"She Basically Slut Shamed Me": People Share When They Knew They Needed To Find A New Therapist

    "Instead of telling me why I'm frustrated, she said things like 'Mercury is retrograde.'"

    Note: This post contains mentions of suicide and abuse.

    Finding a therapist that you like is crucial to your mental health journey, which unfortunately means that you might have to meet with a few less-than-perfect fits before you find your perfect therapist.

    I recently asked the BuzzFeed Community, "What made you realize that you needed to break up with your therapist?" Here are just a few stories:

    1. "I started therapy in 2020. The first couple of visits, we went over basics like family history, relationships, work. Then I realized that she was repeating the same basic questions every time, even during the same session. She couldn't keep track of important details like the fact that my mother had passed away a few years ago, or how long my significant other and I had been together (not married). Then the pandemic came, and that was the focus of the next couple of sessions. But at that point, I felt more like I was providing therapy for her, when she would discuss the people that she lost to the virus, or her loneliness. Because of this, I took a break, and when I went back, I asked to have a different therapist. She took time to remember the little things, as well as the big things. She even remembered which chair I preferred. It made it so much more comfortable to open up, and I've come so far thanks to her."

    —Anonymous, 46, Ohio

    2. "I went there for two years and nothing improved. Instead of helping with my fears and mild anxiety, she wanted us to talk only about romantic relationships. Instead of telling me how to heal and improve MYSELF, it looked like she was controlling my relationships, telling me what to say, how to behave, etc. It wasnt even successful because all of the guys left me as well, which deepened my relationship anxiety. She also encouraged me to do casual sex, which is definitely not for me. When a family member passed away and I developed hypochondria and panic attacks, she thought that we would have it solved in ONE SINGLE session and got frustrated when I got worse."

    A woman sits on a couch and speaks to a therapist in a chair

    3. "My therapist told me to do an exercise with my eyes closed and after some time I didn’t hear anything from him. When I opened my eyes, he was sound asleep in his chair! When I canceled my future appointments, he emailed me to say this was a classic example of me avoiding my problems and I should come back in to work through that with him."

    —Anonymous, 39, Colorado

    4. "After having a baby, and experiencing some pretty serious postnatal depression and anxiety, she told me to just breastfeed and I would be fine."

    —Anonymous, 35, Australia

    5. "I knew it was time to break up with my therapist when she basically slut shamed me. She asked about my boyfriend and my sex life, then proceeded to ask how many sexual partners I’ve had. I said 'A few,' she pushed for a number and I said again, 'A few.' I asked her why she needed to know that information and she stated that she needed to know for the sake of my mental and physical health. She’s very aware of the fact that if I’m having an issue, I will bring it up. We moved into a conversation about casual sex without dating, and she proceeded to say 'Well, in my opinion, I wouldn’t want a partner who’s slept around,' essentially saying that my future husband wouldn’t want to be with me because I hadn’t saved myself for marriage. I have yet to break up with my therapist, but I haven’t seen her since then and I will be ending our relationship soon."

    —Anonymous, 18, USA

    6. "I hadn’t seen my therapist for a few months due to my busy schedule, but this was something that happened often. Normally, I would just text her and ask if we could schedule an appointment and everything would be fine. The last few times this happened though, it got more and more challenging to set up an appointment, and I got the weird feeling that I was bothering her or that she didn’t really want to schedule something. The last time we were scheduled to meet, she canceled the appointment because she was sick but never made any arrangements to reschedule the canceled appointment. The last time I reached out to her, I had just gone through a miscarriage and asked if we could schedule something. She texted back saying that she would get back to me during the week (I texted her on a Saturday), but I didn’t hear from her."

    A hand texts on a cell phone

    7. "She sent me notes about our session and the notes were about the struggles of the first years of marriage. I’m not married. She sent me another client’s notes and it made me realize that someone else might be reading about my sessions."

    —Anonymous, 29, DC

    8. "I was really struggling with balancing being back at work and being a new mom during this pandemic. I was talking about all of my struggles and anxieties and was practically in tears. Then she said, 'But, you watched The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City this week, so it can't be that bad.' Apparently, watching a 40-minute show meant that I didn't have a right to be overwhelmed."

