The New York Times has put together a list of top twelve annoyances endured by therapy clients, and in addition to harmless mistakes or one-time slip-ups, there are some upsetting trends.
A fairly common and sometimes unavoidable issue reported by clients is the problem of therapists showing up late. Whether by a few minutes or a few hours, the message seems to ring out that the client is not important or worthy of time or attention–not a nice message to send. Eating and yawning or even sleeping in front of clients also made it on the list; one reader reported that their therapist took the initiative to use their session time–around noon–to have their lunch. Being self-centered or focusing on the minute details of their own life is one therapist behavior that appeared anathema to client preference. Distractions including ringing phones, computer use, and in-office pets ranked high on the list of grievances as well. Making it hard for clients to make contact via phone or email was reported as a major problem, as was discussing the therapist’s personal racial, sexual, and religious preferences; music and lifestyle choices also made the list, though these seem to become an issue only when they are the focus of a session’s precious time.
Clock watching and excessive note taking seem like fairly obvious no-nos, and uncomfortable hugging or touching was noted as a problem. One reader mentioned that her therapist, seemingly very concerned with whether the client cared for her, would frequently ask for an opinion and give small gifts to the client. A final item well worthy of its place on the list is flamboyant displays of wealth or of flesh–behavior not suited to the therapist’s office.
© Copyright 2009 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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