If you’ve been going to therapy for several months but don’t feel like you’re making any progress toward your goals—which could be anything from developing better coping skills to cutting out toxic relationships—it’s probably time to consider that your relationship with this particular therapist isn’t working.
You feel that you have accomplished the goals you set with your therapist.__
You’re not meant to be in therapy forever. That kind of defeats the point, right? The goal of therapy should be to get you to a place where you no longer feel like you need regular sessions.
If you’re starting to realize your therapist has done their job, and that you’ve also done the work, bring it up to your therapist so you can start planning your transition out of therapy.
You don’t feel comfortable with your therapist.
Of course, there are instances where unethical behavior could be at play. Unethical behavior from a therapeutic standpoint could be anything from sexual advances from your therapist to fostering a dual relationship (such as following you on Instagram or trying to become friends outside of your sessions) to various displays of bias.
If you feel uncomfortable or anything feels off, know that you are well within your rights to address it immediately—even if that means walking out mid-session.
How to Break Up With Your Therapist
You don’t have to feel bad about cutting ties—not everyone clicks. “It can feel very awkward, but remember: As with any relationship, it’s not necessarily about you as people so much as how you fit together that’s the issue,” says Brubaker. “You do not need to justify your decision any further than that.”
During your session say something like, “I really appreciate the time we’ve had together but I do not feel that this therapeutic relationship is working for me.” Brubaker recommends ending therapy either prior to your next session or during your next session and having a conversation about how to proceed.
Ghosting isn’t cool—unless you feel unsafe. “Unless there is serious harm or unethical behavior taking place, I would not recommend ghosting,” says Brubaker. Remember that your therapist is a human being too; they’ve cleared an hour of their schedule or more to commit to you.
When there’s a specific issue—say you want to check in on goals more regularly—bring it up before pulling the plug. “To me the first step is to communicate that you think there is an issue,” explains Brubaker. “When someone is direct and brings an issue to our attention, many therapists will be grateful for that information. I have found myself wondering about people who left my practice with no notice and what I could do to improve after that happens. If you feel comfortable sharing it, giving your therapist feedback is one of the best ways for us to grow professionally.”
Ending things with a therapist can be awkward, but it’s great practice for handling conflict. “Therapy can actually be a great realm to practice that type of communication in because very often one of people’s goals in therapy is to work on issues in their other interpersonal relationships,” says Brubaker.
Your therapist will usually have recommendations for resources for you during your breakup conversation. “Typically I will explore what the person is looking for and give them options for therapists who have something I do not, for example, being in a more convenient location or working with different modalities,” says Brubaker.
I finally ended my sessions with my therapist about a month and a half into treatment. I said I was too busy with school and couldn’t commit. Now I wish I had been honest and explained my problem was with her and her approach. My experience there made me reluctant to try therapy again. However, when I did find the right fit years later, I realized how important having a therapist you trust and click with is. Sometimes it just takes a few tries.
Molly Burford is a writer in Denver covering mental health and wellness. Follow her at @mburf92.