    —Anonymous, 32, Illinois

    9. "My therapist was really great for the year that I saw him and his Cognitive Behavioral approach was really what I needed when I couldn't stop showing emotions in inappropriate situations like crying at work. However, when I came to the enormous personal realization that I was a gender non-binary person, it became clear real quick that he just couldn't relate (and maybe was even reluctant to try). In the session after I came out as gender non-binary, he followed up about my 'sexual orientation' realization, which is a whole separate thing to gender identity. As kindly as I could, I corrected him and asked if he wanted me to send him some resources to learn more about gender identity. He told me that he has too much to read as it is. Then he told me, 'My daughter keeps me pretty up to date on these things because she has some gay friends.' I decided then and there that I needed to find a new therapist."

    —Anonymous, 34, Colorado

    10. "My psychiatrist refused to listen to my concerns that I had ADHD and instead called me lazy for 15 years. I’ve subsequently been diagnosed with ADHD and ASD by two psychiatrists. Having my feelings and irregular brain validated is the best feeling ever."

    —Anonymous, 30, Georgia 

    11. "I would come in and instead of talking about the issues I was currently dealing with or healing from past trauma, we would end up having small talk throughout the entire session. At first, it wasn’t a big deal, but it got to the point where we were talking about her wedding, her eating disorder, and me being a 'friend' to her. I had to ghost her, I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I didn’t want to see her anymore. My new therapist is great. Always find a new one you click with. Sometimes, it takes a lot of time."

    A man sits in a chair across from a therapist writing in a notebook

    12. "When speaking about my ex-husband, she said, 'I think his bark is worse than his bite.' He had just pleaded guilty to several felony charges of domestic violence, stalking, and violation of protection order."

    —Anonymous, 40, Colorado 

    13. "I’m a therapist myself, so I know that I’m not a good fit for everyone who walks into my office. In fact, one of the first conversations that I have with a client is giving them an out during the first session if they realize that I’m not who they want or need. I do that because before I became a therapist when I was 20, I had a therapist who made me make a promise to disclose to my parents that my brother sexually abused me as a child, which I had never told them, and was not at all ready to tell them."

    "I keep my promises and told them in the worst way possible because I wasn’t ready and afraid but felt like I had to keep my promise, an hour before they dropped me off for grad school. It was destructive and traumatic for all of us and took years to heal. I didn’t know that I could speak up for myself and that I don’t have to follow all of the advice given to me. At the end of the day, the therapist doesn’t live my life, so I need to make choices that make sense for me. I found a new therapist who helped me heal and learn to advocate for myself."

    —Anonymous, 40, Chicago

    14. "While trying to find a therapist to help me treat my suicidal ideation, depression, and anxiety, I stumbled upon a woman who performed combinations of treatment therapy including using dogs in her treatments. This was a minor mention on her online profile and didn’t seem to be the prominent treatment modality. I showed up for my first appointment in an abandoned ER building that was being rented out by room to different professionals. The receptionist was in a T-shirt and jeans and told me to follow the yellow tiles down the hall until I 'find the room with the light on.' It felt like a scene from a zombie show. When I reached the door, two huge dogs came out of nowhere barking at me over a childproof gate. The therapist came in and said, 'They won’t hurt you, just step over!' So I did and this room smelled like wet dogs and cigarettes."

    A dark hospital hallway

    15. "I am a Black Queer womxn and every therapist that I had seen had been a white woman. I spent more time explaining my culture and cultural references than I did talking about myself. They never had any real understanding of what it meant to be me and I felt like it was so much work. I felt like I was constantly teaching."

    —Anonymous, 34, Oregon

    16. "After a year of working together, I was finally honest with myself and acknowledged that I wasn’t sharing everything or being 100% honest with my therapist. Once I allowed myself to see that, I stopped seeing that therapist immediately and put the time and effort into finding one that I felt incredibly safe and comfortable with. Since making that change, therapy has been monumentally life-changing for me."

    —Anonymous, 34, Chicago, IL

    17. "I chose my therapist originally because she specialized in chronic health conditions. However, she actually had the same physical condition as me and would keep suggesting things that worked for her even though I was seeing specialists all the time, was trying a lot of different medications, and was already really frustrated that nothing was working. It felt dismissive after I said that I had been dealing with the condition for a year on a really intense level, only for her to constantly suggest things that were really basic. She also never remembered what I said in previous sessions about myself, so I was constantly repeating myself."

    A woman sits on a couch across from a therapist writing on a clipboard

    18. "I was going to therapy for a number of things, but this story centers around two specific reasons that I was going: I had just moved to New York City with my husband because he got a great job offer, and I was struggling with how I was perceived there — Am I too loud? Am I too gregarious, obnoxious, do people like me, etc. I explained these things to the therapist, who was astounded that someone could not like New York City. She said, and I quote, 'How could you not like NYC? Everyone loves NYC!'"

