I'm on my 5th Therapist - How do I get what I need in therapy?

by A.

"I have a really hard time opening up to people and discussing things I want/should discuss. This is an issue with my friends and family and also in therapy. I went to 4 therapists and after as many as 1 to 10 visits realized it wasn't working for me. The 5th therapist I did see, I felt this whole therapy business could work for me. I really like how she was able to understand what I was trying to express when I wasn't able to. I continued with her for 7 months, and after repeatedly asking me what else I would like to talk about or what else I wanted to work on, and my only replies were, I dont know, she felt our time was complete. I wanted to speak up and tell her there was so much I felt was unfinished, but never could get it out in the several sessions she asked me. Obviously my ability to speak how I feel was one of the issues. We had also discussed a lot of things from when I was a child and early adulthood that I never went into much detail at all, or left out because I couldn't seem to get myself to talk about them. So many of those issues are unresolved, as well as my daily life now. I know I need to continue with therapy, either her, or someone else, but after seeing 4 therapists and finally finding one that I felt I could open up with, I'd hate to start over. And I did open up to her more than I thought I would, but less than I would have wanted to. From what I'm saying, it seems like a simple solution, to just call up, make another appointment and continue, but for some reason I just feel very silly about doing so. I know I was frustrating at times, for myself and for her during our session by being so closed up and skirting around issues. I'd hate to go back and run into the same issue again and wasting my time and her time. I've been going back and forth for a couple of months now about going back. It's been 9 months since we've ended our sessions. Feeling this uncomfortable about going back, would this interfere with my sessions?!

I go back and forth constantly with this. Is it just the "unwelcomed" feeling I tend to have at times that makes me think I shouldn't go back. Or is that she felt I hit a wall with her and if I decide to go back to therapy, maybe start fresh. I'm just very confused right now. What I WANT to do is go back to see her, but I need advice to shift me once and for all to make the decision. I know this is very limited detail, but hopefully it's enough to for you to advise me. One thing I do know for sure, is I definitely need to continue therapy...haha."

Ben's Answer:

Therapists are used to people leaving and returning later. You definitely should not be concerned about your therapist's feelings on this. The fact that you do wonder if she's frustrated or "done" with you, is itself a good issue to talk about, as you pointed out. You ability to speak how you feel is another issue you've identified. So if you think this therapist is a good one for you, then I think those issues could be explored and worked on in therapy. Sometimes therapists do get stuck themselves, with clients. And it can be incredibly helpful to her if you tell her that you feel there is much more inside of you that you haven't been able to express, and that just because you appear to be fine, doesn't mean you feel finished. If those are issues she can tackle with you, then great. If not, then perhaps a different sort of therapist would be more suited to the next leg of your journey.

Feeling "unwelcome" is a very legitimate subject for therapy (and a common one). And can be worked on in the context of your relationship with your therapist, regarding the assumptions and inhibitions you have around her. It sounds like you are just getting "ripe" for doing some powerful, life-changing work on yourself. Don't give up!

Wishing you Happiness,

Ben Schwarcz, MFT

Comments for I'm on my 5th Therapist - How do I get what I need in therapy?

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Jan 18, 2010
Ben's Answer
by: Anonymous

Definitely tell her you want to be pushed. Some clients need to be pushed and should be pushed, and others fall apart and quit when you push them. Make sure she knows which one you are.


Jan 18, 2010
...one more question - should a therapist push a client?
by: A.

Thanks you for your quick response, I appreciate it. I do have one more question if you dont mind...
Should a therapist "push" a client during sessions. One thing I would have liked her to do was push me more to share more. I would automatically shutdown and not share much, I wished she didn't back down so easily. I know my actions seemed I wanted to stop, but in actuality I wanted to continue but I wouldn't/couldn't, it was too easy to stop, should I approach her about this, or let her lead the sessions as he feels fit? Thanks again!

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