Top reasons why people quit therapy

There is a world of difference between signing for therapy sessions and actually sticking to them. These days, an individual can enroll in therapy sessions simply by visiting one of the top 10 online therapy sites. But once the therapy sessions start in earnest, many people discover that sticking to them is not as easy as they expected. Some patients experience changing circumstances, others may not be able to cover the therapy costs, and some do not see any results at all. There are many reasons why people quit therapy, and they are unique to each individual. That being said, some reasons are more common than others. In this article, we are going to explore some of the top reasons why some people might want to quit their therapy sessions.

The most common reasons why people quit therapy

The rate of clients disengaging from mental health services was documented way back in 1951. The research reported around 50% of patients dropped out before their third session, with 35% of patients terminating their therapy after a single session. Subsequent reviews got similar results, while also noting that more than 65% of patients dropped out from their therapy sessions before their 10th session.

The National Library of Medicine published an early withdrawal from mental health treatment study in 2008, where they examined the attrition problem, the methodological problems in studying attrition, as well as the enabling factors or barriers. By using their research as a starting point, we’ve discovered that there are numerous common problems that lead to premature termination of the therapy. They are:

  • Medications
  • Cost of the therapy
  • Difficulty
  • Incompatibility with the therapist
  • Results
  • Changing circumstances
  • The “Can of worms” effect


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Of course, these are not the only reasons why people quit therapy, they are simply the most common ones. Furthermore, the quality of the therapy itself is usually a very small factor in why people quit. These reasons may come up even if the patients are undergoing the very best online therapy for depression, for example. They represent the largest percentage of why people might choose to leave therapy altogether. Let’s take a look at why this is the case.


medications, representing main reasons why people quit therapy
Medications are one of the most common reasons why people quit therapy.

Most of the time, clients suffering from depression or anxiety issues are given medications after their first therapy session. The therapist usually prescribes antidepressants or antianxiety medications to make it easier for the patient to cope with their symptoms. Even the best online anxiety treatment suggests a moderate use of medications from time to time, after all. But this is a “double-edged sword”, of sorts. While medications have their place when it comes to crisis situations, as they offer immediate symptoms relief, they can also influence the patient’s decision to continue with their therapy sessions.

The fact of the matter is that taking medications is rather easy while undergoing therapy can be very challenging. Many people choose to take the easy way out, thinking that medications are all that they need. However, they are only a “band-aid”, and medications do nothing to help the patient’s underlying issues. Most of the time, as soon as the patient stops taking medications their symptoms return. Even though the patient might know this in advance, medications are still one of the most common reasons why people quit therapy.

Cost of the therapy

person using a calculator
Therapy sessions can get expensive real fast.

Then there’s the cost of the therapy itself. The fact of the matter is that insurance coverage for mental health issues is severely lacking, usually covering for a limited number of visits. In some cases, the insurance will not even cover the cost of a single treatment. It all depends on the patient’s unique circumstances. Therapy costs are significant, with a single session costing around $120 on average. Online therapy is a bit cheaper, but the monthly cost is still significant. That being said, one of the advantages of online counseling is the fact that patients do not need to spend any money on travel arrangements. But even online therapy can be seen as overly expensive by most people, despite its lower overall cost.

In today’s economy, more and more people are simply struggling to make ends meet. And when they realize that they might not be able to afford the therapy costs, they simply drop the therapy altogether. There are cheap or free solutions but they are usually highly inconvenient or not nearly as effective as some of the best therapy programs.

Dealing with the cost of the therapy

Let’s say that your insurance will only cover a certain number of visits to the therapist’s office (or online sessions). Incidentally, this is the main reason why therapy is so expensive. What you need to do is make sure that you get the most out of them. Talk to your therapist about what you can do on your own and have them provide you with homework assignments. There are also numerous online resources that you can take advantage of, absolutely free of charge. Your therapist may also be able to provide you with a detailed therapy program, allowing you to continue working on your mental health issues long after your therapy coverage has ended.


person playing with a Rubik cube, representing one of the main reasons why people quit therapy - difficulty
Therapy can feel incredibly difficult.

Undergoing therapy can be very difficult. The therapy usually challenges you to change some things about yourself that may be considerably ingrained. Thinking patterns, for example, can be extremely difficult to change and many people simply buckle under the weight of the task. Furthermore, the therapy may force the patients to relive some very painful or embarrassing moments. Needless to say, this is more than enough for most people to simply scrap the idea of therapy altogether. They are there to feel better, after all, not to feel bad.

