• Christie Pearl, LMHC, LPC

The #1 reason why therapy isn’t working

Updated: Oct 24

Have you ever gone to therapy and didn’t return after the first or second session?  If so, you’re not alone. Studies show that as many as 57% of therapy clients don’t come back after the first session. And 37 to 45% only attend therapy a couple of times. Now let’s think about this for a minute. All we hear about lately in the mental health industry is how hard it is to get an appointment and how much in demand therapy is. Granted, these studies are a few years old, but there are so many people in desperate need of mental health services both then and now. And with all the trauma of the past couple of years (that is, sadly, still unfolding every day) and the heavy loads people are carrying, if you’re one of the lucky ones who – hallelujah! – can finally get an appointment, and if you actually DON’T COME BACK after the first session, then what in the world happened? Did you decide you couldn’t afford therapy after all? Did you realize you didn’t have time to dedicate to coming to therapy every week? Did you get overwhelmed by all the feelings that you knew you had buried all this time? According to studies, the top reason clients gave for not coming back: dissatisfaction with the therapist! What?! How messed up is that, that someone would consider themselves better off by NOT seeing a therapist. Clearly something isn’t working here. And I believe we therapists need to pay attention. May is Mental Health Awareness Month, a time when we can elevate the discussion about mental health and how we engage with each other in the therapeutic process. In my opinion, we therapists have a long way to go to step out of outdated models of practice that no longer fit for our lives today. What worked 30 years ago just doesn’t serve us anymore. One thing, in my opinion, we therapists can get a lot better at is seeing ourselves as specialists in a few certain areas as opposed to generalists, and then marketing ourselves so that prospective clients more clearly know whether or not we can help them. It’s very difficult for the average person to decipher whether or not a particular therapist is knowledgeable in the issues they are facing – especially when many therapists are using expert jargon and listing everything but the kitchen sink on their websites or therapist directory profiles. Let’s face it – none of us is an expert in depression AND anxiety AND trauma AND life transitions AND couples AND children AND women’s issues, etc. No wonder potential clients are confused and then dissatisfied once they are sitting with us. The therapy industry has historically operated as if each therapist is a superstore instead of a specialty shop. If you want a therapist to help you navigate grief, I’m not the best choice for you. If you want a therapist to help you resolve family conflict or heal from infidelity issues in your relationship, don’t even think about coming to see me! But if you are an Adult Child of an Alcoholic/Dysfunctional Family and you want a therapist to help you resolve leftover emotional baggage from your childhood that is interfering with your ability to succeed in your business – I’m your girl! What I strive for, and what I teach when I consult with other therapists, is to clearly communicate who I really am, what I really do, how I really do it, and what is going to be different in your life as a result of working with me. My blessing for you is that you would be able to find the right therapist who can see you and hear you in just the way that you need.