My therapist forgets things: What should I do?

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In this blog we will discuss what you should do if your therapist forgets things.

We will also briefly discuss what are some other signs that your therapist is unethical and what you should do about it. 

My therapist forgets things: What should I do?

Ideally, your therapist should never forget the important details that have been shared in sessions including schedules and appointments. 

Even if they have, it should be a one off thing or a one time mistake or due to simple human error. Here are a few things you can do if your therapist forgets things on multiple occasions:

Confront them

Have a conversation with them during your next session and bring up the issue as direct, affirmative, and as respectfully as you can. 

While you might be pissed off and hurt, it is best that you are professional, cool, and logical about it. Bring up the issue that they have been forgetting details about the sessions and that it is affecting you. 

An ethical therapist will be honest with you and they will make efforts to change this as well as work with your feelings that you bring about in this session. 

If your therapist blows you off, dismisses your concerns, or gets defensive, that is a read flag and they are being unethical which is a sign for you to seek help elsewhere.

When you are able to meet the therapist or talk to them, bring up your concerns and let them know that their forgetfulness has been stressing you out. 

You have to understand that therapists are people too and they cannot always be at your beck and call nor can they read your mind. It is best that you talk to them directly, bringing up your concerns and how you feel.. 

It’s perfectly okay to leave it at that. However, if you’re comfortable you and your therapist can work a way around the issue and discuss what each of your boundaries lie as therapist and client. 

Peak into their humanity

You have to understand that your therapist is also a human being, meaning that they probably have other things going on in their lives as well. 

While it is not fair that they have not remembered all the details if your sessions,  it is possible that there is a perfectly logical explanation as to what has happened. 

Therapists are humans too flaws just like everyone else- this can be discussed in the next session where you both can work to break the myth that therapists are perfect and make no mistakes. 

Explore your feelings

When your therapist does not remember details, you might feel anxious and also a sense of rejection or the feeling that you are not important enough. 

This is an important issue to explore. What you can do is that you take this chance to deal directly with all those feelings in the next session during your confrontation or you can also consider seeing a new therapist and discussing your feelings with them as well. 

Report them

If you have addressed the issue, and they have not made any efforts to change or accommodate your feedback, it is a sign that they are being unethical. 

If your therapist has caused you any physical and psychological harm as a result of their forgetting details, you should report them. 

If you notice that their habits have caused you much harm and have encroached your boundaries and your rights you have every right to report them for being unethical.

Here are a few steps for you to take in reporting a therapist:

  • Looking into the licencesing or preceding board related to psychotherapy and counselling of your state and country. 
  • Fill out an official complaint form, or email and submit it to a licensing board. This form is usually a downloadable PDF that you can mail in or an online form that you can find on the licensing board’s website or the state department’s website.
  • You might have to mail in a request for the form for some cases, if that is the case- make contact and request for a form. 
  • Contact the department of board directly if it’s possible by phone and let them know your grievances. 
  •  However, for any formal complaints it is usually mandatory that it must be submitted in writing. 

Why do therapists forget things?

There is no one explanation as to why your therapist is forgetting details about your sessions or the session itself. It could be a myriad of causes that has lead your therapist to be a little forgetful some of them can include:

They are not listening to you or attending to you in the session because they are engaging in surface listening without attentive listening which is not ethical for a therapist ot do so. 

They are experiencing some countertransferrence which is leading them to unconsciously block off the sessions because they themsleevs are uncomfortable with the things discussed in the sessions. In such a case they should work with their supervisor and their own therapist in such a case. 

They are overworked and exhausted which is causing them to forget what is happening in and out of sessions. It is possible that the workload is causing them to become mixed up or that they are tired leading them to forget or not be present in the sessions. 

It is also possible that the forgetting could be a one time thing or it could be because they are going through a stressful period in their own private lives. 

While this is unethical in their own practice and they should work on it with their supersors, it also shows that they are also human.

In any case, you should consider either confronting them about it and possibly see a new therapist. 

Should you change therapists?

For every therapist, there is a certain ethical guideline that one has to follow. Therapists that are unethical pose the threat of harming a client. 

While in some cases therapists mind forget to respond or that their delays are due to the way they work, it is also possible that your therapist might be neglectful and unethical. 

So once you have had the conversation, pay attention to how they are accommodating of your needs while you also respect their boundaries as your therapist. 

