The decision to go to therapy or counseling is a big deal. Most people kick the idea around for months, even years before they take action (not recommended btw). Therapy is an investment of time and money. So when it doesn’t work, it feels like a waste of time and money.

But if you moved to a new city and had to go to a new dentist and it didn’t work out, you wouldn’t just say “Forget it. This dentistry stuff is nonsense” and then swear off going to the dentist ever again. At least I hope not. ????

Everyone has the potential to get massive value out of therapy or counseling. Yet some seem to have success in therapy while others don’t. Here’s a few reasons that might be the case.

3 reasons you will fail at therapy

1. your therapist doesn’t believe in science


Success in therapy is most likely if you’re working with someone using an evidence-based approach.

Evidence-based practice refers to treatment methods which are backed by scientific evidence. Meaning, studies and extensive research completed and supervised by licensed experts in the corresponding field. This means your therapist or counselor should be using proven techniques that mesh best with the way you experience your world. They should also be licensed to practice in the state in which you are seeing them.

It’s not about the therapist and what they want to bring to the table. It’s about what they have to offer and how they can offer it in a way that makes sense for you in a way it can integrate into your life.

There are a lot of whackadoodles out there preaching and using all kinds of nonsense that has no scientific basis. If you want to ensure you have a successful experience in therapy, make sure you aren’t working with one of them.

2. You Can’t REally Relate To Your therapist


The number one predictor of success in therapy is the connection you feel with your therapist. 

If you had a brain tumor and needed surgery, you’d hopefully spend a good amount of time looking for the best brain surgeon you can. You need to take the same approach to finding the best therapist for you.

After all, what’s more important than your well-being?

You need to spend time trying to find the right therapist for you – not just someone who’s conveniently located on your way home from work.

You need someone you feel comfortable opening up to. You need someone you can trust. You need someone who is going to challenge you and won’t just say what you want to hear and co-sign your bullshit.

Your therapist needs to be competent, well trained, professional and have your best interest at heart. You don’t want a therapist with the personality of a doorstop who just nods and grumbles along with you.

Think of it this way: If they seem like someone you can see yourself having a beer with, it’s a probably a good fit. But remember, they need to be willing and able to challenge, push, confront and guide you – with compassion and respect of course.

3. You really aren’t ready for change (even Though you think you are)


Success in therapy means change. However change is hard for many and uncomfortable for most. 

We live in a culture of instant gratification. We can typically get what we want, when we want it. But this sets a dangerous precedent when it comes to our expectations about many things – especially change. Because meaningful change doesn’t work that way. It takes time – and it requires enduring things like discomfort, the unknown, and sometimes even pain.

If you want to be successful in therapy or counseling, you need to be realistic about the process. It’s not linear, and it’s not quick – especially if you’re dealing with complex, long-term problems. The challenges bringing you to therapy and counseling likely didn’t start a few weeks ago, so don’t expect them to end in a few weeks.

This doesn’t mean you should expect to be in therapy or counseling for years. With the right therapist, the right approach, and the right mindset, you can be on your way to lasting change in a few short months. You just have to be willing to endure some discomfort along the way.

James Killian, LPC is the Principal Therapist & Owner of Arcadian Counseling in New Haven, CT where they specialize in helping over-thinkers, high achievers, and perfectionists reduce stress, increase fulfillment and enhance performance so they can move From Surviving To Thriving.