Here’s the thing, when thinking of your therapy, if you don’t feel like you found a secret gem then you may want to do some self reflection here. Sometimes people feel connected to and grateful for their therapy. Sometimes people feel it is hard and like their therapist may mirror something they didn’t want to see, but that is helpful. I’m not saying therapy needs to leave you feeling good. However, if week after week you’re feeling unheard then there may be a mismatch. I think sometimes we grow out of our work with our therapist or need a different type of therapy.
There’s a number of reasons why things might not be working out for you in therapy. Perhaps it is financial strain (hint: therapy in America where we don’t have accessible services costs about 20% of folks’ monthly budget), scheduling differences, need for virtual or in-person sessions, or other factors. Some of these situations may illuminate the path to you finding the best fit for you if there’s a problem with the therapeutic fit that makes it hard to connect. Here are some examples of people who may no longer fit with their therapist:
- Client 1: Her therapist listens in a way that bothers her. She told her therapist she wants direct feedback, but her therapist listens with body language and provides reflections like a mirror, but therapist’s reflections and body language aren’t the direct feedback the client wants.
- Client 2: They’ve discussed what they came in to discuss and now it is changing. Perhaps they started doing grief work and now want to work on their relationship. Now it may be time to switch to a relationship therapist.
- Client 3: He said he wants help finding a partner. In exploring attachments from the past, the therapist assumes partner means such and such gender rather than asking. This hurts the client and he’s able to bring it up to his therapist and feel his therapist’s apology and amendment was authentic and heart felt. Still, his therapist focuses on outdated understandings of what it means for the patient to find the partner of his dreams and this leaves the client feeling scared of the therapist’s next misunderstanding or lack of awareness.
- Client 4: They want direct coaching on dating and their therapist knows about anxiety and childhood trauma. They like their therapist’s cultural competency, but they don’t feel there’s a fit with the type of therapy the therapist is doing.
- Client 5: He just went through a divorce and is grieving, but his therapist keeps on pointing out his wins. He battles with a dance between gratitude and grief internally. He appreciate’s his therapist’s outlook, but is kind of over his therapist’s toxic positivity.
- Client 6: She loves learning about things and growing. She’s been depressed throughout the pandemic. Her psychologist focuses on moving, talking with people, and then praising her once she gets to these goals. While she’s thrilled she can be more active and engaged now, she is so insightful and wants to know about this depression response given it wasn’t the first time and she’d love to know where it comes from and how to address it next time. She’s looking for more depth in her next steps of therapy.
I hope these were a few examples of ways in which you may yourself wanting something different or more from your therapy work. Hopefully, your therapist is taking the responsibility of checking in and seeing how therapy is going for you. If not, you may decide to have a conversation or series of conversations to see if these issues can be resolved or if you need to close your case and move on to another therapist. You may want to joy down a few notes of what worked and what didn’t work for you regarding this therapy experience so your next therapist will have an idea if there is a fit based on your needs. If you want to find out more about finding the match you need for your healing work check out our podcast. There will be another episode on our Breaking The Couch podcast next week to help folks with addressing those awkward moments or ruptures with your current therapist.