Did you try therapy a few times and it just didn’t work out? Maybe your schedule was too chaotic or it was difficult to focus. Perhaps you didn’t connect with your therapist or maybe a pandemic happened. Whatever the case, it might be the right time to try again.
Before you dive back into therapy, ask yourself these important questions:
- Why didn’t it work?
- What was I hoping to achieve from therapy, but didn’t receive?
- Was I hesitant? Was my partner hesitant?
- Was the therapist warm, engaging, and knowledgeable?
- Was the original therapeutic approach a good fit for me?
- What is my goal if I return to therapy?
Timing it just right
Timing is an important factor for the success of therapy. Studies show that depending on the time of day, our ability to focus varies and the type of focus (peak, trough, recovery). “The trouble is we often don’t do the right task at the right time,” says Daniel Pink, author of When: The scientific secrets of perfect timing. Maybe finding the optimal time of your day when you are able to be emotionally present will help therapy be more successful.
Try, try, try again
I learn a lot from my 4-year-old daughter. One of her favorite books is a Sesame Street called You can do it! — which highlights the value of perseverance and showcases each character learning a new skill. Whether it’s learning to ride a bike, getting artwork just right, or writing their name, a phrase is used over and over, “You can do it!” Just get up, don’t give up, and try again.
Perhaps in your case, the therapeutic approach wasn’t a good fit. You’ve probably done your research on therapists and found there are so many therapeutic modalities (e.g., Gottman Method, Emotionally-Focused Therapy, CBT, PACT, EMDR, etc.)—that’s because people respond to different approaches of treatment differently. Instead of giving up on therapy altogether, perhaps a different approach is what you need.
How’s your schedule? Hectic? Try modifying your weekly sessions to every other week or carve out a couple days back-to-back, like a couples intensive. This adjustment in schedule can pair what you can commit to with the change you hope to achieve.
I recently finished a couples intensive with a couple who had seen therapists before, but their challenge was finding the weekly standing time. Like many couples, they have a busy household — online learning for their young children, taking care of an older parent, and both were working from home. Sound familiar? Their creative solution was finding a family member to come in for 2 days to help with childcare and they dedicated the time to focus on them.
Find the right therapist
Research shows that the therapeutic relationship between you and your therapist is one of the strongest predictors of counseling outcome effectiveness. Perhaps you went to a session or two, but for one reason or another you didn’t feel comfortable with the therapist. (If this is the case, use our guide to finding a therapist to help you.) That’s normal and should not be the barrier between you and getting the support your relationship needs.
Even in our practice with multiple therapists, it’s okay if a client doesn’t fit with one of us. It might feel a bit awkward to ask to work with someone else, like you might be “cheating on your original therapist” (remember The Barber episode on Seinfeld?). But I assure you, it’s not “cheating,” it’s good customer service and good client care. It’s our job as therapists to listen to your feedback, try to correct the areas we can improve, and we’re happy to transfer you to another clinician to help you find the best fit.
What are you waiting for?!
Give therapy another chance. Pick the right timing for you —when you can focus better during the day. Try someone else, even if they work for the same practice, like ours. Find creative ways to meet your scheduling needs. It’s not uncommon to start therapy at one point of time, take a pause, reflect, and return to the process — people do it all the time.
If you are ready to schedule an appointment and live in Arizona, North Carolina, or Texas, we can help. Contact us to get started. We offer virtual sessions only right now to accommodate the safety of our staff and clients during the time of COVID-19.