Can Therapy Be Harmful? Exploring The Dangers Of Therapy

Last Update on November 17, 2023 : Published on November 18, 2023
Can Therapy Be Harmful

Psychotherapy, popularly known as talk therapy is the first thing that crosses our mind when we talk about mental health conditions. Even a layman can say that therapy is one of the most successful treatment options for mental health challenges. 

What if I tell you, that therapy can go wrong too? Every intervention has its drawbacks and we can prepare for those challenges. What we can’t prepare ourselves for is human error. Therapy can be harmful if there is an increased number of human errors. 

These human errors can be made by the patient as well as the therapist. If there is a lack of commitment by any of the parties involved, things can go wrong before you even know it. However, today we are going to talk about some of the salient factors that are responsible for making therapy harmful. 

Let’s get started…

Can Psychotherapy Make You Worse?

Well, this is a very important question to ask. To be honest, in some unfortunate circumstances, psychotherapy can ruin your condition. Now, I’m not saying psychotherapy is bad; however, if your therapy sessions are not executed properly, it can be harmful.

There are a lot of things that need to be considered when therapy begins. Most of these things are a therapist’s responsibility. If your therapist fails to provide you with a growth-promoting environment, there is a high chance of facing the dangers of harmful psychotherapy. 

Anything for that matter if not performed properly can have dangerous outcomes. Therapy can face the same fate. Therefore, it is important for all of us to understand what can make therapy harmful. Let’s look at what makes therapy harmful.

Also read: Exploring Signs Of Therapist Burnout | Strategies To Cope

How Can Therapy Be Harmful?

There are quite a few reasons behind therapy not working as it is expected to. Psychotherapy can be dangerous if you observe the following in your therapy sessions;

1. Inappropriate Therapist-Client Relationship

 It is very important to share a good therapist-client relationship. Because if there is no trust or respect in this partnership, things are never going to work. If a therapist fails to build a trusting relationship or comprises some vital or personal information, it can result in harming the client’s emotional state even further.

If the therapist’s behavior is unethical or doesn’t respect the client’s boundaries, their therapy session can be dangerous. 

2. Misdiagnosis and Treatment Plan

It is the mental health professional’s job to provide a correct diagnosis and choose a treatment plan that suits their patient the best. However, when the diagnosis or the treatment plan is not correct, the therapy session is not going to benefit the patient, it might rather disturb or harm the patient’s psyche even more. 

3. Lack of Cultural Sensitivity:

A therapist always needs to keep in mind the cultural background of their patients. It is very important to be culturally sensitive or else things can get worse. When therapists fail to understand or consider cultural, ethnic, or religious backgrounds, it can result in miscommunication and misunderstanding. Insensitive remarks can make the patient feel like the therapist is being stereotypical and this can be harmful for the therapy.

Also read: Therapist Red Flags! Beware of These Signs of a Bad Therapist

4. Premature Termination or Sudden Discontinuation:

When you suddenly choose to stop taking therapy or your therapy is terminated for some external reasons, you’re most likely to face harmful consequences. Termination of therapy without proper closure can make the patient feel abandoned, worsening the symptoms even further. It is essential for therapists to discuss termination plans with clients well in advance.

5. Ineffective Communication and Lack of Collaboration:

Communication is the most important aspect of a successful therapeutic relationship. It is the therapist’s duty to actively listen to their clients and be empathetic towards them. If the communication is not open and free of judgment, the therapy is not going to be fruitful.

6. Ethical Violations:

Ethical violations by therapists can significantly harm the patient. These violations can range from breaches of confidentiality, engaging in inappropriate relationships with patients, or exploiting the power dynamics within the therapeutic relationship. Such misconduct can severely damage the client’s trust, cause emotional distress, and even lead to legal consequences for the therapist.

Also read: I Don’t Like My Therapist Anymore | What To Do?

What Can You Do About It?

If you find any of the above-mentioned factors ruining your therapeutic relationship, know that it’s time to say goodbye. If therapy doesn’t work for you, it’s best to change your therapist. You deserve good treatment, therefore, never shy away from asking what you want.

Express your thoughts and concerns to your therapist and make a conscious decision. I’m sure your therapist also wants what is best for you. If you think this therapeutic setup isn’t working, call it off.

That’s All Folks!

I hope you found this blog about how therapy can be harmful, helpful, informative, interesting, and thought-provoking. Do share this blog with your friends and family so that we all know when psychotherapy can be dangerous. 

Thanks for reading.

Take care and stay safe.

About The Author

Kirti Bhati
Kirti Bhati

I am an English literature (major) and psychology (minor) graduate from St. Bede’s College, Shimla. Postgraduate in Clinical psychology from IIS University, Jaipur. She has published a Research paper on Music therapy in the military population and Workplace stress in a national seminar conducted by Fortis hospital (gurugram) and international seminar conducted by St. Bede’s College, Shimla, Respectively. Authored a dissertation work on ‘effect of social media addiction on the mental and physical well-being in adolescents’ Currently working at calm sage as a writer.

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