There Are No Therapists

His mom is dead, his dad was missing and presumed dead, he's running around with a military's not exactly conducive to therapy—and, of course, because itís TV, therapists donít exist.
Connor Jessup on his character Ben Mason from Falling Skies

In most fiction, there are no official systems in place to protect those who are psychologically vulnerable. Nobody is ever concerned that the kid who watched their parents die might be considering suicide, homicide, or fighting crime without due process. Fiction is full of Bunny-Ears Lawyers but this will be ignored so long as they're not crazy with axes.

This trope isn't saying the solution to every mental problem is to go to a head shrink; merely that there is an extreme amount of Genre Blindness regarding traumatic experiences, probably for the sake of convenience and drama. Remember, Fiction Is Not Fair in regards to characters.

Can be a Justified Trope, as you can hardly expect a rag-tag band of rebels in an oppressive dystopia to open up to a potential informant and a historical setting may predate therapy altogether. That being said, protesters in the Occupy movement have sometimes provided free healthcare systems which can include mental health care. Presumably a therapist must show some form of solidarity to be trusted.

May be an Enforced Trope out of a belief that fiction's more interesting that way, because the writers think poorly of psychiatry—or maybe because the characters belong to a culture which places the responsibility for an individual's mental state on their family and friends.

Sister Trope of Adults Are Useless.

Related Tropes

In the case of children, there may be overlap with Social Services Does Not Exist. Can also overlap with The Cobbler's Children Have No Shoes.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Lampshaded in All Rounder Meguru as part of a critique of Japanese beliefs in stoicism over therapy.
  • Lampshaded in an episode in the English dub of Digimon Adventure 02. When Ken (who joined after a Heel Realization, having been the most insane villain they'd faced yet - yes, surpassing the Monster Clown) suggests that Wormmon talk to a therapist about his problems, Wormmon asks why he didn't talk to someone before becoming the Digimon Emperor?
  • Unintentionally Lampshaded in Rebuild of Evangelion when Kaji comments "Those kids are our last hope, who knows what they're going through?" Many Humongous Mecha series feature characters who clearly have flagrant psychological issues which are inexplicably overlooked so long as they are good pilots, which naturally never lasts for long.
  • Strikingly averted in Kyo Kara Maoh, in which Ken Murata was sent to therapy as a child to help him cope with his Past-Life Memories and assert his own personal identity. He comes out of it reasonably well-adjusted, considering, and remains friends with his therapist.

    Comic Books 
  • Parodied in What If? v2 #2, where Daredevil murdered the Kingpin and went insane with guilt. While he's running around, he bumps into the Punisher. When he sees just how broken Daredevil's become, Castle actually recommends a psychiatrist and offers to take him there personally.
  • Justified in The Walking Dead; so far, no member of the group past or present has been a therapist. For all we know, there might not be any therapists left.
    • Lampshaded by Sergeant Ford in issue 61.

    Fan Works 
  • Lampshaded in an author's note for the Mai-HiME fanfic Windows of the Soul:
    Sometimes I wonder whether it would be easier if I just had Shizuru see a psycologist. The problem being, how does she say "I have a huge guilt complex over killing scores of people with my summoned demon named after the legendary Kiyohime" without being put in an asylum? Perhaps the First District has specialized psycologists. Oh, wait. She blew them up. That's what she's guilty about.
  • Escape From The Hokages Hat has a subversion. While Tsunade helps Naruto deal with his issues, she only tries to help when Naruto allows her to considering how stubborn he is. She does however lament that it would've been nice to have a Yamanaka along to help but since two of them where involved in brainwashing Naruto, the clan is on her shitlist at the moment.
  • A Different Dursley Family: Averted. Petunia met one when she realized she was letting her jealousy towards Lily affect the way she treated Harry.
  • This is played straight later in the Gensokyo 20XX series, with the latter half taking place in the aftermath of nuclear war, in which case there was no way to deal with a then mentally ill Ran and very mentally ill Reimu, especially so in the latter case since finding a therapist would mean sending her to a Bedlam House, which are feared for due reason. This is subverted earlier in the series with Yukari, in which they aided in her recovery.
  • Lampshaded in Dumbledore's Army and the Year of Darkness, the students of Hogwarts survived a year of genocidal torture and war, and all they have at the end are each other for comfort. The only thing the wizarding world at large tossed them is a bunch of nosy reporters. Everyone ended up learning to deal with his or her PTSD themselves. Some retreated into domesticity, some became lawmen, one became a vigilante serial killer, another became a drug addict, and everyone had nightmares.
  • Played with in the Italian remake of Battle Fantasia Project: on one hand, there's an implied lack of therapists outside Earth (the planet Magix had exactly one: Darcy. Sure, she was professional enough to make sure she couldn't abuse of it, but still...), and for a number of reasons the Magical Girls tend to avoid them; on the other, as soon as the fall of the Veil makes it possible the Oracle instructs the Guardians of Kandrakar to bring Ari's autistic son to Earth for therapy, neatly solving the mess of W.I.T.C.H.'s third story arc before it can start.
  • Discussed in Maleficent fanfic Your Servant Mistress. It takes place in a real life setting, so the main character can get treatment for her PTSD ... or could, if she was able to trust someone with her problems. Diaval mentions having seen a therapist in the past.

