Sometimes Therapists Say Horribly Destructive Things To Their Patients, And Here Are 25 Examples To Prove It
"My therapist thought the Zoom call ended and said, 'She's fucking exhausting.'"
We asked members of the BuzzFeed Community to tell us the worst thing a therapist has ever said to them. Here are the eye-opening results.
Warning: Some stories include topics of rape, sexual assault, and suicide.
Note: There isn't one "typical" therapy experience — everyone's stories are different, and if it hasn't worked for some, that doesn't mean it hasn't worked for others.
1. "A therapist told me to stop talking about my eating disorder; yelled at me for self-diagnosing when I said, 'I notice I'm having symptoms that sound like this'; and told me that if I dressed 'normally,' I wouldn't have anxiety about school."
2. "In high school, I talked about how my PTSD was affecting my sleep, and said that every night, I saw shadowy figures in my room. My religious therapist (whom my parents picked out) said, 'OH! Those aren't in your imagination, those monsters are real! They're demons! You have to pray really hard and bless your house for them to go away.' Shockingly, that didn't work, and being told that made me feel more afraid."
3. "When I was a teenager and dealing with trauma from my childhood, I was very angry and very clearly needed help. A therapist told my parents right in front of me that I was 'too bitter and hostile to be helped.' Thank goodness my parents never took me back to him. I'm a lot better off now."
4. "In my mid-twenties, I went to see a therapist for the first time because I was struggling with anxiety. The therapist asked out of the blue if I had ever had sex, and I told him I hadn't (I'm asexual, but I didn't know it at the time). He suggested that I just needed to get laid because it was a great stress reliever and would help me 'loosen up.'"
5. "The first-ever therapist I went to was an older male. He began our first session by asking questions about my experiences and things my siblings had been through. One of the things I disclosed to him was that my sister was raped when she was a teenager. During our next session a week later, he was reading from his notes and said, 'I see you were raped at 16,' and before waiting for me to correct this *massive* piece of incorrect information, he went on to say, 'While you were being raped, Jesus was there being raped with you.'
"Why would you run your mouth about a young woman’s traumatic sexual experience without allowing her the room to speak and define the boundaries of the conversation in a manner that was safe and comfortable for her?"
6. "I told my therapist that I'd been struggling with bulimia. She said, and I quote, 'Do you realize how much you need to be eating to throw up and still look like that?' Yeah...no..."
7. "I was sexually abused by a family member and ran away to my then-boyfriend's house, which was a safe place for me. My therapist said, 'Why do you think he did it? Are you sure you didn't just imagine it, because I see no reason why he would have done that. Maybe you wanted to believe that so you could run away with your boyfriend.'"
8. "During the pandemic, we were obviously meeting via Zoom. She thought the call had ended, and I heard her say, 'Jesus Christ, she's fucking exhausting.' I immediately texted her to call her out; she started and stopped typing a few times before asking to speak to me after she finished with the rest of her appointments. I had really liked her, so I was torn. I told her I would reach out when I was ready, but I wasn't able to get past it, and my therapy came to an abrupt end. It was already hard opening up to someone — after that, I was completely soured."
9. "That my being groomed for abuse was something I willingly participated in because I liked setting the 'rules of the game' and then breaking them. First off, the person being groomed has very little control over anything. Second, WHAT?! If I 'enjoyed' it so much, why am I here in therapy?"
10. "An old therapist once told me, 'You're too young to be feeling these things; they're all fake. Have you started your period yet? Did these things happen on your period?' No, the self-harm and suicide attempts didn't happen on my period."
11. "I was telling my therapist about the reasoning behind my parents' divorce (which was very scarring for me, and I had never told anyone about it before), and she said, 'Unfortunately, our session is coming to an end, but I wanna book you in for another as soon as possible because this is a very entertaining story.' I'm glad she found my suffering entertaining."
