Possible toxic employees in a therapists office? Is it a red flag?

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LilyRose

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I have struggled with issues with my mom for many years, but I have finally convinced her to try to visit a therapist, both for herself and for us to get along better. She looked into therapists and chose one that she liked to consider.

I was very excited about this, until I made my first call to the therapists office!

Can the experience with the office staff be a red flag to just....run?  :stars: And, is this one such experience? (See below.)

I would love some thoughts and suggestions, especially from those who have dealt with therapists/psychologists and have some experience knowing what to look for and what to run from.

So, here is what happened... the big story, if you will!  :aaauuugh:

My mom had initially called, and the lady there had asked my mom for me to give them a call so that she could find out more about my insurance or something like that, since we were hoping that we could both talk to someone. I did not entirely understand what it was that she was looking for, but I gave her a call anyways, figuring she would know what she wanted and could then just ask me and I could respond.

Well, when I got her on the phone, she acted as though she did not understand why I was calling, and said that she was very confused. I replied that I was confused as well, but had been told to call her, so I was just calling as I had been asked to do.

She then began to say how she had already talked to my mom and explained many things to her, and that my mom seemed to have a difficult time understanding what was being explained to her. She repeated numerous times, over and over, "as I already explained to your mom," and it began to feel very condescending. It was not that her voice or tone was rude, but just the fact that she kept saying she had already explained things to my mom over and over and my mom did not seem to get it.

To say "as I already explained to you (or whoever)" one time is a little rude, IMO, as it shows a slight impatience about having to re-explain, as well as a slight condescension that the person being explained to has not "gotten it." But whatever, once is no big deal. To say it twice is, to me, rude, but to go on repeating it over and over is, I think, very rude.

But I stayed polite and that was that. Conversation finished.

I spoke to my mom a little time later, and she was saying that she was going to call the office there again to try to set up an appointment. She said that they had told her to think about it and then call back. I told her what had happened, and she thought it was a little rude too.

So when she called, she got the same lady on the phone, and talked to her a little about what had happened.

The woman then said to her, "I did not mean to offend anyone. IF I did anything to offend anyone, then I am sorry, but sometimes it can really be the perception of the person."

My mom told me that she said this, and it just seemed completely off to me.

"IF" she did anything to offend sounds like, in the context of this situation, to be a complete non-apology mixed in with what she is trying to make sound like an apology (even though the "if" in this particular context suggests to me that she does not think she did anything wrong and so she does not mean it).

Also, saying "sometimes it can really be the perception of the person" is like throwing the whole thing back on me and saying she did nothing wrong, but it is really just my perception that is the issue.

(Am I the only person who finds someone saying "I already explained this to you [or whoever]" over and over again to be rather, well, rude?)

I thought about this and really felt that if this was the way things were going before I even got in to the see the therapist, maybe it would be better to see another one. But I also wanted to ask what other people think.

So my questions are:

1) Was she rude to begin with? and...
2) Is this a bad sign for someone in a therapists office to be talking this way?

The last thing that I need is to walk into a therapists office with a dysfunctional staff who is going to look for ways to be passive-aggressively condescending and then make it look like the problem is me.  :stars:

So I definitely want to be on the alert for red flags that I might not be in a good place and to find another one.

Thank you so much to anyone who reads this and responds! I really appreciate your thoughts and suggestions, as I do not have much experience with therapists/psychologists and do not really know what to expect. 

« Last Edit: May 21, 2021, 06:05:41 PM by LilyRose »

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square

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Re: Possible toxic employees in a therapists office? Is it a red flag?
« Reply #1 on: May 21, 2021, 06:44:17 PM »
I’d bail and keep looking.

