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Therapists And Patients Reveal Why They Couldn't Help Or Be Helped

Therapists And Patients Reveal Why They Couldn't Help Or Be Helped

Joining a therapy group or seeing someone one-on-one is an open admission you need help. That's perfectly fine, as seeking assistance in life's problems is an extremely positive act you can do for yourself. On the other side of that relationship, you have a therapist who, hopefully, wants to help you. For whatever reason, it doesn't always work out. You can't crack through, or you can't figure it out, and you can only hope to find help through other means.

Reddit user, u/Ate10, wanted to know:

Therapists of reddit, ever had a patient you couldn't help, if so what happened?

Sometimes, There's Too Many Factors

I am a therapist who works with families with adoptive children. I have had many clients I could not help. Families that seek help are often on the verge of ending the adoption. The children experienced trauma and unstable attachment and families have been struggling. It often feels like putting a bandaid on a bullet wound.

There have been many families who stopped because therapy wasn't helping: the children continued to "not behave." I currently have a family I worked with for a year that seems worse off than last year. Most days i struggle not knowing how to help them.

However. I remind myself that a therapist's role is small compared to the other factors for change (change happens when the person is willing and able and environmental factors support change). Also, I remind myself of the small changes that the families and me made happen together.


You Can Do Everything Right...

I provided therapy for people with acquired brain injury for several years. This one man of about 58 was sent for care. Sweetest guy in the world. Nothing worked. Nothing.

I created a behavioural tracking plan for him and observed that he was losing function, while in active rehab.

I contacted his doctor and asked for an urgent referral to a neurologist because I suspected dementia. It was dementia and the doctors agreed with me that he had suffered the accident that caused his brain injury as a result of thinking and coordination problems caused by the dementia. I helped get him admitted to a dementia care facility so no further harm befell him from trying to live on his own.


Sometimes, You Just Have To Pass Them Along

I referred them to someone I thought could help.

For example, I work a lot with ADD, but sometimes people need to be medicated before they can be expected to focus enough to do the work required in therapy.


They're Only Looking For Validation In The Wrong Ways

My gf is a person centred therapist and works with troubled women.

This one woman complained about her last week because she couldn't make it in one week and the week beforehand my gf had sort of triggered her to cry (but only by helping her reflect on herself, not because she said anything to her), ever since then, the girl was really offish with her and decided to complain and get another therapist, apparently my gf was her 3rd at the therapy Center she works at, the girl doesn't want help it's obvious she just wants someone to say mob yeah your life sounds really hard'


Nothing Worked For Years

I am on the other end of this question. I was a patient who was told by a psychologist he couldn't help me. When i was 17 i got hit by a car while riding my bike and i got hurt pretty bad but not life threatingly bad. it was supposed 3 to 6 months for me to heal fully but that never happened, i'm still in serious chronic pain 6 years later. So i met with a psychologist because my lawyer recommended i do so to help both myself and the case against the driver that hit me.

I explained what i was going through, he diagnosed me with ptsd, and told me theres nothing he can do to help my ptsd while i am still in so much pain. He told me not to book another appointment until i am out of pain, which never happend.


Parents Can Be The Worst

The kid I really couldn't help had severe ADHD and possibly bi-polar, though we strive to avoid diagnosing young kids with that unless it's really REALLY obvious. In this case the parents refused to follow my guidance or do a family therapy session with both parents present. The mom was the one doing all the "work" - giving the kid meds and literally physically fighting with her (DCF called)- but not using actual discipline- and would give into the kids demands as soon as she threw a temper tantrum. I tried to warn mom when you start using discipline after not doing so for 13 years, it WILL get worse before it gets better. But the parents worked long jobs and often left the child rearing and discipline to an older sibling or relative who wasnt equipped. I eventually recommended out to ABA because even though the kid wasnt cooperative, she was doing a lot of dangerous stuff that could lead to her hurting herself and I wasnt cool just leaving the case.

