I hear often from people that they feel like therapy doesn't work for them, sometimes I get a reason, sometimes I don't. This could be from individuals who are currently in therapy, some who have been to therapy before and had bad experiences, and some who have never set foot in a therapists office and still has opinions about it not working. So I wanted to drop a few reasons on why therapy just may not be working for you.
Reason 1: The therapist you have chosen may not be a good fit for you.
Here's the thing, not all therapist are the same, not all therapist will be a good fit for you for a number of reasons. Your personality may not work well with the therapist that you choose. You can luck up and on the first try find a great therapist thats a good fit for you. Or if you are like myself, you may go through 3 therapist before finding the one that works well for you. And for me, it wasn't necessarily the personalities of the therapist, but it was their therapeutic approach that just didn't work well for me.
Leading me to Reason #2: the therapist therapeutic approach doesn't work well with the reason you are seeking counseling in the first place. This can be tricky to understand just because as a client, you may not be aware of what therapeutic approaches even are. So here is a simple idea:
-Say your thoughts are getting in the way of you doing what you desire to do, or change in your life. You may want to find a therapist who does Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) they work with you thinking patterns and thought processes. Some example of issues that work well for this type of therapy are: anger management, anxiety, depression, substance abuse, breaking habits, & mood swings just to name a few.
-Maybe you just want to focus on the present, and solve specific problems and not necessarily go deep into childhood issues. Maybe you have specific goals you want to achieve. Then you may need a solution focused therapist/reality therapist who will solely focus on assisting you in solving the problem.
-Or you may want to work on family issues, and not just you. You may want to find a therapist who has a family systems background who can work on the unit as a whole.
There are many other therapeutic orientations out there, and it may require you to do some research or when you make contact with therapist you like, inquire about their therapeutic orientation and see if it resonates with you. Don't be afraid to ask questions!
Reason 3: you just ain't doing the work in-between your sessions.
Listen, there is only so much we can do in sessions in the allotted 50-60 minutes. Therapy may feel like it's not working because you aren't utilizing the tools and new perspectives that you learn in therapy in your day to day life. As therapist we can only do so much.
We aren't wizards and we can't work any magic, when you don't do the work. I personally assign homework often, (especially when I remember, I am still working on that). Anywhoo, I assign homework because it can help lift clients moods, help them practice and master the skills that are developed in session and in turn can help clients see changes in their life, due to doing the work between sessions. You must do the work in order to see progress.
Reason 4: You are inconsistent with scheduling your sessions
This is important, if you have a number of presenting issues, or dealing with serious mental illnesses having inconsistent sessions will stifle your growth and progression in therapy. Coming once a month or every other month starting out typically doesn't work. We have a set amount of time in session, and attending inconsistently doesn't help your treatment, because during those inconsistent sessions we spend most of the time "catching up", and not actually doing the work.
Granted, I have some one a month clients, but that was a mutual decision for both myself and the client, and they made great progress working through their presenting issues, by attending consistently, and now just need maintenance. Frequency of sessions are up to you as a client, because you have to take into account your finances, your time, etc. But discuss those concerns with your therapist, and see if there are any other options. Because at the end of the day your healing should be priority.
Reason 5: You in therapy lying to your therapist
So here's the thing, you cannot be in therapy lying to your therapist. It doesn't benefit you whatsoever. Us therapist work really hard at creating a space that is compassionate and judgment free. When you deceive and omit information to your therapist it prevents success in therapy. Typically, when a client lies in therapy they are ashamed of their behaviors, maybe what has happened to them, or they are fearful of what could be said. But as a therapist I am here to tell you, nothing you can say can shock your therapist, and the whole goal of therapist is to make you feel better about yourself, and to make changes so that you can heal, and live the life you want to live.
And fun fact: usually we as therapist know when you are lying, we are trained to pick up on changes in body language, tone, facial expressions, silence, hesitations etc. Sometime with our line of questions we are able to realize that there is something missing in the story, or something just simply doesn't make sense, and that's an indicator for us that you are omitting information. The best thing you can do is be honest with your therapist. Therapy is your safe space.
