What To Do If Therapy Stalls

When therapy stalls You did it.  In the sea of various credentials and types of therapy, you found a therapist that you can trust. Everything was great at first. And then…you hit a plateau. Month after month, you just don’t feel like you are making progress. It can be frustrating to feel like you are putting so much into working on yourself and not get the results you were hoping for. There can be various reasons why therapy stalls.

If you hit a plateau in therapy, it is time to consider the following.

Explore Your Health

Mental health and physical health are intimately related to one another.  Some medical illnesses can cause symptoms that mimic mental health symptoms. Thyroid illness, for example, can frequently present as anxiety or depression. When a thyroid disorder is present, mental health treatment will often appear to fail at easing anxiety or depression completely because thyroid hormones will need to be addressed for full recovery to occur. 

Vitamin and mineral deficiencies can also worsen mental health symptoms. Deficiencies in Vitamin D, for example, have been linked to depression, fatigue, anxiety, and in some cases, compulsive behaviors. Symptoms of Vitamin B12 deficiency may include fatigue and brain fog. Clients presenting with issues such as fatigue, difficulty concentrating, or low motivation, should talk with their doctor about exploring any possible vitamin, iron, and mineral deficiencies. 

Time for a Change

Every therapist has a different skillset and areas of specialties. Not all therapists, for example, will be able to process traumatic memories. As you begin to get an up-close and more personal view of what you want to work on, it may become clear that you need a specific approach or additional therapeutic support. For example, it is not uncommon for clients to realize the need for couples or family therapy during their individual work. 

If you get to the point of not getting the results you want from therapy, discuss this concern with your therapist. They can help you explore what additional support may need to be added in or if a different therapy approach might be more helpful. Therapists really want their clients to get better and have the best therapy experience possible. If your therapist isn’t willing to have these conversations with you, it is usually a red flag. 

Are You Ready

Change is hard. As much as our logical brain might want change, our emotional brain may not be on board. Sometimes plateaus in therapy might be from internal resistance to change. Not every therapy session is going to be life-changing. In fact, it is common for it to feel like some sessions are a step forward, some sessions are a step back, and some sessions are treading water. And it can be super uncomfortable when we are in the messy middle part of change. 

If you hit a personal development plateau, ask yourself what part of you is not ready for change. What does this part of you need to hear to warm up to the idea of change? Share these insights with your therapist, so you and your therapist can give this part of you compassion and figure out how to make therapy a little less intimidating for the parts of you that are still warming up to the idea of change.


Dr. Debra Rezendes – Resident in Marriage and Family Counseling

Debra has over ten years of community and clinical work experience with individuals, children, parents, and families. She has been published in the Journal of Happiness Studies and Autism Research and Treatment. Debra received her doctorate in Marriage and Family Therapy from Eastern University. She has skills in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), strengths-based therapies, self-compassion training, attachment-based therapies, play therapy, and solution-focused therapy. Click HERE to learn more about Dr. Rezendes.

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