How to live with a human mind.

Should You Trust Your Psychologist?

Someone once told me that anyone who asks for your trust probably doesn’t deserve it. Yet we psychologists are implicitly asking you to trust us each time you cross our thresholds. Read More

I have huge trust issues,

I have huge trust issues, just in general.

It really helped that the first thing my psychologist told me was that everything was confidential unless he got a written consent from me. Unless, of course, he thought I was in risk of harming myself or others.

The reason I decided to go to a therapist was because I had been having suicidal thoughts and I was getting to a point where I thought I might do something. But when the therapist asked me if I had suicidal thoughts, I said no. I kept saying no for months. I thought that he would immediately have me institutionalized or something.

He's been really patient with me. He doesn't push me to open up when I don't want to talk about something. And now, after a year, I completely trust him. I know I can go in there and say anything at all. I can talk to him about being suicidal and we'll talk about it, and I know he's not going to report me once I walk out the door.

That being said, I've been through 3 psychiatrist and I didn't trust any of them. I feel like they go straight to the point and ask me a huge question. I think "Why should I tell YOU? That's none of your business." Even though it's therapy, it's still a relationship. It has to be built up. I'm not the kind of person who's going to trust a therapist and open up just because that's what I "should" do.

Trusting your therapist

I actually DID ask my therapist why I should trust her. I'd seen two therapists previously, and I didn't trust either of them, and felt that they eventually validated that I couldn't trust them. I don't give trust easily, and never have. My therapist's response was "why shouldn't you? Have I given you a reason to think you can't?" I responded that she hadn't given me a reason not to trust her, but that experience has shown trusting someone isn't safe. So, we started with little things, and worked our way up. She will often bring up the fact that therapy actually relies on mutual trust and will go over things that show we can trust each other. It has helped a lot! Every time I start going back to past experiences as a reason I can't trust, my therapist focuses me back on the experiences I've had specifically with her. After two years, I still check in on that trust...I'll start to talk about something and then ask "I can trust you with this, right?" and that reassurance that yes I can trust her helps me to work through difficult issues.

I'm so glad you feel you can trust...

I'm happy to read about something positive someone writes! First- I'm glad you're getting the help you need. Second, I'm glad you can feel this way about the relationship you and your therapist have.
I wish I can say the same. (sigh)

I have tried therapy before,

I have tried therapy before, and it felt very unnatural to have to share with someone and trust them when they've not earned it and aren't sharing much of anything about themselves. Hence, I didn't share much of myself. Tit for tat.

I resolved never to try therapy again when it hit me that I was getting more benefit out of time spent with my dog.

It's harder than that, even...

The essential trust issue for the psychotherapeutic patient, in my experience, is that the entire relationship is backwards, both professionally and emotionally.
Things, in their normal progression, begin from a nascent state of unknowing. In essence, we both accept that we stand in positions of relative ignorance with regard to one another. Emotionally, this is summed up as getting to know each other. Professionally, the medical relationship starts with the doctor not knowing what the patient is visiting for and considering the words of the patient to be reflective of the patient's *actual* state of heath.
In a therapy situation, this is completely reversed. When the patient arrives, not only does the therapist have preconceptions about the contents of the patient's personality, but so do the non-medical personnel at the therapy location. The nascent emotional starting point is *not* one of relative ignorance, and therefore there is no opportunity for the patient and doctor to "get to know" one another.
Professionally, the procession is even *more* backwards. Medicine, being a science, relies on the scientific method for determining truth. Facts are gathered and *then* diagnoses are made. Standard operating practice among mental health professionals, however, is to make a diagnosis with little or no evidence, and often after little more patient/therapist communication than an office intake form. This diagnosis, once placed, is highly resistant to revision. A patient/therapist relationship could be ongoing for years without a hint of alteration to the diagnosis, which was made at the very first meeting of the pair.
It is very difficult to place your trust in someone who believes they know the content of your character before they've even laid eyes on you. Especially when nothing you say, even if you keep speaking for years, causes the person you are speaking to to believe anything different about you than what they "knew" the first time they shook your hand. Add to that the patient's already troubled state of being, and the problem is illuminated in a very painful way for everyone involved.
Food for thought.

This is VERY well

This is VERY well stated.

I've also found the therapy relationship to be totally backwards. The problem is that for people like me who are highly aware of the dynamics of their relationships, I just could not overlook my analysis of how strange the relationship and process were.

The therapy profession suffers a lot for how many people it turns away, either after they've tried it or because they won't even try. I really think that has to do with how much people feel like they are being falsely analyzed.

