Is It Time to Break Up with Your Therapist?

(February 16, 2022)

Therapy, at its core, is a relationship.

You meet with someone regularly and they help you work through some of your most personal and painful experiences. They help you cope with your moods, help you get resources, and provide you with a model for what relationships can look like. The difference between a therapeutic relationship and a normal relationship is that therapeutic relationships are not reciprocal. You are not expected to provide anything for your therapist, or to know much about them. The time spent in therapy is all for you and getting your needs met.

Therapy is a relationship. In order to be effective, you need to feel connected to your therapist. So what happens when you no longer feel like your needs are getting met? Do you stop coming in? No show? Something many people don’t realize is that therapists do want you to be honest with them, especially if the relationship isn’t working. 

Here are some ways to know if it’s time to express your needs directly or it’s time to break up with your therapist.

  1. 1.You don’t feel comfortable bringing up difficult or embarrassing things in session
    1. This can go either way. Sometimes, it means that you just need to get to know your therapist a little bit better to be more comfortable. It could be they've said something that did not sit well with you. Other times, it can mean that there is transference- the experience of having your therapist evoke strong emotional reminders of someone else in your life- and that makes vulnerability difficult.  If you have been seeing your therapist a long time, and none of the above scenarios fit with your experience, it might be time for a new therapist.
  2. You feel as though you have accomplished your goals, and are spending the session just chatting.
    1. If you feel like you are spending sessions engaging in small talk, it might be time to talk to your therapist about either decreasing sessions, or stopping altogether.
  3. Your therapist does not have expertise in your area
    1. Part of a therapist’s job is to recognize our own limitations. This is especially true when it comes to clients. If you are experiencing things that your therapist is not able to help with, ideally, they will have an honest conversation about referring you to someone who can help.
  4. Your therapist said something that made you angry.
    1. This is an excellent opportunity to talk to your therapist about what it was that offended you in session. It is ok to be angry with your therapist, and you will not offend them by bringing it up. Being able to bring up anger and disappointment with your therapist is a great way to use your time in session.
  5. You can no longer afford therapy.
    1. Unfortunately, therapy can be expensive. Especially when you don’t have health insurance, or your therapist is not in network. Many therapists offer a sliding scale fee. Talk to you therapist about your financial concerns. If they can’t find a way to make seeing them affordable, they can likely refer you to someone who can.

This is an important conversation

Oftentimes, a client will cancel a session and then just never reschedule. They don't want to offend a therapist they no longer want to see. While confrontation can be difficult, informing your therapist that you are ready to end therapy is recommended. It can allow for an open discussion about what you have accomplished in therapy or can provide you with a referral to someone who might be a better fit. It offers you a sense of closure. You will not offend your therapist if you feel like it is time to end the relationship. 

Be honest about your anxiety about ending the relationship. This is an important conversation, and can allow your therapist to be aware of what you are experiencing, and make the termination process even smoother.

Are you feeling like  you need someone to talk to? Interested in giving therapy a try? Give us a call today at 217-203-2008 or send an email to schedule an appointment!