Worst Practices – Highly Annoying Therapists

You've no doubt heard about the seven habits of highly effective people. Now it's time to learn about the 12 habits of highly annoying therapists, compliments of Dr. John Grohol, CEO and founder of Psych Central.

His enumeration of the dirty dozen annoying bad habits of therapists includes:

  • Showing up late for the appointment.
  • Eating in front of the client.
  • Yawning or sleeping during session. (Yes, this does happen.)
  • Inappropriate disclosures.
  • Being impossible to reach by phone or email.
  • Distracted by a phone, text or computer.
  • Expressing racial, sexual, musical, lifestyle and religious preferences.
  • Bringing your pet to the psychotherapy session. (Not everyone finds Fluffy as therapeutic as you do.)
  • Hugging and physical contact.
  • Inappropriate displays of wealth or dress. (Wear Gap, not Gucci)
  • Clock watching.
  • Excessive note-taking.

The last bad habit listed — “excessive note-taking” — may come as a surprise. Though taking notes at the right times can demonstrate focus and attention to detail, Dr. Grohol points out that “obsessive note-taking during sessions is a distraction for most clients, and some may find that the therapist uses the behavior to keep an emotional distance.”

Dr. Grohol's comments support the results of a 15-year study of 5,000 therapists, which found that therapists are most effective when “healing involvement” takes place: that is, when their immersion into their client's story is so complete that authentic connection between the client and therapist occurs.

While the clipboard is one of the most familiar, if old-fashioned, of health-care accessories, its over-use can be a barrier to healing involvement, especially since it only allows for the therapist's own interpretation of their client's feelings and expressions.

MyOutcomes, on the other hand, is direct, client-led feedback, using a paperless, secure, Web-based psychotherapy response system. The outcome and session rating scales in MyOutcomes only take a minute to complete at the beginning and end of each session. Plus, the client is able to enter their responses directly into a computer, smartphone, or iPad, providing the clinician and client with empirically-based feedback, instant trajectory-of-change calculations, and an automated client progress report.

In the end, less note-taking and more connecting may lead to greater healing involvement, deeper insight into the client's perspective, and better overall results.

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