How can I make any therapy I'm offered suit me better?
Getting the most out of therapy can sometimes feel difficult, especially if you're offered a type of therapy that isn't exactly right for you, or worry that you've not been offered enough sessions to make a difference. But there are positive steps you can take to get the most out of any therapy you're offered:
- Make sure talking therapy is the right choice for you just now. It could help to ask yourself beforehand:
- Am I ready to explore my feelings and behaviour?
- Do I feel able to open up about things that are very personal or hard to talk about?
- Decide what you want to achieve from therapy. It can help to set some small goals which you feel are achievable. Discuss this with your therapist so you can both aim to reach a shared goal.
- Understand the type of therapy you're getting. Ask your therapist how they think this kind of therapy can help you, and what to expect from it. If they use terms you don't understand, ask them to explain. Our section on common terms used in therapy might help.
- Talk about what's most important to you. Therapy sessions are your time, and you shouldn't feel pressured to talk about something you don't feel is important.
- Tell your therapist what's working and what isn't. They might be able to change the sessions so that they suit you better.
- Make the room feel more comfortable and safe. For example, you could ask to change where you sit, or adjust the lighting or the temperature of the room so you feel more relaxed.
- Take something in with you to help you ground yourself, such as a treasured item or something you can fiddle with.
- Have someone you trust nearby, if you want. It could help you relax if you know someone will be there to meet you when the session is finished.
Dealing with therapy coming to an end
It's common to have a mixture of thoughts and emotions about finishing therapy. It's likely to depend on the experience you've had and the relationship you've formed with your therapist. There's no one particular way you're supposed to feel.
If you're worried about how you'll cope, tell your therapist how you're feeling. They might be able to help you plan things you can do after your therapy has ended to help yourself, think of alternatives to try, and work out your next steps.
Therapy can be frustrating at times, but as long as you are ready to look at your problems honestly it can be a really useful space to talk about what's bothering you.
What can I do if my therapy isn't helping?
Therapeutic relationships can be challenging. It can take time to build trust and feel comfortable with a therapist, and it's common to have times when you feel frustrated or upset after a session.
But sometimes you might find that, even after trying it for a while, you're really not happy with how it's going. In this case you may want to consider:
- talking to your therapist about any problems you're having with them
- asking your therapist whether they can offer you a different type of therapy
- asking your GP or the NHS service if there is another therapist you can work with
- finding another therapist, especially if you are accessing therapy privately
- ending your therapy, or seeking alternatives to try instead.
How do I complain about therapy?
If you have a serious concern about any treatment you've received, you can complain.
Your therapist should tell you their complaints process if you ask them for it. If that doesn't feel possible you could ask your therapist what professional body they're registered with, then make your complaint through that body (all professional bodies should have a complaints procedure you can follow).
If you're unsure how you feel and want another opinion before making a complaint, these services can help:
See our legal pages on complaining about health and social care for more information about your rights.
This information was published in June 2018 – to be revised in 2021. References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information see our page on permissions and licensing.