How And When To Break Up With Your Therapist

Medically reviewed by Arianna Williams, LPC, CCTP and April Justice, LICSW
Updated July 12, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

If you haven’t been making progress during therapy sessions, or if your therapist is forgetful or crosses boundaries they shouldn’t, it may be time to stop seeing them. You might also end the relationship if you don’t feel like you’re connecting with them or have a hard time trusting and opening up to them. You might tell them in person that you are considering ending therapy, or you can simply cancel all future appointments if you’d prefer to avoid confrontation. You might remind yourself that one poor experience with therapy does not necessarily mean that all therapy experiences will be the same. You may be able to find a more suitable therapist or through an online therapy platform.

Your first therapist may not be the best fit

When should I end my relationship with my therapist?

Only you can decide whether breaking up with your therapist is right. If you are considering quitting counseling because of your therapist, it may be a sign it’s time for you to do so. While it may be in your best interest to quit counseling, the problem may lie in who is providing your care. If you are truly on the fence about taking a break from your therapist, it can help to be aware of certain warning signs of an unsuitable therapist. 

Inappropriate behavior

One of the biggest red flags can be when a therapist behaves inappropriately. It is not the job of a therapist to make you uncomfortable, and it's important that they respect boundaries. Inappropriate behaviors include discussing details about other patients, suggesting meetings for social outings together, speaking about their personal sexual relationships, and initiation of sexual behavior can all be signs of an unhealthy relationship. 


Failure to remember a client’s information pertaining to individual sessions can be a red flag. A therapist’s job usually involves seeing multiple clients, but they still must remember details for each individual client. Most therapists take notes during each session for this reason. 

Knowing when you should break up with your therapist is one factor; knowing how to do this can be another situation entirely.

How to break up with your therapist

There can be many ways to go about ending this relationship. No matter which option you select, it can be important to sever ties in a way that allows you to feel safe, comfortable, and at ease. There should not be a sense of fear when considering concluding a therapeutic relationship. Feel free to go into as many or as few details as you would like; you don't generally have to worry about what not to say to your therapist if you're ending things. There’s also no need to worry or feel guilty about moving on to a different mental health professional who is better suited to your needs and preferences.

Informing your therapist that you no longer wish to continue working together can be one way of ending a relationship. However, you may need to be prepared for your therapist to want to talk about whether they said or did something that caused this. Your therapist may honestly be seeking feedback, wanting to open lines of communication to understand better what has happened, or may simply be curious about your thoughts. If you are not comfortable having a conversation about why this decision was made, you can let them know that the counseling has run its course and you’re ready to move on.


Cancel future appointments

Breaking up with your therapist can be a very tense process. Going into the office and letting them know that you are severing this relationship may not always be a good fit for every individual. However, canceling future appointments can send a message, allow for a clean break, and free you to pursue counseling elsewhere without requiring any form of confrontation. Canceling future appointments typically does not require face-to-face contact and can easily be done via phone or email. If the mental health professional works for a firm or agency, you can contact that institution and let them know that you are no longer interested in proceeding or ask how to cancel.

Take it slow

Mental health professionals are human beings, and easing your counselor into the separation makes the transition less abrupt for both you and them. It can also be important to note that this is not something you are obligated to do, and being uncomfortable is a valid reason to end the relationship as quickly as possible. especially if you don’t feel comfortable. However, if you would like to gradually prepare your counselor for the fact that you are no longer going to be working together, then there may be ways in which you can go about doing so.

At some point toward the end of one of your sessions, you can let your counselor know that you are considering moving on. They may ask why or how you’d like to proceed. You can tell them as much or as little as you are comfortable with. Counseling is almost always at your discretion.

Your therapist should not take the separation personally

If the counselor, therapist, or clinical psychologist is truly a professional, they aren’t likely to take this decision to discontinue sessions personally. This does not necessarily mean that your counselor should not care about your feelings as a patient or have your well-being at heart.

When individuals meet counselors, the idea is usually for one to gain strategies that they can apply in everyday situations to better themselves. Counseling should never result in anyone being dependent upon a therapist. Likewise, a counselor should never make you feel bad because you have chosen to discontinue sessions or give you the impression you are hurting them by leaving. 

It’s okay for you to recharge with time

Depending on the reason the relationship ended, you may feel as though you should immediately begin seeing a new therapist. If this is truly what you want to do, then it can be okay to do so, but you should also be aware that taking time to recharge can be acceptable as well. Counseling can be an inherently intimate process. Regardless of the nature of separation with your therapist, hopefully, something is gained from the sessions that can be helpful. Whether or not you want to work with another counselor later on can be up to you, but taking a few weeks or even months to yourself before seeing another specialist can be completely acceptable.

Online therapy can match you with a suitable therapist

If you want to continue counseling but you’re having trouble finding a new therapist nearby, or if you feel unsafe discussing your mental health or various life challenges in person, you might consider trying an online therapy platform. You will typically complete a questionnaire with various questions that can help a platform pair you with a therapist who is likely to be a better fit. Another potential benefit of online counseling is that it’s usually quite easy to switch providers as needed until you find one you connect with and feel comfortable with.

According to this study, online counseling can be highly effective in treating a variety of mental health disorders and challenges. Please don’t hesitate to reach out and get the help you deserve, whether you do so online or in person.

Your first therapist may not be the best fit


If you feel that your current therapist isn’t helping, it’s okay to talk to your therapist and bring up feelings of frustration or concern. If you don’t feel comfortable doing so, it’s okay to find a new mental health professional. Counselors are used to some clients leaving, and good ones typically understand that each person has to find someone they feel comfortable with. Breaking up with your therapist can be as simple as communicating that you’d like to end your sessions at this time. If you happen to be taking any medication for mental health conditions when you stop, it may be best to see the provider who prescribed you medication, as they may offer medical advice or even recommend a new mental health professional. 

If you’re interested in finding a new therapist on your own, you might consider trying an online platform like BetterHelp. BetterHelp has a network of more than 25,000 licensed providers, so you can choose someone who has experience treating whatever concerns you’re facing. Also, with BetterHelp, you can always change providers if needed until you find someone who suits your needs. Take the first step toward getting support and reach out to BetterHelp today.

Explore mental health and healing in therapy
The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
Get the support you need from one of our therapistsGet started