do next if I’ve decided to move on?
If you’ve decided it’s time to leave your therapist, there’s no requirement on your part to ask to leave or even give them an explanation. Some clients wish to send their therapist (or the practice) a note to let them know the reasons why, and other clients just leave entirely and that’s perfectly okay.
If the practice you’re attending is a large practice that has multiple therapists, you may wish to speak with the clinical director or request another therapist who you think is a better fit for you. Some practices will offer a free matching session to help match you to a new therapist while others will not.
Either way, changing therapists is perfectly normal and many clients do this several times over the course of their lifetime.
Next Steps for Finding a Great Therapist
Whether you work with us, or another therapy group, use what you learned in this article in deciding what to do if you don’t like your therapist.
At KMA Therapy, we provide our clients with a 50-minute intake session with a specialized intake therapist who assesses you to find the best possible match within our practice – based on personality, experience with the issues you’re dealing with, and your personal goals.
If you don’t like your therapist at any time during the therapy journey, we offer a free match making introductory session, and a free session with a new therapist of your choice.
We want to make sure you feel totally comfortable and cared for - and fit with your therapist is one of the most important factors in achieving your most successful outcome.
If you're not yet ready to book an appointment, check out these resources to keep learning: