Why People Refuse Therapy – Therapy Feels like an Insult

Why People Refuse Therapy – Therapy Feels like an Insult

Yesterday I was at my psychiatrist’s and I wasn’t doing terribly well. It seems I’m a little stressed. Turns out being a well-known mental health writer is a smidgen more challenging than one might think.

And so one of the recommendations my doctor made was to do some mindfulness training in a local program.

Instantly I felt myself rile against the idea. Internally I was feeling very resistant against yet more therapy.

And I realized why – therapy feels like an insult. The idea that I need more therapy seems to suggest that I’m not handling my disease in the best way possible. This seems to suggest that I don’t know everything already. More therapy feels like I’m doing something wrong and have to be fixed. The idea of more therapy suggests that someone else knows something that I don’t. And boy am I tired of bipolar treatments that don’t work.


I have had lots of therapy in my life. I have had many different kinds of therapy in my life. I have seen many different therapists in my life. I think I’m therapied-out.

That being said, I have always recognized the value of therapy and always recommend that people with a mental illness get therapy. Not because I’m insulting people with a mental illness, naturally, but because I think therapy can help pretty much everyone – mentally ill or not. So it’s not that I’m against therapy, believe me.

Resistance to Therapy

Resistance to Therapy

And my resistance to therapy, my feeling (illogically) that therapy is an insult, was a surprise to me. I’m all for methods that help manage bipolar disorder – and those without side effects – all the better.

But I think as I’m a perfectionist, spend hours researching mental illness, an expert and very experienced made me view the suggestion of therapy as insulting. How dare someone suggest that I don’t know everything?

I Know Everything about Bipolar

But, of course I don’t know everything about bipolar. It’s silly to think that I do. And while I have engaged in different types of therapy I have never had formal mindfulness training. And while I don’t find the idea of self-compassion very appealing (for me), who am I to say it couldn’t help? Who am I to make the judgement that this therapy won’t help without even trying it? That would just be silly of me.

Resistance to Therapy – Therapy Feels like an Insult

And so, I think this little experience gave me a bit of insight into why people show resistance to therapy. People refuse therapy for many reasons, but I think the idea that it’s an insult to their own psychology somehow, is one.

So, I remind myself today that I am far from perfect, I can always handle things better and I do not know everything – and getting help does not denote weakness, but strength. And refusing an offer of help, even if sceptical, is closed-minded, which is something I don’t consider myself to be.


About Natasha Tracy

Natasha Tracy is an award-winning writer, speaker and consultant from the Pacific Northwest. She has been living with bipolar disorder for 18 years and has written more than 1000 articles on the subject.

Natasha’s New Book

Find more of Natasha’s work in her new book: Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar. Media inquiries can be emailed here.



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