Thet being said it's rare for a kid to just not cooperate (tho it does happen). 90% of the time it's the parent who is not complaint or who actively sabotages the kids recovery (like I've literally heard a parent say 'If your grades go up theyll take away our disability money and we cant afford rent"). Family systems are generally responsible for a young diagnosis, especially depression or anxiety but the parents scapegoat the kid and act as though they have done nothing wrong. And I get it, it's hard to hear as a parent that YOU are actually the problem. They also treat the therapist like a babysitter (like no, you cant leave the house just because I'm here).


You Can't Make People Do The Work

I do motivational interviewing and cognitive behavioral therapy for people trying to quit smoking as part of a research study.

We have about a 65% success rate with getting people to quit 1 month. It's hard to say what the numbers are beyond that because, while we do collect 6 month and 1 year data points, we get a lot of drop off because people use the study as a means to an end and we get a lot of attrition once they feel confident they don't need the support anymore.

The biggest indicator of inability to quit is, like others have said in the thread, wanting to be off cigarettes but not being willing to put in the work. For just about everyone that has put the CBT, MI, and general coping strategies to use outside of our weekly counseling sessions has successfully quit. The ones that come in with external reasons for quitting (my wife wants me to quit, I'm tired of getting looks from other people, etc etc), don't engage in any "homework", and don't consistently come to sessions are the ones that don't make it through.

Except this one woman that hit every indicator of a soon-to-be successful quitter, was working with us for 3 or 4 months and was making good progress, and one week just completely cut contact. We called her, emailed her, texted her, sent her letters, but she completely vanished with zero indication that she was having a hard time or in danger of relapse. I still think about her pretty frequently. She was older, so I actually do hope she relapsed and got too embarrassed to call us back, because the alternative explanations for an older person trying to make positive change in their life going completely silent are more morbid.


Just To Repeat: You Can't Make People Change

It's not so much that I can't help, it's that people don't want to change. Someone will only make changes when they are ready, not before.

I saw a couple much older than me one time and it was pretty obvious that it was over before we started. Often times when people come to therapy as a couple it's already too late. I had quite high hopes, but they had such contempt for one another.


Nothing Is As It Seems

Secondary gains. Patients sometimes come to therapy maybe with a genuine problem maybe without but there's an ulterior motive their driving then coming and its glaringly obvious.

I'm trained to give unconditional positive regard so even if I'm suspicious I'll play dumb with you unless there's enough contradictions for me to point it out and even then I'm going to be understanding about it. However, please don't waste both of our times. If you want something, ask for it. If I can help, I will.

If I can't I will at least point you in the right direction or explain why it's a bad idea and ask if you do want to continue therapy. If you don't it means I can offer the space to someone with a genuine need and want to be seen. Our waiting list is currently 3 months to be assessed and 6 months to then be treated.


Behavior Is A Big Factor

Working in the psychiatry, with some of the worst patients here in my country. It's all about making the most stable environment and situation for every patient, if theyre too extrovert and act out too much for us to handle, we call the police which then takes them to the acute department in the hospital.


Crimes Are A Big Interference

My dad works as a therapist. He has a patient who has 5 kids, a wife, & lives in a somewhat rust belt town. Let's call this patient 'Miguel' Miguel is a heroin addict, who also sells heroin. He sells to a cop, and the cops raid his trailer. Arrest him. Eventually the cops drop the charges, or whatever they're called, & Miguel celebrates! BUT they put the case on a federal level.


Nothing That Can Be Done

My father, brother, mother and I went to family counseling when my parents were heading toward divorce. We were the the therapist's last appointment on a Friday evening.

She committed suicide that night. My family disbanded soon after.


The Wire Burns Both Ways

I was "let go" by a therapist.

I was being treated for depression by my university psychologist. In actuality I was bipolar and yet to be diagnosed. I was coping in every possible unhealthy way. Self harm, alcohol, binging/purging, etc. The university wasn't set up for long term care so after a certain number of sessions she had referred me to an outside psychiatrist but it was a terrible experience and I went back to her. She told me that she couldn't keep seeing me for her own mental health. She had become so concerned for me that it was affecting her.

It was incredibly hard to hear. Like "I'm so f-cked up I even disturb a professional." But mental health professionals are people too and I understand why.


