5 Difficult-To-Admit Reasons Your Previous Therapist Didn’t Help That Much

Think honestly about which of these may apply to you, even if they're hard to confront.

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Many clients come to me after they have had disappointing experiences in prior therapy.

Therapy is not a fit for everyone, but there are many people who could benefit tremendously from therapy but have not yet found it helpful for one of the following reasons.

Read and think honestly about which of these may apply to you, even if they are difficult to admit.

RELATED: 10 Lasting Ways To Create Change In Therapy — Fast


Here are 5 difficult-to-admit reasons your previous therapist didn't help that much:

1. You were not ready to change 

Perhaps you entered therapy hoping that your depression could magically lift, but you were not yet ready to deal with the issues in your past that need to be addressed. Maybe you wanted to work on anxiety without confronting your feared situations. Maybe you know the real issue is drinking but you kept the conversation trained on your marriage instead.


Only you know if you were getting in your own way and preventing yourself from opening up because you were not yet really willing to do the work you need to do.

2. You did not go deep enough

Sometimes, people talk about certain issues in their past or present but they avoid actually feeling anything. They avoid talking about the deeper-level issues that are harder to discuss, even though those are the ones that would lead to true change.

Sometimes, they stay with a therapist that they know doesn’t and won’t push them, because this is more comfortable. It allows them to tell themselves, "I’m in therapy, so I’m working on my issues," while knowing on a core level that they are coasting and keeping things light, often with a therapist they know will allow them to do so.

RELATED: Should You Tell Your Partner What You Discuss In Your Own Therapy?


3. You refused to engage about specific issues

Sometimes people have a hard stop on certain issues that they feel are "private" and/or "not relevant" to therapy.

For example, some people tell me their sex life is "fine" despite being unhappy with their marriages in all other aspects. Even if this is somehow true (unlikely, as sex life usually is a microcosm of marital issues in general), it would be so unusual that there is a lot of data to be gleaned from exploring it more deeply and seeing how the marriage as a whole could be transformed by applying lessons from the couple’s close sex life.

Sex, money, abuse histories, all of these things are highly relevant but often very sensitive issues. If you’ve declared certain topics "off limits" in therapy, this also likely concords with rigidity in general, which likely holds you back in many areas of life.

4. You were so much of a people pleaser that you stayed with a therapist that you knew wasn’t that helpful

Every therapist is not a good fit for every client, obviously. But if you feel guilty about the thought of leaving a therapist who isn’t pushing you hard enough or with whom you don’t "click," this likely means that you are enacting your classic people-pleasing patterns and, as you do in other areas of life, sacrificing your needs and wants for someone else’s.


Often, you don’t know much about therapists when you start working with them. If you feel a therapist doesn’t "get you," then waiting for months and months for them to do so can be a waste of everyone’s time and can, sadly, turn you off therapy in general.

RELATED: Top 6 Childhood Complaints I Hear From Adults In Therapy

5. You do not recognize that the most useful part of therapy is examining the relationship dynamics in the therapeutic relationship

Over time, your relationship with your therapist will come to take on the same patterns that characterize your relationships in general.

I have had clients who insist that they are "only difficult/guarded/sensitive in therapy." Obviously, over time, it comes out that their partner, children, or coworkers have felt the exact same way about them.


Therapy provides an unparalleled opportunity to get real-time feedback about how you come off to others, and what dynamics you co-create within interpersonal relationships. The therapist can and should observe how you act in the room, and it is a missed opportunity when the relationship is ignored.

If you shut down all of the therapist’s real-time observations, you are missing out on the opportunity to understand how you make others feel, as well as to discuss your own triggers and why you are responding as you do, in a safe and objective space where you are accepted and not judged.

If some of these resonate with you, maybe you should try therapy again and commit to being wholly engaged in the process.


If you find someone you click with, open yourself up to whatever the process entails and be curious about whatever feedback you receive throughout your work.

I have seen many people make transformations in therapy, but it takes work and open-mindedness to do so. Till we meet again, I remain, The Blogapist Who Says, Here’s What It’s Like To Work With Me, BTW.

RELATED: A Guide To Becoming A Strong, Self-Made Woman In Therapy

Dr. Samantha Rodman Whiten, aka Dr. Psych Mom, is a clinical psychologist in private practice and the founder of DrPsychMom. She works with adults and couples in her group practice Best Life Behavioral Health.