Top reasons why people leave therapy
Therapy, especially online therapy, is an excellent way to deal with numerous mental health issues. The best online mental health counseling programs can allow patients to achieve outstanding progress during the course of the treatment. However, some people might not be comfortable with all the aspects of the therapy. There are many reasons why people leave therapy, including the cost, the difficulty, various issues with their therapist, etc. In this article, we will shed some light on what are the top reasons people choose to leave therapy prematurely.
Top reasons why people leave therapy
There are as many reasons why people leave therapy as there are people. That being said, some reasons are simply far more common than others. Here’s the list of some of the top reasons why people might consider quitting therapy:
- The cost of the therapy is too high
- Medications are enough on their own
- Therapy is too difficult
- People are not compatible with their therapist
- Therapeutic breach
- Therapy is not producing any results
- The belief that the therapy is “over”
Also, some people might be afraid that the therapy is going to bring out other issues. “I don’t want to open that particular can of worms” is a common expression and one that may influence the patient to leave therapy altogether. Even the best online CBT therapy for anxiety may suffer from this, as the patients might be too afraid of what they are going to find out. Subconscious resistance can also be a factor. People can be afraid to fail (or even succeed), feel that they are overwhelmed, and similar. Therapy can bring the best out of people, true, but some people might not be ready for it.
That being said, let’s see exactly why these top reasons why people leave therapy are so prominent. Starting with a simple statement:
Therapy is too expensive
Mental health care is oftentimes considered a luxury. Most of the time, mental health has low, if any, insurance coverage and is therefore out of reach of many. This is a perfectly valid reason for most people, as therapy can bring in significant expenses with it. That said, there are numerous options available for those who search for them. For example, there are numerous CBT online therapy companies that offer therapy sessions at a discounted price for certain conditions. Online therapy, in general, can be much more affordable than traditional therapy. Maybe not so when it comes to the cost of therapy sessions themselves, as there is not such a large difference there, but the fact that there are no travel expenses makes it a cheaper form of therapy by far.
For example, a single therapy session usually costs around $120. Depending on how many sessions you require per month, this can quickly drain your wallet. But if you then add the cost of transportation and possible lodgings to the mix, it gets ridiculous really fast. While online therapy will allow you to conduct sessions from your home, the session cost can simply be too much for some people.
One of the prime reasons why people leave therapy – Medications
Most patients report that they are given medications after their first therapy session. This is perfectly normal, as the best solution to mental health issues lies in the combination of therapy and medications. However, some people experience immediate relief by taking medications alone and believe that they do not need to attend therapy sessions anymore. For example, if a person only needs a few meds to deal with panic attacks, why continue with the therapy? While the medications can be powerful, they are not a cure. They are simply a “band-aid” to help you with some symptoms. The only way that you can truly cure your underlying condition is by working on yourself. You can do that on your own, of course, but most people require the assistance of a professional therapist to do so.
Another reason why medications are one of the prime reasons why people leave therapy is the fact that they are “easy”. Self-improvement is always difficult, after all, and medications offer an instant solution to the problem. And that is always dangerous. While most medications are perfectly safe even for prolonged use, your ultimate goal should be to become a functional person without taking any drugs. Because that is what medications are, drugs. They are there to “trick” your system into feeling alright but they do not fix anything. The only person who can fix your mental health issues is you. Therapy helps, of course, but it will only provide you with guidelines on how to deal with your problems. And that brings us to another reason why people may quit prematurely.
The therapy is too difficult for many people to handle
As mentioned previously, self-improvement can be incredibly challenging. Many people consider their therapy sessions (and the resulting homework) to be some of the most difficult things they’ve done in life. The therapy can teach you how to cope with PTSD, for example, but you need to put in hard work as well. And that is something that many people do not realize when starting out. They might think that going to therapy will solve their issues for them. Thus, they might not be ready for the work and commitment that the therapy requires.
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Also, some people find the therapy sessions to be difficult for entirely other reasons. Many therapy modalities explore some of the most painful or embarrassing moments in their patients’ lives. Needless to say, reliving such events can be extremely difficult. It is oftentimes enough to “force” someone to quit on the spot, in fact. But there are ways around this, too. The best thing to do is to speak frankly with your therapist. Let them know that the therapy is starting to be too difficult for you. The therapist will then be able to modify the approach and create a program that you might be more comfortable with.
