Overcoming Plateaus When Feeling Stuck in Therapy
- January 15, 2024
- Community and Support
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What to do when feeling stuck in therapy?
We understand how frustrating and disheartening it can be to seek help and work on ourselves, but we feel like we need to get somewhere.
However, handing on a therapeutic journey is still a courageous step towards personal development.
This guide delves into effective practical tips, personal insights, and expert advice to navigate challenging moments and regain momentum in your therapeutic journey.
So let’s get into it.
Table of Contents
People usually seek therapy for many reasons, such as from day-to-day stress to relationship issues, phobias, and unhealthy habits. Whether the problem is big or small, finding help is a valid choice.
Mental Map Guide provides an overview of some of the most common reasons people go for therapy.
- Anxiety and stress
- Confidence, self-esteem and support
- Grief and loss
- Relationship issues
- Sleep issues
- Transitions and goals
- Trauma and PTSD
Know that there will always be times in therapy when we feel stuck or as if we’re sliding back into old unhealthy behaviours.
But like I’ve always said, “a process, not perfection.”
So don’t think stagnancy means you can’t or won’t get better.
It just means that you’re human and that we have to figure out why it’s happening and work to overcome it.
So, let’s get into six ways to overcome that stuck feeling.
Read more: Best Tips for Stress and Anxiety Relief
Therapeutic plateaus are common but can be tedious. You must recognise them as opportunities for growth rather than obstacles. This part lets you understand plateaus in therapy, offering insights into their origins.
1. Lack of Goal Clarity: One common reason for plateaus is a lack of clear therapeutic goals. How can we treat effectively and monitor progress without a defined path?
2 Communication Barriers: The lack of rhythm and harmony in the communication process between therapist and client is paramount. Your therapist won’t be able to diagnose you accurately without getting the gist of the conversation and moving it forward in an open direction.
3. Stagnation in Techniques: Each therapist often has quite different treatment methods, depending on their expertise and experience. However, if therapeutic techniques become monotonous, the results will not be positive.
Read more: Why Is Sleep Important for Mental Health?
Number one is, you guessed it, talk about it in therapy.
Therapy is a great place to practice our communication skills.
And it can be very helpful if we’re not getting any better or complex finding therapy.
It’s perfectly okay to bring this up.
You could just say something like,
“Well, I’ve just not been feeling like your homework is really helping,” Or.
“I feel like I’m not improving, even though I’ve been coming in week after week for quite a few months now.”
Do what you can to bring it up, and know that your therapist won’t think you’re being hurtful or anything like that.
Therapy is your time, and it’s all about you and your progress.
The sooner we bring it up, the more quickly we can work on it so that we can figure out what the heck is going on and work together to get you back on track.
Ignoring what’s going on will only make it worse, not to mention waste your time and money. So go for it.
Read more: Am I Neurotic?
Your goals need to shift, or we made them so long ago that they don’t even apply anymore.
It may also be that we expected the goals to be easy to meet, but we uncovered a few other issues that need to be addressed along with the goals.
Whatever its reason, it can be helpful to talk about your goals now to see if they’re still in line with what we’re working on and what we want to get out of therapy.
It’s completely okay to change them along the way, so don’t worry about that.
Next up, we need to take it beyond validation. Sometimes, therapists get caught up in this trap of validating everything their patients say without offering another perspective or challenging some of those faulty assumptions.
This cannot only make us feel stuck, but it can also exacerbate our current issues.
Make us think that they’re bigger than they are and fan the flames of our negative thought cycles.
So notice if your therapist isn’t challenging you or encouraging you to see things from another perspective, you can bring this up by saying something like:
“Hey, Tom,” or whatever their name is, ” I want you to push me harder when I get sucked into negative thoughts. Otherwise, my mind runs away with it, and I feel worse.”
Again, it’s okay to say this. Share your thoughts, and he will know what you meant. And maybe that is what you really, really needed at the time.
What we want people to know about therapists is that it’s essential therapists don’t work harder than their patients.
If you are the patient and waiting for the therapist to fix you or make everything feel better, you’ll be waiting forever.
A therapist can only guide you towards the right path; then, you must do the work.
It’s hard, but a therapist cannot be with us 24/7 to make sure that we do what we said we would. That’s on us, and we have to take responsibility for that.
When we’re working hard in therapy, we may discover that we were working on one issue and were actually dealing with something else.
We like our therapist and still feel stuck; maybe something else is holding us back.
This could be a past trauma we’ve repressed, unprocessed guilt, upset, deeply seated confidence issues or a toxic relationship that we’re still in. The list is endless.
If you can’t think of anything else that could upset you, bring this possibility or curiosity to your therapist and let them ask some questions to help you dig deeper into what’s happening.
So often, it’s another underlying event preventing us from moving forward, so it’s always worth considering.
As a patient, notice if there’s some transference going on.
Like, are you extra angry or sad with your therapist?
Do you feel overly connected or attached to them?
Do you find yourself acting like a child when you’re there, and that doesn’t happen anywhere else?
These are all things to consider when we’re in therapy, but most importantly, when we’re feeling stuck in therapy.
Many healthcare providers offer individual, family, couple, and marriage therapy. They provide professional consultation services and have undergone extensive training to help patients with diagnoses or conduct diagnostic tests. Here are some common types of therapy providers:
- Psychiatrists: If you seek counselling for mental disorders, Psychiatrists may be your top choice. They are medical doctors with expertise in mental disorders. The drawback is that they usually do not offer private consultations but can prescribe medication upon request.
- Psychologists: Psychologists also specialise in mental disorders. If you need advice and therapeutic solutions, they will help you. They often partner with new healthcare providers who can prescribe medications.
- Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners: Professionals in some states offer counselling, education, and prescription services.
- Counsellors: Licensed Counselors (LPC) specialise in mental health, alcohol, drug, and pastoral counselling, among other types. Like some of the specialists above, they can examine therapy but cannot prescribe medication.
- Clinical Social Workers: They have master’s degrees, provide consulting services and prescribe medication if needed.
Choosing a suitable professional depends on your needs, health insurance, budget, and local specialists. Keep in mind that online therapy is also an option.
So we want to hear from you. Have you felt this way in therapy? What did you do, or what did your therapist do to help you keep moving forward? Please share that in the comments below, and we will see you in our next blog.