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11JB68

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Re: Possible toxic employees in a therapists office? Is it a red flag?
« Reply #2 on: May 21, 2021, 08:44:35 PM »
 :yeahthat:
We once had a dentist with rude office staff. Turned out the dentist was pretty awful too

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moglow

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Re: Possible toxic employees in a therapists office? Is it a red flag?
« Reply #3 on: May 21, 2021, 08:58:58 PM »
To be blunt: Find your own therapist and don't play or listen to he said/she said with your mother. There's no way of knowing what their conversation was actually like, but if your relationship with your mother is contentious those people didn't get your best side. Whether intentional or not Your mother may have played them and you, is what I'm saying.
It's entirely possible that staff member went round and round with your mother and kept telling her she would have to talk to you about your insurance, treatment etc. As she *should*. Your medical business is between you and your doctor(s), not your mother. It could be your mother was pushing for your information or answer for you, and they kept telling her no, they need to talk with you personally.
OR they had all the info they needed from your mother and were genuinely confused why you were calling as well, kind of a reversal of the above. They may not have asked you to call at all, but your mother insisted you should. They may well have had a lengthy confusing conversation with her, now complicated by her bringing you into it.

In short, her therapy, her business. Is she possibly looking for reason to not go? Is this something she wants or is she just trying to pacify you?
 
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LilyRose

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Re: Possible toxic employees in a therapists office? Is it a red flag?
« Reply #4 on: May 22, 2021, 12:30:07 AM »
Thank you square, 11JB68, and moglow for the replies.

I am not really sure what happened between the employee and my mom. She had not made up her mind to go to that therapist at that point. she was just calling to ask questions. Definitely, it is her therapy and her business, just as the same would be for me. Not trying to pry into that. I do not think she is looking for a reason not to go though. I think she feels at this point that it would help.

I do know that my mom can be really slow to understand things sometimes, which I get can be frustrating.  I am just not sure why that meant the employee had to be rude (IMO) to me though, regardless of how confusing it may have been for both me and the employee.

But my concern is really if the behaviors of the employee were rude like I thought, and if they are a red flag.

I have heard some really bad stories about people in fields like psychology being very condescending towards patients, particularly those who work among patients but are not actually treating them. Having an experience like I had to today made me think of those things I have heard, and wonder if what I experienced was a red flag. It would be terrible to end up dealing with an office where someone is completely passive-aggressive, and no one is catching onto it.

Regardless though, I also find it helpful and useful to learn what other people think about these behaviors for future experiences that I might have where someone may act in a similar way.

Having grown up in a toxic home, I can often find it hard to distinguish if something in someone else's behavior is really a red flag or not. I often find it helpful to ask others so that I do not end up just sticking around and putting up with something that someone from a more stable home would have walked away from without thinking twice.

So learning here if comments like, "I already explained this to you (or whoever)" repeated over and over are actually passive-aggresssive or toxic in some other way, along with considering the rest of what I mentioned as well, helps me out. That is why I was really just asking about those things, and trying to understand.

Thank you again!
« Last Edit: May 22, 2021, 12:43:04 AM by LilyRose »

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Call Me Cordelia

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Re: Possible toxic employees in a therapists office? Is it a red flag?
« Reply #5 on: May 22, 2021, 09:38:15 AM »
One of my kids has a surgeon who does that constantly. It’s almost a verbal tic. “Like I already said, blah blah blah.” I find it very condescending and rude, especially when I have an actual question. He doesn’t listen very well. He seems to prefer people when they are unconscious. But we’re more or less stuck with him. I work with the nurse as much as possible, and the rest of the care team. Works for everyone. Really, the surgeon has one job and that’s all he is going to do. And if he does it well, okay.

With a therapist, what you describe would definitely be a red flag to me too. But it’s your mother’s therapy, with you being willing to join her session on occasion. Am I reading that right? If so it looks like a case of “Not my circus, not my monkeys.”

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LilyRose

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Re: Possible toxic employees in a therapists office? Is it a red flag?
« Reply #6 on: May 22, 2021, 01:03:57 PM »
One of my kids has a surgeon who does that constantly. It’s almost a verbal tic. “Like I already said, blah blah blah.” I find it very condescending and rude, especially when I have an actual question. He doesn’t listen very well. He seems to prefer people when they are unconscious. But we’re more or less stuck with him. I work with the nurse as much as possible, and the rest of the care team. Works for everyone. Really, the surgeon has one job and that’s all he is going to do. And if he does it well, okay.

