These 14 Extremely Inappropriate Things Online Therapists Have Done On Video Chat Have Me Begging For A Cold, Sterile In-Person Session

Online therapy has given more people than ever before the option of better mental health. But just like with in-person therapy, finding the proper therapist is vital to one's success. And honestly, if you find the right one, it shouldn't even matter whether you're talking face-to-face or virtually.

A woman making a toast "To therapy"
A woman making a toast "To therapy"

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But a conversation needs to be had about what happens when a mental health professional, now more relaxed in the comfortable environment of their own home, starts doing some pretty inappropriate stuff while video chatting.

Recently I asked the BuzzFeed Community to share the worst, strangest, or most inappropriate thing an online therapist did while video chatting with them, and they gave me some doozies. Here are some of the most...interesting responses:

1."She took a screenshot, not knowing that I would get a notification!"


2."We live in a city that's known for horrible traffic in general. The therapist was not only driving during the session, but driving during rush hour traffic. There have been several times in the past that I felt they were just going through the motions during our sessions, but that all but confirmed it."


A woman video chatting while driving
Scharfsinn86 / Getty Images/iStockphoto

3."So, I was in therapy, right? Middle of the pandemic, and I was already anxious. I kept thinking that there was someone in the room with the therapist because she kept making side glances. But I told myself, 'No way, you are just being paranoid.' Until the next session, and HER HUSBAND CAME IN THE ROOM AND CASUALLY SAT DOWN!! I immediately shut down the session. Then, I got a call from her, and she said, “I am so sorry. He just had to come in for a second to grab something.” Um…how about NO?! I reported her, and I hope that she's not still a practicing therapist. This definitely set me back a couple of years in therapy."


4."I was in therapy while I was in the beginning stages of quitting drinking (one and a half years sober now!), and she was drinking out of a wine glass."


A woman drinking a glass of wine while on her laptop
Luis Alvarez / Getty Images

5."About a year into the pandemic, she logged on in a full-on gas mask. Alone. In her office. Her excuse? Construction workers were in the hallway repairing the ceiling. In that moment, I realized that her anxiety was worse than mine, and she should probably tackle hers before counseling me on mine."


6."I had a telehealth therapist who would eat lunch, play with her dog, and, in spite of me repeatedly asking her to do so because I'm partially deaf and needed to read her lips, would keep her camera off. One day, she was 25 minutes late for a session (I took off work every week to do these) and just didn't acknowledge it. The final straw, however, was her missing a session, having her husband email me an hour after (he doesn't work for her practice, as far as I know), and when I didn't show for the next session, she sent me a text saying, 'Hope everything's okay.'"


A woman looking confused
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7."My 'therapist' was making dinner AND yelling at her children. She then proceeded to CHANGE A DIAPER in the middle of our session. And, her advice wasn’t even that good. It was the same thing my friends could have told me."


8."I was on Zoom with my therapist, and he was straight-up vaping during our session."


A man vaping while on his laptop
Realpeoplegroup / Getty Images

9."I heard my (now former) therapist's wife in the background either cooking or washing dishes and taking the dog out while I was in the middle of a particularly vulnerable session. My therapist did not have headphones in, so if I could hear his wife, she could certainly hear me. I work in healthcare, so the absolute disregard my therapist apparently had toward HIPAA was astonishing. I felt so violated, especially because the subject matter was so personal and painful for me to discuss."


10."This one guy complained about only charging $175 an hour. He could not believe he was working for so little and whined about it. He also waved and said hello to his friends as they walked by his beachfront patio. He was a couples counselor who said, more than once, that some people were just not compatible. He broke my faith in my ability and my partner's ability to make things work. Worst money I ever spent. Criminal, if you ask me."


A couple on a laptop
Renata Angerami / Getty Images/iStockphoto

11."I met with my telehealth therapist a few times and quickly noticed that she was more casual with our sessions than I was used to in in-person therapy. During our third or fourth session, she took a call from her bank that lasted about 10 minutes. I heard her entire side of the conversation because she didn't mute her mic. It turned out that someone had stolen her credit card number and was trying to make a fraudulent purchase. She freaked out but got the bank to cancel the card and block the charges. Afterward, she got her pot vaporizer and took a few puffs to calm her nerves. I understand she was stressed, but it was the most bizarre situation."


12."He kept comparing what I was going through to TV shows. He’d be like, 'Oh, something similar happened in Season 3, Episode 4 of A Million Little Things!' And then, he'd drop a link to the episode in the chat. Other times, I’d mention something, and he would google it while we were talking. Like, I’d say how I didn’t feel as happy as I once did, and he’d send me a link to a random Psychology Today article."


A man on his laptop and he confusingly touches his glasses
Sean Anthony Eddy / Getty Images

13."One time, we were in the middle of a session, and I politely asked to go use the restroom. They said that it was fine, so I got up and left for maybe one minute. I came back, and they were blasting death metal music. When they saw me, they turned the music off. I asked why they had music playing, and they said they 'didn't have anything better to do.'"


A man looking outraged at his computer with his hands up
Gorodenkoff Productions Ou / Getty Images/iStockphoto

14.And finally, "She brushed her teeth during the call."


Note: Some submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline is 1-888-950-6264 (NAMI) and provides information and referral services; is an association of mental health professionals from more than 25 countries who support efforts to reduce harm in therapy.

If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, you can call SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) and find more resources here.

Have you had any bad experiences with online therapy? Let me know in the comments below.