A doctor is an expert in medicine, but the patient is an expert in himself. Therapy works like it is not only an expert in psychology, but in the clients too. That's impossible.

NEVER Trust Any Psychologist


My answer to Shawn Smith is a categoric absolute 'NO' you should NEVER trust any psychologist. And whilst I hold nothing against Mr. Smith personally, I would also like to add that 'NO' you do not deserve our trust.

I won't go in to my problems here but suffice to say I have only ever known mental torture and I have no future. I was friends with one of the most famous psychologists on the planet when she just turned her back on me to concentrate on her TV work. After that I vowed to myself to never open up about my thoughts and feelings to another human ever again. Every day since I have been tortured by this.

Prior to this I had had bad experiences with other mental health people too.

I would strongly and passionately urge any mentally ill person to never trust anybody within the medical profession. They are not in it to help you.

Thank you for listening.


Because the word revolves around you right? Just because you have one fucked up accident with a shrink, it doesn't give you the right to tell others seeking help that they shouldn't open up. Obviously you felt left behind like a child when your shrink had life to deal with herself. I would strongly and passionately urge any mentally ill person to never listen to idiots like you! If you don't like being on this earth, you know where the exit is. You'll get no sympathy from me troll.

The shrink was the one who

The shrink was the one who left the patient behind which is very irresponsible for a professional to do. Secondly, you are anonymously making a direct personal attack on someone who is hurting which makes you a very callous person. Last but not least, you are implicating the person commit suicide which is the most vile and disgusting thing you could ever advocate someone to do. In the words, you support self-murder which makes you entirely malicious and wrong. Trolls like you should stay away from forums like these.

First of all, I'd like to say

First of all, I'd like to say that I'm not a psychologist, just a person receiving help. In response to "Anonymous" who posted on January 8th, 2013: Be compassionate, people are hurting. This person had a bad experience with the female psychologist who left to do her work.
It sounds like this person is feeling abandoned. Placing your trust in someone is hard, and when that trust is broken, it hurts...
I know.

Hang in there...

Hang in there.... I feel badly hearing about your scarring experience. I can only imagine that you must be feeling abandoned.
I don't trust anybody. But, there's one thing that helps me. I turn to Facebook and skim through things on my wall and look for positive things people post. It helps me most times.
I hope this helps you!

NEVER Trust Any Psychologist...

I just read your post and just WOW! It sounds like you psychologist only cared about herself. Did you submit a complaint or anything? I think it's a dirty shame what your psychologist did to you. I am so sorry it happened to you. You said never to trust anybody within the medical profession. Who do you suggest to talk out your problems? I left my previous counselor because she didn't know what she was doing. She didn't help me with anything. It was all just a job to her. She wasn't real. I'm the type of person that is very honest and I am very real. I never pretend to be anyone. In other words what you see is what you get. It took me a while to realize what my former counselor really was like but I am glad I finally did. I did find a new one. So far things are going ok.

to never trust a therapist:

to never trust a therapist: how many people did you see?? but how many people ARE THERE. you got the bad side of them while i have a loyal one who wont turn on me. yeah there are so many people willing to help, it's up to you to find the ones to trust. and to never trust a phycologist, if you dont trust therapists thats fine, there are friends and family ready to help, but some people find it hard to ope up to those people and need a therapit to open up to. im happy with my therapist and there are many good ones.
love danielle.

Be careful

My therapist of long standing got upset, turned on me and destroyed any chance of my receiving further treatment in the VA system. Medical records are open to need to know and the limitations are few. The loss of trust is much more life threatening than the presenting issues. So, be careful. Ask about the limits of trust up front and don't forget....

Do not trust them

they cannot be trusted never.we should never trust them if we do we will make a big mistake i once went to a school phychocoligist and she called me twice and i went to her but i didnt tell her anything but after that i became close to her and told her everything but i didnt knew i was making the biggest mistake of my life!! days passed and i came to know that everyone knew about it my friend, teachers, parents

Re: Do not trust them

Hi MNJ, I'm sorry that you had such a bad experience. Confidentiality is supposed to be one of our main concerns, unless of course someone is in danger. Then we are bound to break confidentiality. But even then, we're not supposed to blab all over the place. Your story makes me suspect that your school psychologist was not actually a psychologist. In Colorado and most states, "psychologist" is a protected term. In order to use it, one must have a doctorate and successfully navigated a licensing process. The exception is for "school psychologist," which as far as I know requires no special training or licensing. It's awfully misleading for someone to call him or herself a psychologist when they are not, in fact, a psychologist.

Never trust school psychologists!