  • Subverted in The World Of Henry Orient; when Marian first hears her new best friend Valerie leaves school early every day to see a psychiatrist, she thinks it's this shocking thing, especially when her mother and her mother's best friend Boothy act shocked when they hear the news. However, it turns out the only reason they were shocked is because of how young Valerie is (13 or so), and both of them each saw a psychiatrist briefly after their respective divorces.

  • Ward of Hurog has been Obfuscating Stupidity, and therefore is to be sent to an institution for insane nobles, a very nice and comfy place, from which, allegedly, many recovered patients returned to society. When he is brought there, it is with the intent to make him go crazy and stay that way. And he's not the only one getting that treatment.
  • Played with in every way in Bujold's Vorkosigan Saga. The main character is from Barrayar, a feudal militaristic culture where one is expected to go through hell and get over it without complaints and definitely without therapy, but his mother is from Beta Colony, a high-tech hyper-sophisticated and modern world where all is well-regulated and therapy is the normal response to any trauma or psychological issue. The trope is inverted in the first book for both worlds: Cordelia's awesome Betan therapists refuse to believe she is actually sane and wasn't brainwashed into falling in love with the enemy and she ends up having to run away, while it's revealed that Barrayaran therapy of the kind Bothari went through is possibly worse than the original trauma. In later books the trope is played straight (and Lampshaded by Cordelia repeatedly), especially where Barrayar is concerned. But it is thankfully averted for Mark after a book or two, because he really REALLY needs it.
  • Dr. Lense in the Starfleet Corps of Engineers series has a serious case of PTSD from the Dominion War, but specifically chose assignment to the DaVinci because the ship's complement is too small to have a counselor aboard. When Captain Gold finds out her performance as CMO is slipping, he tells her she can work out her issues with him as a sounding board or he'll have her downchecked for duty and booted off the ship pending a full psych workup.
  • The Red Vixen Adventures: On Foxen Prime anyways, foxens are supposedly more mentally stable on average than humans so they have very little experience helping those who do develop mental illnesses, House Darktail has to import a psychologist from Earth to help Sallivera with the trauma inflicted by her abusive ex-husband.
  • Averted in Vampire Academy. At first, Rose, Eddie, Christian and Mia just resume normal life after watching Mason die, but then Rose is sent to therapy after she starts seeing Mason's ghost. She discovers that it's not PTSD, as she was told, but a side effect of being shadow-kissed.
  • Subverted in the Hannibal. There is a therapist but he just makes things worse. Mason and Margot Verger are referred to Hannibal Lecter after Mason molests Margot. Lecter mutilates and cripples Mason and encourages Margot to kill him.
  • Averted in the Amber Brown books. After Amber's father breaks a major promise to her and she justifiably gets very upset and angry, he starts taking lessons from a counselor on how to be a better parent. They seem to work.

