When you first make an appointment with a counselor or a therapist it’s like signing up for a blind date. You don’t really know them, and they don’t know you. Credentials online can say quite a bit, but can’t show you what type of person they really are or if you’re a good match.
I lucked out.
My therapist is kind, funny, pretty, and she really cares about what I have to say and gives me good advice and treatment. “Of course she did Marley, she’s your therapist!” Not always true. Some care because they have to. Others, like mine, care because they simply do.
There are several reasons why people choose to end their relationship with a therapist. Maybe there isn’t an emotional connection, you don’t feel like you can be honest enough, or your feeling misunderstood. Maybe you’re like me and your budget just can’t allow it for the time being. Bills stack up, life happens, and sometimes you’ve just got to make some tough decisions.
I took into account that I’m not the only one who’s ever had to do this or maybe will need to in the future, so I decided to write out my plan for the break-up.
Remember, I’m not a licensed counselor or therapist, I’m just writing from my heart.
First, let’s go through the first factor of the break-up: the amount of time you’ve been seeing your therapist. This is, I think, a huge part of how you should execute the end of this relationship.
If you haven’t been seeing your therapist for very long – about a month or less – this task can be really simple. Just tell them that it isn’t a good fit, but thanks for their time. You know the old, “it’s not you, it’s me” routine. However you approach this situation, my advice would be not to just ghost them. It’s unprofessional and honestly, rude. Here are some good ways to break-up your short-term relationship with your therapist:
“I think my goals are changing, and I’m not sure if not this is a good fit for me right now.”
“Thank you for your willingness to help me, but I don’t think this is the option I should take.”
“I feel like I’ve made a lot of progress and I feel confident in ending my sessions for the time being.”
“A few weeks/days ago I mentioned _______ and I don’t think I’m seeing the changes/results I’m wanting. I think I’ll take a break for now and re-evaluate my wants/needs.”
If you have been seeing your therapist for a long time, like me (11 months), this task can be difficult. You’ve invested a lot of time, money, and probably some tears into these sessions – how do you give it a proper goodbye? Here’s what I’ve come up with:
Therapy, for me, comes down to accomplishing my goals.
If the goals you wanted when you walked in the door have not been met – then why are you still going? Obviously, something isn’t working.
If your goals are met – then why are you still going? Something worked.
Time to move on from the crutch that you think you need. You have the skills, go and apply them.
What did you want to accomplish when you first walked through the doors of their clinic? Can you list them?
These were my goals:
And these are my accomplishments:
At the end of the day, your therapy journey is about you. You picked up the phone to make the first appointment. You walk through the door every week. You pay for your sessions. You are in charge. Your therapist just happens to be a part of the collateral. They won’t take it personally, I promise. In fact, it’ll clear up their schedule and they’ll have someone else in there soon enough.
It’s the circle of… therapy life?
Breaking-up with your therapist is hard, but at the end of the day, it might be what’s best. I know it’s going to be for me. Your mental health comes first before anything. Before relationships, a job, a pet, and anything else you find important. You are #1.
And who knows, this may only be a short season where you don’t need a counselor or therapist. Life changes, things happen, and it’s nice to know there are people in this world who were given the talent to help you through it.