top of page

The Top Ten Struggles Therapists Encounter

As a dedicated therapist, you know that the path to healing and transformation is not always smooth. Throughout our journey in the field of therapy, we encounter various challenges that can sometimes leave us feeling overwhelmed and stuck. However, as Dr. Karen E Wells, the founder of The Academy of Thriving Therapy, I've witnessed countless therapists overcome these hurdles. Today, I want to highlight the top ten struggles therapists often face and explain how our holistic approach to online learning, with a focus on hypnotherapy and other therapy training opportunities, can provide effective solutions.

If you'd rather watch my YouTube video discussing these top ten struggles, I've included it below.

1. Emotional Burnout

Emotional burnout is often the first hurdle therapists encounter on their professional journey. As therapists, we are constantly listening to people's stories and offering support, which can be emotionally draining. We give, give, give, and over time, it can lead to emotional exhaustion. By the end of the day, week, month, or year, you might find there's nothing left in your emotional tank for yourself, your family, or your partner. Recognizing and managing emotional burnout is crucial for maintaining a successful and sustainable therapy practice.

2. Dealing With Trauma

Trauma is another significant challenge that therapists often face. While addressing emotional burnout is essential, dealing with the trauma experienced by clients can also take a toll on a therapist's well-being. You may find yourself listening to truly distressing and traumatic stories from your clients, stories that may resonate with your own experiences. It's a part of the job that can reawaken your own past traumas. Having worked as a therapist for nearly two decades, I've personally encountered many heart-wrenching stories that required me to maintain composure and not show the emotional impact they had on me. It's important to take proactive steps to address the impact of trauma. Simple practices such as taking cold showers after each client session, engaging in expressive writing, or going for a walk in nature can help therapists clear their emotional burdens. Failing to address these emotional burdens can contribute to burnout, which is detrimental to both the therapist and the clients.

A therapist talking to a female client

3. Setting Boundaries

Setting clear boundaries is the third significant challenge therapists often face, and it's closely interlinked with the previous points. Therapists can struggle with maintaining personal boundaries, especially when clients contact them beyond regular working hours. This might include late-night calls or emails, and the desire to help the client can lead to therapists feeling compelled to respond immediately. Striking a balance between empathy and professional distance is crucial. It's essential to set clear boundaries to ensure therapists maintain their own well-being while providing effective support to their clients.

4. Financial Strain

Financial strain is the fourth significant struggle therapists encounter, and it can be particularly challenging for those in fields like hypnotherapy. The nature of therapy often involves a continuous stream of clients, each requiring attention and care. Clients complete their sessions, and new clients must be scheduled, creating a constant financial juggle. When therapists transition from a regular paid job to self-employment in the therapy world, they may experience the financial strain that comes with it.

While becoming a therapist is undoubtedly a rewarding profession, financial concerns can be overwhelming. It's essential to explore ways to broaden your horizons and not rely solely on client after client. For example, if you're a counsellor, your clients may stay with you for longer durations (6 to 12 months or more), which provides more financial stability. However, in fields like hypnotherapy, sessions tend to have quicker turnovers due to the rapid success of the therapy. This can increase the financial strain. Exploring ways to create passive income can help alleviate this burden and provide financial security for therapists

5. Work-Life Balance

The fifth challenge that therapists often encounter is maintaining a healthy work-life balance. This relates back to the issue of setting boundaries, as discussed earlier. Clients who constantly email, text, or call, sometimes even late at night, can disrupt your personal life. You may have family commitments, such as putting your children to bed or enjoying your own evening relaxation time.

To address these challenges, it's crucial to emphasize the work-life balance. Take at least one day off each week to recharge and spend time with loved ones. Achieving financial stability, perhaps through passive income streams, can enable you to enjoy more leisure time. Consider taking extended weekends to truly focus on nurturing your work-life balance. A well-balanced life is essential for therapists to have the emotional and mental capacity to assist their clients effectively.

A male therapist helping his child do their homework as a holistic approach to a work-life balance in therapy

6. High Expectations

The sixth challenge therapists face relates to managing the high expectations of their clients. While working with clients, therapists may encounter individuals who have unrealistic or overly optimistic expectations. These expectations can place additional mental strain on therapists, especially if clients believe that the therapist can magically solve all their issues without their active participation.