    Live Action TV 
  • Some police procedural and military themed series try to avert this trope with special episodes focused on the main characters being forced to attend mandatory counseling sessions to determine whether they are fit for duty.
    • Person of Interest has the unique distinction of being both a standard procedural and an arc-based Sci-Fi Post-Cyberpunk Crime Drama series at the same time. When Reese goes to therapy in Season 4 as part of his police detective cover identity, his therapist is unable to properly treat his Chronic Hero Syndrome because of the secrets he has no choice but to harbor.
      • Also of note is the first therapist shown in the series isn't a therapist at all but is instead a psychopath hacker in a cover identity.
  • Averted in Garo's first season, and justified in the sequel. When Kaoru dreams about her father's picture book at the start of the series, she regularly visits a therapist who helps her to explain this dreams, and helps her with the weird things she suffers since discovering the existence of Horrors. The justified during the second season comes from the fact that the therapist was actually the Big Bad of the first season and tried to sacrifice Kaoru to bring the end of the world, which explains why she may not have desire to try therapy any time soon.
  • Completely averted by M*A*S*H, in which Sidney Freedman is a recurring Type 3.
  • Merlin: Justified Trope in the case of Merlin. This is maybe a thousand years before therapy was even invented. In fact, Merlin himself may have had to invent therapy out of necessity to deal with everything he goes through. He's basically taken on the role of therapist to all of his friends (Fridge Brilliance as to why he grows more manipulative and darker over the series; he shoulders A LOT of baggage).
  • A surprising aversion in Continuum. Mostly, there's an implied All Therapists Are Muggles in play; the protagonist is from the future, so if she tried to talk about her problems, she'd get locked in an asylum. That's exactly what happened to another time traveler (though in fairness, he really was crazy, as evidenced by the fact that he didn't see anything wrong with chatting about being from the future). The aversion comes into play when Kiera strikes an officer in anger, and she finds out that her cybernetic Augmented Reality implant has a therapist AI built-in. He's briefly an inversion of All Therapists Are Muggles; he doesn't believe that they're really in the past and assumes she's had a psychotic break, but when he can't contact headquarters, he tables that issue and moves on to her real problems.
  • Averted on Friends. Ross sees one when he's struggling with anger issues and both Chandler and Monica mention that they've been to therapists and even discuss it in one episode.
    Chandler: I hate having to see the shrink. He's always "oh, maybe people will like you better if you like yourself better". Who needs that?
    Monica: You do!
    Chandler: I know.
  • Averted on The X-Files; therapists of varying kinds are seen. Scully sees a therapist at least twice to discuss her problems. Mulder sees one to be hypnotized into remembering the events of his sister's abductions, and eventually takes Scully there to be hypnotized into remembering one of her own abductions.
  • Averted in Castle. After Beckett is shot in the season 3 finale, she visits a therapist repeatedly over the course of the next season and it actually helps her a lot.
  • Star Trek tried to avoid this somewhat by instituting the position of "Ship's Counselor", but still ran into it on occasion. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager had excuses though: Ezri Dax was still in training when she was assigned as counselor, while Captain Janeway said in an early episode that Voyager hadn't been expected to need one (being that the mission they were supposed to have took place well within shouting distance of a major starbase, Deep Space 9).

  • Quadrophenia features the overlap with Adults Are Useless. Jimmy asks a therapist, vicar, and his mother in the very second song, but it doesn't do any good.

    Video Games 
  • This trope is literal in Furcadia as psychology has not been invented yet and magic generally only heals the body and not the mind. Several of the gods in this setting are also insane (oh, and like to wander among the mortals...).
  • Deconstructed in Blaze Union. We learn very early on that its Broken Hero, Gulcasa, has a lot of serious issues due to having been abused and abandoned by his parents, and he's only able to function because his childhood friends (who are also pretty much his adoptive parents) are there to act as amateur counselors for him. During the canon route of the game, Siskier dies, and this is really only just the start. Gulcasa blames himself for everything, and winds up with a raging case of PTSD which makes him so terrified of failure that he stops hesitating altogether and starts acting much more stoically. His remaining childhood friend and mentor mistake his symptoms for Gulcasa losing his humanity, as it was conveniently revealed that he's part demon. And they try to kill him, leaving Gulcasa a complete psychological wreck. The only people who even bother to try to help him have their own agendas, not to mention their own festering cesspools of mental-emotional trauma. In all likelihood, things wouldn't have gone quite so badly for Gulcasa and company three years later if someone had just gotten the poor kid a competent grief counselor.
  • Parodied in Alpha Protocol if Mike is played as a brutal, violent Jerkass to Madison. She'll ask him if he has ever sought professional help. He replies that he hasn't, because he killed all his therapists.
  • Key to the plot of Kinder; a running theme is that 'mind illnesses' are not recognized as a real problem in its world, instead attributed to things like "they're just lazy" or "they're just complaining for no reason." Naturally, this causes major problems. Yuuichi eventually states that there's probably worlds out there were 'mind illnesses' actually are recognized and treated more seriously.
  • Interestingly averted in The Last Door. There's buckets of crazy Mind Screw and just plain terrible things happening to the protagonist, Jeremiah, but he has a therapist who seems very concerned about him. An interesting touch considering the story takes place in the 1890s where therapy wouldn't be as accessible as it is today.

