What a Therapist Should not Do; over 21 facts to know

Today, we bring to you What a Therapist Should not Do and why they shouldn’t indulge in such activities. 

How would you like to become a therapist with an easy flow with clients? Or how would you recognize a good therapist as a client?

Research has shown that about 50% of America’s population have visited a therapist at one point in their lives.

With this rise in interest, you need to equip yourself and offer the best as a therapist. Also, for a client, you may be willing to know what to watch out for during therapy, especially if it’s your first time at it!

In this article, we have summarized 21 things a good therapist shouldn’t do.

21 Things a Therapist Should not Do

Let’s get started!

1. Disregard Building of Trust

As a therapist, you should first build trust with your clients before anything else. Trust is the basic foundation for any relationship.

Hence, a therapist must never disregard this process as it is the basis for successful therapy sessions.

Try talking about simpler, general things with clients before moving to deeper conversations.

Always remember that clients will find it difficult to talk about their challenges if they don’t trust you; thereby making the therapeutic sessions crooked.

Imagine a therapist jumping to conclusions about his client without a background relationship, it would become an awkward relationship over time.

Therefore, if you want to progress with your clients, you must never disregard the process of building trust.

However, building trust doesn’t happen suddenly; it requires patience, proper planning and commitment from both parties.

How can a Therapist Build Trust with Clients?

  • A therapist must show a willingness to know and understand their clients.
  • Have respect for clients no matter what.
  • Work with clients’ pace.
  • Be helpful to them at all times.
  • Speak freely with them.

If you don’t disregard the process of trust-building as a therapist, be ready to have a progressive ride with your client!

 2.  Give out Confidential Information

Keeping a client’s confidentiality isn’t just a nice thing to do as a therapist— it is the law.

According to the code of conduct for the American Psychological Association (APA), it is unethical to share a  client’s confidential information with anyone.

As a therapist, you must make it a top priority to protect your client’s privacy. Do not give out their confidential information!

This assurance allows them to share challenges with you without any fear.

Nonetheless, there are a few exceptions to keeping confidentiality in therapy.

  • When the client is posing as a threat to himself.
  • Or posing as a threat to public safety.

To help your client, it is better to share needed information that seems out of control with persons available to provide help.

Hence, it would be important for you to breach confidentiality in such a situation.

3. Judge/Condemn Clients

Always remember that the therapy room isn’t a judgement room. You shouldn’t judge your client for a situation they decide to share with you; neither should you condemn their thoughts, words or actions. A therapist should rather seek solutions without biases.

Besides, if a client feels judged, it becomes difficult to open up. This would hinder progress. A therapist should help and offer support, not judge clients.

 4. Lack Empathy

For you to connect better with your clients, you shouldn’t lack empathy. Instead, be compassionate and understanding about their challenges. This would make them open and honest with you.

However, if your clients sense a lack of empathy from you, it makes them feel uncomfortable. They may begin to feel they’re not in the right place, hence, making them hold back. As a result, you may find it difficult to provide proper guidance for them.

Admittedly, a lack of empathy is considered dangerous in therapy because before therapy can work, clients must feel understood.

A good therapist would seek to understand his client’s emotions through listening, concentration and active engagement.

5. Behave Unprofessionally

Unprofessionalism is a major turn off for many clients. Thus, it must be consciously avoided. Not only does it cause distractions, but it also makes clients uncomfortable during therapeutic sessions.

Therefore, to be a good therapist, you should know the best way to present yourself as a mental health professional; it says a lot about you and your work.

Here are some unprofessional behaviors you should avoid as a good therapist:

  • Inappropriate dressing
  • Habitual lateness to appointments
  • Lack of hygiene
  • Disorderliness around office space
  • Too much informality during conversations
  • Answering phone calls
  • Touching clients inappropriately
  • Acting bored or tired
  • Sleeping off during a session

 6. Lack Confidence

It is possible to become shy and nervous during interactions with clients, especially for a newbie therapist. Nevertheless, therapists shouldn’t appear as such before clients.

If you lack confidence, it becomes difficult for clients to trust your guidance. In turn, this would cause a hitch in the therapeutic process.

Objectively, with your knowledge and the training acquired to become a licensed therapist, lack of confidence shouldn’t be an option.

 7. Be Disrespectful

It is unethical and unprofessional to be rude to your clients, no matter the age, status or wellbeing.

You should avoid any form of disrespect towards clients irrespective of their challenges. Also, don’t try to you use their weaknesses against them.

On the other hand, some clients may be rude to you. This doesn’t still give you the chance to become rude to them.

However, if things get out of hand, It would be better to draw the curtains than reciprocate an act of disrespect.

 8. Talk too much/too little

As a trained therapist, that means you should know how to read body language, how to handle tough situations, when to change topics during conversation and when to talk or keep silent.

If you’re doing most of the talking, that’s something to be wary of. You should give your clients the chance to express themselves.

Likewise, if you’re mostly mute during therapeutic sessions, you may not deliver the best to your clients. Since they’re in session to seek guidance, keeping silent would discourage them.