If It's Not Working, You Have To Stop

Of course. Many times. Psychotherapy (whatever the flavour) is not always effective.

There's an ethical obligation of therapists to evaluate their progress with all clients/patients during the therapeutic process.

There's also an ethical obligation to discuss with them if there's no progress being made. It doesn't imply blame on either the client/patient or the therapist. But if things aren't working, it needs to be discussed, and other options should be considered.

It's just like if you had an infection, and a particular antibiotic wasn't helping, you don't just keep doing the same thing. You consider other treatment options, and also other treatment providers.

I've referred many clients that weren't being helped. It's not about giving up, it's about seeking the best outcome for the client (not the therapsit). To think that you are the only therapist that can help someone says more about your narcissism than the client/patient.


Who's that one patient you couldn't help? Tell us all about it!

People Reveal The Weirdest Thing About Themselves

Reddit user Isitjustmedownhere asked: 'Give an example; how weird are you really?'

Let's get one thing straight: no one is normal. We're all weird in our own ways, and that is actually normal.

Of course, that doesn't mean we don't all have that one strange trait or quirk that outweighs all the other weirdness we possess.

For me, it's the fact that I'm almost 30 years old, and I still have an imaginary friend. Her name is Sarah, she has red hair and green eyes, and I strongly believe that, since I lived in India when I created her and there were no actual people with red hair around, she was based on Daphne Blake from Scooby-Doo.

I also didn't know the name Sarah when I created her, so that came later. I know she's not really there, hence the term 'imaginary friend,' but she's kind of always been around. We all have conversations in our heads; mine are with Sarah. She keeps me on task and efficient.

My mom thinks I'm crazy that I still have an imaginary friend, and writing about her like this makes me think I may actually be crazy, but I don't mind. As I said, we're all weird, and we all have that one trait that outweighs all the other weirdness.

Redditors know this all too well and are eager to share their weird traits.

It all started when Redditor Isitjustmedownhere asked:

"Give an example; how weird are you really?"

Monsters Under My Bed

"My bed doesn't touch any wall."

"Edit: I guess i should clarify im not rich."

– Practical_Eye_3600

"Gosh the monsters can get you from any angle then."

– bikergirlr7

"At first I thought this was a flex on how big your bedroom is, but then I realized you're just a psycho 😁"

– zenOFiniquity8

Can You See Why?

"I bought one of those super-powerful fans to dry a basement carpet. Afterwards, I realized that it can point straight up and that it would be amazing to use on myself post-shower. Now I squeegee my body with my hands, step out of the shower and get blasted by a wide jet of room-temp air. I barely use my towel at all. Wife thinks I'm weird."

– KingBooRadley


"In 1990 when I was 8 years old and bored on a field trip, I saw a black Oldsmobile Cutlass driving down the street on a hot day to where you could see that mirage like distortion from the heat on the road. I took a “snapshot” by blinking my eyes and told myself “I wonder how long I can remember this image” ….well."

– AquamarineCheetah

"Even before smartphones, I always take "snapshots" by blinking my eyes hoping I'll remember every detail so I can draw it when I get home. Unfortunately, I may have taken so much snapshots that I can no longer remember every detail I want to draw."

"Makes me think my "memory is full.""

– Reasonable-Pirate902

Same, Same

"I have eaten the same lunch every day for the past 4 years and I'm not bored yet."

– OhhGoood

"How f**king big was this lunch when you started?"

– notmyrealnam3

Not Sure Who Was Weirder

"Had a line cook that worked for us for 6 months never said much. My sous chef once told him with no context, "Baw wit da baw daw bang daw bang diggy diggy." The guy smiled, left, and never came back."

– Frostygrunt


"I pace around my house for hours listening to music imagining that I have done all the things I simply lack the brain capacity to do, or in some really bizarre scenarios, I can really get immersed in these imaginations sometimes I don't know if this is some form of schizophrenia or what."

– RandomSharinganUser

"I do the same exact thing, sometimes for hours. When I was young it would be a ridiculous amount of time and many years later it’s sort of trickled off into almost nothing (almost). It’s weird but I just thought it’s how my brain processes sh*t."