The same exact thing happened to me! When I was in high school, I struggled with low self-esteem. I was referred to my school psychologist. I had counseling sessions with him every week. He promised me that everything will be kept confidential. Little did I know that he was trying to pry into my darkest secrets, and I told him everything. I was so naive. One day, I was just having a bad day at school. Somehow he found out, and he had the nerve to call up my parents and told them everything! He made everything worse because I never felt so ashamed and embarrassed about myself. I never trusted nor talked to him ever again. I never felt so betrayed by a school professional. As an adult looking back at it, what he did was entirely a breach of confidentiality because I wasn't planning to harm myself or anyone. I still don't know what compelled him to do that. I was only a kid back then so I had no rights and no voice. Trusting my school psychologist was the biggest mistake I ever made! Today I'm glad that he no longer works for my high school.

Heartbreaking crime against humanity

I'm so sorry to hear this. Stories like this break my heart and are all too common. The practice of psychotherapy is a crime against humanity that can leave lasting scars.

Will Never Go to Therapy Again

I have been depressed for years and have gotten some help recently. In high school I also went to the school psychologist and after every session she told my parents everything. Right after we talked she told them. After being in college for the past 4 weeks, I was forced to go to a therapist again. I told her that I didn't want my parents involved and again, she told, and then had me hospitalized. Now, they had me talk to someone else and she told my parents again and made me go back home with little info on when I can come back. My parents are completely against me going back and I hate them for doing this to me. Those people all think I'm stupid and pathetic; they pretty much told me that's what they think. Once this is all done, I won't ever see a therapist again and if they make me see one, I won't talk. I always thought that when I talked to a therapist I would get help, but now I feel 10x worse than I did before. I'm done with therapists.

Wary Patients...

I am not an articulate person, with that being said please excuse any confusion in my sentence structures.

From what I have experienced, mental health workers are over confident workers and rightfully so. I imagne that it takes a lot of confidence in yourself and your knowledge to allow oneself to be around those who might be even slightly disconnected with reality but this becomes a blanket ban on every possibility that a mental health worker might be wrong.
That's where I have trouble. When I or another patient question one of their methods, instead of a mental health worker explaining it througholey or taking into account that maybe a patient has a point and try to see it from our point of view, they turn it around on us. They answer back cheaply in questions, they're vague or quick to dismiss our concerns and say we're downright wrong without a chance of empathy. This just leaves our concerns unresolved. Maybe there's a reason to the last one, maybe they're at the end of a shift or they're tired of the general behavior of clients. If that's true it supports they blanket ban and gives me more of reasons to not trust mental health workers.
This then becomes another issue I see a lot. A patient or I have not developed much trust for mental health workers and yet, we're expected so, reinforcing more distrust. A wary patient and a wary mental health worker; not a good combination.
I'm not against psychology and will never go out of my way to advise anyone against treatment, people like me are obviously in the minority. So for me, it's better that I stay away.

Another great reason NOT to trust psychologists

Psychologists are well known for dodging responsibility for any mistakes, and always blaming the victim. They use unscrupulous techniques to undermine clients' confidence, such as making unfalsifiable arguments with jargon (e.g., resistance, defensiveness, projection, denial, etc.) or gaslighting. And worse yet, there are no clinical or ethical standards in place to protect clients.

That's what happened to me

That's what happened to me with my high school psychologist. When they break your trust, they often go unpunished while you become even more of a victim.

Blame the Victim Mentality...

Blame the Victim Mentality...
I've had experiences with feeling like I'm being blamed for the therapist's actions. I told the therapist that something she said, the way she said it, the way it came across offended me. The response was something like: "Do you think you feel this way subconsciously about someone else in your life I might remind you of?". That was followed by something like: "Do you think that this is something that you deep down feel about yourself?". The response I would've liked to hear would've been one where the therapist actually took responsibility for their actions! (not turning the tables on me)...
(feeling frustrated * hopeless)

dont know if i should trust therapy

I suffer from depression and anxiety, i have really bad trust issuses with people, i can not open up to my husband so how can i open up to my therapist, i know my therapist said that its all confidential but i still can not open up even though i want to but i cant as i feel as so i will get judged and laugh at, i have such low self esteem i can not go out shopping with out having panic attacks, i blame myself for everything but there is a dark secret i have and its ruining my life as i just want to tell someone like my therapist but im so scared, what do people think i should do, please help me.

Definitely do *not* trust

Definitely do *not* trust your therapist. They often make things much worse -- then on top of your original issues, you have to deal with the betrayal of trust from your therapist. As an alternative, seek out support groups or communities grounded in mutual give-and-take, and only share with people who are sharing equally in return.

