Should I give up on therapy?

How do you know when you’ve reached the end of the line in therapy? I’m not referring to being ‘cured’, just to a sense that I am not making progress anymore. Maybe the progress has always been so incremental that I only notice it retrospectively, but lately there has been an air of futility about the whole thing.

It’s been over two years since I started doing therapy with J. In that time, a lot has changed about how I think and what I do. But crucially, the way I feel about myself hasn’t altered. My core sense of self-loathing and worthlessness remains stubbornly unchanged. Sometimes I think it’s actually getting worse.

I have no self-belief. I feel as though nobody wants to be around me – they just spend time with me because they pity me or feel that they should. I see myself as a burden on the people I love, a weight that drags everyone down. I don’t feel that I have anything unique or useful to offer, or that I can make any sort of impact in the world. I get swamped by guilt; for everything I’ve done and continue to do that hurts people I care about.

None of this will change because I don’t have the motivation to shift it. Hating myself means that by default I don’t want to do anything that is good for me. I’m not compassionate to myself, I don’t practice much self-care beyond having showers and wearing clean clothes. Intellectually, I am aware of all the things I could do to feel better about myself, but I can’t do them because I don’t feel I am worth it.

In therapy today, I felt like J has given up on me. She asked me whether I felt attending group therapy might be useful, rather than ‘traditional’ psychotherapy. She mentioned me getting in touch with other parts of myself. I interpreted this conversation as meaning I’m failing because I’m always stuck in the same young place with her, so maybe I should go elsewhere.

That small part of me that emerges in my sessions with J is really stuck, and I’m not sure what I can do about that. I feel as though that’s how I need to be, but I’m also impatient with sitting and repeating and not feeling like anything shifts. I worry that J feels that frustration too and maybe she’s running out of patience with me.

Both of us know that I will remain in this place until I can pull myself out of it somehow, but I can’t see how it will happen. I can’t magic up self love. J even said today that maybe I need to reach rock bottom (again) before something changes. I’m not going there. I can’t survive that again.

I’m left feeling directionless and a bit lost tonight. I feel as though my session with J today has delivered something of an ultimatum. To make progress, I need to care about myself. J can’t make me do that, and neither can I. So if I can’t force the self compassion, then what is the point of me being in therapy?

I’m struggling to pay my bills, but I am spending a quarter of my salary every month on sitting in therapy being stuck. I’m not sure I can justify going if I’m not doing anything while I’m there. Maybe I need to stop it for a while. Maybe I need to do different therapy. But the thought of not seeing J any more is heartbreaking. I mean really, really heartbreaking. But is that a reason to keep going to sessions? I just don’t know.

Photo: Bud, Creative Commons.


7 Comments Add yours

  1. Asia says:

    I appreciate you sharing this post with us. Must have taken so much courage.

    I feel you shouldn’t give up on therapy, you should persevere for as long as it takes, you never know when there could be that one session where you get the *light bulb* moment. Without you realising it probably has helped you, you may not have realised yourself but, probably others around you have. I mean to keep going to therapy for J, obviously shouldn’t be your only reason otherwise you wont achieve what you want to. I’ve realised that when you go to therapy, you need to have a goal, what do you want to achieve?

    I understand that going to therapy requires you to go deep and perhaps touch upon things you don’t want to but, you’ve got to remember that it’s only to help you. It will allow you to move on with life and be a lot more stronger. I mean, I haven’t reached there myself yet but, I only know that I do not want to continue feeling this way or even living life like this.

    Maybe you do need to get in touch with the side of you that perhaps doesn’t want to come out. It is hard, very hard and I get what you mean when you say “I can’t survive that again”. Its a horrible place to be.So, I wont say just jump into it. Take your time.

    I could say so much more but I’ll leave it there. Really hope it makes sense and helps. tc x

    Liked by 1 person

  2. IAmMe says:

    In my honest opinion, i believe everyone has the power to accomplish anything.

    I go to support groups. I’ve been i a six week trauma group and i am seeing an individual therapist. I always kept asking myself the same questions:
    “Why am i still stuck in the same loop?”
    “Why can’t i escape my -safe zone?”
    “Why?” “Why?”

    Whether you change therapist or find some other kind of help, it won’t change anything until you decided to step forward.

    Yes, you will fall, but you will pick yourself up again.

    Yes, you will feel like crap, but you will have to pick yourself up.

    We, as individuals, have the power to push forward . We have to believe that.

    You have to believe that you have the strength, courage, and love to pull yourself up.

    Obviously, this is not going to happen in a day or two. Healing is a process. Find yourself is a process.

    As long as you push forward and tell yourself, “I am capable. I am strong. Pull yourself up. You WILL be okay.” Then…you will be okay.

    I hope this gave you even the slightest encouragement to not give in and to push forward.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I hate that stuck feeling in therapy. I think that therapists do get caught up in that feeling as well, that a bit of your hopelessness rubs off on them sometimes. It does pass but I think you’re right in saying that maybe you need to do something different to break that deadlock. The hard part is working out what that different thing might be.

    When I’ve been in that position I’ve tried both options (of changing therapists and quitting therapy altogether) and Im not sure that either really gave me what I was looking for, but both did shift things a bit. Quitting therapy or taking a break was a relief at first but then I felt more and more lost and often what took me back to therapy was getting to crisis point again. I need whatever it is that it offers even when I’m not making progress. With changing therapists, twice now I’ve looked for specific things and although the therapist and their approach seemed promising they just couldn’t deliver. I’m coming to the realisation that that thing you read about the relationship being the most important element of therapy really is true, and that maybe the real answer is just to stick with the therapist that I feel most stable and connected with and just keep trying.

    I’d say, don’t give up on therapy with J totally. Problems such as feeling stuck or financial hardship are important things to factor in, but they shouldn’t be the only things you base your decision on. Talk to J about your feelings that she’s giving up on you and your belief that you will never get ‘well’ and don’t deserve to. You do deserve to feel better and to find belief in yourself.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Laura Black says:

      Thanks for the feedback and reflections. It’s a tough one and I think you totally understand it. I am trying to keep working with J, I’m just feeling very resistant at the moment. I guess it has happened before and we have managed to get past it somehow. It’s hard work though and exhausting! Laura.


  4. Dear Laura: Thank you for your open and honest voice on a difficult topic. When I have clients who are feeling stuck in therapy sometimes it helps for them to find another therapist or take a break or add another modality such as groups/pharmacology/yoga/etc…but sometimes it helps for them to increase their therapy to more than once a week so that the internal voice of self criticism has more competition from a compassionate voice. Whatever you decide to do, it’s good to keep in mind that all relationships have highs and lows and therapy is a relationship (albeit a purpose-directed and highly unusual one). Take good care of you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Laura Black says:

      Hi Tanya, Thank you for the feedback and suggestions. Laura.


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