Five Bad Personality Traits In A Therapist

Most parents want their kids to know that they want the best for them. Because of my Asperger’s Syndrome, social skills and making friends are very difficult for me, The bad therapists that I’ve had in the past have made my problems even worse. The fact is that counselors and teachers want their kids to work very hard on “social skills”, but some of them demonstrate behaviors that show a lack of “social skills”. After my past experiences in the Wesley Wonder Kids “social skills” group, and my former therapist, Mike, I know that for a fact. Mike and the staff members at Wesley are not the only bad therapists that I have experienced, I have dealt with many of them over the years. There are people like this everywhere, but if you are considering being a therapist and demonstrate these kind of characteristics, this is not a career choice for you. I am not doing this to offend anybody, but I am stating the truth. I Google searched “bad therapist” and “bad counselor”, and the only things that came up were complaints about bad marriage counselors. I found nothing regarding complaints about bad counselors who work with kids who have Autistic Spectrum disorders. I wanted to talk about this so parents can be aware of who not to hire when looking for someone to counsel their kids.

1.) Incompetence:

A Webster online dictionary definition of the word incompetent is inadequate to or unsuitable for a certain purpose. Simply put, it means the person or thing can’t do the job right. My former therapist, was named Mike would always try to push me to the limit and make me do things that I really was not comfortable doing. “pushiness” is one of the other qualities I will talk about later on this list. Back to incompetence, Mike’s personality was “in your face”, he seemed to enjoy shoving “social skills” down peoples throat. Because of my Asperger’s I had a difficulty making friends and socializing in school, I didn’t seem to understand why people didn’t want to be friends with me. One of the things Mike always did with me that I absolutely dreaded doing was role-playing. Role playing is when you act out a situation to understand another person’s behavior. The only things Mike would do in social role plays was have me ask questions like “what is your favorite sport?” How is answering questions like that going to give me advice and help me make good friendships with people I can relate to in school? We always did role-playing in my house, and sometimes he would have me do it with my parents and my sister, which made socializing in general even more awkward and more dreadful. I have never felt so awkward around a therapist in my life, and the personality clash between him and I contributed to it mostly.

2.) Sarcasm

In my opinion, sarcastic therapists are the ones that are the most difficult to deal with. Some sarcastic people are just angry, and some of them do it to be funny. A sarcastic joke is okay every once and a while, but if it keeps up it can get on people’s nerves really quick. I have been around sarcastic people who make jokes about peoples religion, race, sexual orientation, size, and so on. If a counselor ever makes those jokes, you should not take it lightly at all. To see a counselor demonstrate a characteristic like this is unacceptable, they are supposed to be a person you can trust and seek for advice, not hurt you and make your problems worse. In kindergarten, I had a counselor who worked with me during school, and he would ridicule me with the most sarcastic jokes that were about very sensitive topics. When I informed my parents about his actions, they finally decided to end services with him. Shortly after we discharged with him, I heard a rumor that he got fired. I don’t know if that was true, and if he did I don’t know if it was because of the way he treated me in front of everybody in school, but I was glad that he was finally out of my hair. Not only was that unacceptable for a counselor to do, but it is beyond unacceptable to do it to a kindergartener of all people! It is sad that these rude, sarcastic people who consider themselves “therapists”.

3.) Forgetfulness:

Have you dealt with that incredibly forgetful person? Can you not stand that employee who constantly arrives to work late? What about that person who constantly forgets deadlines? I have dealt with therapists who are like that, and I absolutely can’t stand them! I realize that you should not judge other people, but forgetfulness is bad when you are trying to find any job. Counselors are supposed to be people who help you with your problems, and it is very frustrating when they can’t remember anything. I had one particular therapist who would constantly ask the question “Do you remember what we did during our last session?” I’ve had to spend most of the time reminding her what we did during our last session, which was very frustrating. It was a major waste of time, because it seemed like I was counseling her. She met with me at my house, and she would constantly arrive late. Because of that, we never had time to get anything accomplished. Another thing she did was make excuses about why she arrived late, her excuses were something like “there was traffic on the Route 28 expressway”. I noticed that she came up with that excuse every time she was late, I met with her three times during the week, and she would arrive late at least two days during the three sessions. I am amazed that there are people who push their clients to work really hard on social skills, and they demonstrate behaviors that show a lack of social skills. That is the sad truth.

