Red Flags to be Aware of in a Therapist


Therapists help with learning to cope with thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Pain frequently results in mental health problems, and mental health conditions cause increased pain sensitivity. Unfortunately, not every therapist is a good match for each individual. Furthermore, some may practice in ways that are unethical, unhelpful or harmful. There are various warning signs that it may be time to find a new therapist.

Not properly licensed

Failure to have a proper license to practice therapy indicates dishonesty and shows lack of necessary training. The exception is those who are training under the supervision of a licensed professional.


Unforeseen circumstances can result in the need to cancel an appointment or be late occasionally. However, it should not be a consistent problem. Speaking with the therapist concerning this issue may rectify the situation.

Not culturally sensitive

Therapists may not be obviously racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, etc., but there may be biases and stereotypes existing, whether conscious or subconscious. Individuals belonging to certain minority groups are more prone to physical and mental health issues. Therefore, therapists must be sensitive to these issues. Individuals should feel safe sharing their experiences with their therapist, even though they have different backgrounds.

Too aggressive

An aggressive therapist might push for certain types of treatment that an individual might not feel comfortable with. They may not truly listen to concerns or insist on specific actions. For example, a therapist may demand that an individual end a relationship before continuing treatment. A therapist should guide their client through decisions without deciding for them.

Unable to help

Sometimes it is normal to leave a therapy session feeling burdensome or overwhelmed, especially when working through trauma. However, if the majority of the sessions result in feeling trapped, upset, perplexed or unheard and the therapist is not offering coping mechanisms or support, it may be time to find another provider.

Broken confidentiality

It is typically unacceptable for therapists to reveal medical records, session notes, name, age, and other factors to third parties without consent. However, there are times when it becomes necessary to break confidentiality. Prior to therapy, individuals should be notified of any situations that may cause confidentiality to be disregarded.

Too personal

Although it may be appropriate for a therapist to share a personal story that is relative to the treatment, over-sharing can impede progress and healing. Other inappropriate behaviors might include sexual or romantic advances, asking for personal social media information, or requesting to meet outside of the sessions.

Additional sources: Verywell Mind, PsychCentral, and Psychology Today