For example, I recall a situation where I flew to meet a private client who was highly successful in his business. He expected that my hypnotherapy sessions alone would instantly resolve his concerns. While therapists play a vital role in the therapeutic process, it's essential to convey that the client's active involvement and commitment are equally important. Therapy is a collaborative effort where both therapist and client must contribute. Handling these high expectations can be mentally taxing and may contribute to the emotional burnout discussed earlier. It's crucial to establish realistic expectations and promote the idea that therapy is a joint effort between therapist and client.

7. Managing Ethical Dilemmas

The seventh challenge therapists often face revolves around managing ethical dilemmas. These situations can be mentally exhausting and complex. Therapists may find themselves in a position where they must make challenging ethical decisions regarding a client's treatment.

Sometimes, therapists encounter issues that fall outside their area of expertise or involve ethical concerns that they cannot address effectively. In these cases, it becomes essential to make the difficult decision of referring the client to a more suitable therapist or specialist. This decision may impact the therapist's self-esteem, as they may feel they lacked the necessary tools to help the client.

However, it's crucial to remember that as a therapist, you should prioritize the well-being and best interests of the client. If you cannot provide the appropriate expertise or treatment, it's more ethical to refer them to someone who can. Managing these ethical dilemmas can be a challenging aspect of maintaining a successful therapy practice, but it is essential for both the therapist and the client.

8. Dealing With Cultural Competence

The eighth challenge therapists encounter, and very closely linked to the last point, is the need for cultural competence. Understanding and respecting the diverse backgrounds and experiences of clients is crucial for effective therapy. While one might assume that therapists routinely work with clients from various cultural backgrounds, it's not always the case.

Therapists must be aware of their own limitations and areas where they may not have sufficient cultural competence. If a therapist is uncomfortable or unprepared to address the specific needs of a client, it's entirely acceptable to refer that client to another therapist who possesses the necessary expertise.

I can recall an early experience in my career when I had a client with complex sexual issues, and I hadn't been qualified for long. It stirred up some personal issues for me, and I recognized that I wasn't equipped to help the client adequately. Without hesitation, I referred the client to a specialist with expertise in that area. Referring a client to another professional who can genuinely address their needs is a responsible and ethical choice. Therapists should have the confidence and self-esteem to decline clients when the situation is beyond their expertise.

9. Keeping Up With Research And Training

The ninth challenge therapists encounter is the need to stay current with research and training. Regardless of your years of experience or qualifications, the field of therapy is constantly evolving. New techniques, research findings, and therapeutic approaches emerge regularly.

To remain effective and up-to-date, therapists must invest time and effort in keeping up with the latest research, training opportunities, and changes in the field. It's essential to familiarize yourself with the latest code of ethics and professional guidelines.

Having a mentor who is well-versed in your area of expertise or the specific area of therapy you want to explore can be immensely beneficial. A mentor can provide guidance, share their knowledge, and help you navigate the ever-changing landscape of therapeutic practices. Keeping up with research and training is vital for providing the best possible care to your clients.

A group of therapists with their mentor discussing the latest code of ethics

10. Managing A Practice

The final, but equally relevant, challenge therapists face is managing a therapy practice. This aspect is crucial when transitioning from being an employee to running your own practice. Managing a practice entails building a business from the ground up and involves numerous considerations.

From setting your working hours to establishing communication preferences with clients, managing a practice requires meticulous planning. You'll need to think about marketing strategies, including having a website, social media presence, and understanding how potential clients can discover your services. This might also involve defining your target audience and whether you want to work locally or expand your reach online.

For example, when I moved from Australia to West Yorkshire, I faced the challenge of building a new client base in an unfamiliar location. Managing a practice, including standing out among established therapists in the area, can be a daunting task. Having a mentor to guide you through this process is valuable.

While I've placed this challenge at number ten, it's important to note that it's equally relevant as any of the other points for both experienced and aspiring therapists. Managing a therapy practice effectively is a key aspect of success in this field.


Being a therapist is a rewarding profession, but it comes with its own set of challenges. The Academy of Thriving Therapy offers a range of online learning opportunities, with a holistic approach and a focus on hypnotherapy and other specialized training. Our goal is to help you overcome these common struggles and thrive in your therapy practice. By addressing self-care, business acumen, ethical considerations, and more, our courses prepare you to tackle these challenges head-on.

In the dynamic field of therapy, continuous learning and professional development are essential. Our online courses empower you to not only survive but to thrive as a therapist, providing the best possible care to your clients while maintaining your own well-being. Together, we can create a community of thriving therapists who make a meaningful difference in the lives of those they serve.

148 views0 comments


bottom of page