Help – I’m not getting on with my therapist
CBT is a highly collaborative treatment, which involves the patient and therapist working together as a team. This means the relationship you have is important – for the treatment to work, you need to have a trusting partnership and to be able to communicate effectively. But as with any human relationship, things don’t always work out perfectly!
There can be all sorts of reasons for this. Perhaps you feel you’re not being heard, or that the process is going too fast or too slow. Maybe the therapist’s style doesn’t suit yours. Everyone has their preferred ways of learning and communicating; some enjoy a more gentle approach, whereas others respond best to someone who’s very direct. It could simply be down to chemistry – sometimes we just feel a lack of connection.
If you feel you’re not getting on well together, it is totally up to you if you want to cancel a session or ask to be assigned to a different therapist. However, before you make that decision, it’s probably worthwhile stepping back and creating some quiet time and space to explore what’s going on.
First of all, gather your thoughts and acknowledge how you’re feeling. What has bothered you about how your treatment is going? In what ways have your expectations not been met? Reflect on why you think this might be happening. Do you feel disappointed, frustrated, sad, let down, upset, or even afraid as a result? Allow yourself to fully notice those things.
Try to get some perspective on the situation. Do you think things haven’t been right since the start? Or was it one particular session or event that triggered the feeling? There will always be bumps along the road in any kind of therapy; your progress won’t always be smooth. Set yourself a time limit for making a decision: for example, ‘if I still feel like this in 48 hours I’ll cancel’.
If you feel the same way at the end of that time, think carefully about what you’d like to do, weighing up the different options. One of these might be to talk frankly with the therapist about your concerns, if you haven’t already done so.
There are some issues that are probably easier to address than others – for instance, if you’re struggling with the pace of the sessions, you’re feeling overloaded with information, you don’t understand what’s expected of you, or you’d prefer practical tips. If your concerns fall into this category, it’s worth clearly communicating it. CBT practitioners are trained to adapt to different learning styles and needs, and they will genuinely want you to get maximum benefit from the process. Telling them what’s not working for you, and what you need, gives you both the opportunity to work together to problem solve and learn from it.
If you’re not happy with the outcome of the conversation, you can of course ask to change to a different therapist. The choice about your CBT treatment, and who you’re working with, is always yours to make.