4.) Pushiness

I don’t like people who stand there and constantly try to shove things down my throat. Like my friend Aaron, I am a pretty calm and laid back most of the time. You can’t shove social skills down an Autistic person’s throat, it will overwhelm them and they won’t want to learn social skills anymore. The thing about my old therapist, Mike was that he would constantly overwhelm me and put me in social situations where I felt really uncomfortable. From my perspective, his style of therapy was pushing the client to the limit until they think like he does. One particular situation was when he was observing me at the Computing Workshop summer program when we were at LaRoche college. Mike wanted me to introduce him to four people who don’t know him, and I was overwhelmed even thinking about that. I was afraid of the students knowing that he was my therapist, so he told me to tell him that he was my “friend”. First off, a therapist is not supposed to be your friend, they are supposed to be your helper. You need to have a professional relationship with a client, not a personal one. I did not want to introduce him as a “friend” because I simply don’t consider a therapist a friend. I did not want to introduce him to these people because I was to overwhelmed by what he wanted me to do, and that I don’t connect with him well in the first place. He asked me if I was going to do it and I refused to do it. I am not going to let somebody force “social skills” down my throat, being pushed to the limit and overwhelmed makes my social anxiety and depression even worse. Nobody can change anything about me, it is who I am!

5.) Intolerance:

A therapist should not have the right to push religion or spirituality on their client. Because everybody has different religious beliefs. If you have a therapist who tries to do this, you should definitely find somebody else to work with. The type of people I can’t stand the most are people who take everything from the bible literally, and who try to rub their beliefs into your face. When I worked with Mike, he would try to ask me questions regarding my religious beliefs. I find that very offensive, and I will get very angry if somebody does try to do that. In America, we have the right to believe what we want to, however, it does not give you the right to harass people who don’t believe the same things you do.

To wrap up, I wrote this blog just to remind parents to be aware of who they are hiring to work with their Autistic children. I am not using this to offend anybody, I am just doing this to inform you that there are bad therapists out there, just as there are bad teachers and lawyers. Hopefully you will take this information into consideration when finding a therapist for your child.

Here are some other blogs about similar topics:

Do social skills groups help all students on the spectrum?

Do social skills groups help all students on the spectrum? (part 2)

Should an Asperger’s teen try to be “normal”?

My experiences with mobile therapy

What turns me off?

What turns me off?


My experiences with mobile therapy

As you have read in my previous entries, social skills groups really didn’t help me learn the social skills I needed to know for life. The staff members tended to focus on the negative things about me, such as the minor noise making, and not being “verbal”.  I talked about situations where I’ve tried to be verbal, but they prevent me from doing it by telling me not to talk to them. One thing that irritated me about this group was that they complained to me about a small noise when the other members were displaying worse behaviors, such as making insulting comments to the other group members. When I was in the younger group, I had some troubles with depression because I wasn’t fitting in. It seemed like no matter where I went, I didn’t fit in with anybody. The director of Wesley thought it would be appropriate to hire a mobile therapist for me. She seemed to think that it would help improve my confidence in socializing with my peers.

