You’ve been going along in therapy for a while now, weeks and even months of sessions under your belt. You’ve established trust and openness with your therapist, and maybe even had an “ah-ha!” moment or two. People around you have noticed changes in your outlook…maybe dramatic, maybe subtle. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, the therapy hour doesn’t seem so life-changing. How do you handle hitting a plateau in therapy?
There is no set time for how long therapy should last. Very few therapists will encourage you to stay in therapy just for therapy’s sake. Plateauing in your progress can be a normal part of the therapeutic journey. Is it time to move on?
Chances are, a frank discussion with your therapist can help illuminate your process and evaluate how far you have come, and the value in continuing in therapy. “I’m not feeling as motivated as I was. I am not sure where to go with our sessions at this point.” A good therapist will welcome this feedback. This is your path, and like any road will have ups, downs, and yes – plateaus. Therapy can and does change us. It is perfectly okay to stop and examine the process with your therapist.
Sometimes changing the scheduling of your sessions can help. If you have been coming every week, try switching that to every two weeks, or once a month. Keeping a journal throughout therapy can be helpful as you go along, too. Read back through where you were, to where you are now. Have your issues changed? It is possible that the goals you set in the beginning of therapy need to be re-examined and tweaked to meet your needs in the here and now.What did you hope to accomplish back in your first few sessions? How has that changed now? Setting new goals and redefining challenges and strengths can help to make your sessions more meaningful for you now.
Plateaus are nothing to be discouraged by. In fact, they can signal progress and healthy change. Talk to your therapist, and let him or her know your thoughts. Even that act can be a great experience in bringing up and working through change. Honoring your needs is a sign of personal growth. Let your therapist support you in whatever stage of the process you find yourself.