The ultimate goal is for you to feel better, after all, and no one wants to dread going to the therapist. But if you see that your therapist is “putting the blame on you”, then you might be looking at a very different reason why people leave therapy, which is:
The therapist and the patient might not be compatible
One of the more influential things someone said to me is that “They are all human” when referring to health care professionals. It is easy to think that professionals truly know what they are doing, that they are some “superhumans” who know the answer to any situation. They are not. Yes, their expertise allows them greater knowledge of the subject but even professional therapists can be incompetent or incompatible with their patients.
A prime example of this might be a “bookworm” therapist. A person who knows exactly how to help someone else but is not apt in actual communication. Such a person might be ideal for some patients but completely unfit to help others. It all depends on your compatibility with your therapist. In our therapist vs life coach article, we mention that some patients are better suited with a life coach while others will benefit more from a therapist. Compatibility between the therapist and the patient is extremely important, perhaps even the most important. Of course, your therapist needs to actually know how to help you. Meaning that they have ample experience with your particular issue. But since you will be visiting an expert, that much is a given.
If you find that you are incompatible with your therapist, you might be inclined to simply quit rather than work your problems out. And that is actually a very smart approach to take. There are so many excellent therapists in the country, most of which offer online consultations as well. You would be doing yourself a huge disservice by working through your problems with an incompatible therapist.
Another thing that can make people leave therapy is called a “Therapeutic breach”, or therapeutic impasse. The term may mean something different than what you think, though. It is not when the therapist divulges your information to another party, that is called a breach of confidentiality. A therapeutic breach is a very wide term that applies to a great number of situations. What all those situations have in common is the fact that a therapeutic breach slows the therapy down, or halts it completely. You can always recognize a bad therapist if they are doing one of the following or similar:
- Foster an unhealthy relationship with their patients
- Forces a certain way of conflict resolution despite the patient’s wishes
- Has unresolved sexual feelings for the client
- Creates a therapeutic program that is detrimental to the patient
A therapeutic impasse can also occur due to a simple disagreement between the therapist and the patient. It may also happen due to the therapy’s stagnation. Either way, if the patient feels that there’s been a therapeutic breach, they may leave the therapy instead of working through the issues. However, many of these therapeutic impasses are not permanent. In fact, since they are bound to happen from time to time, the therapist and the patient usually resolve them through various means. At times, these impasses may also be what the patients need in order to progress with the therapy.
Therapy does not produce any results
When the therapy does not produce any significant or visible results, many people simply choose not to attend the sessions anymore. As one of the top reasons why people leave therapy, this is perhaps the most “valid” one. After all, if the therapy is not providing you with any results, is it really in your best interest to continue with it? If you were attending in-person sessions, maybe it is time to reconsider online vs in-person therapy and weigh your options. There are many forms of psychotherapy, as well, and maybe another modality is better suited for your particular issue. Mental health is not as clear-cut as, let’s say, heart surgery, there is a lot that is still unknown about the brain. Every person is completely unique, after all, and even if a treatment modality showed great results with your particular issue, you may not benefit from it.
All that being said, people do overreact sometimes. If you are feeling that your therapy is going nowhere, that you can’t see any results, talk with your therapist first. See if there is something that can be changed or maybe the results are there but you are simply not seeing them. But if you still can’t see any results, the best thing to do is to leave the therapy, ideally continuing with either another therapy or another treatment modality. There is always something you can do to improve yourself, after all.
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The therapy is “over”
When a patient feels that they are capable of continuing on their own, without the guidance and assistance of the therapist, the therapy ends. However, one needs to be wary, as subjective perception is not always the best metric. There have been many times when a person ended their therapy sessions prematurely, only to find out that they haven’t yet solved their issues. Returning to therapy is always an option, of course. In fact, starting the therapy the second time can sometimes be beneficial. Therefore, even if you believe that there is nothing that the therapy can do for you, take some time to consider if you can improve even further. Talk with your therapist, and see what they think. If you find that you have accomplished all your goals even then, congratulations!
That is what the therapy is there for, after all. It is definitely one of the best reasons why people quit therapy, by far.
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