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The dirty dozen: Annoying habits of therapists

May 19, 2009
by Terry L. Stawar, Ed.D.
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There are things that annoy people in every profession. Maybe it’s the outdated magazines in the waiting room, a cold stethoscope, or lousy parking. We just conducted our annual client satisfaction survey to see what our clients think and I wonder how our results will stack up with the list recently complied by psychologist John M. Grohol. Grohol asked visitors to his popular psychology website what things bothered them the most about the therapists they consulted. From this information he created a list of the 12 most annoying habits of therapists.

At the top of the list are complaints about therapists who show up late for appointments. I think clients especially dislike this because of the double standard. When a client is late for a therapy appointment, it’s interpreted as resistance to treatment. When a therapist is late, that’s just an accident. When a therapist fails to show up for the appointment they just rescheduled it, but when a client doesn’t show up we send a bill anyway.




Having been on the "other" side of the couch before my work in behavioral health, I can testify to the fact that having a counselor or therapist fall asleep or yawn while you are in a therapy session is one of the most devastating setbacks to therapy. Having had three wonderful counselors in my lifetime (military service so we moved a lot) I can also testify to benefitting greatly from the therapy I received.

Good question!
According to Dr. Grohol they are

"5. Being impossible to reach by phone or email."
"7. Expressing racial, sexual, musical, lifestyle and religious preferences." (a subtype of too much self disclosure) and
"10. Inappropriate displays of wealth or dress"

What happened to numbers 5, 7, and 10?

Great survey. I wish I could send list this to a prior therapist of mine!

Thanks for sharing, Terry. These definitely sound like good questions for a client satisfaction survey, and seem likely to elicit strong responses from both sides.


Terry Stawar

President/CEO (LifeSpring, Inc.)

Terry Stawar


Terry L. Stawar, EdD, is President and CEO of LifeSpring Health Systems, a community behavioral...

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