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5 Difficulties of Therapy for Clients

In this month’s blogpost, I wanted to look at some of the difficulties of therapy for clients. As Prolific Life has been fully launched in the month of June, and as we’ve been accepting new clients, I wanted to explore some of the difficulties of therapy that clients may experience. These difficulties can make or break the clients’ experiences of therapy.

Also, when clients are unsure of what to expect in therapy, they can ascribe negative feelings to the experience itself or engage in judgement and shame within themselves because they feel like they did something wrong. We want to help everyone maximize their therapeutic experiences. So, let’s get into these examples.

Difficulties of Therapy for Clients

1. The first difficulty of therapy for clients is the difficulty of acknowledging that they need help.

Consider that for many people, going to therapy is a last resort in coping. Often things are not going well in your life, and you or someone close to you (a relative or your job) may have made it clear to you that you need help. By the time clients come to therapy, their coping mechanisms are overwhelmed, they are dealing with negative consequences, and their resources have probably dwindled. At this time, they may become guarded and self-conscious, and may even resent having to seek help.

2. The next difficulty of therapy for clients is the difficulty of accepting that things may get worse before they get better.

Why is this? Often, clients have minimized the issue in their lives, or the impact and consequences of the problems have been romanticized. Hence, in coming to therapy, clients must be willing to unpack these unpleasant memories and experiences so that they can recognize the emotions surrounding these experiences. Additionally, they must be willing to sit with the feelings they have ignored while avoiding the problems and their consequences. This may not feel like a pleasant experience. Unfortunately, most times, the only way forward is through the situation we’re facing.

3. Another difficulty of therapy for clients is trust.

Frequently, clients may be coming to therapy for relational reasons – divorce, betrayal, death, abandonment, relational conflict, and familial stressors. These relational issues usually include a breakdown in trust. And in therapy, trust in the therapeutic relationship is essential to build emotional safety and to allow the safe space to explore their concerns. Building trust with a stranger is extremely difficult. Opening up to a person you’ve never met – sharing some of your most painful experiences and memories – is essentially a very difficult experience. When clients are successfully able to navigate through this experience, the experience of therapy can be valuable and life changing.

4. Continuing from the point of trust is interpersonal skills as another difficulty of therapy.

People don’t realize that it is extremely difficult to isolate behaviors. Therefore, however you show up in your external relationships will be the same way that you show up in your relationship with your therapist. Consequently, there may be some bumps in the therapeutic relationship as you navigate it. For instance, if you’re expressing that you have difficulty communicating your feelings to your partner, this will likely be reflected in the therapeutic relationship – particularly when you may want to say something that you may feel your therapist won’t agree with.

5. Lastly, one of the obvious difficulties of therapy for clients is attachment to the therapist.

When you find that the therapy has been really helpful for you, when you can see the fruits of the hard work you’ve done in and out of the sessions, it’s easy to become attached to the therapist. Attachment to the therapist is not in and of itself a bad thing. However, this attachment can become a problem when clients violate their own boundaries and those identified by the therapists. The healthy attachment can become maladaptive in many ways, including when clients continue to linger in therapy unnecessarily when they have already surpassed their goals and needs.

In Summary

These five difficulties of therapy for clients are some of the most frequent issues that come up in therapy for clients. They are by no means all the possible issues. Exploring these 5 areas of difficulties surrounding starting therapy, the process of therapy, building trust, developing the therapeutic relationship, and creating and monitoring boundaries can be helpful. Examining these areas will help you to identify ways to care for yourself while nurturing the therapeutic relationship so that you can get what you need from your time in therapy.

If you’ve been thinking about starting therapy or have questions about the process, give us a call at 908-636-3659 or schedule a free 15-minute consultation here.

Photo cred: Priscilla du Preez/


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