With a therapist, what you describe would definitely be a red flag to me too. But it’s your mother’s therapy, with you being willing to join her session on occasion. Am I reading that right? If so it looks like a case of “Not my circus, not my monkeys.”

Thank you Cordelia. I really appreciate your feedback. It helps to know that other people find it rude and condescending too. I do not want to be too sensitive about things but at the same time, I do not want to miss red flags when I should be noticing them. Would you find it passive-aggressive also?

Yep, this was an office that employees someone my mom was considering for her own therapy. I was looking for someone as well, and this office has numerous people to choose from, so it was not something I was ruling out (although now I most likely am). We both would like to talk to someone together also at some point, so I think she was navigating ahead of me how that would work with insurance (which I was assuming may be why the lady supposedly asked me to call her).

Thank you again for your thoughts!
« Last Edit: May 22, 2021, 01:06:20 PM by LilyRose »

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LemonLime

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Re: Possible toxic employees in a therapists office? Is it a red flag?
« Reply #7 on: June 03, 2021, 03:04:55 PM »
I agree that she was rude, and I'm sort of amazed in general how many front desk client-facing employees don't have very good communication skills.

A brief story:
My son had a piano teacher who not only was great at playing piano but was a gifted communicator and teacher.  He always found a kernel of "right" about anything my son did in piano.   I liked to joke that if this teacher asked my son to pick a number between 1 and 10, and my son said "12", this teacher would have said,  "Exactly!  And if we subtract 3 from 12 we get 9, and then......"  :)

This teacher made everything my kid did and said "right" in some way, however small.   He could morph any poorly executed scale or piano piece into something good, by finding a kernel of "right" in it somewhere, somehow.

That teacher has inspired me to try to be so much better in my ability to make someone "right" in some way.   To agree with something, anything that someone might say.   To try to say "yes, AND"  instead of "But no, because...."   

I keep trying to remember......"AND instead of BUT".

Most people suck at this.  And they should not, but I have to admit to not learning this skill til my 50's. 
This lady at the front desk doesn't have that skill.  She should have put you at ease when you called, been humble and focused on being light and friendly and finding a solution to the issue.  Really, that's her job to help make clarity out of a client's confusion and to do it patiently.  To put things back on the right track, not drive things into a ditch.   She could have turned the situation around.  But she didn't.
It's up to you whether you want to infer more about the office from this interaction.    FWIW

« Last Edit: June 03, 2021, 03:10:13 PM by LemonLime »

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Starboard Song

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Re: Possible toxic employees in a therapists office? Is it a red flag?
« Reply #8 on: June 03, 2021, 05:04:44 PM »
I am in the camp that it is not a big red flag.

I'd move on, give this therapist a try and see how it goes. If the T is bad, exit. If the support staff continue to be an impediment, exit. But I'd not let an awkward conversation dissuade me from that attempt. If I were signing a 1-year contract, that'd be different. But I'd give this no-commitment situation a chance and assume this was just a one-off mix up.
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yarlanzey

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Re: Possible toxic employees in a therapists office? Is it a red flag?
« Reply #9 on: June 09, 2021, 08:15:13 AM »
I say, if you do go, be prepared to walk straight back out the door at the first sign of any more "off" behaviour from the staff or therapist.

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1footouttadefog

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Re: Possible toxic employees in a therapists office? Is it a red flag?
« Reply #10 on: June 16, 2021, 11:52:01 AM »
I  guessing fro. What I H e read that your mother and the lady on the phone had already had an exasperating conversation.

I am interpreting "As I told your mother" as a nice way of her saying your mother is lying about what was said.

Perhaps your mother wants her therapy on your insurance or some such.