1. Are you attending consistently?
This is the biggest reason I see clients not progressing. I recognize my client’s are busy and it can be hard to carve out about 1.5 hours/week to attend regularly. However, regular attendance is essential in the beginning and middle phases of treatment. If you aren’t able to keep your appointments, you need to consider the reasons. Are you ambivalent about change? Are sessions bringing up painful memories or feelings? Do you struggle with feeling you’re not worth the time and money to invest in yourself? Are you busy taking care of everyone else? These are the issues you need to be bringing up in therapy.
2. Do you have the right therapist?
You should feel comfortable with your therapist and like s/he understands you. You may not like or agree with everything your therapist says. Part of a therapist’s job is to challenge you, present new ideas and alternate ways to thinking and behaving. Choosing a therapist is a personal decision. Fortunately, we have many to choose from in the San Jose area.
3. Are you working between sessions?
One hour a week is not going to produce the results most people want. At a minimum, I suggest scheduling time to reflect on your session and think about what you learned, questions for next time. Journaling for 10-15 minutes a few times a week will also help you can insights. Reading a self-help book can also reinforce ideas. Your therapist may also suggest specific homework assignments. You will probably make more progress if you do them.
4. Do you have clear, realistic goals?
In short, if you aren’t clear on what you are trying to achieve, you won’t know when you’ve gotten there. Remember that people often seek therapy to change long-lasting ingrained behavior patterns. These do not change in a month or two.
5. Are you sure you aren’t making progress?
Change is a process. Sometimes it’s quite slow and you aren’t even aware of the baby steps you are taking. Spend some time alone and with your therapist considering if there has been progress. Sometimes it’s also easier for an outsider to objectively measure change.
Best wishes on your change journey.
Sharon Martin, LCSW