It’s OK To Switch: When and How To Change Therapists

Monday, October 30 2023

Being in therapy can provide an effective way to manage mental health conditions or work through specific issues. However, this partly depends on your relationship with your therapist because research shows that a good relationship between therapists and clients can help clients see more success from therapy. 

So, what if you’ve been struggling to make progress in therapy? Or maybe you don’t feel like you’re clicking with your therapist? Trying a new therapist might be your next move. In fact, you might find therapy more beneficial after changing therapists. 

Below, you’ll learn more about when it’s time to try a new therapist, how to find one, and how to build a new therapeutic relationship. 

Key signs that you may want to try a new therapist 

For therapy to be effective, it’s important that you feel safe and comfortable opening up to your therapist. If you don’t, you may not see the progress you’re hoping for. It may be time to consider switching therapists if you’re experiencing any of the following signs. 

You notice no change and aren’t feeling better 

Patience is key, as therapy takes time to work. How long it takes for therapy to work can vary based on several factors, such as your type of therapy, how often you meet with your therapist, your diagnosis, and your therapeutic goals. 

While progress can take time, it should happen eventually. It’s important to check in with yourself regularly to make sure you’re making strides. If you’re not progressing or feeling any improvement in your mental health at all, consider trying a new therapist. 

You can’t afford your current therapist

Financial strain may add undue stress to your therapy sessions, which can limit their effectiveness. Insurance coverage, sliding scales, and sustainable therapy practices can help make therapy more affordable — however, therapy rates can vary widely. 

For example, your insurance provider might only cover a small part of the treatment cost. Sliding scales and sustainable therapy might not be available in your area. If you’re having trouble covering the cost of therapy with your current therapist, a more cost-effective option may ease financial strain. 

When you use SonderMind, you can connect with a licensed therapist who accepts your insurance. You can also opt for our affordable self-pay rates if you don’t have insurance to make sure you can access the mental health care you need. 

You don’t get along with your therapist

A great rapport between you and your therapist is crucial for building a successful therapeutic relationship. Therapy works best when it provides a safe, judgment-free space, which requires mutual respect between you and your therapist.

Differing communication styles or misaligned therapeutic approaches may result in rifts between you and your therapist. If you feel judged, misunderstood, or disrespected at any point during your sessions due to this misalignment, it can cause trust issues that may make it difficult to open up or foster that judgment-free space.

When your relationship with your therapist lacks trust, it can hinder your progress — which is a clear sign that it’s time to change therapists. 

Your therapist doesn’t make you feel comfortable 

You’ll discuss difficult subjects with your therapist, including potentially hurtful or traumatic experiences. Those conversations are most productive and helpful when you’re comfortable being open, honest, and vulnerable. Therapy should foster a sense of safety and understanding, so if your therapist makes you feel unsafe or uncomfortable at any time, it’s not the right therapeutic fit. 

Be on the lookout for red flags, like inappropriate comments or behaviors, boundary violations, or unprofessional conduct. If you feel that your therapist has been inappropriate, it’s time to seek out a provider who can give you the safe and comfortable environment you deserve. Depending on the severity of the behavior, you also have the right to contact your state or local licensing board to file a complaint.

You don’t think your therapist “gets it”

It may be hard to make progress when you feel misunderstood or even misdiagnosed in therapy. Having your therapist validate your feelings and experiences is an important part of moving toward your goals. 

In some cases, cultural differences or mismatched personal values or beliefs might lead you to feel like your therapist doesn’t quite understand what you’re going through. This is why having a therapist who can be empathetic and offers cultural or experiential understanding is so valuable. They’ll better understand your perspectives and how you interact with the people and world around you — which can help them guide you toward your therapeutic goals. 

If you feel like your current therapist doesn’t understand your cultural beliefs or values, you may want to look for a new therapist who shares a similar cultural background. 

You no longer see the point in attending 

Your progress in therapy might hit a plateau, which is fairly common. However, it might not be you — you might just be experiencing ineffective therapy. 

Plateauing in therapy signifies normal stabilization or slowing of progress. Ineffective treatment, however, indicates that therapy isn’t producing the desired or intended outcomes, which means your needs aren’t being addressed sufficiently. You can work with your therapist on overcoming plateauing, such as trying a different type of talk therapy. But if ineffective treatment is the problem, changing therapists might be the best solution. 

Ineffective treatment may lead you to feel like there’s no point in going to therapy, since you’re not seeing progress. This can lead to avoidant behaviors or make it even harder to achieve your goals. 

Take time to reflect about what led you to therapy in the first place. Do you feel like your current therapist is helping you reach your goals? If not, look for a new therapist who can help you continue your progress. 

