Therapist not responding: what do I do?

As a BetterHelp affiliate, we may receive compensation from BetterHelp if you purchase products or services through the links provided

In this blog we will discuss some of the steps you can take if your therapist is not responding. 

We will also briefly discuss some other signs of an unethical therapist and how you can choose  a good therapist for yourself. 

Therapist not responding: what do I do?

If your therapist has not been responding- be it phone calls or emails or messages, here are a few things you can do:

Give it time

If you have messaged your therapist 24 hours prior and they still have not responded, be patient. 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. 

It is possible that if you have messaged them just recently, they will probably respond in some time. 

If they are not responding to a text message within a day, they will most probably do it the next day or after the weekend. 

If they are not responding to phone calls, make a note of their working hours- most therapist don’t respond to calls outside of working hours. They will probably get back to you when they start their working day. 

If it is regarding unanswered emails, they will probably get back to you within three working days meaning that if you have emailed them on a friday, you might have to wait till monday or tuesday. Usually emails might take longer to be responded to. 

Direct contact

If your therapist has not responded to your messages or emails for more than two or three days or if it is an urgent issue, call them up directly.

Sometimes, it is possible that they missed your emails or that your email was buried under many others or that they have simply forgotten to respond to your text. 

So what you can do is to call them up. However if they are not responding to phone calls or not calling you back, you can choose to go to their office directly.

Sometimes direct contact is the best thing you can do so that your needs are addressed, so make your way to the office to see what is up. 

Be direct

When you are able to meet the therapist or talk to them, bring up your concerns and let them know that their nonresponse 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 possible that the therapist works with a delayed time and they are not aware of your need for urgency. 

It is best that you talk to them directly, bringing up your concerns and how you feel when there are delayed responses. 

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. 

Be mindful

While in some cases therapists mind forget to respnond or that their delays are due to the way they work, it is also possibelthat 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. 

Move on

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. 

What are some other signs of an unethical therapist?

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. 

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 puring your heart out, or they seem distracted and uninterested, that is a dangerous sign. 

An ethical therapist knows how to listen to you and are 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 mighthave 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 themslevs

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 vbia 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 confiendetiality, for example you 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. 

How to choose a good therapist?

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

Credibility

A credible therapist or therapy service that allows you to speak with a professional should have the details about their professionals on their site with links for further cross checking- such as links to the professionals place of work. 

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. 

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

Professional guidelines

Pay attention to whether the service providers you are talking to are 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. 

Protects your Identity

A certified therapist who is serious about helping you with improving your mental health will always seek to protect your identity if you want them to. 

Some platforms give you the option of being completely anonymous where the person you are chatting with has no idea of who you are. These goodwill individuals should not try to pry information that you are not willing to share.

Get familiar with the technology used

If it is an independent app, make sure you understand how the app works and what are the policies surrounding the use of it. If it is a forum, make sure you understand the rules and guides of the forum. 

If you want to take it a step further, you can opt to use VPN services to protect your IP addresses. 

Trust your gut

The moment you feel something is off with the professional you are talking to, choose to withdraw. A person who is ethical will not blur the lines between providing the help you seek and other interests. 

If you feel uncomfortable or unsafe in spite of what they may be telling you, it is best if you stop the correspondence and seek out help elsewhere. 

Conclusion

In this blog we have discussed some of the steps you can take if your therapist is not responding. 

We have also briefly discussed some other signs of an unethical therapist and how you can choose  a good therapist for yourself. 

FAQ related to Therapist not responding

Can I do therapy anonymously?

Yes, some practitioners offer services that can protect your identity be it online or in person. You can start by understanding the policies of a mental health service and decide for yourself which service is best suited for you. 

Can I talk to a psychologist online for free?

You can opt for free online therapy options through services that provide sessions for individuals, couples and groups. Though some services and professionals do pro-bono work, there may be a limit to their services. 

What do I do if I can’t afford therapy?

Here are a few things you can do if you cannot afford therapy:

First, check your insurance and if it covers mental health services.

Ask the service provider about sliding scale options or discounted rates. Being open about your financial situation with your therapist can help both of you come to a point where both your needs are met. 

Some therapists might offer probono work or they might offer to start your sessions on a sliding scale basis. You can also consider community mental health centers that provide pro-bono sessions.

References

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/

2022 BetterHelp Review: Should You Try It? Healthline. Retrieved on 4th May 2022. https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/betterhelp-review

What was missing from this post which could have made it better?

[Sassy_Social_Share type="standard"]