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Why do people leave therapy prematurely?

From time to time, people start their therapeutic journey and then stop! There are lots of reasons people do this. One of the reasons I get from clients that had maybe been to see other therapists and then came to me is because they (the client) feel they had failed in some way. This IS NOT the case. There may be many reasons for this, here are a few I’ve heard, experienced and read about:

When you start the process of therapy you can really open a ‘can of worms’. Sometimes people I support do not understand why they are feeling anxious/depressed/angry etc at a conscious level. When you dig a little and uncover some memories that had lay dormant it can be extremely painful. Sometimes this can be just too much to take. You may need time to process your feelings and when I say time it might be a few years until you feel you can tackle the subject again. Go at your own pace and when you are ready.

You just may not have the connection you wanted with your therapist. You may feel that the therapist ‘doesn’t get you’. Offer some feedback to your therapist if you can (see paragraph below). If you don’t find that connection with your current therapist then look for another one. Most competent therapists offer free initial consultations because it is important for you to feel you can trust your therapist and it is equally important for the therapist to know they can support you before embarking on your therapeutic journey.

You just might not be fully ready for change or have the time to put into it. I always say to the people that I support that when you start the journey of change it’s important that you are able to give yourself time to process things and work on things mid-session; change is not easy. As a therapist I facilitate the change, however it’s you that has to make the change. There are techniques that help speed up the process, however for me it is important that the people I support understand where the anxiety/depression/stress/anger/OCD/trauma etc comes from and how we create it. Therapy is a journey and unfortunately there is no way to say how long it will take before you feel better able to cope.

You may have some ‘subconscious resistance’ which is generally due to a fear of change, a fear of the unknown, a fear of success etc. Your therapist should understand this as you go through the process, however if you believe they don’t, let them know. You are always in charge of the sessions and feedback (both ways) is positive and constructive. If you don’t feel able to provide the feedback face to face, jot it down in an email or text. A competent therapist will always ask for feedback and be ready to receive and act on it.

You may also make the decision to leave therapy because of other reasons such as the financial commitment is too great. Speak to your therapist about this as they may be able to work something out. I have lots of self-help and online resources which I share with clients mid sessions and I also have a number of reduced cost and free slots.

Most of the clients I’ve supported over the years know when it’s time to finish therapy, when they have the resources to help themselves in the future when life throws them curve balls – unfortunately life will always do that. As a therapist, I will listen to these subconscious messages too and know when it’s time. Ending sessions is something we discuss together and mutually agree on. There is always a plan at the end of therapy, a reminder of what you’ve learned and what you have available at your fingertips to use whenever you need it. I’ve also had people come back to chat with me a few years later and a quick booster session generally does the trick.

Therapy is not always the easy option, as therapist we understand that and should work with you on these feelings. Whether you are thinking of starting your journey into therapy or started and stopped it, you are worth it. Therapy will benefit you in lots of different ways, you will learn more about yourself, you will learn techniques to help with your change or goal, help you have more fulfilling relationships and help improve all areas of your life.

You know where I am if you need to talk. Much Love Jo xxxx

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