– Kolkeia

If Only

"Even as an adult I still think that if you are in a car that goes over a cliff; and right as you are about to hit the ground if you jump up you can avoid the damage and will land safely. I know I'm wrong. You shut up. I'm not crying."

– ShotCompetition2593

Pet Food

"As a kid I would snack on my dog's Milkbones."

– drummerskillit

"Haha, I have a clear memory of myself doing this as well. I was around 3 y/o. Needless to say no one was supervising me."

– Isitjustmedownhere

"When I was younger, one of my responsibilities was to feed the pet fish every day. Instead, I would hide under the futon in the spare bedroom and eat the fish food."

– -GateKeep-

My Favorite Subject

"I'm autistic and have always had a thing for insects. My neurotypical best friend and I used to hang out at this local bar to talk to girls, back in the late 90s. One time he claimed that my tendency to circle conversations back to insects was hurting my game. The next time we went to that bar (with a few other friends), he turned and said sternly "No talking about bugs. Or space, or statistics or other bullsh*t but mainly no bugs." I felt like he was losing his mind over nothing."

"It was summer, the bar had its windows open. Our group hit it off with a group of young ladies, We were all chatting and having a good time. I was talking to one of these girls, my buddy was behind her facing away from me talking to a few other people."

"A cloudless sulphur flies in and lands on little thing that holds coasters."

"Cue Jordan Peele sweating gif."

"The girl notices my tension, and asks if I am looking at the leaf. "Actually, that's a lepidoptera called..." I looked at the back of my friend's head, he wasn't looking, "I mean a butterfly..." I poked it and it spread its wings the girl says "oh that's a BUG?!" and I still remember my friend turning around slowly to look at me with chastisement. The ONE thing he told me not to do."

"I was 21, and was completely not aware that I already had a rep for being an oddball. It got worse from there."

– Phormicidae

*Teeth Chatter*

"I bite ice cream sometimes."


"That's how I am with popsicles. My wife shudders every single time."


Never Speak Of This

"I put ice in my milk."


"You should keep that kind of thing to yourself. Even when asked."

– We-R-Doomed

"There's some disturbing sh*t in this thread, but this one takes the cake."

– RatonaMuffin

More Than Super Hearing

"I can hear the television while it's on mute."

– Tira13e

"What does it say to you, child?"

– Mama_Skip


"I put mustard on my omelettes."

– Deleted User


– NotCrustOr-filling

Evened Up

"Whenever I say a word and feel like I used a half of my mouth more than the other half, I have to even it out by saying the word again using the other half of my mouth more. If I don't do it correctly, that can go on forever until I feel it's ok."

"I do it silently so I don't creep people out."

– LesPaltaX

"That sounds like a symptom of OCD (I have it myself). Some people with OCD feel like certain actions have to be balanced (like counting or making sure physical movements are even). You should find a therapist who specializes in OCD, because they can help you."

– MoonlightKayla

I totally have the same need for things to be balanced! Guess I'm weird and a little OCD!

Close up face of a woman in bed, staring into the camera
Photo by Jen Theodore

Experiencing death is a fascinating and frightening idea.

Who doesn't want to know what is waiting for us on the other side?

But so many of us want to know and then come back and live a little longer.

It would be so great to be sure there is something else.

But the whole dying part is not that great, so we'll have to rely on other people's accounts.

Redditor AlaskaStiletto wanted to hear from everyone who has returned to life, so they asked:

"Redditors who have 'died' and come back to life, what did you see?"


Happy Good Vibes GIF by Major League SoccerGiphy

"My dad's heart stopped when he had a heart attack and he had to be brought back to life. He kept the paper copy of the heart monitor which shows he flatlined. He said he felt an overwhelming sensation of peace, like nothing he had felt before."



"I had surgical complications in 2010 that caused a great deal of blood loss. As a result, I had extremely low blood pressure and could barely stay awake. I remember feeling like I was surrounded by loved ones who had passed. They were in a circle around me and I knew they were there to guide me onwards. I told them I was not ready to go because my kids needed me and I came back."

"My nurse later said she was afraid she’d find me dead every time she came into the room."

