Breaking Up with Your Therapist: How Do You Know When’s the Right Time?

Working with a therapist is incredibly helpful for a lot of people. That is, until those sessions suddenly feel more like a drain than something to look forward to. For a lot of people in a client-therapist relationship, there comes a time when you begin to realize that something is off, that the time you spend together just isn’t giving you the benefits you want. Or, even worse, the time you dedicate to sessions with your therapist actually starts to feel like it’s hurting, not helping, your overall well-being.

According to the psychotherapist Nicole Reiner, “Sometimes we wind up in a therapeutic relationship and realize it’s not a great fit. Other times, we have this gut feeling that we need a mental break, or that we feel like we have plateaued, or that the therapist isn’t meeting our needs, or even that we feel threatened by the relationship and have become guarded and disconnected.”

The problem for a lot of clients is that they start to feel guilty about these feelings, believing that the relationship is meant to last forever, which, of course, it really isn’t. It’s entirely normal for client-therapist relationships to end. And, more importantly, your therapist won’t be upset if you do decide to call it quits.

Wondering if you’re ready to break up with your therapist? Here are a few signs that it might be time to “pull the plug”.

Your sessions are no longer practical. One of the easiest ways to know that your therapist is no longer a good fit is if you’re finding it difficult to get to sessions. Whether you’ve moved or had a career or life change, having to drive hours or fight traffic to get to each and every session isn’t ideal for you or your therapist. Not only does it mean you’ll arrive stressed if you do make it, but there’s a good chance you’ll end up running late or not showing up. If this is the case, do both of you a favor by ending the relationship on good terms.

Your therapist doesn’t seem to be on the same page as you. It’s natural to evolve and, as you do, your goals in life change. If it seems like your therapist is fighting you on your new goals, then it might be time to look for a new relationship. For example, if you and your partner are wanting to mend a relationship, but your therapist is pushing for you to break up, then a very candid conversation needs to take place, letting your therapist know that, unless you can get on the same page, it might be time to look for help elsewhere. Of course, you don’t want your therapist to agree with you always, so don’t use the first sign of tension or discomfort as a sign to end the relationship. Remember, any good therapist will always put your best interest first.

Your therapist says they’re an expert at everything. Just like you wouldn’t pay the same person for cutting your hair, rewiring the electricity for your house, and then vaccinating your dog, you don’t want your therapist to always be saying that they’re an “expert” at every single thing. If you start to notice that your therapist is trying to help everyone, then it might be a sign that you should look for more of a specialist. For example, if you’re needing marriage counseling, then using the same therapist who works with troubled teens might not be the right fit.

Your therapist needs constant reminders. If each time you go into a session you’re needing to remind your therapist about specific events and facts that you have covered in the past, that’s an indicator that your therapist isn’t as organized and attentive as they should be. Finding a more dedicated therapist could help you have better results.

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