What can I give my psychologist friend

Recognize a bad therapist How to distinguish good and bad therapists

As a layperson, it is difficult to objectively assess the work of a psychotherapist. In most cases, your own assessment is based on just a few perceptions:

  • The common basis for discussion
    This includes, for example, whether the person you are talking to is personable, trustworthy or empathetic.
  • The feeling of relief
    When you feel better after a therapy session, the therapy appears to be working.
  • Meaningful and helpful advice
    If the conversations are found to be meaningful and helpful, then you assume a good therapist.

These observations are very important and correct: A good basis for discussion is a decisive factor in a functioning therapy. Being empathetic is an important quality for a therapist and meaningful conversation is the basis for good treatment.

The therapy should give the feeling of support and security - accordingly, sympathy on both sides is necessary. Only with the necessary trust is it possible to address stressful and intimate content and initiate a process of change.

However, that's not all. A psychotherapist can be personable and still bad Perform work. The therapy can be perceived as helpful without bringing a solution closer, and advice can also appear sensible and still not help.

So how do you recognize a "bad“Therapists?

Hallmarks of a bad therapist

Without knowing the respective psychotherapist exactly, a fair, objective assessment is of course difficult. However, there are certain behaviors that should make you wonder.

Use caution when observing the following:

  • There are no clear limits. For example, if the psychotherapist can be reached at any time or communicates regularly via WhatsApp or Facebook.
  • He forgets what has already been discussed.
  • You feel like you are not being listened to carefully.
  • The psychotherapist speaks about himself or his personal affairs.
  • Making small talk during the therapy session.
  • The promise that everything would be fine.
  • The offer to always be there for you.
  • The therapist gives you the feeling that you are not being taken seriously or that you are not believing the descriptions.
  • Raising unrealistic hopes or expectations.
  • Judging or evaluating statements about yourself or your actions.
  • Frustration with your situation.
  • The urge to gain knowledge or action.
  • Inadequate information about the duty of confidentiality and its exceptions.

Infatuation and Sex

It can happen that you fall in love with your therapist. This is actually understandable: there is a trusting atmosphere, the person you are talking to is empathetic and shows interest in personal problems. The thought of intimacy or sexual approach may be obvious. It is then the responsibility of the therapist to respond properly.

Therefore, please note the following basic rules:

  • Sexual contact is taboo and never justified.
  • The therapist is always responsible, even if there have been clear signals from the client.
  • Even too close contact outside of therapy is a limit being exceeded. This includes all (also telephone) contacts that are not directly related to the therapy. For example, personal invitations or regular contact via SMS, WhatsApp, email, letters, etc.
  • Flirting in or out of the therapy session is not OK.
  • Body contact can occur with some forms of therapy. This must never be sexually motivated and should only be used as a therapeutic agent.

As a client, you are never a perpetrator. Even if you take the initiative or make advances, the responsibility rests with the therapist.

Sexual contacts and crossing borders are not "small things". Even if you wanted to get closer, the therapy should be stopped immediately. Sexual contact is always a gross violation of therapeutic due diligence and should be reported. A corresponding report can be made to the competent chamber of psychotherapists or the association of psychotherapists, the medical association or the health insurance company.

Note the following behaviors that may indicate that a limit has been exceeded:

  • Frequent talking about sexual experiences or interests without any apparent connection to the therapy.
  • Flirting or suggesting ambiguity.
  • Frequent comforting with body contact.
  • Unfounded touches.
  • Seek personal contact outside of therapy sessions.
  • Invitations to private meetings.
  • Pushing for alcohol consumption, for example at casual meetings.
  • Frequent appointments in the evening to convert the therapy session into a private meeting.
  • Compliments on your good looks.
  • Asking for small favors outside of therapy.

Even if you voluntarily enter into a sexual relationship, it is an abuse of the treatment relationship. In Germany this is a criminal offense, in Austria under certain circumstances.

Medical malpractice

Medical malpractice is a tricky business. Legal assessment is difficult and blame is not always appropriate. The fact is, however, that “bad” psychotherapy is not only ineffective, but can also have negative consequences. For example:

  • Worsening of symptoms due to aggressive provocative techniques.
  • Serious decisions made by influencing the therapist. Examples would be a divorce, separation, change of occupation, change of residence, etc.
  • Breaking up stressful experiences without adequate follow-up care.
  • Activation of past traumas.
  • Crossing personal boundaries, for example through peer pressure in the context of group therapies.

Therapy without adequate training

Psychotherapy is a responsible activity that should only be undertaken by trained specialists. In this sense, it is expressly before alternative treatment methods warned:

  • Shamanism
  • "Psychological seminars" without a recognized psychotherapeutic concept
  • self-proclaimed healer and energetic
  • Esoteric and alternative medical healing methods

If you are not sure whether an offer is trustworthy, treatment should be refrained from. Pay attention to the following warning signs:

  • No recognizable concept. Examples would be healing powers, energy work or supernatural abilities.
  • Devaluing or advising against recognized healing methods.
  • Secret, unknown knowledge about your problem or treatment.
  • Promise of quick healing, even with chronic illnesses.
  • Warnings of negative consequences if the recommendations are not followed.
  • When the proposed solution seems very simple.
  • Religious beliefs or the assumption of a “predetermined path”.
  • The demand for blind trust or obedience.
  • When soliciting further opinions is presented as unnecessary.