Struggling with therapist: I am 3 weeks... - Mental Health Sup...

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Struggling with therapist

Bonkersy profile image

I am 3 weeks in to a programme of learning how to manage the symptoms of BPD; something that was a real problem for me until around 25 yrs ago when I sort of grew out of it (I'm fast approaching my 60's now).

I was happy to undertake the programme, in the hope that I could gain insight and a way to manage crisis, and a recovery plan, what have I to lose?

Today, I've had to cancel my appointment as my hubby is unwell so can't take me, and I am shocked at how relieved I feel. I like my CPN practitioner, she's a bit dotty but very sweet, but if the truth be known, I couldn't even begin to tell you what the last 3 sessions have been about.

None of it feels relevant, and in any case our time seems to to be spent on her reading her endless bits of paper but not relating it to me, then she says that for my homework I need to complete the sheet, which I do with empty words, and no relationship to my thoughts or feelings.

Last year I undertook an 8 wk initial intervention course, the forerunner for this set of 8 sessions and I found it to be challenging, interesting and thought provoking so it's not a case of being opposed to working with the mh services.

I'm really not sure where to go now. Do I tell the CPN practitioner how I'm feeling? How could I go about giving some value to the sessions? Do I ask to speak to someone else?

I'm very confused.......

14 Replies

Therapists and their clients aren't an automatic fit for each other. You can speak about how you feel therapy is progressing, good and bad points by preparing a script before the next session. The other option is to cancel out and ask for a referral to another practitioner. Give an honest answer if asked why you wish to stop. Most therapists understand good relationships are important to great outcomes for you.

Thank you black cat, your advice is really good, I'm not sure if I'm brave enough to follow it though

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Its like my son's courses Autism - we get advice on sensory and legal matters but not the crux of it Speech therapy was the same it told you the problem areas and barely touched on solving it - the practical aspects and getting him to respond was the problem - a lot of times you are left with your own skill set and common sense in trying to solve the problem whereas the professional step back or maybe his problems and interest level are major problems but seeking the right advice is the key to growing and you have to keep trying, professionals have to guided, too - is my experience.

Talk about your feelings and expectations in life, a Therapist can only go so far in treating you and your condition, it is down to you with Therapist intervention to help you move on through life. There comes a time when the Patient and the child in them can move onto that period of adulthood and help themselves, We take responsibility for our actions and feelings, no-one can do that for you, CPNs in many cases only act as a facilitator/adviser to get you on the right track

The problem is What are you going to do to now to help yourself. by addressing any problems you have. I have been looking down on my failures and none self help, We need to take on our own responsibilities, no-one can make us feel the positive benefits of controlling our concerns, they can be there to give encouragement and lead you along a new footpath in life. We have to carry our own torch to light our way through life concerns and fears Just like a teenager becoming an adult, we learn and act on our own decisions


Hmmmm, I don't think I've explained properly. I DO accept full responsibility for myself and my actions, I am told I tend to take on responsibility for the actions of others too.

I'm no spring chicken so have lived for decades with my illness, and have good insight, what I do need is help to move on. I understand the theory, its the practice I struggle with.

Psychiatrist after psychiatrist have assessed me and concluded that I need long term psychotherapy, however, psychotherapy comes under the psychology department, and a very tight budget. The psychology department duly do their assessment, and concur, I need psychotherapy, but then tell me that unfortunately I am not 'critical', as I am compliant and take my meds, I have a full-time carer and am appropriately housed, therefore they can only offer short term intervention.

I had really hoped that these 8 weeks would help me to find the key to at least managing and recovering from crisis situations, but so far nothing. It's not making me think, or find answers, its not doing anything at all.

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Yes, agree they have to learn and learn their own way and what they like to

Hi Bonkersy,

I'm sorry you're having trouble in therapy. I'm struggling in therapy too although not in quite the same way as you.

I'm wondering what specific type of therapy you're being given. I've heard the best type of therapy for BPD is Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT) which is based on a combination of mindfulness and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). But I know with the NHS (I'm assuming you're in the UK) the therapy they allocate could be based on funding and so this therapy you're being given now might not be the best fit for you. It could be that the therapist is not administering the therapy appropriately though which is why I'm thinking if you have a name for the therapy you could research it and check if you find is consistent with what you're experiencing.

How much longer have you got to go in your current programme? I'm assuming you have 5 more as you say you're 3 into an 8 course programme but I may have misunderstood.

If it's only a very short course it might be worth seeing it through because I'm concerned if you stop it now you might be perceived as giving it up too soon even if you have a perfectly good reason for doing so, and whether this might be used against you in the future.

