8 Things That Scare Clients Away From Therapy

Have you ever had a therapist? Do you know someone who does (or did)?  How long did it last?  If it ended, why did it end?

PsychCentral.com ~~  Sadly, for many clients, their therapy ended because they either lost interest, did not feel they were growing and learning, did not see any changes in their behaviors, thoughts, or emotions, and/or felt the therapist was not benefiting them in any way. Finding a good therapist who upholds ethical practices and who is able to provide clients with competent therapy is difficult. It is even more difficult to find a therapist who is naturally nurturing and caring.

It may take multiple rounds of therapy before a client is able to determine if the kind of therapy they are receiving is either good or bad. By the time a client notices that their therapy is useless, it is too late and much money, time, and energy has been spent. After a bad experience like this, many clients walk away from therapy and never turn back. This article will discuss 8 reasons for why clients refuse to return to therapy after bad experiences. The purpose of this article is to highlight some of the common challenges of therapy and when it is time to say you’ve had enough.

It is a real fact that some therapists and other mental health professionals are unable or unwilling to connect to clients and their problems. Connecting to clients is a job in and of itself. It can be psychologically and emotionally draining. But isn’t that what being a therapist or mental health professional is all about? If you would ask a college student why they are interested in the field of psychology they would most likely tell you they are interested because “I want to help people.” That’s a wonderful thing!

But the sad part is when a therapist is unable to connect to client’s because they lack appropriate ethical and moral characteristics to actually be useful to client’s in need. There is no real way to become “more ethical or moral” but we can certainly strive to improve ourselves every day. Sadly, some therapists are so blinded (sometimes by their academic experiences, associations, or credentials) that they are unable to see where they need to improve and make changes. These therapists are sometimes the one’s who are hit with lawsuits and ethics complaints.

Therapists who are unable to see the error of their way(s) often engage in the following 8 behaviors which result in a loss of clients and referrals:


Using Contracts: Have you ever heard of the “suicide contract” or the “behavioral contract?” These contracts can either make or break a situation and unfortunately, they typically break a situation. Depending on the way in which it is written, the contract can be very inflexible, unrealistic, and even imprisoning for most clients. A contract has a way of enforcing “laws” and rules that have been agreed upon by the client and the mental health professional. For some people, the suicide contract has saved their life. But for others, it doesn’t matter at all. The behavioral contract can also pose problems as it often sets up too high of expectations that may or may not be able to be reached and which can result in a loss of self-esteem if the expectations are never reached. I am not a fan of contracts used in therapy to alter behavior. There is very little research to support its use.

Promising Confidentiality: Each time I see a child or adolescent in therapy, I explain and discuss confidentiality including privacy and ethical practices. I often tell youths that most things in therapy are private and will not escape the office or get back to their guardians. Unfortunately, I cannot promise that everything will be private especially if the youth is self-injurious, engaging in risky sexual behavior, is using multiple drugs or forms of alcohol, is reporting rape by a same age peer, or hiding secrets that are detrimental. This also applies to adults. For example, many marriage and family therapists struggle with when to inform a spouse that his or her spouse has a sexually transmitted disease.

For many ethical therapists, this information would have to be discussed with the spouse sooner than later. No therapist can promise confidentiality but a mental health professional can certainly inform clients that they will attempt to uphold their right to privacy and confidentiality as much as possible without harming others or the client.

Judgmental Stance: Unfortunately, there are therapists who simply should not be therapists. Just because someone has obtained credentials does not make them “qualified.” This is one of the reasons why I encourage many of my clients and families to “interview” their therapist and make sure they would be a good fit with the therapist. A therapist who is judgmental or coming off as judgmental is not going to help a client to learn, grow, and change. If you feel judged, examine why you feel this way because it could be the therapist and not you.

More on this article @psychcentral.com


9 thoughts on “8 Things That Scare Clients Away From Therapy

  1. redheadedhousewife says:

    My therapists rejected me because she felt she could not help me with all my issues because I could only come once a week. I Homeschool my 3 children and she only worked 2 days a week :-/ It is/was the worst feeling being rejected by a Therapist as it took me many years to find the courage to even go see a therapist. I have not tried again even though it is vital for my health. I felt abandoned and rejected adding to the issues that I already deal with. I can’t belief she just decided to drop me like I didn’t matter. 😦 I feel like such a failure and am scared to fail again. 😦


    • cherished79 says:

      That is so hurtful, and when we are vulnerable with our emotions and life is not going great, all we yearn for is someone to express our feelings. I’m so sorry this happened to you. But you are not a failure, the therapist failed you. She/he is the professional. I hope you try again, and because of the huge disaster, I went through if you are needing a therapist for trauma (PTSD), please seek ONLY an experienced trauma therapist. Stay strong and keep in touch. Hugs 🙂


    • cherished79 says:

      For me also. My first therapist was way over her head dealing with my PTSD and it was a disaster. I went through several more until I found the one I am with now (over 6 years). It has paid off finding an experienced trauma therapist, as there is huge trust involved and a bumpy road ahead. Healing takes time.
      Thanks for commenting. 🙂


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