 9. Claim the Perfectionist

No one is perfect, we all strive to become better.

Therefore it is wrong for a therapist to assume perfection based on his knowledge and experience.

Sometimes, your diagnosis may be incorrect due to one reason or the other; this is why you shouldn’t be in a haste.

A good therapist should not always think of himself as perfect. On the contrary, he should be open to learning, admitting mistakes, accepting feedback/ corrections and studying updated therapeutic methods.

10. Talk in unrelatable language

90% of the time, clients may not understand some therapeutic/psychotherapy terms. Hence, you need to know the level of understanding of your clients and relate with them accordingly.

Importantly, whatever you’re saying to your clients should be crystal clear without making them feel dumb.

11. Lack Sensitivity towards clients’ beliefs and values

You need to be sensitive to your client’s beliefs and values. Asides from making them feel safe, it also makes the healing process quicker.

This is because acts of kindness, forgiveness and meditation are incorporated in many traditions, beliefs and values of people.

More so, if a client senses that you have no respect for his beliefs and values, it can damage trust and hinder the process of therapy.

12. Forget important details

One of the ways to identify a good therapist is if they have a good memory. Besides, mixing up your clients details lays a setback in the therapeutic process. It is also a red flag for many clients.

Although it might take about 3-4 sessions before you master a client’s case, it is best to avoid forgetting basic details about them.

One of the ways you can achieve this is by taking notes during sessions and reviewing them before the next one. It would help you give them the best help and show you genuinely care for them.

Equally, your clients would feel a sense of connection with you if you don’t forget their basic details.

13. Make Indefinite Promises

As a therapist, you shouldn’t make promises predicting your client’s progress. If you make promises to temporarily assure your clients, they begin to have unrealistic expectations. Along the line, when these promises aren’t met, it may cause further discouragement or pain.

Also, it isn’t possible to immediately determine what type of therapy would work for clients, especially if they’re new to therapy.

However, you must be patient and honest. Assure your clients they’re not alone in the journey.

Therefore, do not jump to conclusions, nor should you make mindless promises to your clients.

14. Give Mindless Advice

It is not your duty as a therapist to advise clients on the decision to make. Instead, you are to guide them on making the best decisions.

No matter how long it takes or how hard it is, clients are responsible for making

decisions for themselves.

Most importantly, therapy isn’t about advice, it is rather an exploratory process. The aim is to foster confidence in making personal decisions. Therapy also builds awareness of your client’s thoughts and emotions.

Allow them to explore the risks, benefits and goals attached to a decision and choose what’s best.

15. Encourage Wrong Decisions

As much as clients have the liberty to make decisions of their own, don’t encourage them when you sense they’re making a harmful decision.

However, always acknowledge and praise them when they achieve success.

16. Use Inconsistent Therapeutic Methods

Trying out different therapeutic methods on a client is a no-no, especially without their consent. Do not go about jumping from one therapeutic method to another. This confuses your clients and affects the process of therapy.

Of the various types of therapy, select the best option that suits your client’s challenge. Ensure you discuss and stick to it.

However, finding the right therapeutic process to use is not always easy. Hence, it is possible to realize later that a process isn’t the best.

While considering other options, ensure to discuss with your clients. This would show them that you respect their opinions and needs.

17. Become overwhelmed with clients’ troubles.

In the process of empathising with clients, you may become overwhelmed with their troubles. This is because you understand and feel the challenges they’re going through.

Nevertheless, you should always set a boundary between your work and personal life. If you don’t, you may begin to lose focus, concentration and even personal life.

18. Rush a Diagnosis

Giving your clients a rushed diagnosis can make them feel worse. Hence, a therapist must be careful and consider necessary details before coming to conclusions.

Establishing a diagnosis takes time and concrete knowledge; that’s why you should be patient and consider every important thing before diagnosing your client. Always remember that their mental health development is dependent on your diagnosis.

19. End sessions without action steps

If all you do with your client is talk about their challenges and experiences, there won’t be any valuable development.

During sessions, give your clients tools they may need or action steps to carry out to make them get better. Over time, they would be able to make good decisions and handle situations on their own.

20. Leave Clients unsure of their progress

No client wants to be left hanging. They would want to know how far they’ve gone. As the therapist, you should know the areas your clients have improved and you have to let them know.

21. Continue Therapy when not needed

If the goal of therapy has been achieved with your client, you also must let him know.

Moreover, your client should have a clear understanding of what the end goal is.

Nonetheless, deciding whether to continue therapy or not might be inconclusive. But ensure to guide your clients towards attainable goals that work best for them.

Conclusion on what a therapist should not do

Generally, any good therapist would want the best for his clients. He would also want to have a smooth ride during therapeutic sessions.

Therefore, if as a therapist you desire such, all you need do is create a foundation of trust with your client.

Ensure you empathize with them so they can easily relate to you. However, always be professional with your work and follow the right therapeutic methods.


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