10 thoughts on “3 Things To Do When Therapy Doesn’t Work

  • December 16, 2015 at 10:55 am

    I find that when therapy isn’t working, it is most helpful for the patient to address this directly with the therapist, rather than stopping treatment and finding a new therapist to “not work” with. Since therapy is about learning how to be in a “good enough” relationship, why not use the opportunity to confront one’s own issues with the therapist. I overtly invite my patients to do this, and sometimes even bring it up myself (“I feel as if something is not working for you here.”)Patients are often relieved to hear that I can withstand and be interested in changing what’s “not working,” and it also often deepens the quality of their treatment!

  • December 16, 2015 at 12:01 pm

    Thank you for this article. I’ve been stuck for awhile and this article quickly clicked a new perspective and objective. When I am successfully practicing or living #2, Individuating, my world feels free and more being the person I was born to be. It’s well worth having this as a goal to complete. What this article showed me personally is how lost I become from my own self and allowing the chaos to take over. Mind garbage.

  • December 16, 2015 at 1:10 pm

    I would add that one reason why therapy may not be working is that the client is not “taking in” the experience. I have had many clients who feel motivated to come but do not feel as motivated to do the work and take responsibility for their growth and healing. Doing the work means thinking about things between sessions, using the tools, and following recommendations (like attending yoga, readings, or exercising). Many clients come to therapy because they want to simply vent and be validated and regulated by the therapist, but the benefit of this is short-term only. Clients must internalize the experience for it to produce real change.

    • December 16, 2015 at 7:34 pm

      Cara, I agree with all you’ve said. I perceive you as a particularly hard working and conscientious therapist.

      This article is more for those who feel that they’ve done much of the work required, but still are not getting the results they want. In these situations the clients may also need to focus on individuation (not something all therapists do), and/or the clients may need some constitutional support which will help them dig in deeper with their current therapist.

  • December 16, 2015 at 1:51 pm

    I am quite disappointed that psych central is allowing non scientific information to be given to vulnerable people. Homeopathy has been debunked many times and is not an appropriate treatment for any disorder.

    • December 16, 2015 at 7:22 pm

      Hello Ann,
      Thank you for your comment. This gives me the opportunity to address the resistance to Homeopathy, most of which is based upon misinformation. There have been over 89 double blind, placebo controlled studies, that prove the efficacy of Homeopathy. In the late 1800s there were over 100 Homeopathic hospitals in the US. It is one of the national medicines of India (all hospitals are Homeopathic), and after a thorough study of the medicine, Switzerland has just approved Homeopathy for their national healthcare system. “In late 2011, the Swiss government’s report on homeopathic medicine represents the most comprehensive evaluation of Homeopathic medicine ever written by a government and was just published in book form in English (Bornhoft and Matthiessen, 2011).” http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/defense-homeopathy

      Sadly, there is much misinformation on the internet about Homeopathy, including what’s presented in Wikipedia. If you would like to gain a more accurate picture of Homeopathy, I encourage you to read this article on Huffington Post, and then decide for yourself: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dana-ullman/dysfunction-at-wikipedia-_b_5924226.html

      I believe Homeopathy could be the solution to our nation’s financial dilemma with prescription medicines and health care. In the hands of a well-trained Homeopath, Homeopathy acts as preventative as well as curative medicine and the cost of health care diminishes tremendously.

  • December 16, 2015 at 9:26 pm

    I think you left a few things out. 1) Add a therapist, particularly one that specializes in a different treatment modality, ie EMDR, DBT, CBT, Somatic Experiencing. 2) Get tested for a mental illness. Most (all?) mental illnesses need more than individuation. 3) Talk to your therapist about feeling stuck and see what the 2 of you can come up with 4) Take an honest inventory of whether you are trying everything the therapist suggests. 5) Join a group, either therapy or support

  • December 16, 2015 at 9:50 pm

    One of serious shortcomings with most therapists is their lack of confidence and knowledge in discussing problems that have some basic religious factors involved. The secular position of dealing clients leaves much to be covered when avoiding this topic. Many people have religious issues that should be uncovered, and only with therapists sincerely involved in their own religious beliefs and can honestly discuss this.

  • December 17, 2015 at 2:04 am

    Some are motivated by greed, fewer by altruism and the least by knowledge. The latter two are conventionally needed for validation of changes in direction. If you use this to evaluate each of the above eight responses, only Jennifer comes closest to such scrutiny. I would suggest that even though possibly implied, after her attempts to help fails, she recommend that another qualified and licensed therapist be sought.

    It might be suggested that you trust your brain first, then heart and then gut.

  • December 21, 2015 at 1:02 am

    @Cara –

    “I have had many clients who feel motivated to come but do not feel as motivated to do the work and take responsibility for their growth and healing.”

    And may I suggest that therapists have to be less defensive when clients who HAVE been doing the work – offsite, off hours, reading, journaling, exhausting themselves to find out why they’re not making progress, only to find out the problem is in the office, not necessarily outside it – critique THEIR work.

    You all aren’t perfect, you know. You can’t even make up your minds from year to year what to put into and take out of the DSM. Don’t even get me started on the general lack of cultural competence – didn’t the APA draft some guidelines you were supposed to have wrapped your heads around five years ago? If you’re so smart and “insightful” as a profession, why are you having so much trouble with them still, five years later …??


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