Stuck in Therapy? 3 Ways to Make the Progress You Want

How to Make Progress in Therapy

Therapy has the power to transform our lives. So why does research shows that it’s effective only 50 percent of the time? Author Jon Frederickson explains in his article “Stuck in Therapy?”[1] that although therapist effectiveness varies, the main variable in successful therapy is the patient. That’s right, if you’re feeling stuck in therapy, it might be time to consider these ideas:

First, decide on a clear internal problem to resolve in therapy.

If you want to fix a problem, it helps to be clear with yourself and your therapist about the nature of the problem you want to resolve. It’s crucial to make sure that it’s a problem you have and not someone else. No therapist can fix a problem for someone she’s not seen … besides, blaming others doesn’t help you to grow.

Second, face what you usually avoid.

Talking alone doesn’t resolve problems. Facing the truths we’ve avoided and discussing them with a skilled therapist does. When your therapist points out something that’s painful, try not to argue or dismiss the concept. Be present to the idea and consider that the therapist may be helping you face what’s difficult. That’s where change and healing begin.

Finally, go toward what makes you anxious.

It can be hard, but therapy is the best place to face the things that make us anxious so they can stop taking control of our lives. By facing them, we take charge. As Mr. Frederickson so aptly states,

“If we avoid what makes us anxious, we don’t become stronger; we just get better at avoiding. Meanwhile, life goes by and our therapy money goes down the drain. If you are not somewhat anxious in therapy, chances are you are not facing what you need to face.”[2]

I’ve seen these truths with so many patients over the years. I agree that you’ll reach your goals and get the most out of therapy if you’re clear about the problem you want to resolve, you’re willing to face what you usually avoid, and you move toward what makes you anxious. Trust the process – it works!



Dr. Pamm

[1] Jon Frederickson, “Stuck in Therapy?”, LinkedIn, Jan. 11, 2017

[2] Ibid.