What makes a bad therapist

With psychotherapy, problems can get bigger instead of smaller

Psychotherapy helps many people quickly out of the crisis with emotional distress. But like any drug that works, visiting a psychotherapist also carries risks. Five to ten percent of those seeking help do not feel better as they hoped for therapy - their condition worsens. At least that is what studies have shown that deal with the dark side of psychotherapy.

"As with drug therapies, there are also certain risks and sometimes side effects in psychotherapy," confirms J├╝rgen Margraf, President of the German Society for Psychotherapy. But: Those who seek treatment can observe a few things in order to keep the risk of such side effects small.

Sven Barnow has examined how psychotherapy works and why it sometimes leads to undesirable side effects. He is a professor at the Institute for Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy at the University of Heidelberg and emphasizes: "Therapy is fundamentally sensible and in many cases highly effective." If it does not work or does not work as intended, it can be due to the patient as well as the therapist, according to him.

When therapist and patient just don't go together

It could be, for example, that the patient has a disease for which the chosen therapy is not the right treatment at all. But maybe the therapist is not well trained, he lacks the necessary empathy or he shows no real interest in his patient.

What also happens: a "mismatching" between therapist and patient. That means the two don't go together. Barnow generally advises trusting your own gut instinct: the chemistry between patient and therapist has to be right.