3 Signs It’s Time To Leave Your Therapist
3 Signs It’s Time to Leave Your Therapist
- Nothing lasts forever, but it can feel tricky to know how to say goodbye to your therapist. Finding the right therapist for you, in your current phase of life is key to healing and growth in therapy. Here are three signs it might be time to change therapists.
Sign 1: Dread
If you dread going to therapy often and consistently that’s a sign something might be off. Look therapy is no walk in the park, it can be downright painful at times. Even in those hard times though, you should feel like you are going through the hard stuff to heal not just be miserable! Therapy should not feel like getting a root canal without anesthesia, a tax audit, or a never-ending Zoom meeting. Just like you wouldn’t subject yourself to those things voluntarily, you shouldn’t force yourself to stick with a therapist who doesn’t feel like a good fit.
Sign 2: Misunderstood
Feeling misunderstood in therapy is like trying to explain your favorite TV show to your grandma who still has a VCR. You know you’re not getting through, but you keep trying anyway. It’s like speaking a different language or trying to communicate with a cat – you know there’s some kind of understanding there, but it’s not quite hitting the mark.
If you are having to defend, justify or educate your therapist on your lived experiences, it’s time to pack things up. We will always miss the mark here and there, but if there is an ongoing feeling of not being able to be your full self, it’s likely you are not with the right therapist.
Sign 3: Gut Feel
Trust your gut when it’s telling you to get out! If you just feel things are off, or like your therapist is trying to lead you somewhere you are not trying to go, you might be with the wrong person. Your gut is your own Yelp review, if you keep giving therapy one star, you might be picking up on something funky happening between you and your therapist. Just like avoiding funky takeout, avoid funky therapy that doesn’t feel right to you. Sometimes it’s personality, therapeutic style, or unlived experiences that make the fit not right, whatever it is, there is a right fit waiting for you out there.
Remember, finding the right therapist is a bit like finding the perfect partner – it takes time, patience, and sometimes a few false starts before you find someone who truly clicks with you.
Tips for Ending Well
Although ghosting your therapists/coaches may sound appealing and WAY easier than facing an ending head-on, it’s not an ideal out. For one, therapists/coaches can be clingy and send you follow-up emails and texts asking where’d you go, unlike unread DM’s they are not as easy to shake off.
The best approach is direct and honest, “It’s not me, it’s you, you’re the problem”. Okay, you may want to let your clinician down a bit more gently than that. Here are some ways you can end well with your therapist.
Share what has and has not been working for you.
“I found some of your strategies to reduce anxiety helpful, however, I don’t feel like we are connecting completely. I think it’s time for me to find a clinician who I can open up with more”
Be clear about what you need.
Your clinician might not be the right fit, but a good clinician may be your best referral.
“I’ve loved our time together but I would really like to try out some EMDR/Couples therapy now. Can you suggest someone you think I would be a good match with?”
Reach out to others in the org.
If your therapist/coach is a member of a larger team, and you don’t feel like they can help you transition, ask for their supervisor or intake team to help facilitate a smooth transition. You can usually find this info on the website or on intake paperwork.
Schedule a final session in advance.
If dropping you are leaving face-to-face feels too much, email your clinician before your next session asking for a termination session to review the therapeutic process and next steps.
“Dear Therapist/Coach, Although I have liked talking to you over the last few weeks, I’m not sure we are the right fit. I would like to make our session next week our final session for therapy/coaching. I would like to talk to you about finding another therapist/what has or has not worked/or simply wrap things up with you.”
Times it’s okay to not talk directly to your therapist about leaving
If your clinician has ever yelled at you, come on to you, or made racial, sexist, anti-queer, or anti-trans comments to you (or anything that makes you feel uncomfortable) you have every right to not only leave but report their behaviors. This may include engaging in conversion therapy, pushing a belief system on you, pushing you to disclose details of trauma after you asked them to stop, or in any way crossed boundaries with you. Each therapist, coach, or provider has a board of ethics that oversees their work to ensure the client’s safety; reach out to their organization, supervisor, or professional board to make a formal complaint or anonymous report.