How to End Your Professional Relationship With Your Therapist

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Whether it’s due to unforeseeable circumstances, such as moving, or whether you decide it’s time to move on to another counselor, there may come a time when you need to break up with your therapist. Just as any other relationship, it may be heartbreaking, or it may be a relief, but here are some tips to help you get through the end of your professional relationship and find a new therapist.

Unforeseeable Circumstances

Sometimes life demands that we find another therapist whether we move, they move, or they move on to another job and can’t continue to serve you in a professional capacity. It can be challenging to find the trust built in that relationship with someone else, but hopefully, you or your therapist have plenty of warning that a change is coming. This will give you time to interview new, potential counselors and test out the rapport you have with them. 

It will take time to build a relationship with the new counselor but be sure to research different kinds of therapists and their specialties before choosing the one that will be right for your next step in recovery.

How You Know It’s Time to Find Someone Else

On the other end of the spectrum, you may not be moving where you live, but you feel it’s time to move on from your therapist. Maybe you aren’t getting results, or your personalities no longer mesh. 

There are certain signs to watch for that may indicate it’s time to end the relationship:

  • The Focus Changes

If the therapist starts talking about their personal life instead of yours, that’s a red flag. The relationship shouldn’t be an exchange between two people but a dedicated time set aside to focus on what’s going on in your life. It’s one thing if there’s an appropriate place to insert a personal experience related to your situation, but you shouldn’t have a therapist who talks about themselves.

  • Imposing Beliefs on You

Likewise, while therapists have their own beliefs and values, they should never impose those on you. If they begin judging your actions based on their value system or beliefs (particularly religious ones), they are getting a little too familiar to be an effective therapist for you to bounce ideas off of. Therapy should not come with an arbitrary moral code that’s particular to anyone but yourself. Your counselor is supposed to be acting as your therapist, not your parent or your priest.

  • Expressing Little Interest

When a therapist expresses little interest in your therapy, this can manifest as forgetting information you’ve told them in previous sessions. Your therapist may have been having a bad day on occasion, but they are supposed to be listening to what you say and applying it to your situation. If they forget, they probably weren’t listening very well, and they certainly didn’t follow through on their notes. You need a therapist who will pay attention to what you’re saying.

  • Not Empowering You

Sometimes a therapist may tell you what to do instead of helping you find the answers for yourself. That has little value for someone in therapy. You have to learn to find your answers and need a therapist that supports your initiative.

  • Missed Appointments

Beware when the therapist shows a lack of concern when you miss an appointment or fail to show improvement. Or if they regularly cancel appointments at the last minute and don’t seem to be concerned about its impact on your therapy. This may be an indicator it’s time to look for someone else. 

Ending Your Professional Relationship with a Therapist

Switching therapists can often feel like a relationship breakup. How are you going to broach the subject with your therapist? Will they be upset, or will they be relieved?

A direct, professional approach is the best. It can be hard to assert yourself and tell someone your therapy isn’t working for you, but it’s better to do that than to just stop going. Your therapist may try to talk you out of your decision or offer some changes, but if you truly feel you need to move on and get a different perspective on therapy, be firm in your decision and communicate that. 

When broaching the subject, it’s helpful to frame it from your perspective. For example, instead of saying, “You aren’t giving me what I need,” you could say, “I feel like I’m not making the progress I need in our therapy sessions.”

If you do move on to a new therapist, be direct with what you want from therapy at the start to increase potential progress and build this new relationship. Tell them what has helped in the past and what hasn’t. Don’t be afraid to speak up about how you’re feeling when you feel something isn’t working. You may also need to try a few different therapists until you find the right fit for you.

Starting over with a new therapist is never easy, but it may be necessary if you feel your therapy has come to a standstill and you’re no longer making progress. Some approaches simply don’t work, or they may work at first but stagnate and become ineffective as things change. The same holds for an individual therapist. Don’t be afraid to make a change if you feel it is necessary. Here at Everlast Recovery Centers, we understand that no one approach works for everyone. We try different kinds of therapy and counseling to help individuals with substance abuse disorders and mental illnesses or issues. You can explore what works for you in our different programs at our Riverside, California facility. With the low ratio of professional staff to clients, we can still make changes as needed to help you find what works best for you. Let us help you find the counseling support you need and lead a sober, productive life. Call us today at (866) 338-6925.

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