Therapy Doesn't Work? It Might Be Your Counselor

By Stephanie Kirby|Updated April 5, 2022
CheckedMedically Reviewed By Whitney White, MS. CMHC, NCC., LPC

Are you confused because everyone around you seems to think that therapy is incredibly helpful, but you gave it a try and found it not helpful? Maybe you were skeptical from the start, or maybe you wanted to believe that it could help and even expected it to. Either way, your experience has left you frustrated and feeling like therapy didn't help.

If you've had a bad experience, it's not you, and it's not that therapy isn't effective. The real problem is that you didn't have the right counselor for you. It doesn't necessarily mean your counselor was a bad therapist, but they weren't right for you. Good therapy helps you to grow through difficult situations in your life. It helps you to get a better understanding of yourself and how situations in your life have impacted you. It also helps provide you with the tools and resources that you need to improve yourself and your life.

therapy therapy therapy therapy therapy wor wor wor

Explore Affordable And Convenient Online Therapy Options


If this was not the experience that you had with therapy, then you need to find another therapist.

Signs Of A Bad Counselor

  1. Your Counselor Is Pushing Their Religious Beliefs On You.

There's nothing wrong with seeing a therapist that has different religious beliefs than you, but they shouldn't push their beliefs on you. This is true for any religious or spiritual activity. If they don't know where you stand, they should ask before making suggestions. If you aren't comfortable discussing spirituality or religion and the therapists insist, it's time to find a new therapist.

  1. Your Counselor Keeps Bringing Themselves Into Your Sessions.

Your therapist should be focused on you and your situation. If you find that they are continually sharing stories about themselves or turning the session back to themselves, you aren't going to benefit from therapy the way you should. Good therapists know that the session is about you and anything that they share about themselves should relate to you and your situation and provide you with some kind of value. They should also use discretion when sharing personal information.

  1. You Feel Ashamed After Your Session.

It isn't the job of your therapist to judge your thoughts or actions. If you begin to have a hard time sharing because you feel that you are being judged it's time to reevaluate the situation. Are you feeling judged just because you feel bad about something that you did, and you need to work through it? Or, is your therapist doing or saying something that is causing you to feel ashamed and embarrassed? If your therapist is making judgmental commentary that isn't helpful to you, tell them about it. If it continues, look for a new therapist.

  1. You Leave Feeling Worse Than When You Showed Up.

Now, don't get me wrong; there are times when you will leave feeling slightly worse. Therapy can force you to dig into some difficult emotions and work through painful experiences. There are times when your session isn't going to "feel" great. But overall, as you continue through your sessions, you should be able to leave feeling like you had a breakthrough or made progress or some other experience that made you feel good.

Remember, this doesn't necessarily mean that you leave feeling happy and giddy, but that you leave feeling like progress is being made. If progress isn't being made and you have been attending for several sessions, then you make sure you address this with your therapist. If you aren't satisfied with their answer, find a different therapist.

  1. You're Not Sure What You Share Is Kept Private And Confidential.

Confidentiality is crucial in the relationship that you have with your therapist. If you don't feel that they are keeping your trust, then don't keep talking to them. If you notice that it sounds like they are sharing more with you about another client's situation than what they should you can take that as a sign that they may be doing the same thing to you.

  1. You Can't Get An Appointment When You Need It.

If you constantly have to wait weeks or months to get in for an open appointment, then you should look at finding a different therapist. This doesn't mean they're a bad therapist, in fact, it might mean the exact opposite, but when it comes to your mental health, you shouldn't have to go through long waits to have an appointment.

  1. They Are Constantly Checking Their Watch.

When you're with your therapist, the last thing you want is to see that they are always watching their clocks. Good therapists will have a small amount of time built in between appointments, so client appointments aren't stacked one on top of another. You can call them out on the behavior when you notice it. Let them know that it's distracting. If they continue to do it, then look for a new therapist.

  1. Your Therapist Hasn't Helped You To Set A Goal.

For the vast majority of people, therapy is not a permanent solution. It's something that you need access to from time to time in life, but not something that needs to be regularly for the rest of your life. However, to reach this point, you need to be working towards a goal. When you start therapy, the therapist should ask you what your goal is for seeking therapy.

  1. You Start To Feel Uncomfortable.

It could be that you start to get the feeling that your therapist might have become romantically interested in you or that they seem fake. Or, it could be something that you can't put your finger on. Regardless of the reason, if you start to feel uncomfortable with your therapist don't continue going to sessions. Find a new therapist to continue meeting with.

  1. You Can't Stand Going To Your Sessions.

Therapy isn't something that should be a drag to go to. That doesn't mean you have to be excited and look forward to every week. It should be bringing about positive changes in your life that make you want to make it to the next session. If you find that you'd rather be anywhere else than at therapy, it might be time to find a new therapist.

How To Find A Good Therapist For Effective Therapy

Remember, if you haven't had success in the past, it's not that therapy doesn't work, it's most likely that you have the wrong therapist. We discussed several of the signs that you had the wrong therapist, so how do you find good therapy?

  • Start With A Therapy Green Flags List

    What are you looking for in a therapist? Do you want someone available to you through text and email whenever you need? Do you prefer a male or female therapist? What's your goal for attending sessions? When you have these questions answered it gives you a place to start your search.
  • Ask For Recommendations From Others

    Ask around to family and friends to find out if they can make any recommendations. But, take them with a grain of salt because each person is different, and you still need to make sure the therapist is a good fit for YOU.
  • Read Online Reviews

    Many therapy offices have reviews online. You should read through them to find out what experiences other people have had with the offices. This can help you know what to expect before talking with the therapist.
  • Look At Therapist Credentials

    It's easy to assume that if someone calls themselves a therapist or counselor that they have the proper education and experience, but that's not always the case. Take the time to find out what their credentials are. Even if you are selecting a therapist from a large firm or online organization like BetterHelp, you should take the time to do your research. Make sure you're comfortable with the experience and education that they have.
  • Look For Someone That Specializes In What You're Looking For

    There are different types of therapy and different reasons that people decide to meet with a therapist. Look for one that specializes in that area. Then, make sure their experience backs up their claims.

Don't Give Up on Counseling

One bad therapist doesn't mean that therapy doesn't work. It does mean that you need to be cautious about who you work with. If you've had a bad experience in the past, we encourage you to keep looking for a new therapist. Remember, if the first one doesn't seem to be working out don't be afraid to cut them loose and find a new therapist. You're worth it!

Helpful mental health resources delivered to your inbox
For Additional Help & Support With Your Concerns
Speak with a Licensed Therapist
The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.