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Processing a Negative Mental Health Experience

two people sitting in chairs talking

A majority of the clients I have worked with have disclosed a negative experience regarding their mental health. Some have stories about feeling invalidated by a therapist, feeling as though they’ve been ignored, or feeling that their therapist just didn’t care about them. It’s always heartbreaking to me as a clinician to hear that clients have been jaded in regards to therapy. Another common thing I hear is that clients have felt the confidentiality they were promised wasn’t kept – and this usually happens with younger clients in regards to their parents. When a client trusts their therapist with their care or takes the step to put their mental health needs first and have a bad experience, it can make them lose faith in mental health care as a whole. Some of the stories I hear that make people scared to go to therapy are related to time they spent in an inpatient facility. The idea of being put back in that situation can make people avoid therapy as a whole or only tell their therapist surface-level information.  

a man with his hand covering his face

As a clinician and a person that regularly attends therapy (and has for years), I can understand the level of frustration and hurt that comes from having a negative experience in therapy. I have had to switch therapists multiple times because I knew that I wouldn’t feel comfortable telling someone what I was feeling. Maybe it was just a personality clash or they didn’t make me feel cared for. Whatever the reason, I’m always thankful that I kept trying until I found a therapist that was a good fit for me.  

Think of looking for a therapist like you’re buying a car. Most people don’t walk on the lot and buy the first car they see. Maybe that car feels awkward when you drive it or you think that you’d feel safer driving a different car. When you’re looking for a therapist, it’s okay to recognize that this person isn’t the therapist for you. All of us have a different approach, different personalities, and different communication styles. Some of us really love worksheets and others wouldn’t give you a worksheet if their license depended on it. 

a woman sitting on a couch with someone sitting next to her

My point is that not all therapists are the same. It’s normal to feel jaded after you’ve been hurt by the mental health system before. The field of mental health is constantly growing and changing as we learn what works and what doesn’t. Understanding how to approach finding a therapist that works for you can be exhausting. My recommendation for people who have had negative experiences in therapy before is to communicate openly with your therapist.  If you know that a certain approach didn’t work for you, it’s completely normal to voice that concern to your therapist. It helps us know more about you and avoid repeating that cycle. 

We understand and empathize with the concern that comes with seeking out therapy again. It can be difficult to open up and trust that your therapist is invested in your care. If you are apprehensive about seeking therapy again, expressing your concern to your therapist or the admin staff can help your therapist approach your care. It’s important to invest in yourself and take the time to find a therapist that works with you and for you  – let Mindsight alleviate some of your anxiety today!

photo of the author

Shelby Case is a clinician offering in-person sessions at our Louisville office or telehealth sessions! She strives to make long-lasting connections with her clients in order to facilitate positive change. As a well-known homebody, Shelby enjoys living a cozy life outside of her time working by focusing on hobbies, spending time with her spouse, getting overly invested in TV shows, or cuddling with one of her cats. 

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