Premature Withdrawal – why patients don’t return to therapy

No U Turns

It’s not uncommon for patients not to return to therapy after one or two sessions.

Whilst there are many reasons why people do not return, we will focus on four here today.

  • There is no need to go back “I feel better now”
  • It is too emotionally painful “I don’t want to talk about it”
  • I have to do the work “I thought the therapist would sort it out for me”
  • The fear of success “I don’t want to let go of these negative feelings”

“I feel better now”

Many times after the first therapy session, patients will feel a shift in their emotions. This is very common; simply talking to someone can have a positive effect. However, these feelings of euphoria are often short lived, the original issue (that the patient came in to see the therapist about) reappears, and then the patient thinks that the therapy did not work. On the contrary, your therapist should have informed you that this may happen and that you will need to be mindful of these powerful euphoric episodes and return for the next session, irrespective of how you feel.

“I don’t want to talk about it”

Part of the therapeutic process is to talk about certain situation that have been traumatic in the past. This can be very confronting for some people. There is a degree of subconscious conflict. Talking about painful experiences in your past can be difficult but as you work with a professional in a calm and safe environment, you will eventually be able to let go of these negative emotions, and in most cases feel rewarded.

“I thought the therapist would sort it out for me”

In some instances, patients after the first session, decide that the therapy isn’t working and it’s all too hard. Therapy is all about putting in the time. Your therapist will advise you that there isn’t a magic wand that will make your fears or anxieties disappear. Some therapy session can be one or two visits; phobias, for example, can be relived after only one session. Always remember you only get out of therapy what you put in. Your therapist will inform you how many sessions you are likely to require.

“I don’t want to let go of these negative feelings”

Therapy can provide many positive benefits, but in some circumstances, especially if someone has been holding on to a painful experience or emotion for many years, the feeling of letting go can be overwhelming. We tend to hold on to negative emotions as if they are our closest friends when in fact you need to say goodbye. If you are experiencing these type of emotions, inform your therapist, and you both will work it out. Don’t give up, remember, that’s why you went to therapy in the first place.

If you are feeling any of the above emotions (or anything else for that matter) call your therapist and talk to them. You will benefit in the end.

The Change Central Team