"It took months, and blood transfusions, but I recovered."


Take Me Back

"Overwhelming peace and happiness. A bright airy and floating feeling. I live a very stressful life. Imagine finding out the person you have had a crush on reveals they have the same feelings for you and then you win the lotto later that day - that was the feeling I had."

"I never feared death afterward and am relieved when I hear of people dying after suffering from an illness."



The Light Minnie GIF by (G)I-DLEGiphy

"I had a heart surgery with near-death experience, for me at least (well the possibility that those effects are caused by morphine is also there) I just saw black and nothing else but it was warm and I had such inner peace, its weird as I sometimes still think about it and wish this feeling of being so light and free again."


This is why I hate surgery.

You just never know.



"More of a near-death experience. I was electrocuted. I felt like I was in a deep hole looking straight up in the sky. My life flashed before me. Felt sad for my family, but I had a deep sense of peace."



"Nursing in the ICU, we’ve had people try to die on us many times during the years, some successfully. One guy stood out to me. His heart stopped. We called a code, are working on him, and suddenly he comes to. We hadn’t vented him yet, so he was able to talk, and he started screaming, 'Don’t let them take me, don’t let them take me, they are coming,' he was scared and yelling."

"Then he yelled a little more, as we tried to calm him down, he screamed, 'No, No,' and gestured towards the end of the bed, and died again. We didn’t get him back. It was seriously creepy. We called his son to tell him the news, and the son said basically, 'Good, he was an SOB.'”



"My sister died and said it was extremely peaceful. She said it was very loud like a train station and lots of talking and she was stuck in this area that was like a curtain with lots of beautiful colors (colors that you don’t see in real life according to her) a man told her 'He was sorry, but she had to go back as it wasn’t her time.'"


"I had a really similar experience except I was in an endless garden with flowers that were colors I had never seen before. It was quiet and peaceful and a woman in a dress looked at me, shook her head, and just said 'Not yet.' As I was coming back, it was extremely loud, like everyone in the world was trying to talk all at once. It was all very disorienting but it changed my perspective on life!"


The Fog

"I was in a gray fog with a girl who looked a lot like a young version of my grandmother (who was still alive) but dressed like a pioneer in the 1800s she didn't say anything but kept pulling me towards an opening in the wall. I kept refusing to go because I was so tired."

"I finally got tired of her nagging and went and that's when I came to. I had bled out during a c-section and my heart could not beat without blood. They had to deliver the baby and sew up the bleeders. refill me with blood before they could restart my heart so, like, at least 12 minutes gone."


Through the Walls

"My spouse was dead for a couple of minutes one miserable night. She maintains that she saw nothing, but only heard people talking about her like through a wall. The only thing she remembers for absolute certain was begging an ER nurse that she didn't want to die."

"She's quite alive and well today."


Well let's all be happy to be alive.

It seems to be all we have.

Man's waist line
Santhosh Vaithiyanathan/Unsplash

Trying to lose weight is a struggle understood by many people regardless of size.

The goal of reaching a healthy weight may seem unattainable, but with diet and exercise, it can pay off through persistence and discipline.

Seeing the pounds gradually drop off can also be a great motivator and incentivize people to stay the course.

Those who've achieved their respective weight goals shared their experiences when Redditor apprenti8455 asked:

"People who lost a lot of weight, what surprises you the most now?"

Redditors didn't see these coming.

Shiver Me Timbers

"I’m always cold now!"

– Telrom_1

"I had a coworker lose over 130 pounds five or six years ago. I’ve never seen him without a jacket on since."

– r7ndom

"140 lbs lost here starting just before COVID, I feel like that little old lady that's always cold, damn this top comment was on point lmao."

– mr_remy

Drawing Concern

"I lost 100 pounds over a year and a half but since I’m old(70’s) it seems few people comment on it because (I think) they think I’m wasting away from some terminal illness."

– dee-fondy

"Congrats on the weight loss! It’s honestly a real accomplishment 🙂"

"Working in oncology, I can never comment on someone’s weight loss unless I specifically know it was on purpose, regardless of their age. I think it kind of ruffles feathers at times, but like I don’t want to congratulate someone for having cancer or something. It’s a weird place to be in."

