The word 'why' written on a blackboard.

You come to counseling sessions week after week and talk, talk, talk. Some weeks are better than others, but nothing seems to be changing. You’re tired, you don’t want to come, and you think “I’m wasting my money, time, and energy on this.” You call your therapist and inform him or her that you’ve decided to try something different because you just don’t get the ‘point’ of therapy.

You have given up! What have you actually given up on though? Was there any real work being done while you were not directly participating in a therapy session?

As a clinician, I have learned that everybody has their own needs, their own way of learning, and their own way of improving themselves. I have also learned that there are many barriers to improving the quality of one’s life that often lead us to the question: “what’s the point?”

When we hit those barriers, nothing happens. Our lives do not materially change, we do not feel any different, and we cannot see progress. We give up on therapy.

What are some of those barriers that we face?

  • Being truthful with ourselves is way ‘too’ hard.
  • Venting is easier than developing personal perspectives or insights.
  • Motivation is lacking.
  • Immediate results aren’t there.

And the one I see most often:  No work towards improving one’s self is performed in between sessions.

Why don’t we see progress and change? Because often times, the most important work is completed between sessions.

If you have a productive therapy session, revelations and insights are made, plans are defined, and the relationship between you and your therapist grows stronger – you’re doing something! The second you walk out the door and forget about your session, it begs the question, “what’s the point?”

Work between sessions includes putting plans into action, thinking about the conversation you and your therapist had, using your new found insight in some meaningful way. If this doesn’t happen or at least is attempted, then I don’t know the answer to the question, “what’s the point?”

What I do know is that:

  • there is are no magical serums to improve the quality of life
  • counseling sessions are not places to bury weekly frustrations
  • counselors can’t convince you that you need to do something, if you really don’t want to do anything
  • personal improvement takes hard work
  • the most important work happens outside of sessions

The point of therapy is to gain new understanding of yourself, develop new skills, insights, and perspectives and then put those learnings to work in the real world.

If you don’t do anything between sessions, what’s the point?