Moment Of Clarity

How Therapy Works

Our resident therapist, Jinnie Cristerna of International High Achievers, explains the benefits of psychotherapy.
Credit: Thinkstock

People have mixed feelings about psychotherapy. Some people swear by it and keep their clinician’s number on speed dial; others would never step foot in a therapist’s office again.

Again? This blog is specifically written for those who felt therapy was ineffective. While there are a number of reasons you may not have gotten the results you wanted, below are the four main reasons I’ve seen in my nearly 25 years of practice. Review them and see if any hold true for you in hindsight:

1) Fear. You may have been afraid of what you would find out or of losing control over your situation, reality or yourself — and this is normal. When people are overtaken by fear, it can be difficult for them to see the truth of their circumstances and the role they’re playing in maintaining their situation. Seeing the truth often requires holding people responsible for their choices and behaviors. It also requires accepting people for who they are with their strengths and imperfections, including one’s self.

In essence, you may have been afraid of not only being disappointed, but also feeling the disappointment. While emotions like disappointment, anger, pity, shame, worthlessness, and jealousy are very heavy and draining, they are also normal and necessary. Exploring these feelings helps you understand who you are and grow as a person.

2) Borrowed Benefit. You may actually experience some advantage as a result of your issues or troubles. For example, if you had a troublesome childhood, you may have learned that people are more compassionate and grant you more leeway in certain areas once they become aware of your past. While this could benefit you in a number of ways personally and professionally, it could also be a disadvantage if you are looking to become more independent as some people may not believe you’re strong enough to be on your own.

Having a borrowed benefit is a blessing and a curse. It gives you some support but that support can suffocate and pigeonholed you into a box from which it can be hard to emerge. What can happen is when someone wants to get out of that box, that person becomes aware of  how much work will be required to change. Even though that person is unhappy, the benefits of the issue outweigh the pain and work of changing.

3) Lack of chemistry. Every therapist isn’t for everyone; myself included. Sometimes, the therapist and the client don’t connect with one another, which can cause the patient to feel that the therapist (and the treatment) is ineffective. If you’re looking for a therapist, I created a checklist on how to pick a therapist that you can download for free.

4) Timing and readiness.  These two often go hand-in-hand. Sometimes, people aren’t ready even though they know they need the service. Unfortunately, not having a good therapeutic experience can make people shy away from therapy; however, I urge you to try it again with a different therapist.

If you’re curious about how therapy works, the process is quite simple, but often very difficult to do. The cliché “easier said than done” would be applicable for many people.

1) Be committed to the work. It’s going to be hard, but if you are committed to ridding yourself of what is holding you back or causing you pain, you’ll be just fine.

2) Show up. Keep your appointments and be fully present in all of the emotions during the session. The more you allow yourself to feel during the session, the more release your experience. With every emotional release come clarity, truth, and freedom from whatever holds you back.

3) Trust the process. Therapy usually doesn’t happen in the office — it happens the moment you leave. You may not feel anything is happening at every session, but trust me, a lot is going on in your head and heart. Some of the most significant changes happen so subtly that you are unaware of them until one day when you look up and realize that certain situations or people no longer surround you.

4) Be willing to look within. You know the answer, you always have. The job of the therapist is to help you find them inside yourself with more efficiency than if you were to do this on your own. For many people, the therapist acts as a guide accompanying them on a deeply personal journey.

As I stated earlier, these are my observations on why therapy may not have been successful for some people. If you haven’t had the success you were looking for, try again. You are worth the effort.

With love and light, I wish you pleasant and therapeutic journeys.

To download a FREE copy of how to select a therapist, click here.

Jinnie Cristerna, LCSW, CHt.

Jinnie Cristerna, LCSW, CHt.

Do you have a question for our “Moment of Clarity” JET Therapist, Jinnie? Email us at We’ll be sure to keep it anonymous and confidential. 

Jinnie Cristerna, affectionately known as “The High Achievers Therapist”, works with talented people to help them release emotional pain and psychological roadblocks so they can achieve their personal and professional goals. Specializing in psychotherapy, heart centered hypnotherapy, vibrational energy, meditation, and personality development, Jinnie has a nearly 90 percent success rate with her clients.  Sign up for Jinnie’s High Achiever newsletter here or join her on Facebook and Twitter!