How to Break Up with Your Therapist

Wednesday, July 19 2023

Breaking up with someone is never easy — and parting ways with your therapist can feel especially challenging. You may not know what to say or feel worried about hurting their feelings. It’s normal to feel awkward about moving on from your therapist, but know that it’s okay to do so. You’re in control of your mental health and well-being, and if your therapist isn’t a good fit, it’s okay to move on.

Here are a few reasons why a break up with your therapist may be necessary, key pointers on how to approach the conversation, and how SonderMind can help you move on to a licensed mental health professional who’s right for you.

When is it time to break up with a therapist? 

If you’re not sure if moving on from your therapist is the right move for your mental health needs, consider these signs to help you decide if a break up is needed: 

1. You see red flags

 From lacking empathy to sharing confidential information, there are many things a therapist should never do. If your therapist is showing any of these warning signs, it may be time to find a new therapist. 

2. Your symptoms have worsened

Experiencing setbacks— such as having symptoms come back or repeating behavior patterns you want to avoid — is a normal part of the therapy journey. However, if you haven’t made any progress in therapy from the start— despite putting in effort and trying to work with your therapist to make changes — it may mean that your therapist isn’t the right fit for you.  

3. You feel like you can’t be honest 

Feeling comfortable with your therapist and allowing yourself to be vulnerable, open, and honest with them is vital to helping you achieve your therapy goals. If you don’t feel like you can let your guard down around your therapist, therapy won’t be effective. So if you think you’d be more comfortable talking to someone else, you may want to look into seeing another therapist. 

4. Something just doesn’t feel right 

Maybe you can’t quite put your finger on it, but something just feels “off” with your relationship with your therapist. Therapy isn’t always a comfortable experience, but you should feel comfortable talking with your therapist and asking questions. If there’s something about them that’s keeping you from making progress and feeling confident in your therapeutic relationship, then it’s time to consider connecting with a different therapist. 

5. You start to have feelings for each other 

It happens. Awkward situations come up in therapy, including feeling attracted to and/or developing feelings for your therapist. This is nothing to be ashamed of — experts say experiencing some kind of attraction toward your therapist is normal. It’s okay to talk to them about it so they can help you see where these feelings are coming from. Ethically, however, your therapist cannot have a personal relationship with you. And there are times when talking about these feelings can get in the way of your progress in therapy. In those situations, it might be a good idea to find a new therapist. The same goes for if your therapist reveals they have feelings for you. 

6. You reach your therapy goals 

Breaking up with a therapist isn’t always due to a negative experience — sometimes ending your relationship with your therapist is due to reaching the goals you set in therapy. If you feel you’ve accomplished all you’ve set out to in therapy, then it may be time to end your sessions with your therapist. In this case, a full on break up isn’t always necessary. Even if therapy is ending now, that doesn’t mean you can’t go back again when and if you need support later. So if you had a positive experience with your therapist, ask about the possibility of returning from time to time as new issues arise in your life.

How to approach breaking up with your therapist 

No break up conversation is comfortable, and while it may be tempting to simply stop scheduling sessions with your therapist with no explanation, try not to do that. Therapists are professionals who want the best for clients, so if it’s just not working out for you, they’ll understand, and may even help you connect with a new therapist. Here’s how to take the best approach to breaking up with your therapist: 

1. Consider your reasons for wanting to break up

Before you take any action, it’s important to think about why you want to break up with your therapist. Whatever the reason, it’s important to know it so you can communicate it effectively to your therapist. In some cases, your therapist may be able to address your concerns and work through any issues, so make sure you give them a chance to do so before making a final decision.

2. Schedule a session to talk about it

Breaking up via text or email is never a good idea — it’s always better to do it face-to-face (or via video for online therapy sessions). Schedule a session with your therapist specifically to talk about your decision to end therapy. This will allow you both to prepare for the conversation and ensure that you have enough time to discuss everything thoroughly.

3. Be honest but respectful

When you’re talking to your therapist, it’s important to be honest about why you want to end therapy. However, it’s also crucial to be respectful and thoughtful in your approach. Remember that therapy is a professional relationship — even if you’re upset with your therapist, there’s no need to be unkind or disrespectful. Stick to the facts and be clear about why you’re making this decision. Just like you, your therapist is learning from this experience and your honest feedback can help them learn valuable lessons and improve their skills. 

4. Prepare to transition to a new therapist

If you’re ending therapy because you don’t feel like your therapist is the right fit, it’s important to prepare to find someone new if you’re continuing your therapy journey. Make a list of what you liked and didn’t like about your previous therapist to help you narrow down what you’re looking for in a new therapist. Once you know what you want in a therapist, SonderMind can help connect you with a licensed professional based on your preferences within 48 hours. 

5. Focus on self-care

Breaking up with your therapist can be emotional, but it’s important to remember that this is an opportunity to find a therapist who is a better fit for you. In the meantime, make sure to prioritize your mental health. Focus on self-care and practicing healthy coping mechanisms. This could include activities like journaling, meditation, exercise, or spending time with loved ones.

Find the right therapist with SonderMind 

Being in therapy means investing a lot of time, energy, and trust in your relationship with your therapist to improve your mental health and well-being. Having to connect with a new therapist after a previous therapeutic relationship didn't work out can feel daunting and frustrating. But it doesn’t have to be. SonderMind helps take the guesswork out of finding a therapist who’s right for you. Just answer a few questions about yourself and what you’re looking for in a therapist, and we’ll connect you with a licensed mental health professional who meets your unique needs and preferences. 

Remember that you’re never alone in your journey towards better mental health. At SonderMind, we’re here to support you every step of the way — from helping you find a new therapist to providing ongoing support throughout your therapy journey.

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