What Do I Do if I Don’t Like My Therapist When I Meet Him or Her?

Trust is essential to establishing a good connection with your therapist. Without trust, your therapy may never be as effective as you hope for. If you meet your therapist and do not click with him or her, you may consider searching for a new therapist after you evaluate the situation. Below, a few therapists recommend what to do if you think you may need to find a different therapist:

Therapist Jill Denton
Jill Denton, MFT, CSAT, CCS
: Before I begin working with a new person, I send them a welcome package, which includes information like, “Ten Things You Need to Know about Working with Jill Denton.” In that package, I try to explain a bit about my particular approach to therapy, what guidelines affect my relationship with the person in therapy, and what to expect in therapy with me. This package also includes some paperwork that goes beyond name, date of birth, and address to what I call “the essay questions. These include: What are your hopes? Your fears? Your goals, as you look forward to our work together? Whenever possible, I like to have a chance to read these responses ahead of time.

When I first speak with people new to my office, we often chat for quite a while about how they found me and why they’re interested in my particular approach to therapy. I learn more about them before we meet and I disqualify myself if I don’t feel I’ll be able to help them. It’s been rare over my 30 plus years of practice (does practice really make perfect?) to have a new person respond with antipathy. But, even with the best preparation, it can happen. I would suggest hanging in for the first session and declining politely to make a subsequent appointment. Perhaps closing with, “I’m not sure if you’re the best match for me—I’d like to sleep on this and get back to you if I feel I want to continue.”

It’s crucial to remember that you get to choose, and you’ll want to feel some connection if you’re going to benefit from therapy! But remember, that it is possible that your therapist might not be someone you immediately like, but might be just the right person to help you achieve your healing goals. If there are good reasons you chose this person in the first place, and it wasn’t just because they were the first name you found in your area, I encourage you to hang in for a couple of sessions before you look for someone else.

Therapist Andrea RisiAndrea M. Risi, LPC: We don’t like everyone we meet in our lives and a new therapist may be no different. When you are disclosing your innermost personal information, you want to feel comfortable with whom you’re sharing. During your first session, your therapist should:

  • Help you feel relaxed by having a warm, positive, and compassionate demeanor
  • Be a good listener and not do all the talking
  • Emphasize confidentiality and a willingness to help you solve your problem
  • Not try to fit you into a particular type of therapy
  • Learn about you and work with you to develop a uniquely personal treatment plan

If your therapist doesn’t have these qualities, then he or she might not be the right fit for you. The first meeting can be uncomfortable for many reasons. I usually ask people new to my practice to come back at least one time after the initial visit. If you still don’t feel comfortable, then a referral can be made to another therapist. As difficult as it may seem, if you don’t like your new therapist you can tell him or her why. It’s helpful for therapists to get feedback both during and after treatment, so they can evaluate their practice and adjust accordingly to your needs. The bottom line is that the more comfortable you feel with your therapist, the more effective your therapy time will be with him or her.

Therapist Lisa VallejosLisa M. Vallejos, MA, LPC, NCC: If you don’t like your therapist when you meet him or her, you always have the choice to seek out another therapist. A lot of therapists offer free consultations to allow you to meet them to avoid this situation. One of the great things about therapy is that you are in no way obligated to your therapist; you can always leave therapy or seek out a second opinion at any time. Research has shown time and time again that the relationship between the therapist and the person in therapy is one of the factors that will lead to positive therapeutic growth, so it is important to feel comfortable with the therapist you are working with.If you find you truly don’t like the therapist, simply tell him or her at the end of the session that you don’t feel like it’s a good fit and that you will continue looking elsewhere. It is unlikely that every therapist will be a good fit for each person that comes into his or her office, and it’s okay if you just don’t click. You can also ask the therapist to refer some other therapists to you who might be a better fit. Most therapists will be happy to do so if you ask.

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  • Leave a Comment
  • Smm

    March 24th, 2018 at 7:10 AM

    So I have been in therapy for over 3 years. Two of my former therapists have relocated their practices, or I would still be working with them. Therapy has been a key part of my recovery and I actually enjoy going to meet with a therapist. I recently moved to a different state and got on a (2 month long!) Waiting list to see a new therapist in my area. I have had the experience of not liking a therapist at first, but i always gave them a chance. This particular therapist though? I felt this indescribable feeling from her immediately. I felt like I could not trust her. She had a negative and intimidating demeanor I have never experienced before. Even the way she made eye contact with me gave me chills down my body. I was so confused by this. I did not go into it thinking I would walk right out the door, I’ve been needing support big time. She didn’t let me chose where I wanted to sit. She gave me anxiety/depression score cards to fill out and then read them aloud to me as if she were grading a bad test. Totally impersonal and detached…But not in a professional way, in an anti social kind of way. I’ve also never experienced a therapist “grade me like that, especially upon ,meeting for the first time! I didn’t finish the session because of how uncomfortable it was. So I’ve been researching online to make sure I’m not just imagining this. Totally weird. I will be looking for another person soon.

  • Tracy

    June 18th, 2018 at 11:57 AM

    I hope I never have to deal with this type of situation, but this is a great article for help in case it does happen. A patient’s relationship with their psychologist is extremely important. It is crucial that they are compatible, and that they trust each other. If the patient has any negative feelings towards their psychologist to the point where they are not comfortable sharing information with them, it is a sign to switch to someone else.

  • Linda

    January 23rd, 2022 at 9:07 AM

    What is therapy anyway? I don’t see how rehashing my past childhood abuses helping…just brings ups bad memories for me to relive..

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