    Web Comics 
  • In Something*Positive there are many cases of this, sometimes lampshaded, but the one that stuck out most for me is when Davan never gets help after being raped by a woman he was attracted to. Sadly this is probably Truth in Television for many rape victims, especially male ones, and especially when the rapist is a woman.
  • Played with in Spacetrawler. The I.A. Starbanger does have a Therapy-bot, but he's terrible: his therapy consists solely of telling patients that their feelings are irrational. Eventually, Martina realizes that one of her crew desperately needs treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder, so she replaces Therapy-bot with a qualified therapist—the bartender bot.
  • Played with in FreakAngels comics. Sirkka is the local equivalent of a psychologist and helps abuse victims and people mind raped by Mark. Her own love life, on the other hand, is a total mess. Other Freakangels are not much better with the group consisting of The Ophelia, an Ineffectual Loner, a Knight Templar, a guy driven crazy by his own guilt, A God Am I wannabe and a few other dysfunctional personality types. Some hide it better than others. At the end they all get a quick therapy from Arkady of all people and Luke is fixed on his own request. Even Mark seems to be much more sane. It is implied that their problems didn't magically disappear, but they will eventually get over their issues with some love and hard work. FreakAngels are True Companions after all.
  • Zig-zagged in A Loonatic's Tale. There are, in fact, therapists, they're even major characters in the comic, but they have a whole host of psychological issues all their own which may or may not prevent them from actually doing their patients any good (at least one is too apathetic to do his job, so he just medicates them into oblivion). On top of that, most of them reckon that, since they're therapists, they're immune to psychological disorders, and wouldn't need help even if they weren't.
  • Averted with a vengeance in Material Girl. As the story gets darker and the Cerebus Syndrome kicks in, Noah's parents go from joking about taking him to a therapist to forcibly strapping him into the car and dragging him to one.
  • Zig-zagged in Better Days. After Fisk hits his principle with a baseball bat for trying to rape his mother, the police officer who arrives on the scene gives Fisk the number of a child psychologist for him to meet with to deal with the trauma of the situation. The chapter ends with Fisk meeting the psychologist and, when asked how he feels, gives a very frank explanation of how he felt completely justified in what he did, even if he knows he shouldn't. The psychologist smirks and draws a dollar sign on her notepad, implying that she is just interested in milking money out of his case. Shortly after though, it's shown that Fisk is continuing with his therapy sessions and that they're very helpful in helping him deal with being coerced into sex with Nikki, a young girl who was sexually abused by her father. The psychologist also helps out by investigating Nikki's home life, learning that her dad is a wanted criminal, and having Sheila keep Nikki out of the way on the day the police plan to raid her home.

    Web Original 
  • The Nostalgia Critic used to mention going to a therapist a lot, but that stopped, probably because the character was getting more and more damaged and it was funnier that way.
    • In fact, a running gag among multiple reviewers is their constant danger of insanity due to the bad things they are "forced" to experience. Plenty of reviews have gags where the reviewer pops "happy pills" like they were candy, chugs from a bottle of booze, or is forcibly restrained by men in white coats. Some have even tried to destroy the world in a bout of rage. Spoony deserves special mention as a full-on insane convicted serial killer.
  • This trope is deconstructed in Funny Business, in that the character who desperately needs psychiatric attention is hiding any indication that something's wrong. In other words, the only reason There Are No Therapists is because the patient doesn't want to go to one, which is sadly Truth in Television for some victims of depression.
  • Defied in Worm when Weld specifically requests therapy for the Brockton Bay Wards after the 8 Extermination arc, in which Aegis and Gallant died during Leviathan's attack.
  • Goes both ways in Brave New World Universe: The original character, Arachnya desperately needs a therapist at one point her father is murdered because of who she is, and she resorts to drinking to dull the pain, she's fifteen years old. she doesn't get professional help.
    • Averted in the spin-off Ride the Whirlwind, one of the main characters and his group of heroes is actually pretty desperate to get a very powerful Chosen,Ricki, some help after she has a mental breakdown. Too bad, she's a runaway, has a phobia doctors, is being hunted by people with very big guns, and will create a tornado if she panics. They eventually find someone to help her.

    Western Animation 
  • Played with in Winx Club: The Trix are sent to a place where they are supposed to be reformed, but it only manages to tick them off even more.
  • Lampshaded in As Told by Ginger in an episode where Ginger becomes jealous of Darren's new relationship with Miranda. Of course, she didn't technically see a psychologist.
    Ginger: It's just that Dr Phonsfeelings said—
    Darren: Whoa, you went to see a therapist?
    Ginger: Not exactly. She was on Channel 9.
    • Said TV psychologist appears in another episode and causes more problems when Ginger starts freaking out that her mother is still single.
    • And inverted in another episode where Ginger is sent to the school psychologist because she writes a poem about a girl who wishes to disappear. Everyone assumes Ginger has suicidal intentions because of this, but she's actually fine.
  • Zig-zagged in Young Justice. Black Canary is a trained therapist, and is shown having sessions with the teens after seriously traumatizing events. When Arsenal begins to suffer from serious issues that have interfered with their missions more than once Nightwing benched him, which is pretty much the same as telling him he's off the team until he can deal with his personal demons.
  • Zig-zagged in Adventure Time. Ooo is a very strange place with a lot of even stranger people, but there actually are mental health services for those who need them. For a lot of the earlier episodes, however, this trope was played straight, with people such as Lemongrab and Ice King basically just being dealt with when they caused trouble and ignored when they didn't. Both of them have now been getting a lot more help.

Alternative Title(s):

There Are No Psychologists, There Are No Psychiatrists