– LizardofDeath

Unleashing Insults

"I remember when I lost the first big chunk of weight (around 50 lbs) it was like it gave some people license to talk sh*t about the 'old' me. Old coworkers, friends, made a lot of not just negative, but harsh comments about what I used to look like. One person I met after the big loss saw a picture of me prior and said, 'Wow, we wouldn’t even be friends!'”

"It wasn’t extremely common, but I was a little alarmed by some of the attention. My weight has been up and down since then, but every time I gain a little it gets me a little down thinking about those things people said."

– alanamablamaspama

Not Everything Goes After Losing Weight

"The loose skin is a bit unexpected."

– KeltarCentauri

"I haven’t experienced it myself, but surgery to remove skin takes a long time to recover. Longer than bariatric surgery and usually isn’t covered by insurance unless you have both."

– KatMagic1977

"It definitely does take a long time to recover. My Dad dropped a little over 200 pounds a few years back and decided to go through with skin removal surgery to deal with the excess. His procedure was extensive, as in he had skin taken from just about every part of his body excluding his head, and he went through hell for weeks in recovery, and he was bedridden for a lot of it."

– Jaew96

These Redditors shared their pleasantly surprising experiences.


"I can buy clothes in any store I want."

– WaySavvyD

"When I lost weight I was dying to go find cute, smaller clothes and I really struggled. As someone who had always been restricted to one or two stores that catered to plus-sized clothing, a full mall of shops with items in my size was daunting. Too many options and not enough knowledge of brands that were good vs cheap. I usually went home pretty frustrated."

– ganache98012

No More Symptoms

"Lost about 80 pounds in the past year and a half, biggest thing that I’ve noticed that I haven’t seen mentioned on here yet is my acid reflux and heartburn are basically gone. I used to be popping tums every couple hours and now they just sit in the medicine cabinet collecting dust."

– colleennicole93

Expanding Capabilities

"I'm all for not judging people by their appearance and I recognise that there are unhealthy, unachievable beauty standards, but one thing that is undeniable is that I can just do stuff now. Just stamina and flexibility alone are worth it, appearance is tertiary at best."

– Ramblonius

People Change Their Tune

"How much nicer people are to you."

"My feet weren't 'wide' they were 'fat.'"

– LiZZygsu

"Have to agree. Lost 220 lbs, people make eye contact and hold open doors and stuff"

"And on the foot thing, I also lost a full shoe size numerically and also wear regular width now 😅"

– awholedamngarden

It's gonna take some getting used to.

Bones Everywhere

"Having bones. Collarbones, wrist bones, knee bones, hip bones, ribs. I have so many bones sticking out everywhere and it’s weird as hell."

– Princess-Pancake-97

"I noticed the shadow of my ribs the other day and it threw me, there’s a whole skeleton in here."

– bekastrange

Knee Pillow

"Right?! And they’re so … pointy! Now I get why people sleep with pillows between their legs - the knee bones laying on top of each other (side sleeper here) is weird and jarring."

– snic2030

"I lost only 40 pounds within the last year or so. I’m struggling to relate to most of these comments as I feel like I just 'slimmed down' rather than dropped a ton. But wow, the pillow between the knees at night. YES! I can relate to this. I think a lot of my weight was in my thighs. I never needed to do this up until recently."

– Strongbad23

More Mobility

"I’ve lost 100 lbs since 2020. It’s a collection of little things that surprise me. For at least 10 years I couldn’t put on socks, or tie my shoes. I couldn’t bend over and pick something up. I couldn’t climb a ladder to fix something. Simple things like that I can do now that fascinate me."

"Edit: Some additional little things are sitting in a chair with arms, sitting in a booth in a restaurant, being able to shop in a normal store AND not needing to buy the biggest size there, being able to easily wipe my butt, and looking down and being able to see my penis."

– dma1965

People making significant changes, whether for mental or physical health, can surely find a newfound perspective on life.

But they can also discover different issues they never saw coming.

That being said, overcoming any challenge in life is laudable, especially if it leads to gaining confidence and ditching insecurities.