I'm not saying it's right but I've heard how strained and, consequently, how poor mental health treatment can be in the UK, depending on the area, and I don't want them to find any other reason not to treat you as a priority. Of course, if it's causing you psychological damage and/or it's long term treatment I'd say you should definitely stop. If it's long term and not making you any worse could say "I'm going to see how I get on for 3 more and if I'm still not satisfied, or feel I've made progress, then I'll stop." It's about weighing it up.

Do you feel you can talk to your current therapist about how you're feeling? Or ask them to explain to you the relevance of a certain technique? It sounds like you've got a good rapport with your CPN so it might be worth being open with her about it, maybe just saying how surprised you were at how relieved you felt, and that you don't feel you're making progress.

If you have to look at into alternative treatment, you could maybe have a look on the Mind Website and see if it could sign post you to any free or low cost therapy in your area that may be more suited to you...


Thank you for responding. I think the therapy I'm in is something new. Part of the problem is I think that it is geared up for BPD which was very much a problem for me until my late 30's, but as I've grown older has dissipated (apparently not uncommon). As a younger woman, I had huge difficulties, and I can look back and cringe, and see how my behaviours were classical BPD.

The work we are doing relates to difficulties in managing relationships. But I'm not having any difficulties! It's difficult relating my current problems which are more depression focussed and a lack of self esteem. Relationship wise there are no issues, life is quiet and calm, no real dramas, real or imagined.

I won't just stop, that would be such a wasted opportunity, but I do need to pluck up the courage and find a way of explaining how I'm feeling to my therapist, without hurting her; I get the feeling that she is quite vulnerable herself.

In the meantime, perhaps I will go through all the sheets and see how I can relate them to me........

To get your point across if may be useful to make a list of all the salient points you wish to talk over at each session. As people have suggested above the need of a relationship of trust is important and the need to open up is possibly needed.

In the UK CBT is normally suggested as rationing is now a real problem in the NHS.

Generally the first appointment these days is on the telephone where they will consider how your treatment is going to proceed, your second appointment is basically a getting to know you, then most patients go through a course of ten appointments where assessments are undertaken to decide if a further Specialized course of treatment is given. Most patients should be in a place where they can begin to help themselves or it may be a more proactive course of treatment is undertaken.

Sometimes a further course of treatment may be undertaken at a later date see how you are getting on. Taught Self Help is an important part of treatment. You may be introduced to various specialists may be introduced to you at various times where various tests may be introduced over a five week period. Dependent on what your condition is. Sad to say in the 80s many patients were given a CPN over a long period of time this now is quite rare over an extended period. The need to understand your needs and expectations is important although the sufferer has an important place in their recovery


Hi Bob,

It's not CBT, It's called the CHANGE programme, meant to be showing me how I can manage a recovery plan, but to be honest, she spends around 50 of our 60 minutes talking and reading at me. I don't dislike her at all, but it takes me time to develop a two way relationship, and to open up, and at the moment its so one way that I fear its just not going to happen.

I am going to go back over all the documentation that she's given me and see if I can relate it back to my difficulties. I sometimes find it easier to communicate in writing so I may try putting into an e-mail some thoughts, so that I don't catch her on the hop next week. If all else fails, I will keep struggling along so that I'm not put into the 'won't cooperate' box.

It's all so exhausting......

If you wish to pass anything over this group feel free to do that even if you go through our private pages. You can contact any person you feel comfortable with on site

All the very best


I am wondering if you are doing CBT? This the first option on the NHS, and sometimes the only one available. This isn't talking therapy but practical hence bits of paper and homework etc. The NHS love it coz it's cheap, scientific, and observable. It helps a few people I guess but didn't do anything for me,,

Bonkersy profile image
Bonkersy in reply to hypercat54

No, not CBT, I don't know how many times I've had CBT, sometimes it has helped, but more often it hasn't.

It's called the CHANGE programme, and is supposed to help me in my recovery programme, I thought that this was relating to the severe depression and anxiety that has dogged me for the last few years. But everything seems to be relating to attention seeking behaviours within relationships.

My husband of 25yrs and I, are quite happy together like two pairs of slippers. I have my kids and grandchildren, and a couple of friends, and not a lot to do with my extended family who are spread all over.

Hi Bonkersy I, can feel just reading your messages that you feel really anxious about this program your doing, and how streesed this has made you. These Change sessions are there to help you cope, but understandably there not. I would try telling her how your feeling about all this, because to be honest it sounds to me that all she's doing is reading from a paper, which she may as well just say here you go take this home to read. Maybe she likes the sound of her own voice, but it definitely not helping your situation, so I think you need to express that some how. I'm in therapy and have been for 8weeks and I, sometimes come away and forget what she's just spoken about. We have them days we're nothing sinks in. So please somehow get your message across because I know this is really upsetting you, good luck x

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