Sometimes in these cases, patients don’t know what to do except let therapy drag on until they find a new therapist. Or, they let the feelings of dissatisfaction build up until they reach the point of total frustration and then suddenly quit. Either right away or after a time, they search for someone new.
Is there anything you can do to stop this vicious cycle and get the help you want?
If you are dissatisfied, you might consider discussing with your therapist the problems with how therapy is going. Tell your therapist why you aren’t happy with therapy or with him (or her). Your genuine feelings should be validated. Your therapist should not be defensive. Give your therapist the chance to correct issues that are alienating you.
(Sometimes, your therapist might offer an explanation of why certain processes are in your best interest. Try and stay open to this. You can always discuss anything questionable with a friend, mentor or another therapist.)
Remember, you can be your own best advocate.*
One of the best ways to thwart problems is by creating and implementing a treatment plan. Your therapist and you can use the treatment plan like a map or guide to therapy.
Ideally, at the start of therapy your needs will be discussed and written into your treatment plan. These needs might be implicit in the objectives and goals you and your therapist laid out in your treatment plan or they may have to be discussed at greater length.
Once you have a treatment plan, you and your therapist will be able to work in unison toward common, agreed-upon goals. If you have a comprehensive treatment plan set up, you will find out very early on if a particular course of therapy and/or therapist is potentially effective for you.
Remember: if a need has been overlooked and has not been made a part of the treatment plan, or an unexpected need has arisen during the course of therapy, this can be addressed at any point. That’s because you’ll be reviewing and checking-in with your treatment plan regularly.
It is in some measure up to you to describe your needs to your therapist. Yes, your therapist should be in tune with you and ask you probing questions that help him to understand what you need, but at the same time, he isn’t a psychic. Help your therapist to help you; tell him if you feel something is lacking in the therapy process and express your desire to address it—together.
*Note: In situations where your therapist is abusive, do not confront a therapist—get some other support in place and/or find a new therapist as quickly as possible.
Adapted from Therapy Revolution: Find Help, Get Better, and Move On (HCI)