Makes total sense. Trust is

Makes total sense. Trust is supposed to go both ways. It is not supposed to be unidirectional.

Privacy breached

I have had my privacy betrayed by my doctor and also to some extent by psychiatrists. I am suspicious now and very guarded.

I would very much like to receive mental health care and feel I could benefit, but I do not know how to mend this on my own. I need to know how to be sure it won't happen again. I know it was wrong and I could file a complaint, but that won't help me right now, and may make things worse.

In Canada, how can I limit sharing of my information? Can I ask for something in writing? I don't think someone just saying they are trustworthy is going to cut it anymore.

It is very confusing when taking the leap of faith to seek help, to have a new problem arise of not being able to trust the caregivers based on their past actions.

Any ideas are most welcomed.

Thank you.

i walked into the office and

i walked into the office and the therapist at the start of my first session just as i was getting comfortable declared he knew what was wrong with, this made me defensive and on seein this he told me it was my mother, blow my mind apart...anyone else had an experience like that, trust was never established,

To Trust or Not to Trust

I have been to therapy as long as I can remember. Ranging from 1 session to 12-14 sessions. I end up short emotionally and frustrated. I realize I do have a trust issue. How can I trust a person in a professional position specifically a therapist if they don't really communicate with you, ask you to trust them and let the process take it's course. No matter how much I try and take a "leap of faith" I end up frustrated. I have heard therapist saying, "view me as a punching bag" to "I'm trying to empower you" blah and blah. It occured to me that therapists are not real and rarely are direct. This is the most annoying response or expression when I even open up pointing that I keep jumping around, I get "I don't know nod" or "that is in the past, let's focus now." All I know and it scares me...once I leave the office, all the thearpists have to worry about is when to turn over at night. It's up to us. Maybe that's the answer.

Reasons I Don't Trust Therapists

Please note: This is a list of things that (at least, if I am behaving rationally) prompt me not to trust a therapist who does them. I am not claiming that all therapists do all the things on the list. However, in my experience (based on my own attempts at therapy and also on my reading about therapy), most therapists do at least some of these. Also note that these reasons are a matter of being misguided, lacking adequate competence, or other lack of professionalism, rather than having ill intentions. (I am aware that some of these reasons are correlated, overlap, or are different facets of a broader classification, but I think it's worthwhile to articulate these different facets.)

1. They don’t seem to care very much about informed consent – or else are not very good at translating their caring into behavior.

2. They don’t seem to care much about giving reasons for what they do – or else just give vague reasons such as, “because I think it will help you,” or “I’m interested in …,” or “I’m trying to understand you.”

3. They seem to think in coarse-grained terms (e.g., control, power, warmth, healing, anxiety, depression), which shuts out people such as myself who see the world in finer-grained terms.

4. They seem to have some agenda of their own that interferes with their ability to help. (Examples: Satisfying their need for intimacy; gratifying their interest or curiosity; seeing the client as raw material to mold or shape; being appreciated for their self-perceived warmth, insight, etc.; being confrontational; emphasizing similarities, to the neglect of differences; being “creative”; having fun, even if it’s at the client’s expense)

5. They often think (or at least express their thoughts) in black-and-white terms, thereby shutting out clients such as myself who see things in shades of gray.

6. They often jump to conclusions with little or no evidence.

7. They seem to attribute something to a single cause, rather than considering possible interacting factors, or possible alternate causes.

8. They look for, and then ascribe significance to, patterns – without considering that we humans often see patterns that aren’t there, or that patterns can occur simply due to chance.

9. They seem overconfident.

10. They focus too much on “want,” “like,” and “feel,” to the exclusion of thinking (e.g., weighing pros and cons, considering alternative explanations, considering consequences), questioning their assumptions, accepting uncertainty, and accepting not knowing.

11. They seem to see you as a stereotype or other creature of their imagination. (e.g., they give you permission for the opposite of what you are trying to give yourself permission for, or try to reassure you about the opposite of what you are concerned about; or tell you that you feel, want, or think something other than what you feel, want, or think.)

12. They assume the liberties of a friend without having earned a friendship.

13. They seem dismissive of what is important to you.

14. They don’t seem to care about helping you with the problems you came to therapy to work on, but seem to regard those problems as nuisances that you are uncooperatively injecting into therapy.

15. They seem to give you the message to leave important parts of yourself outside of their office when you come in the door.

16. Instead of acknowledging and respecting individual differences, they seem to think these are something to either deny or hide or change.

17. They regard something claimed in a professional journal as proven, without giving any thought to the quality or adequacy of the evidence backing up the claim.

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Shawn Smith is a licensed psychologist in Denver, Colorado.


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