Skeptical About Current Treatment

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

I’ve been in therapy for the last 11 years, and medicated (Effexor 450mg daily) for the last 6 years or so. I go because of physically/emotionally abusive and traumatic childhood (to be brief). My concern is about my treatment. Despite therapy and medication, the fundamental aspects of my life have not really changed since I started therapy. I have no friends. I have not had a girlfriend for over 10 years. I’ve been unable to find consistent employment in my field of work, and have lived at home with my parents for the last six years, which for obvious reasons, doesn’t help my self esteem and personal motivation. On a superficial level, I make great efforts to conceal my depression and life state, but this requires me to keep people distant to protect my self, which not to mention is painful and lonely. These are conditions that have been consistent in my life, and I was hoping that therapy and meds would help, but I feel like I’ve hit a wall in therapy and have not progressed. Now I know that this usually means that this has more to do with myself and my issues and not the actual treatment. But lately I’ve really been entertaining the idea maybe therapy has it’s limitations. Or maybe my therapist and doctor are incompetent in their skills, experience, and abilities to provide me with treatment that I need. Maybe they are not a “good fit” and this would explain why therapy seems like it’s going no where. I mean my immediate suspicion is that because they are a PHD and a MD, they have big egos and are incapable of genuinely questioning their skill set, and attribute doubt and skepticism as symptoms of the patient. I’m open to the possibility that this perspective is purely skepticism, and indeed a symptom of my condition, But there are bad therapists and doctors in the world, and considering that in this society, professional incompetence, often has nothing to do with success, maybe this is not too far off. I bring this up because, aside from my therapist, I don’t have anyone else to discuss this with, and it would seem obvious that my therapist would not doubt her ability. Are my concerns genuine? How do I know if my therapist sucks?

A. Yes, your concerns are genuine. It may be that your treatment team has taken you as far as they can. It is not uncommon for people to “outgrow” their therapy. If you are not being helped, then it is time to find someone new.

It is true that it can and often does take years to overcome psychological problems but with time there should be noticeable progress. When evaluating the type of care you have received, compare where you have been to where you are now. If there has been no discernible progress, then it is time to move on.

Before you decide to fire your current therapist, consider consulting other therapists. Call and interview several others. Describe the problems that you are looking to solve in detail and inquire about the ways in which they would help you. What would they do differently from the current help that you’re receiving? What are their success rates? In what specific way would they help you? Those are the types of questions that you want to ask.

Talking to other therapists has two main advantages. The first advantage is that you could gain a professional opinion about whether or not you should leave your current therapist. Secondly, in the event that you do leave your current therapist, you may find one that you like better.

Another possibility to explore, before terminating your relationship with your current mental health professionals, is changing medication. It is possible that your medication regimen is no longer effective and may be contributing to the problem.

I understand that you may be skeptical about mental health professionals but the actions of one or several individuals are not representative of an entire profession. Also remember that it is a matter of fit. Perhaps your current therapists are quite well suited to some clients but not as well suited to you. Even if your current therapists are not as successful with you as you would like, it does not mean that they are not using all of the skill that they possess, in your therapy. Each therapist is different, some very skilled in some areas and less so in others. There may be no one at fault here. I am sure that should you decide to try a new therapist, your current therapists would welcome you back if you decided to return. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Sep 2012

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2012). Skeptical About Current Treatment. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 20, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2012/09/30/skeptical-about-current-treatment/