Sometimes therapy doesn’t work. There are lots of possible reasons for this and usually it’s no one’s fault. If you’re still struggling, it is important to try again but this is a lot easier said than done. Therapy usually requires a big investment of time, money, and emotional energy and if you’ve had a bad experience in the past, it can be hard to see the value in trying again. 

Here are some possible reasons it didn’t work last time and how to approach trying again.

1. Your therapist wasn’t a good fit for you. If you don’t feel like your therapist gets you, you can’t trust them, or you just don’t really vibe with them, then they probably aren’t a good match and won’t be the best person to help you. This is usually no one’s fault–everyone is different and sometimes there is just a mismatch between personalities and styles.

If this happened last time, try having a free consultation with a few different therapists before you pick one. Their personality/age/gender/communication style/etc. can be just as important as their credentials.

2. It wasn’t the right time in your life. Think about the last time you were in therapy, without judging yourself. Did you have the time and energy to really engage in it? Were you doing it for yourself or to please someone else? Were you ready to really be honest and vulnerable? If your motivation and commitment just weren’t there yet, you might have been doomed from the start. 

This time around, try to get clear on what you really want out of therapy and try to be realistic about how much time and attention you can dedicate to it right now. Try to make sure you and your new therapist are on the same page about where you are in your process of making changes.

3. It was too uncomfortable. The type of therapy might not have been right for you; some can be more intense than others or focus more on things that are way out of your comfort zone. Your therapist might not have been checking in with you enough to make sure you were okay and/or you might have had trouble speaking up for yourself when something didn’t feel right. 

There are lots of different types of therapy out there, so you might want to try something different this time. Challenge yourself to let your therapist know if something isn’t working for you, so they can adjust it or try a different strategy. 

4. You had a genuinely bad therapist. Unfortunately, there are bad therapists out there. I know because I’ve met them. Just like any other profession, there are people who are lacking self-awareness, are burned out, are making unacceptable mistakes, etc. If this was your experience last time, please know that how you were treated was not your fault and that you deserved much better. If your therapist caused you serious harm, you may want to consider reporting them to their professional regulatory body. 

Please believe me when I tell you that not all therapists are this way. Once you find a new therapist, telling them about your past experience can help them work with you on any challenges you are having engaging in therapy again. 

Trying to tackle big problems on your own is really difficult and having the right support makes it a lot easier. Trying therapy again after a bad experience can be very difficult but the right therapist will be understanding and work to earn your trust. Don’t give up!


Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash

Rachel Ginsberg

Rachel Ginsberg


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