The person she recommended for me was a man named Mike. One thing that concerned me from the start was that the director of Wesley never told me about this person. I dreaded having these sessions with him because of his very pushy and “in your face” type of personality. During his sessions with me, I tended to resist everything he wanted me to do. People on the Autistic spectrum tend to take longer to process information than neurotypical peers do, and when Mike would ask me a question, it took me a while to process an answer. An example of this would be if an autistic child falls and bruises their ankle, it takes them a few seconds longer to verbalize “ouch, that hurts”. A typical peer would be able to verbalize it as soon as it happens. In my case with Mike, when I was trying to process a response to his question, he would ask another question. He seemed to think that I was trying to avoid answering him altogether. It overwhelmed me so much that I dreaded having sessions with him. Another thing Mike did to overwhelm me was that he met with me two days a week instead of just one. His reason for that was because I wasn’t being “verbal and open enough”. He did that during the summer, and he pushed me even more then. During our summer sessions, he would have me do things like yard work outside, which was something I absolutely hated doing, and still is now. He thought that making me do something I hated doing was going to magically make me “come out of my shell”. He would also put me in social situations which made me feel very uncomfortable. One of which was when he came to observe me at my Computing Workshop summer camp. One situation which made me real uncomfortable was that he tried to get me to introduce him to four people at the computing workshop. The one thing I didn’t want the students and staff at Computing Workshop to know was that he was my therapist. He wanted me to tell them that he was my “friend”. I could either just tell them that he was my therapist, or tell them that he was my “friend”. I didn’t want him to get to know me, so why would I want my friends at Computing Workshop to know him. I refused to do it because I was angry at him about pushing me to the limit until I refused to cooperate with him at all. I felt that Mike was trying to punish me by putting me in social situations where I felt very uncomfortable. Therapy is supposed to be something that you enjoy, and that helps you with whatever your problems are. This obviously wasn’t the case with Mike. Because of this, I think that pushiness is uncalled for in social services. The more a client is pushed, the more they are going to resist what the therapist wants them to do. Mike’s therapy didn’t improve my confidence making friends, it made it even worse.

To me, Mike’s style of counseling was to make the client feel therapy was supposed to be a punishment, and not something that would help you. How is someone going to learn social skills when they are overwhelmed by the person that is supposed to be helping them? That’s just like a teacher berating student for not paying attention to their lesson when they barely know how to teach the material themselves, I’ve been through that many times. Going back to social skills groups, I’m also appalled by when they try very hard to teach social skills, when they demonstrate behaviors that show a lack of social skills. (Look at my blog about social skills groups to find out what I mean by that). I am hopeful that when parents try to find someone to counsel their kids, that they find out more information about the person. Find other therapists that may know the person, and have them give you their thoughts about the person. I am a person who likes to know information about something before it happens, and I knew nothing about Mike before he started working with me. And yes, I do understand that sometimes things don’t go as they were supposed to be planned. Only one person gave us information about him, and they only thing they said was that he was “highly recommended”. I wish I could have gotten other peoples opinions about him beforehand. Spontaneity leads to disaster.

In November 2008, my parents finally decided to discharge with him, and to find another therapist to work with. I was obviously hopeful that this person was going to be a lot less pushy and “in your face” than Mike was. He recommended a different organization. The organization Mike worked with was not allowed to drive their client to places, and he recommended another organization where the therapist was allowed to take the client places around the community.  If I Mike wanted to meet in public with me, my mother would have to provide transportation for me. My mom wanted to me to learn social skills so that I needed in order to make friends. When you have a friend, they will offer to go places with you. Like I said, I was pushed to the limit with Mike and it made it very difficult to learn social skills because I was too overwhelmed.  The person they recommended for me was named Darren. Darren is a more low key, and laid back kind of person, sort of like how Aaron was. Instead of sitting around at home talking about feelings, weaknesses and all of the other negative things about me, we go out in the real world and practice social skills. I am still trying to get used to him, but I’m doing it a lot better than I did when I was with Mike. I’ve said before that therapy is supposed to be an enjoyable experience, and something that helps you. I however am glad that I have the people in my life to teach me social skills that I need to know, without them I wouldn’t have the confidence to reach out to people like Aaron. Darren actually did get a chance to meet Aaron, and I was glad about that. He mentioned to me that Aaron made a compliment about how he enjoys reading my emails, and how I put a lot of thought into writing them. I am hopeful that Aaron and I will be able to get together throughout the year, and I am hopeful that he will reach out to other people that may need help, whatever problem the person may be having. I myself am going to try that when I go to Lenape Vo Tech. I am not going to let my Aspergers Syndrome prevent me from being the person I want to be in life, which is the kind of person I was when I went to Freeport. I am going to forget about those people that tried to bring me down and make fun of me. It makes no use to worry about a bully who is insecure about themselves, whatever the reason may be. I hope that people will use that the next time they feel down about themselves.