Talk therapy is a powerful method of treatment for mental health conditions. It can also be used by people who are generally healthy and want to step back and take stock of their life. However, sometimes you can leave therapy feeling stuck, angry, and frustrated. This is a sign that therapy may not be working for you. Talk therapy also requires a lot of emotional vulnerability; feeling resistant doesn’t mean it’s not working. It may mean you’re not ready.
Talk therapy is like medication. Every patient will respond differently. You may not have an effective therapeutic relationship if the therapy isn’t working. After giving it at least three sessions, you can make the necessary changes. However, if your therapist is violating your boundaries or is exhibiting discomfiting behaviour like being too religious, you should switch immediately.
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How do you know therapy isn’t working?
Gauging how effective therapy is can be difficult. But when therapy is working, you can break down what you’re going through to get more insights, have breakthroughs and see your behaviour change.
Some signs it’s not working include:
- Feeling judged by your therapist
- Hiding information because you fear your therapist’s reaction
- Feeling worse between sessions and not getting the tools to deal with it
- No progress at all, over the months
What to do if therapy isn’t working
Studies show that the psychotherapy relationship must be strong if therapy is to be successful. You may need to work with multiple therapists to determine who suits you best, but this may be cost-prohibitive. Find reviews about different therapists to understand whether the therapist will suit you. When working with a mental institution with multiple therapists, notify any authorities to request a transfer if your therapist makes you uncomfortable or dismisses your concerns.
If you’re struggling between sessions, it could mean you’re feeling destabilised. A good therapist will notice you are unwell because you’re unpacking trauma or repressed memories. If your therapist isn’t providing healthy coping tools or being available during times of crisis, you may need to find a new therapist.
Therapy can take months to work. But you notice progress as time wears on. If nothing is changing, you can consider other alternatives to talk therapy. You can take up multiple activities to help ease your anxieties and manage your mental wellness. Physical exercise, yoga, meditation, or journaling can be a functional alternative to talk therapy. But many professionals would tell you to give talk therapy more before abandoning it. Meditating won’t help you heal your trauma, just manage it.
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If you’re feeling blocked even after multiple sessions, your therapist should recommend an action plan to help you. A different way of conducting therapy, a break, or a different way of communicating can clear the block. If your therapist gets defensive, it is a sign that they may not be right for you.
Changing up your routine can also help therapy become more effective. This includes switching when you attend your sessions or the frequency of the visits. Talking to a close friend about it can help you navigate other options to improve your therapy experience. Your old therapist can also help you transition if the sessions aren’t working.
The most important thing to remember is that if therapy is ineffective, it signals that things need to change. You shouldn’t stay quiet in this situation. The first step is to speak to your therapist or anyone you trust.
Read also: Mental Health: Pros And Cons Of Talk Therapy
What if you’re just hesitant?
If you’re not sure whether therapy is ineffective or you’re just hesitant, you may need to take some time to reevaluate the situation. Reflect on what your expectations are and how they can be accomplished. Therapy isn’t a quick fix, and dealing with trauma doesn’t have a specific timeframe to resolve it.
Your therapist should offer guidelines that help you understand your mind better. If your therapist advises you on what to do, it won’t help you learn to trust your intuition. You can also talk with your therapist about other forms of therapy outside of talk therapy. If you’re uncomfortable talking about your trauma, try touch or somatic therapy—a body-mind treatment that helps patients focus on their bodies.
Read also: 8 Benefits Of Touch Therapy
Other times you may be hesitant because your therapist is of a different background than yours. While it may not always be the case, a female survivor of assault may feel uncomfortable with a male therapist. In such an instance, asking for a different provider is important. You can also consider support groups while you weigh whether therapy is the right step for you. In moments of crisis, reach out to emergency hotline numbers for support.
In Kenya, the national police emergency is 999 or 112.
If you are feeling suicidal you can call these Befrienders Kenya numbers 0722 178 177 and 020 2051323.
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