Steps to finding a different therapist 

Switching to a different therapist is a natural part of many people’s therapeutic journey, and finding a therapist who’s a better fit for you can help you make the most of your therapy sessions. 

If you feel unsure or awkward about changing therapists, there’s no need to worry. Below, we’ll outline exactly what you need to do to find a new therapist

1. Tell your current therapist what’s happening 

Keeping your current therapist in the loop can result in a smoother transition to working with a new therapist. Openly communicate with your current therapist throughout this process. 

In many cases, therapists understand the need for this kind of change. Keep in mind that giving your therapist feedback about your experiences and why you’re making the switch is helpful, as they can use this feedback to improve their practice. 

2. Obtain referrals to other mental health professionals 

Obtaining vetted referrals and using trusted sources can be highly valuable as you look for a new therapist. You can also gain peace of mind and comfort when you get recommendations from peers or professionals. 

Referrals and recommendations aren’t the only ways to find a new therapist. You can use online directories or your insurance company’s website to find therapists who accept your insurance. 

SonderMind is another great resource for those seeking therapy. With SonderMind’s personalized approach, it’s quick and easy to connect with the right therapist. Simply tell us about needs, preferences, and goals, and we’ll connect you with online or in-person providers with the skills and experience you need. 

Learn more about how SonderMind works.

3. Think about what you want from your next therapist 

Doing some self-reflection can help you determine what you’re looking for in a therapist. What are you hoping to gain from therapy? Are there specific goals you already have in mind from working with your previous therapist? Are you open to exploring different types of therapeutic approaches if suggested? 

You’ll also want to consider logistical factors when choosing a new therapist, too, like:

4. Speak to your insurance company 

When it’s time to move on to a new therapist, your insurance company is an important part of the process. Contact your insurance company to ask important questions:

  • Is my new therapist in-network or out-of-network?
  • How much of my deductible have I met already for mental health services? 
  • What is the deductible for outpatient mental health care or therapy services?

Using an in-network therapist typically costs less than using an out-of-network therapist. Talk to your insurance company about any coverage adjustments that might occur when you change therapists. 

5. Prepare for the first session

Once you switch, it’s time to prepare for your first session. Setting boundaries and communicating clearly with your new therapist right from the start is a great way to get things started on a solid foundation. 

To do this, reflect on your past experiences with therapy. Think about what worked for you and what didn’t work. These reflections can help you and your new therapist develop goals and determine the most suitable approach to use during therapy sessions. 

6. Commit to the process and reevaluate periodically 

Going through therapy and working on self-growth involves occasionally reevaluating the process. You might discover that you need to make some changes along the way to meet your therapy goals. Periodically check in with yourself to see how you’re progressing. If you’re not seeing the progress you’d like, you can discuss this with your new therapist and work together to adjust the therapeutic process as needed.

Tips for building a new therapeutic relationship 

Starting from scratch with a new therapist can feel overwhelming — especially if a negative experience is what led you to switch. Know that those feelings are completely normal and valid. 

Establishing any new relationship will take time, and ensuring a successful therapeutic relationship will require patience and understanding on both sides to build rapport. Let’s look at a few tips that can help you cultivate a strong relationship with your new therapist.

Be open-minded and honest 

Therapy involves being willing to show vulnerability. This can be tough to do when you meet with a new therapist: You don’t know them, and you might have had experiences with your previous therapist that make vulnerability even harder. 

The trust-building process between you and your new therapist is gradual. You might need a few (or several) sessions before you feel comfortable opening up. In the meantime, be as honest and open-minded as you can to help build trust. 

Connect your new therapist to your old therapist 

Continuity of care can help ensure a smooth change to a new therapist. If you’re comfortable doing so, give your previous therapist consent to share their notes with your new therapist for informational purposes. These notes on your progress, goals, and other factors can provide your new therapist with valuable insights to build a successful treatment plan with you. Of course, if you have concerns about privacy or information sharing, this isn’t mandatory. 

Respect boundaries and build trust gradually 

Boundaries go both ways in therapy. Setting boundaries and respecting your therapist’s boundaries is an important part of building trust and mutual respect. Trust-building in therapy is a journey that has its ups and downs. Having boundaries in place and respecting your new therapist’s can make this process easier. 

Let SonderMind help you find your next therapist 

Switching from your current therapist to a more compatible one can significantly benefit your therapeutic journey. Making the decision to switch is a powerful way to self-advocate and ensure that you get the mental health care that’s right for you. 

If you’re considering changing therapists, you don’t have to do it alone. SonderMind can connect you with online or in-person therapists who meet your unique needs and preferences. We make the process of finding a new therapist simple — no digging through long directories required. 

Let SonderMind help you start your search today.

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