Getting therapy doesn't mean renouncing all boundaries





If you want to try therapy (OT/PT/psych/CBT/whatever):

  • Keep in mind that you’re under no obligation to do so
  • You should do it if it helps you, and not if it doesn’t
  • It’s ok to judge this for yourself
  • If the therapist doesn’t respect you, find a different one (if you still want to continue trying therapy; it’s ok to decide not to)
  • If the therapist seems to prefer for you to be in pain, that’s a problem
  • Whether it’s emotional or physical pain
  • Some therapy inevitably involves a certain amount of pain, but it’s a major red flag if a therapist seems to be pursuing it as an end in itself
  • You do not need your therapist’s permission to quit
  • If they keep convincing you in person to continue, but you always want to quit when you’re not with them, it’s ok to end the therapy over the phone or email
  • Or to just quit making appointments
  • Some therapists are really good at manipulating people into doing things that are bad for them, and you don’t have to cooperate with that

Also, if you believe your therapist has treated you unethically, and you feel able to do so, you can look into reporting them to their licensing body.


The problem is, some of the worst things therapists do aren’t usually considered unethical by professional boards.

For instance, therapists are allowed to teach people not to trust their own judgement and to rely on the therapist instead. Therapists are allowed to repeatedly trigger people on purpose. Therapists are allowed to push clients into repeatedly doing pointlessly painful exercises in PT, if there’s a plausible justification.

And even a lot of stuff that *is* considered unethical theoretically isn’t the kind of thing anyone with authority will care about in practice. And people with power to act often just flat out don’t believe people who report things.

So, while reporting can sometimes be a good idea, I want to be a bit careful about this. Because I don’t want to suggest that mistreatment in therapy is only real if ethics boards care about it when someone reports it.

Also, if you try to report someone, make sure there’s a big name to back you up.

Find someone with a degree, preferably in law or medicine and/or a fancy title (Doctor, Professor, Officer, similar) to back you up. I know it’s not proper, but if there’s an important person, a person whose authority is respected, to back you up and to confirm what you are saying then your chances of getting anywhere are much better.

Also, any sort of records are awesome. So ask your therapist to write down what they are doing, and if they refuse, make them write down their refusal (and make them sign it). If you can’t do that, audio recording devices might do the trick. If you complain about something, be very, very careful to have actual, physical evidence of it happening.

If you’re not sure whether something is problematic or not, take someone you trust to a therapy session with you, so that they can observe the therapists behaviour. If your therapist doesn’t allow you to do that, chances are, something not good is going on.

But really, what makes therapy a lot safer for you is having some sort of important observer (parent, friend, family doctor, social worker, whoever), to back you up and support you, and to make very, very sure that your therapist knows that they are being seen, that people are paying attention and that abusing the power they have over you will result in bad things. It might be petty, it might be unfair, but it will week you safe®.

I do not know enough to say whether or not this is good advice, but it sounds plausible to me.