    "Therefore, she dismissed my feelings. Then she asked me why I would move and follow my husband to New York City, and stated that this is not the 60s and you do not have to follow a man. I explained that the job was a great opportunity for my husband and that I could find a job in my field easily (which I did). Then, when I explained that I felt like people didn’t like me for being too loud and gregarious, in the middle of me explaining myself, she told me to be quiet, and that quote, 'I was speaking too loudly.'"

    —Anonymous, 33, New York

    19. "Over the last 12 years, I have seen four different therapists (three white women, one white man). They were all nice people, but it never felt helpful, and they mostly stared at me. I was sometimes assigned self-help books and workbooks which made my voice feel stifled. I wanted to talk about my frustrations. I was encouraged to do community service by one (the white man). That would be great advice for a white man, but Black women are already inundated with service to others. We don't receive it in return. This dynamic breeds bitterness and resentment.

    Advising me to seek more people to serve made me feel like we were on different planets. Being told that I just needed to be optimistic and patient when I was frustrated about the racism and colorism I experienced while trying to date felt infuriating. The person in front of me who never had to seriously consider the fact that she was too dark-skinned to marry, have children, or even date, couldn't understand that my experience wasn't just in my head. It is common and statistically relevant. 

    I also struggle with what to say in sessions, and I generally felt more stressed after sessions. Every therapist that I saw relied on cognitive behavioral therapy, and it seemed to be what they were most comfortable with, but it felt like gaslighting. It made my voice feel silenced, and it made me feel invisible. My experiences with racism in the workplace were trivialized. My anxiousness about my options for how to live felt even more limiting. In all, my experiences with therapy have left me feeling certain that traditional talk therapy isn't for everyone. I don't have a clue what people mean when they say therapy was so helpful or eye-opening for them."

    —Anonymous, 39, Illinois, USA

    20. "I am bipolar and have been in treatment since my 20s. I have been through a few therapists, some very good, a couple not so good. One therapist I had, I really liked, at least as a person. I would go into therapy and she and I would talk about books and other common interests, which isn't necessarily bad, but I realized we never got to my issues. I tried to push the conversation back to things that I needed to talk about, but it never worked. At the time, I wasn't at the point where I could come out and say, 'Hey, we need to talk about my issue, not how great this TV show is!' I knew that I needed to leave, so I just went to a different agency to avoid dealing with her and any questions. She and I could have been close friends if we met in a different way, but I didn't need a friend. I needed a professional who was willing to listen and offer guidance. My therapist now is wonderful!"

    A woman speaks to therapist while sitting on a couch

    21. "I was 16, and she was a 'child therapist' who made me draw pictures of little girls and describe how they felt, because at 16, I was still a child. It definitely felt like trivializing my feelings by treating me like a baby. Yeah at 16, I’m a minor, but I still had real feelings. My next therapist made me describe all of my issues with my mother and then called my mother in from the lobby to tell her everything that I said. Needless to say, it was a very uncomfortable ride home."

    —Anonymous, New York

    22. "No matter what the topic was, he would always circle back to how I needed to dump my boyfriend (now fiancé). I would bring up my negative feelings about money and he would switch the topic and try to make it about my boyfriend. Mind you, I was in a very happy and stable relationship at the time and was very much working on myself for myself. He called me 'attractive' and 'beautiful' a few too many times for comfort and I knew that I had to end it."

    —Anonymous, 26, New Jersey

    23. "I had been recently diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and found a new therapist when my prior therapist (who was amazing) relocated. During our first appointment, I told the new therapist that I was scared that I would never find a romantic partner because it felt like too much to ask of someone to take on my MS and all of the support I might need one day because of it. Her response? That she knew plenty of men who wanted a relationship so bad that they would be willing to put up with my MS in order to have one. Having a therapist basically tell me that I might be lucky enough to find a man desperate enough to date me was so depressing and humiliating that I still think about it now, more than 10 years later. That was my one and only appointment with that therapist."

    —Anonymous, 39, CA

    24. "I was bundled up in anxiety and repeatedly asked for help. My therapist thought that she was my friend and instead of offering techniques, she asked me to write a review for her, because she had a negative one on Google. I found the review and it wasn't that far-fetched. When I declined and explained my reluctance, she fessed up that she had been seeing two patients who were in a relationship, which is a huge conflict of interest. The male broke up with the female and according to my therapist, the female accused her (the therapist) of being responsible for the breakup."

