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Overcoming Therapy Roadblocks

If you’ve ever felt frustrated, exhausted or helpless about a client in treatment, you will know what it means to feel stuck in therapy. We’ve all been there.

There are telltale therapist signs: Second-guessing yourself, feeling just a little bit relieved when they call to cancel the session, frantically changing therapy direction. And there are telltale signs from the client: Not attending appointments, avoiding out-of-session work, or just not being ‘present’ in the session.

The reasons for roadblocks in treatment are many. Many people who use alcohol and other drugs have experienced a lot of stigma, even in treatment settings, leaving them up with low expectations for change. Trauma and other previous experiences can result in difficulties establishing trust and safety. Changes in a client’s alcohol and other drug use might result in interruptions in attendance or ability to engage.

Sometimes we inadvertently introduce roadblocks to treatment ourselves, or fail to recognise a roadblock hurtling towards us, sometimes making it worse. It’s a normal part of being a therapist.

When we know why they occur, and what to look for, we can prevent roadblocks and address them effectively when they do occur. More often than not, rectifying roadblocks turns into a positive experience for the practitioner and the client and deepens the therapeutic relationship.

Dr Richard Cash
Head of Service Development