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Seeing a Psychologist Isn't Working

Community Member

I have seen three different psychologists across my life. One when I was young (late primary school), another when I was in my early teens and just now another one. I can't say much for the earliest experience but with the other two I feel that I have achieved very little. The one I saw in my early teens and I would see each other very rarely (because of her schedule being very full), and so it felt that I was mostly discussing my life and any revelation we may have had was essentially forgotten by the time we saw each other a month or two later. There was no real treatment either? In the sense that it was mostly just talking about the present and how it made me feel rather than addressing issues. With my new therapist I was incredibly optimistic as we were going to be able to meet quite often and she was willing to address my issues and find solutions. However I feel that nothing has been achieved and I don't know if it's from a lack of effort on my part, or maybe there's nothing that needs to be fixed to begin with. She attempted to get me to 'visualize my anxiety' and see it sitting in a chair and talk to it. Then she attempted to get me to hit the chair with a pillow. It was incredibly uncomfortable and brought back a lot of year 7 trauma from drama class, like playing pretend. Then we attempted CBT but she very quickly moved to Schema Therapy. None of it has made any difference and I don't know what I'm doing wrong. She asks me questions and I just respond with 'I don't know' because I have an incredibly poor memory and she seems to be frustrated with my lack of answers. It feels like everything I do is futile, and anything that may be achieved in our sessions becomes essentially useless once I leave the room. I struggle a lot with articulating my thoughts as well, and it feels that sometimes she doesn't understand what I'm trying to say. I guess I'm not putting enough effort into my treatment, but I don't know what putting effort in would even look like. I'm becoming frustrated with my own lack of progress in therapy and within myself and I genuinely don't know what to do. I guess I'm wondering if anyone has any advice for what it is that I'm doing wrong, or for how to get the most out of seeing a psychologist?

Thank you.

6 Replies 6

Paw Prints
Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hello Athena,

If you really don't feel this Psych is helping, it is ok to try a new Psych, some people take a few tries to find a Psych that they feel "clicks" with them. If you choose to stay with your current Psych there are a number of things you can try to make each session work better for you.

One thing many people find useful for getting the most out of their sessions is to write things down & then give that to the Psych. Your post shows you are very articulate with the written word, even if you feel you have trouble with the spoken word with your Psych. It can be whatever you need to say & isn't limited to one aspect. For example: What is troubling you. What do you want to achieve from your sessions. Questions about things you are trying to deal with, or about what was covered in a previous session. By giving your Psych something in writing it helps them to direct each session to something helpful instead of them trying to guess which way treatment needs to go.

"She asks me questions and I just respond with 'I don't know' because I have an incredibly poor memory and she seems to be frustrated with my lack of answers."

It can be hard to answer a question then & there, if you find you are struggling to give an answer, it is ok to say 'I don't know, but I will think about it & can we discuss it next session' then write down what your Psych asked & you then have time to try to think of what you want to say.

This is just one strategy, other people may have more.

Hope this helps

Paw Prints

Community Member

Hi Athena__,

Welcome to the forum. I am sorry to hear that you aren't getting what you need from your therapy sessions. Paw Prints has offered some good suggestions about writing down what you need. I also suggest goal setting which can be a part of your therapy. You could ask your therapist to work with you on defining your treatment goals for a session. This way you know what the plan is and you can both work out how to get there. Having strong goals are important. For example,"I want t feel less anxiety by February 2020 as demonstrated by being able to go out socially with out stressing out before hand". 'SMART' goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and True (to yourself). By setting some goals around what you want to achieve in therapy will be helpful in what direction you will take in treatment. Sometimes treatment can include other avenues that complement therapy such as Mindfulness or using exercise. There are even some online therapy tools like a program called Mindspot that is a self directed online form of CBT. www.mindspot.org

Some people really benefit from learning about different therapy techniques in their own space and time which can help connecting in the therapy techniques delivered by a psychologist.

Also, as Paw Prints has said, it can sometimes take a few go's to find a therapist that you 'click' with. It can be frustrating to have to wait and make more appointments and tell your story over again but when you find that right person or right technique, it is definitely worthwhile.

You are taking so many great steps towards your own health and healing by going to therapy and getting support here on the forum. This is a hard process in itself so please take time to acknowledge how far you have come and that you are not alone in your challenge in getting the right support.

In my experience, persistence is key as well as being clear about what it is you want from therapy. If your current practitioner is unable to deliver then discuss with them that you would like to seek another opinion. You are worth it.

Wishing you the best possible outcome,

Nurse Jenn

Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

Hi Athena__

Thanks for your post. I'm reading through it and I don't think that anything that you're doing is 'wrong'. I think that if you're showing up to your sessions, that's often good enough in itself. It also sounds like you're very motivated to 'do the work' even though you haven't really had any luck with psychologists so far, so I certainly don't believe any of it is your fault.

I think a big part of what connecting with a psychologist might look like is meeting somewhat regularly (not always possible) but also understanding and being okay with the approaches they are using. If your psychologist is bringing back trauma unintentionally, then none of the work with anxiety is going to help if you're talking to an empty chair. I think it's also important that they try and explain what they're doing and why, as even though it is playing pretend, it is a therapy approach too.

Have you ever thought about telling your psychologist about how you're feeling? It would be so good for them to know so they can work with you to adapt their work or refer you to someone who is a better fit for you. If talking about this is hard, you could even show them what you've written here to help them understand.

I hope this helps

Community Member

I agree. I have had psychotherapy over many often with psychologists I have clicked with, but have not had any fundamental help, just the plus of sharing. I realise it helps some but it is basically very disillusioning for me. It would be a water of money if I couldn't get it subsidised. Medication helps to a degree



Community Member

My experience is that psychotherapy is relatively slow and does not have a defined path. I count that I have attended roughly 40-45 sessions with 8-10 practitioners relatively consistently over the past 7 years. I can't say that I have resolved my reasons for obtaining a practitioner originally. In some ways I am more distressed than before I began. I have definitely learnt more than I knew before I began.


I think what has helped me most is to try to establish a connection with my practitioners by directing them to what I would like to achieve.

Community Member

Just checking in: did you ever get some support with this? In my experience psychologists are useless and have some pet ‘approach’ they are all about, and if you suggest we try to find something actionable that doesn’t suit whatever step they are at in their playbook then they just nod and agree and then proceed to whatever their next step was supposed to be anyway.


some clients probably just like talking about their problems. But if you need help, did you ever try a psychiatrist ? I’m finding it impossible to get one, and have given up on psychologists, but I’m aware medication would address my issue. Perhaps yours is a medication issue rather than CBT or ACT or DBT or whatever T the next psychologist did on their last professional development summit?


I hope things have improved since your original post!