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Is this a therapist red-flag or am I being sensitive?

jilllewis84 profile image

I'm trying to find a therapist who can actually offer guidance around ADHD and I'm getting super frustrated. It's been two years I've been shopping around. I was supposed to have a second online session with someone this week (our first session was two weeks ago because I was away last week). Scheduling the second session was super confusing and I admitted to feeling overwhelmed and not doing my best. She repeated herself but never followed up to confirm. Then this week rolls around I don't have it my calendar but I'm pretty sure it's the 6th and then this morning get a meeting invite for 5th. "Oh, snap. Glad I got this early otherwise I would have been at work." (I freelance from a studio without internet, so I can make up my own hours but I'm kind of stuck once I'm out there.)

Then a little while ago I come across the note I made from our first session that says we're meeting on the 6th. So I email them an hour before the invite time to check. Nothing. After logging on for the meeting time and getting a "host will let you in soon" message for 10 minutes I realize they're not coming. Then they email a couple minutes after that saying, "sorry for the error. yes it's tomorrow." And when I ask "could we still meet today? I moved my whole day around." I get, "No, I'm with a patient now. There's an earlier time tomorrow but that's about it."

Now I'm sitting here in the middle of the afternoon just fuming because I'm facing the prospect of losing an extra day of work my first week back. I feel like in the past I'd have been super understanding (mistakes happen right? I mean, *I* should have checked sooner when I lost my notes, right?) but now I feel like: No. You don't get to be an ADHD therapist and not provide necessary support around the fact that ADHD have a hard time with scheduling and transitions. It's not the same for us when we have to change our routine or get ready for something like therapy. I struggled to get things done before this meeting. Now, I'm anxious and struggling to come down and figure out what to do next now that it's been cancelled. I'm flooded with "should's" around how to address and prepare for getting something (or possibly nothing!) done tomorrow. It's so annoying! And to have someone who doesn't even know that could be the impact on an ADHDer, well, it feels extra awful.

(I'm also a little unsoothed by the idea that they seem to be looking at emails and responding *while* they're with a patient. Seriously?)

I'm exhausted and I can't tell if my frustration is getting the better of me, or if this person has already shown the limits of what consideration they're able to offer an ADHD client. On the one hand, I don't want to waste time and money moving forward (again!) with someone who doesn't know ADHD and who can't effectively help me. On the other, I'm tired of going back to the drawing board and I don't even know if I'll be able to find any more therapists to try.

I don't know. Humans make mistakes, but I think I need someone who can at least recognize what the potential cost is for me when something like this happens. Has anyone been here before?

***Note : I really appreciate everyone who's weighed in! I should clarify, this is a therapist for couples counselling. They wanted to have an individual session with each of us before the next joint session. That's where the scheduling and everything started to go off the rails. I was trying to be discrete by keeping it vague but I realize now that there's a big difference between finding a primary therapist versus finding a couples therapist when you already have a good primary therapist (which, is my case, luckily).

14 Replies

You have my sympathy. I prefer email, text, etc that don't require a specific one-on-one interaction so that I'm not tied down. So often I will call a business and all you can do is leave a number to get a call back. Then *I* am stuck waiting by the phone, often for hours. More often than not they never call back and I give up. It just really screws over your day and what you can get done.

It just feels like it is the norm from businesses, Drs, gov't agencies that their time is precious and yours doesn't matter. Just be grateful they tried to contact you at all.

I wish I had some actual advice to offer, rather than just agreeing with you that it sucks. About the only thing my post says is "You are not alone". Along those lines, I would give this Dr another chance since you have been searching so long. The next one might not be any better, so why not stick it out a bit longer to see if anything clicks here.

jilllewis84 profile image
jilllewis84 in reply to BTV65

"You are not alone" is such a reassuring thing to hear. I'm relieved (but also sorry?) to know I'm not the only one who ends up totally derailed waiting to hear back from people or having their schedule unexpectedly mixed up. Thanks for sharing.

I don't know if "that's the way everyone is" is enough for me to stick it out, but we'll see.