However, this is entirely the wrong approach to take. Yes, the therapy can be difficult but it is there to help the patient to get better. Also, for some people, there is a huge difference when it comes to online vs. in-person therapy. If you are feeling that your live therapy sessions are getting too difficult, you may want to try the online approach and vice versa. You can also talk with your therapist and explain to them that the difficulty is making you want to stop the therapy altogether. There are numerous approaches that the therapist can take but they need your input. Even though some discomfort is to be expected, if you are feeling worse after your therapy sessions, then they are not working out for you.

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Incompatibility with the therapist

One of the most prominent reasons why people quit therapy is due to the fact that they simply cannot “click” with their therapist. This is, incidentally, one of the good reasons to leave your therapy sessions. If you can recognize a bad therapist in your first session, you should simply search for another one and continue the treatment elsewhere. These days, you are not as limited in your choice of a therapist as in some of the previous decades. And you don’t need to narrow your search to local therapists only. You can search the online therapy networks as well, enabling you to find the ideal therapist for your situation.

Basically, if your therapist simply does not “get you”, it is time to search for a new one. Do not even waste any time thinking it will get better down the line. It is very important that you are comfortable with the therapist from the “get-go”, otherwise the therapy will have less-than-ideal results.

Tips on spotting a bad therapist

There are a lot of signs that your therapist might not be for you. For example, they might not be listening to you attentively enough, or they might be overly judging you. And if the therapist even tries to impose any of their beliefs (spiritual, religious, political, etc.) it is time to “hightail” it out of there.

A good therapist needs to be sensitive to both your background and beliefs, needs to discourage you from blaming anyone else for your issues, and absolutely must not introduce any feelings of shame (unless in extremely specific situations). Furthermore, you may want to avoid any “toxic” therapists. A toxic therapist is one that will try to discourage you from seeking another opinion other than theirs. They will also want to limit your support options to them, as well as discourage you from consulting any perspective than their own. This therapist type wants to have complete power over your life and to make you completely dependent on them. If you spot any such behavior, it is in your best interest to stop the therapy as soon as possible.

person yelling
The therapist does not need to yell at you to be considered “toxic”.


Lack of results is usually one of the reasons why people quit therapy. Many people feel that they are not getting anywhere with their therapy sessions, even after several weeks. It does not really matter what kind of mental issue the patient is working on, if the therapy is not producing results, it is not good for the patient. For example, if you are not feeling any of the benefits of interpersonal therapy after numerous sessions, you may want to consider changing the therapist or trying a different treatment modality.

The first thing to do after thinking that your therapy is not producing any results is to discuss the matter with your therapist. There are two likely outcomes that can happen. First, your therapist may suggest that the results are there, you are just not focusing on them. Second, your therapist may change the treatment course. Most of the time, therapists opt for the second option. Even if the therapy yields results, those results usually do not matter if the patient is unable to see them. The ultimate goal of the therapy is that the patient feels comfortable with themselves, after all.

Changing circumstances

Sometimes, the patient can get a new job far away from their old home. Or they may lose their job altogether, preventing them from financing their therapy sessions. Or something entirely else may change the circumstances of the patient’s life. Most of the time, the changing circumstances will result in therapy termination. Online therapy is somewhat more “resilient” to this factor, but it also experiences large quit rates due to changing circumstances.

person typing in a google search
Online therapy can be a great solution to changing circumstances.

However, a large problem presents itself. Usually, changing circumstances are mentally taxing for any individual, meaning that their mental health might be compromised. And without the therapy’s help and guidance, the patient might lose the progress they’ve already achieved, or might worsen their symptoms. The best solution would be to try and maintain the therapy in any shape or form. Online therapy, in particular, can be an excellent solution to changing circumstances, as it is available from pretty much anywhere.

The “Can of worms” effect

Lastly, many people are simply not prepared for opening a large “can of worms” that therapy usually involves. Most people have certain expectations from their therapy sessions and enroll thinking that these expectations will be met. However, most of the time the therapy involves much more than simply dealing with the “visible” symptoms. Therapy usually goes quite deep into the issue, something that many people might not be comfortable with.

Furthermore, the therapy can identify numerous other issues that the patient might not realize they had. As you can imagine, this can be quite unpleasant, and the patients might feel that the therapy is too scary for them. This fear of what else might be there is something that makes many patients stop their therapy sessions altogether. As far as reasons why people quit therapy go, the “can of worms” effect is perhaps the rarest but it is also one of the more disturbing ones. The best you can do to avoid this is to try and be aware that the therapy is there to help you, even if it is hard and painful at times.

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But most of the time, the quality of the therapy is extremely important to its success rate. Therefore, you want to find the best possible therapist and the best possible therapy program. You can find all the top therapy networks right here at Consumer Opinion Guide as well as a selection of articles that will help you make the most out of your therapy sessions!

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