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5 reasons why psychotherapy may be failing

5 reasons why psychotherapy may be failing

June 23, 2022

I feel like I'm not moving forward, why? This is a question that patients ask us to psychotherapists on some occasions. Certainly, we are all different and this is what makes each session a challenge. When a patient feels that he is not progressing however much you attend the intervention sessions, you need to know how to pay attention to the signs that indicate the causes of this. Next we will explore this topic.

  • Related article: "Types of psychological therapies"

Why can psychotherapy be failing?

First it is important to understand that the process of psychotherapy is two: psychotherapist - patient. All psychotherapists work differently , have their own style of therapy, varied knowledge, etc., And above all things are people who have a private life, with problems, emotions, their own idea and what happiness is, etc.


However, no matter how much variability there are, there are certain general factors that influence psychotherapy to be successful. If they are absent, the advances will not be as expected or the intervention will completely fail leading to disappointment, frustration, anger and above all, feeding a thought that is very common in people who attended therapy and this was not effective: psychology It serves, it is a scam or the psychologist does not work, it is bad.

Psychotherapy can fail because ...

I will mention some reasons why a therapy process may fail, not be rewarding and successful or generate too slow progress.

1. Therapist link - patient / client

For a therapy to start with the right foot, it is essential to create a good relationship with the patient / client. This relationship must be strong, positive, and based on healthy empathy. Above all, it is important focus interest on everything that concerns the patient's problem and his life in general. On the other hand, the patient must feel understood, comfortable and accepted by the therapist.


When this relationship has not been well forged and the therapy is attended to by force, this may be the reason why there are no advances. Is about a more common situation in the care of adolescents and adults with addictions or other similar disorders.

2. Work methodology

As mentioned above, all therapists have their own style of therapy. Some work with approaches based on changing thought and behavior, others have a more humanistic approach centered on the person ... Therefore, the structure of their therapies is different.

Some will start the session with a long interview, asking what thoughts are frequent when the problematic behavior happens, and others with an attentive and interested listening without making any notes, etc. On the other hand there are therapists who are more organized, keep track of appointments along with the planned session and the material ready to work, others may be more improvised or let the patient set the pace of therapy.


If the therapy does not progress it may be because the therapy approach is not adequate for the patient's problem , does not make him feel comfortable, is very passive or very active, is focused on tasks and the patient does not like to perform them, the patient does not like the disorganization of the therapist, etc.

I recommend that you let the therapist know if there is anything in your style of therapy that does not make you feel comfortable. On the other hand, if you are a therapist it is good to explain to the patient what the therapeutic approach that you use consists of.

3. Reticence of the therapist

Sometimes, patients or clients who have a personality or attitudes that the therapist can not digest or tolerate come to the consultation. This is normal, is a person who also feels and is entitled to not achieve full acceptance of the patient as is. When this happens it is a good option to refer the patient / client to a colleague.

4. Reticence of the patient

In the same way as the therapist, patients may be reluctant to professional advances , to be negative, challenging, annoying, uncomfortable, unpleasant, uncooperative, desperate, etc.

If the patient does not collaborate with his therapy process, he will not advance. This is common in therapy; therefore, it is important to inform the patient that it is necessary to collaborate in everything that is requested, from tasks to techniques that will be performed in each session to other more general, in order to achieve significant progress.

5. Some aspects of the therapist

Occasionally, when the therapy does not progress, it may be because the therapist is not fully prepared to attend, due to fear, lack of confidence in their abilities, lack of interest in updating, use of ineffective therapies, and lack of base in evidence, because he does not like his work but needs money, etc.

Thus, it is good for patients to look for references , ask the therapist if you have your license, qualifications and collegiate in order, etc.

  • Maybe you're interested: "10 tips to choose a good psychologist"

Remember that…

If you are a therapist and you feel that your patients do not show great progress, do a detailed review of your sessions, analyze if your therapeutic approach is the most appropriate for the type of population you serve, have confidence in them, do not torment you and above all keep updated, since the field of clinical psychology is very broad.

If you are patient, do not be afraid to create a therapeutic link , trust your therapist and if you do not like something, let him know. The therapists are there to support those who request us, so remember to collaborate with your therapy process as much as possible.


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