Pay attention to how they are dealing with your crisis needs and your anxieties, make sure that you feel safe and that you trust your gut. 

Some of the signs of an unethical therapist include:

Non attentive, not listening

If you start noticing that your therapist is not listening and they tend to have a blank stare when you are pouring your heart out, or they seem distracted and uninterested, that is a dangerous sign. 

An ethical therapist knows how to listen to you and is attentive to the conversation to find an underlying message, if this is not what they are doing- it could be a sign that they are unethical. 

They judge you

Another sign of an unethical therapist is that they judge you or shame you for what you might have said or decisions you have made etc. 

An unempathetic therapist is an unethical one, so if you feel like your therapist is judging you, you should consider moving on from this therapist. 

They cross boundaries

When you are working with a therapist, and you notice your therapist is starting to take advantage of your vulnerability, you need to find yourself a new therapist immediately. 

This could manifest in ways such as, they ask you out for dinner or they tend to make sexual suggestions or romantic propositons etc. 

They focus on themselves

When you attend a therapy session, and your therapist spends part of the session talking about themselves, that’s usually not the professional you want to work with.

Non-responses

If you find that your therapist has not been mindful in their responses via email, chat, or calls nor have they helped you feel safe, heard, and supported and the non responses continue- it is possible that your therapist is breaching ethicality and it is best for you to move on to someone else. 

In such a case, you can let them know that you would like to terminate the sessions with them and be direct in your feedback while doing so. 

Broken confidentiality

Therapist confidentiality is a major ethical aspect of the mental health professional field. 

This means that your therapist should not be sharing any information about you unless they think you are an immediate danger to yourself or someone else. 

If you have any reason to believe that they have broken confidentiality, for example your details with someone else who they are not supposed to consult with, you have the right to terminate and move on. 

If you recognize any of these signs in your therapist, it is very likely that they are being unethical. It is best that you choose to change therapists and that you find someone else to work with. 

If you find that your therapist has not been mindful nor have they made adjustments and accommodations to help you feel safe, heard, and supported and the non responses continue- it is possible that your therapist is breaching ethicality and it is best for you to move on to someone else. 

In such a case, you can let them know that you would like to terminate the sessions with them and be direct in your feedback while doing so. 

You have every right to change therapists if you find that the way this therapist works is not the kind of support you need or require. 

Here are some things to pay attention to if you want to be safe when you connect with a therapist online:

It is very important that you check out their credibility by looking into this information and perhaps even check the reviews left by other clients. 

Working with a “professional” who doesn’t fully understand how to help you improve your mental health can do more harm than good. 

Pay attention to whether the therapist you are working with is adhering to the five principles of ethical counselling that most mental health professionals stick to.

They should focus on you and stick to the ethical principles. If they aren’t and you feel unsafe, it is best to withdraw from these services. 

It is possible that when you are matched with a particular therapist, you can look up their credentials and experience online. 

This means that you might have to do a little background check independent of whatever information has provided on their website. 

This is for your own mental health and wellbeing, so take some time to cross check the credibility of the therapists that have been assigned to you. 

You have to understand that when it comes to therapy, it takes time to find the one that you are able to connect with. So go into each session with each therapist with a mindset of getting yourself comfortable and being open to new people. 

Just because one therapist does not fit well with you does not mean that all therapists at Betterhelp are the same, take time to get acquainted as well as open yourself up to the possibility of changing therapists and trying out new therapists when one does not click with you. 

Conclusion

In this blog we discussed what you should do if your therapist forgets things.

We have also briefly discussed what are some other signs that your therapist is unethical and what you should do about it. 

References

Asking for a Friend: My therapist forgot my story — what do I do now? Today. Retrieved on 14th May 2022. https://www.today.com/tmrw/my-therapist-forgot-my-story-what-do-i-do-now-t195621

Stood Up by Your Therapist. Psychology Today. Retrieved on 13th May 2022. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/in-therapy/201107/stood-your-therapist

Signs Of A Bad Therapist: When to Move On. Betterhelp. Retrieved on 4th April 2022. https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/therapy/signs-of-a-bad-therapist-how-to-know-when-to-move-on/

How to tell a therapist it’s not working. Zen Care. Retrieved on 4th April 2022. https://blog.zencare.co/how-to-tell-a-therapist-its-not-working/

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