    A person leaves a one-star review online

    25. "I opted for an online therapist via chat during the pandemic. She told me upfront that she was Christian and though I am not, that was fine by me. Then, when we were discussing attachment styles, the only example of a secure attachment she could offer was hers with Jesus. It wasn’t a helpful one to model in my long-distance relationship."

    —Anonymous, 28, NC

    26. "I'm autistic and my therapist wouldn't take that into consideration. She would say, 'Go do this thing that makes you uncomfortable' and I would ask, 'Okay, how do I do that?' and her advice would basically be 'Just do it.' Oh, gee. I wish I had thought of that."

    —Anonymous, 33, Kansas

    27. "My therapist seemed supportive at first, but I started to feel like he was overly protective of me in the stories that I would tell (I’m bipolar and before it was treated, I was not the best person). This turned into him constantly commenting on my appearance, how 'cute,' 'pretty,' and 'attractive' I was, and how I could never have acted in the way that I described. He essentially stopped listening to me to allow me to fit who he wanted me to be in his head."

    —Anonymous, 29, Illinois

    28. "I’m Indigenous, and Indigenous therapists are hard to come by. I broke up with multiple white therapists when I realized that I was paying for sessions where I spent the whole time educating them about my lived experience so they’d have the context to help me. Or they’d break up with me, saying that I 'didn’t want to be helped' when I rejected ideas that they couldn’t see were rooted in white supremacy and a lack of cultural safety. When I finally found an Indigenous therapist with a similar worldview and understanding of colonial trauma, I literally wept with relief."

    —Anonymous, 35, Canada

    29. "When I was a pre-teen I had a lot of bad mental issues including anxiety, depression, and PTSD. One thing that happened to me was a type of psychosis while awake and conscious where I'd get this desire to hurt my family and myself and would act on it. My mother sent me to a pediatric therapist who was good but had to leave suddenly because of divorce problems with her ex-husband. I was given a new therapist who was a student, fresh out of school, who had no prior experience with my kind of mental health. I told her what we were working on with the other therapist and said I needed help. She called CPS and reported my family for abuse and said I MUST be bad because they abused me as a child."

    "My parents have never abused their kids and CPS was quick to realize that I was a kid who needed help, but they didn't help me either. My mom ended up removing me from the program and had me go to a psychiatrist who put me on Xanax where my psychosis got WORSE and he changed me to an antidepressant. This was all before I turned 13. 

    I went to see a therapist who specializes in perinatal and family counseling while I was pregnant and divorcing, I told her the spiel and she went 'WHOA, that's INSANE! How did (event) happen? When was (event)?' like I was telling her about a soap opera. Ever since then she's been my therapist and has helped me with so much more than I ever expected. She's more than a therapist to me, she's a good friend who gives me gardening tips and helps with my kids!"

    —Anonymous, 27, California

    30. "I’d actually been in therapy off and on for years but needed to go back and touch up a little to get on track, so I went to a new therapist. In our first session, I mentioned that I had a friend die when I was in middle school. The therapist immediately started tying all of my anxiety and depression back to this incident and laid out a plan to relive it and 'rewrite the ending.' I never went back. Don’t get me wrong, it was horrible, but there was a lot more to my mental health than that, and I knew that it would never come out with that therapist now. Also, I'm not sure how you rewrite the ending of a real event that really ended with a very real girl’s passing."

    A therapist wearing a mask holds a clipboard and sits in a chair across from a client

    31. "In college, I had a therapist and she was awesome. The problem was that I wanted her to like me too much and therefore wouldn't be fully honest and vulnerable."

    —Anonymous, 22, Pennsylvania

    32. "My therapist kept insisting that I reconcile with my abusive parents and that the only problem was my failures in boundary setting, explaining over and over that my parents bulldozed boundaries did no good. My therapist was also an avowed athiest and it became apparent over time my spirituality was akin to mental illness for her."

    —Anonymous, 62, MO USA

    33. "I ended sessions with one therapist because she acted like a friend instead of a professional. Every appointment with her felt like two friends complaining about their lives over brunch. I loved that she could relate to me, but found it awkward when she would talk about herself, as I would then feel the need to offer insight and advice to her. I knew that she was lonely and needed a friend, but I was paying her to work through my own issues, not help her work through hers."

    —Anonymous, 33, California

    Have you ever had to dump your therapist? When did you know it was time to let go, and how did you find the right one? Let me know in the comments.

    Note: Some responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.