/ Nathan Eshelman

Bad Therapy: Why The Kids Aren’t Growing Up

Some of you need to fire your child’s therapist right away. Some of you need to figure out what interactions your school psychologist, counselors, and paraprofessionals are having with your children.


Children are being ruined by therapeutic parenting and our therapeutic culture.

If you are a therapist you may need to be repenting due to causing more harm than good. Therapists and the therapizing of our children may be responsible for a large portion of the immaturity, anxiety, depression, and suicidality of our nation’s youth. We have created a generation of adults in “emotional snow suits” and have children that are afraid to live life at full volume.

Abigail Shrier’s Bad Therapy: Why The Kids Aren’t Growing Up (Penguin Random House: 2024) was an eye opening look at competing peer reviewed literature pertaining to the psychotherapy given to children.

Shrier is not my religion, has a different view of human nature than me, listens to different podcasts than I do, has a very different worldview than me—and yet, I appreciated Shrier’s book immensely. 

I believe that everyone who has a child or grandchild needs to read this book. I believe that everyone that has children in public schools—and Christian—ought to read this book. I believe that all therapists, counselors, and all who are trained in Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) ought to read this book. Pastors, elders, and Sunday school workers—the world is different than the one that you grew up in—and in part—it is because we have therapized our children. We have turned them over to professionals and turned off the parental instincts that God has given to us through the light of nature. In fact, all parents should read this book as it is the parental air that we breathe—coddling, empathizing, “partnering” with our children.

Now, some children need therapy. Let me say that again: some children need therapy. Most do not. Shrier discusses this fact, but overall this book is not for the genuinely abused, harmed, and neglected. This book is for everyone else. Those who believe that we all can benefit from therapy and believe that all need a professional to talk to. This book will be more beneficial to most parents than paying a therapist.

Shrier divides the book into three main sections.


The first section discusses iatrogenesis, or the idea that the healer can be that which harms. All medical doctors and manufacturers of pharmaceuticals are legally required to disclose the fact that their attempts to heal can actually produce harm. Why do the therapists not do this? Why do they not disclose this information?

Shrier then goes into the research and shows that therapists are not actually as helpful as you would you think they are. Shrier says, “Therapists almost always want to help, but sometimes they simply don't. And while some therapies have shown success in circumscribed areas-like cognitive behavioral therapy has in treating phobias-those who study the efficacy of therapies often point out that the results across treatment types are not terribly impressive.”


The second part of the book demonstrates that “therapy has gone airborne.” The therapeutic culture in America has effected (infected) our schools, dentists’ offices and non-mental health doctors’ offices. One of the main culprits has been the mental health survey that pokes and prods our children into confessing that which they may not struggle with—depression, anxiety, suicidality. Behind the curtain lay the famous Bessel van der Kolk of “repressed memory” fame. van den Kolk has turned his world of trauma therapy onto all of our children—we all have trauma.




Shrier then turns her guns to the over-medicating of our children. We have created children that need emotional snowsuits and as therapists poked and prodded and drew out a diagnosis the result is the overmedicating of our children. Diagnosis became identity and medications became the sacraments of the new therapeutic generation.

And who is to blame? “Gentle parents” that have believed the therapists—and end up parenting via therapy instead of installing values, morals, and independence.

Maybe There's Nothing Wrong

The third and final section argues that parents need to “take the spoon out” of the coffee (a reference to an old joke’s punchline where a patient tells his doctor that he has eye pain every time he drinks coffee). Parents are encouraged to fire their children’s therapists, realize that society has taken our children from us, do not trust our instincts, and basically make a mockery of parents. Society says, “We need the professionals!” Yet, maybe there's nothing wrong with your kids.

Young adults today have less friendships, genuine social interaction, abilities to make a decision, and live in constant fear—fear of things that are not scary. Fear of life. Shrier explains why. We live in a strange new world that overly values gentle parenting; trauma-based therapy (even where there’s no trauma); over-medicating of our children; and empathy over sympathy. In flame throwing fashion, each of these problems are addressed by Shrier—and she’s a convincing voice. 

Again, Shrier and I are not besties. We don’t share all things in common—not even worldviews. I did not agree with this whole book, but I did enjoy the whole book. It was like pulling the curtain back on a problem that we all see, but have not been able to put our finger on the problem. Or it was a like there was an elephant in the room and no one would speak about it. Or it was like our society has no clothes—and Shrier is the first to call it out. 

We’ve got serious problems and this is only part of the answer. If you have kids and grandkids in therapy, read this book. If your kids are in public and Christian school—read this book. If you are around children or responsible for children—read this book. 

Just read the book.

Nathan Eshelman

Nathan Eshelman

Pastor in Orlando, studied at Puritan Reformed Theological & Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminaries. One of the chambermen on the podcast The Jerusalem Chamber. Married to Lydia with 5 children.

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