12. "My adopted children have significant disabilities, some stemming from their biological mom’s drug and alcohol addictions during pregnancy. Instead of being sympathetic to the bio mom, my kids, and me, my therapist had the audacity to say, 'Well, at least they aren't really yours.' I was stunned. Seven years later, my kids and I are doing great, and the therapist is no longer in my life."
13. "I was 14 years old, and it was the first time I'd ever seen a therapist. I told her about my brother's suicide, and she told me that 'suicide is just a slap in God's face.'"
14. "They said, 'I think you would feel better if you got some of that weight off of you.' Ummm, I'm here because my cousin raped me when I was a child, but thanks for letting me know that losing weight will solve all of my problems."
15. "I was struggling with intimacy with my partner during a deep-depressive episode that lasted a couple of years. During this episode, I was coming to terms with a previous sexual assault. The therapist I started seeing told me to 'just do it' with my partner, despite my sex-related trauma, and I stopped seeing her right then and there. I started seeing a new therapist who actually helped me, and now my partner and I have never been closer."
16. "My mom had me go to therapy when I was 12 after my dad passed and I was in the room when it happened. I was a really shy kid and didn’t want to go, let alone open up to a stranger about an ordeal I didn’t even fully understand yet. After I was not giving him a whole lot in the way of answers, he asked me, 'Do you even miss your dad?' Maybe examine your way of talking to a grieving child before blaming said child, asshole."
17. "Multiple therapists told me I was only questioning my gender identity because I 'didn't have enough strong female role models.' I won awards for my contributions to women's leadership and public service in college. In fact, seeing strong female professors in med school is part of what inspired me to come out as a trans man when I realized I couldn't see myself as them."
18. "I was 15 and I had a problem trusting men (I had extremely negative experiences with different men growing up, including my bio dad, my stepdad, a neighboring teenager, and my best friend's stepdad). I had just moved, so I was meeting with a new therapist for the first time, and he told me that I was too self-aware of my problems and he wouldn't be able to help me. I guess it didn't matter to him that I had spent the last two years working with my previous therapist to come to the realizations that had led me to be so self-aware of where I was struggling."
19. "An awful psychiatrist I was seeing discharged me and said, 'Well, you're not sitting in a corner rocking and crying, so you'll be OK!' Who says something like that, let alone a psychiatrist? I left crying!"
20. "'I think you're happy being depressed.' No, just dealing with the comfort in my sadness that comes from chronic, 20-year-old depression."
21. "I have childhood PTSD and experience horrible anxiety attacks as an adult. I was wearing a nice sweater in the session, and we were discussing anxiety-attack coping mechanisms. She very snidely said, 'You should go shopping when you feel anxious. You clearly like designer things.' I was floored."
22. "I was 10, and TWO different therapists said, 'You're the reason for your parents' divorce.' They failed to acknowledge my father's abuse, saying I was the problem...nope. I told my school about the abuse, and with a push from the Department of Homeland Security, my mom finally left after we were locked out of the house and left homeless. I may have gotten the ball rolling, but I am not the reason they divorced."
23. "'Have you tried seeing it from your abuser's point of view?' She literally used the word 'abuser' because the situation was that clear-cut. Yes, actually, I've spent a long time trying to understand my abuser's point of view, and had come here to think about my own feelings for a change rather than theirs. Did not go back to that therapist."
24. "A therapist said to me, 'I don't think you're doing badly enough to test you for anxiety.' I was miserable, constantly stressed, and having complete breakdowns at least twice a week, and she completely invalidated that after talking to me for five minutes. After I went straight to a doctor to get diagnosed, the therapist pretty much just said, 'Oops.' She got fired from the college shortly after because a lot of students had various issues with her."
25. And this: "I was in therapy dealing with the fact that my father didn't really know how to be one and was never there, which caused me to try to be perfect (which, SPOILER ALERT, isn't healthy). My therapist told me I needed to try harder and that if I found something my father actually cared about, he'd be a better dad. I explained that I had already emulated as much as I could from his high school years (soccer, choir, etc.), but she insisted I hadn't done enough."
Note: Some submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.