Therapy Didnt Work My Anxiety Is Different

Written by Jim Folk
Medically reviewed by Marilyn Folk, BScN.
Last updated March 27, 2021
Therapy Didn't Work So My Anxiety Is Different And I Won't Be Able To Overcome Anxiety Disorder

Anxiety Disorder Myth #17: Since therapy didn't work, that means your anxiety is different and you won't be able to overcome it.

Research has shown that therapy – specifically Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) - is the ‘Gold Standard’ treatment for anxiety disorder. Numerous studies have been conducted over the last 20 years and all have conclusively proven the effectiveness of therapy.

So it's not that therapy doesn't work, because it does. If a person didn't find therapy helpful, there are other reasons rather than the therapy itself. Here are five common reasons:

1. The therapist wasn't sufficiently knowledgeable or proficient.
Not all therapists are equal. Some therapists are very knowledgeable and experienced at helping people overcome anxiety disorder, whereas others not so much so. The therapist’s level of knowledge and skill can make a big difference in how helpful therapy is for the anxiety client.

For more information, see our article "What Makes Your Therapists Different from Other Therapists."

2. There was a personality clash between the therapist and the client.
Relationship chemistry is important, and especially between the therapist and the client.

To have effective therapy sessions, the therapist and client need to build trust. If the therapist has poor interpersonal relationship skills, or there is a mismatch between personalities, trust may not be established, which can have a negative effect on the therapy’s effectiveness.

3. The client doesn’t believe what the therapist is saying about anxiety disorder and how to overcome it.
In order to be successful, the client must trust that the information being discussed, and the changes requested, can be truly helpful. If the client doesn’t believe the therapist, or believes the changes being asked of him or her aren’t appropriate, positive change won’t be made.

Since anxiety disorder is only overcome by making positive change, it’s unrealistic to think a person can overcome anxiety disorder without making the changes required.

For more information on how to overcome anxiety disorder, see our article, “Two Levels Of Anxiety Disorder Recovery.”

4. The client isn't doing the work required.
Overcoming anxiety disorder requires working at making healthy change. If you aren't willing to make the changes required, it's unrealistic to think that healthy change can ensue.

Moreover, there is a vast difference between merely knowing what to do and actually making the appropriate changes. Healthy change only occurs when the required work is done. We believe everyone has the ability do this work so there aren’t any barriers to recovery.

Even though the road to anxiety disorder recovery is clear, there are many reasons why a person may not do the work. For more information, see our article "Can Everyone Recover from Anxiety Disorder?"

5. The client didn’t stay the course through to success.
As we mentioned, overcoming anxiety disorder requires working at making behavioral change, and sufficiently so that issues with anxiety disorder are resolved. Oftentimes, this work requires dogged effort, perseverance, determination, patience, and time. Meaningful recovery seldom occurs any other way.

If a person doesn't stay the course through to success, again, it's unrealistic to think meaningful recovery will occur. This is like taking the first year of an MBA, then dropping out and saying the MBA program didn’t work.

Yes, the work can be arduous and the road to success long. But those that persevere, succeed. Those that don't persevere, don't.

So again, it's not that therapy doesn't work, because it does. But that there are reasons why some people don't find therapy helpful.

How can believing this myth hamper recovery?

If you have tried therapy – the ‘Gold Standard’ treatment for anxiety disorder - and believe it didn’t work, you may conclude that your anxiety is different, and therefore, there’s no hope. Feeling like there’s no hope often results in the person remaining stuck.

But anxiety isn’t different. Issues with anxiety occur for the same kinds of reasons. While each person may have a unique set of underlying factors, the road to recovery is similar for all of us: identify and successfully address the underlying factors that motivate overly apprehensive behavior. When this work is done, anxiety issues disappear.

How can believing this myth make things worse?

Feeling like there’s no hope can further aggravate anxiety, as well as cause issues with feeling depressed. Bringing these two emotions together – fear and depression – can make things much worse.

But if you believe anxiety disorder can be overcome by working with a good therapist, and are willing to work at it, the sky is the limit!

All of us at overcame anxiety disorder by working at it, and with the help of an anxiety disorder specialist/therapist. A great many others have done it as well (which is why therapy is the ‘Gold Standard’ treatment for anxiety disorder).

Anxiety isn’t about something that’s ‘gone wrong’ and that you can’t correct. Anxiety is about behavior that all of us can change and control when we know how. Working with an experienced anxiety therapist, coach, or counsellor can teach you those important skills.

Getting the right information, help, and support, and then doing the right work and for long enough, is all that is required to overcome anxiety unwellness for good. No one needs to suffer needlessly!

Anxiety isn't something that needs to be cured because it isn’t an illness. Dealing with our apprehensive behaviors, which cause issues with anxiety, solves the entire anxiety unwellness problem. Anyone can do this work with the right information, help, and support.

Again, no one needs to suffer needlessly. There is help available. The road to meaningful recovery is clear, well known, and well traveled. Those who do the right work succeed!

The combination of good self-help information and working with an experienced anxiety disorder therapist, coach, or counselor is the most effective way to address anxiety and its many symptoms. Until the core causes of anxiety are addressed – which we call the underlying factors of anxiety – a struggle with anxiety unwellness can return again and again. Dealing with the underlying factors of anxiety is the best way to address problematic anxiety.

Additional Resources

Return to our Anxiety Myths page. Information, support, and therapy for anxiety disorder and its symptoms, including the anxiety myth: Therapy Didn't Work So My Anxiety Is Different And I Won't Be Able To Overcome Anxiety Disorder.