So before you knock therapy for it not working, you must ask yourself are you doing the necessary work to make therapy work for you. Us therapist can only do so much, we aren't miracle workers, and we aren't just fixers, you have to be ready to be uncomfortable, to do the work outside of the sessions, and do what you need to do in order to find the right therapist. Most therapist have a free 10-15 minute consultation that you can schedule to ask questions, get a vibe for that therapist, and choose the therapist that resonate with you the most.
If you need assistance with finding a therapist...I have a printable available for you to download and print that will give you steps in finding a therapist.
And as always, you can always reach out via email, or social media with any questions regarding anything. Know I am always rooting for you!
Moving from Pain to Possibility
A lot of us walk around with what I call a "pain filter".
Here's my definition of "pain filter": because you have experienced some sort of pain, hurt, heartache, or disappointment, you filter every single persons words, actions, behaviors & intentions through YOUR pain perspective, causing you to create inaccurate narratives in your mind, taking things too personally, and blowing small things way out of proportion, causing you to respond in a way that is not appropriate to what actually happened.
Example: You call bae, bae doesn't answer the phone the first time you called. In turn, you blow up their line, send long ass paragraphs for text messages that you know they aren't going to read. Then you go home, and you throw all of their clothes over the balcony.
That is a true definition of emotional dysregulation, a term used in therapy: basically the crime doesn't match the consequence. Heres the legit definition of emotional dysregulation: "emotional responses that are poorly modulated and do not lie within the accepted range of emotive response."
When you are functioning in a state of pain, without attempting to discover the root of that pain, you walk around self-sabotaging, and low key constantly playing the victim. You constantly feel like people are out to hurt you, or treat with malice and have specific intentions to make life difficult for you. And the thing is....that is simply not true MOST of the time. Honestly, ain't nobody worried about you.
When you are functioning in a state of pain, you cannot see any possibility of anything changing in your life. You hold on so tightly to that pain, that it takes up space internally, not allowing room for the good things to seep through and take over.
When you are functioning in a state of pain you complain and try nothing to get rid of the pain, or fix the pain. You blame everyone around you, you don't hold yourself accountable, and you react rather than respond to triggers, discomfort, or anxiety.
So the first steps in dealing with your pain, is recognizing that you are seeing life through a "pain filter", and use resources that can assist you in healing from said pain, (i.e. therapy, meditation, church etc.) (whatever you believe will work for you, do that, and God is a bomb resource, but he also created some folk with a little razzle dazzle and a license to help you out. USE THEM) I'll be waiting on you....
Secondly, recognize how you have been playing victim or self-sabotaging, understand those behaviors and be accountable for your actions during those situations. This is really important for you to do, because when you are able to identify those behaviors, you are able to recognize them in the future so that you can catch yourself from trippin. Remember you must stop and ask yourself...
Lastly, begin to shift that "pain filter" to a filter of possibility. Learn to reframe your perspective and instead of seeing your pain as a pain in the ass, use your pain as a source of strength, and one that has shaped who you were as a person.
Example, say in your childhood you had an absent parent, which caused you a lot of heartache and pain growing up and the pain from that has shown up in your adulthood. While you can spend your waking hours being angry or resentful what good does that do, even though you have the right to feel that way. But what if you look at that experience as something that helped you be more grateful for the loved ones in your life, or that you wouldn't be the bomb mom or dad to your own children if it wasn't for the experience of having an absence of a parent.
That's not to say that reframing is the easiest to achieve, but it is definitely possible. Changing your perspective of pain doesn't dismiss or take away from what happened to you. However, moving into a "possibility filter" can help you break out of the toxic cycles you find yourself in, and allow you to see that things can be better for you. To see the possibility of being a better version of yourself, and creating the life you want to live.
Pain is going to continue to happen yall, it won't stop so you should work at getting comfortable with it. Work at shifting from pain to possibility and that will then lead you to your purpose.
But one thing at a time.
As always you got this...
just start by starting.