Getting Stuck in Therapy

As a counselor, I tend to see some trends in the therapy room. Often times, clients feel energized after their initial session. There’s something great about being so vulnerable with someone. I often hear that they are talking about something that they had never discussed before, or had not talked about in years. I can see the instant relief as they begin to open up. Typically, the client comes in upbeat for their next session, and I understand they are hoping to continue this trend. However, week 4 or 5 many clients begin to stall out. Sometimes I notice that they are struggling to generate the content for the session, and just not sure what to discuss. This is the time that I purposely sit back and let the client drive the session because this is the most crucial part of therapy because this is the time that the client can dive a bit deeper. There are those deep parts of us that we feel comfortable discussing in therapy, and there are those even deeper parts that we don’t always feel comfortable talking to even our therapist about. Maybe the client really does not want to acknowledge it themselves. If you find yourself stuck in counseling, it can be a sign that deeper work is needed. Here are 5 tips to keep the momentum going when you are feeling in a counseling rut.

1.     Explore the deeper parts of you. These are the things that maybe you feel uncomfortable discussing or that you try to push further down. Remember that your counselor is a professional that will accept you unconditionally and that you do not have to be anxious with how the therapist will respond.

2.     Re-evaluate your goals. Your counselor has a treatment plan that has measurable goals and action steps to reach those goals. If your counselor hasn’t discussed those goals, then make sure you have your own goals that you would like to work on. Don’t be afraid to ask your counselor to discuss your treatment plan!

3.     Ask for homework. Whether your counselor regularly gives counseling homework or not, they likely have many ideas for you to explore outside of the counseling office. This could be something for you to reflect on, a journal entry, encouraging mindfulness, or an exercise to increase social activity. If you are feeling stuck, working on yourself outside of counseling is the perfect way to make progress!

4.     Journaling is another way to make progress when you feel like your treatment is stalling. I love when a client brings me their journal entry. It allows me to see another side of the client and recognize their feelings in the moment. We can explore more deeply feelings and behaviors.

5.     Workbooks are a great way to enhance your counseling treatment. One of my favorite workbooks to recommend is Mind Over Mood. It is a cognitive behavioral therapy workbook that focuses on changing thought patterns and behaviors to impact your mood. Apps are another resource. There are many great apps that can help with meditation, deep breathing, and tracking behaviors.

Remember that you are in charge of how much you gain from your counseling experience. It is up to you to share as much or as little as you want. However, really digging deep can help with the search for meaning and purpose in your life and can help you gain the clarity you may be searching for.

Written by Amy Rollo

Amy Rollo is a Licensed Professional Counselor Supervisor and owner of Heights Family Counseling. Amy has been practicing for fifteen years. She has doctoral level training in the areas of child and adolescent counseling, marriage and family therapy, and adult counseling. Amy Rollo provides counseling and evaluation services in the Houston Heights and surrounding areas. Amy’s goal in counseling is to journey with her clients in order to foster positive changes and growth in their lives. Read more about Amy's counseling style by visiting