BTV65 profile image
BTV65 in reply to jilllewis84

If you were just starting, I would have different advice. Lots of fish in the sea, sort of thing. However, if you have been trying for two years... then I wouldn't be so hasty to jump ship just yet.

Hi, Therapists make mistakes too! Just roll with it. I have had at least 3 appointments screwed up by my therapist and I have screwed up a couple so it turns out even!I have thought this is a red flag of a bad therapist but together I have made a lot of progress, so all in all, yahoo!

Thanks! I tried to keep it vague but this was actually a one-on-one with a couples therapist. Luckily, I have a great personal therapist. It's true people make mistakes! I get that! I just feel like someone who understands ADHD clients would have had other checks in place that would have made the mistake easier to spot. But my reaction is also totally tainted by other couples therapists we've tried, who can't offer any guidance to the unique problems of an ADHD household. Maybe I'll still give them another chance though....

Yes there are ADHD coaches but also EMDR helps with ADHD as well.

A coach is a great idea. I tried to keep it vague in the post but this was actually a meeting with a couples therapist. I've heard there are ADHD coaches for couples, and am really into it, but I haven't been able to find any yet

i think this is a perfect opportunity for you to use your next therapy session to talk to your therapist about all the feelings you just described about what happened. if he/ she is receptive then it could be the start of a very beneficial relationship! im a counselor and some of my best client/ counselor relationships have sparked by clients being honest n open with me about their irritation towards me. sometimes its displaced anger n not about me n sometimes it is definitely about something i did ( oversite, bad day, mistake). if your therapist invalidates your feelings or minimizes them, or doesn't seem to take full accountability and genuinely apologize then i think its pretty clear that u will not be able to trust and therefore get no benefit from further sessions.

often, us ADHD folks have a difficult time discerning when we are over reacting vs allowing ourselves to be treated poorly and just accepting stuff that others would not. ADHD is a mind f*ck on its own! lol


jilllewis84 profile image
jilllewis84 in reply to wtfadhd

This is great advice. Thank you.

Hello,I have had a lot of therapy since diagnosed with ADHD and some Aspergers and some PTSD. My suggestion is start with Website Psychology Today , you can select the therapist you need. You can also use BetterHelp or many more where you can video conference your session and they are priced very reasonable, remember there are always options.

Kindest Regards,


you should also see an individual therapist who is certified in EMDR, CBT and DBT to assist with the ADHD and everything that comes with it. that should not be done in couples sessions I am speaking from a professional and personal level. .

I also understand you are upset about the therapists mistake. As soon as you get a confrimation email respond right away. Therapists are literally booked from open to close there is hardly every flexiability to switch appoints unless done well in advance. If you have her number ask if you can text her so she can help you through the aniexty between clients and casenotes.

I have adhd and a social worker so I get both aspects.

Whew, take some rest. You are exhausted and disappointed, especially after 2 years trying.

The therapist’s scheduling mistake (or her office’s) seems pretty minor to me and not even a yellow flag yet. Most therapists and doctors now are so slammed with work since covid. And these slip ups happen, as you graciously acknowledge.

I like that she wanted to talk to you and your partner each individually. That seems like a good sign, generally.

You can bring up your concerns and ask how she will handle these situations. I’m sure you have your questions ready about her experience working with couples where one has ADHD.

Hang in there!

I'm in similar situation! Once my (online)therapist forgot my appointment.I became frantic because I can't connect,(I also have pretty bad PTSD,so I sometime act intense when I panic)I felt ignored by therapist.Taken lightly.

I'm so sorry for I cannot offer useful advice,as I'm still new to therapy.

I suspected myself "Rejection sensitive dysphoria",but in your case,therapist seems to screwed up more than mine.

Thanks! I really appreciate you sharing. That's often more powerful than advice. I'm sorry you're going through the same thing, though. RSD was definitely part of what I was feeling, but also frustration that I've normalized being my only support for my symptoms for my whole life. I'm tired of feeling like I'm going it alone -- especially when paying a professional for help! Now that I've had some space and been able to calm down I decided to both give the therapist a second chance AND hold strong to the idea that I should feel like she's providing support around my ADHD. If that doesn't happen, I'll keep looking. I hope you find yourself in feeling more supported soon, too!

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