When And How To Break Up With Your Therapist

By: Gabrielle Seunagal

Updated September 24, 2021

Medically Reviewed By: Whitney White, MS. CMHC, NCC., LPC

Need to switch counselors? Continue reading.

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Counseling provides aid to countless individuals. Those who undergo counseling can develop great relationships with their therapists who can listen to them and provide guidance. 

However, sometimes the counseling doesn’t go as planned and you may consider choosing a new therapist.

When To Break Up With Your Therapist

Only you can decide whether breaking up with your therapist is the right call. If you are considering ending your counseling because of your therapist, it may be a sign it’s time for you to do so.

If you are truly on the fence about taking a break from your therapist, then you should be aware of certain warning signs of a bad therapist. It’s still important to know what signs of a bad therapist are in order to make the best decision.

Inappropriate Behavior

One of the biggest red flags is if a therapist behaves inappropriately. Inappropriate behaviors like discussing details about other patients, suggesting meetings for social outings together, and initiation of sexual behavior are all signs it’s time to dump a therapist. As a licensed professional, your therapist will be bound by a set of ethics and laws.

Forgetfulness

The failure to remember patients’ information that pertains to their sessions is a red flag. A therapist will work among multiple patients, but they still must remember the details discussed in your sessions. Therapists take notes for this reason. If you find yourself in a situation where you constantly have to remind your therapist about details you previously shared, it might be time to break up with your therapist.

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

Moving On After Your Therapist Break Up

There are many ways to go about ending the relationship with your therapist. No matter which option you select, it’s important for you to sever ties in a way that allows you to feel safe, comfortable, and at ease. You should never feel bad about ending it with your therapist.

Explain To Your Therapist That You Would Like To End Your Sessions

Informing your therapist that you no longer wish to continue working among them is one way of going about ending the relationship. Be prepared that your therapist may ask why or question whether they said or did something which made you uncomfortable. Your therapist may be seeking feedback, wanting to open lines of communication to better understand what has happened, or be simply curious of your thoughts. You are free to go into as many or as few details as you would like. If you are not comfortable telling your therapist the reasons you are choosing to leave, let them know that you believe the counseling has run its course and you're ready to move on.

Cancel Future Appointments
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Breaking up with your therapist can be a very tense process. Going into your therapist’s office and letting them know that you are severing the relationship is not always the best fit for every individual or the dynamic. Therefore, canceling future appointments with your therapist sends the message, allows for a clean break, and frees you up to pursue counseling elsewhere or to try other things if this interests you. Canceling future appointments with your therapist does not require face-to-face contact and can easily be done via phone or email. If your therapist works for a firm or agency, you can contact the institution and let them know that you are no longer interested in proceeding with sessions or ask how to cancel.

Ease Your Therapist Into The Break-Up

Easing your counselor into the separation to make the transition less abrupt is always the best option. It’s also important to note that this is not something which you are obligated to do, 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 with them, then there are 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. Similarly, to inform your counselor that you are no longer interested in continuing sessions when you inform them that you’re thinking about moving on, they may ask why or how to proceed. You can tell them as much or as little as you are comfortable with. Counseling is almost always at the discretion of you, the patient.

The Important Therapist Break Up Details To Keep Know

It’s normal to feel a degree of tension or foreboding about doing so but keeping certain details in mind can prove to be helpful as you are going through this process.

Counseling is Designed to Help You

Getting the proper help is always the number one priority. If at any time you feel as though this is not happening, you reserve every right to break up with your therapist. This may be a tough decision, but you should never continue working with someone who you don’t believe is doing a good job at helping you. When it comes to counseling, treatment comes first.

Your Therapist Should Not Take The Separation Personally

If your counselor is truly a professional, they should not take your decision to discontinue sessions on a deeply personal level. This does not mean that your counselor should not care about you as a patient or have your well-being at heart.

When individuals meet therapists, the idea is for them to gain strategies that they apply in the real world to better themselves. Counseling should never result in anyone being dependent upon their therapist. Likewise, your counselor should never make you feel bad because you have chosen to discontinue sessions, regardless of your reason for doing so.

It’s Okay To Recharge

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Depending on the reason behind the separation, you may feel as though you should immediately begin working with a new therapist. If this is truly what you want to do, then it’s OK to do so, but you should also be aware that taking time to recharge is acceptable as well. Counseling is an inherently intimate process, and it should get you thinking. Regardless of the nature of the separation with your therapist, hopefully, something is gained from the sessions which can be helpful. If so, then that’s very good news. Whether or not you decide to work with another counselor later down the line is up to you, but if you ever feel inclined to take a few weeks or even months to yourself before seeing another specialist, that’s okay.

Therapy Conclusion

Ending things with your counselor is not easy, but is something from which you can then grow up from. Sometimes, life throws challenges in our direction so that we can learn from them.

Once ready to start counseling, BetterHelp has a team of therapists who would be thrilled to work with you. Regardless of what your history with counseling may be, everyone deserves access to the best care.

If you’re trying online counseling for the first time, you may be curious about how to know if it works and how effective it is compared to traditional in-person counseling. That does depend somewhat on the issue you’re treating and what type of therapy you’re getting. But, overall, the research indicates that most types of talk counseling are as effective online as they are in person for the most common issues. HuffPost wrote an article discussing all of this and highlighted that equally important is connecting well with your therapist.

BetterHelp is optimized to match individuals with the right person. While an office might put someone on a waiting list, BetterHelp asks questions to match individuals with the right counselor, usually within 24 hours. If it's found that you’re ready to give someone else a try, BetterHelp also has more than 14,000 counselors available.

BetterHelp Therapists And Therapy Reviews

“Even though I have been in counseling my entire life it has always been difficult for me to find that special person I can not only trust and confide in but also relate to. At first, I was skeptical about BetterHelp and meeting a new therapist but I must say it has been one of the best decisions I’ve made for myself in 2020. Diane is just wonderful. She listens to what I’m saying not just the words that come out of my mouth. She offers me support and guidance and I never feel judged. I highly recommend both Diane and the BetterHelp team!” Read more on  Diane Benfield.

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“Dr. Mendoza is an amazing therapist. I’ve been in counseling on and off for the past 10 years and while other therapists have helped me talk about my issues, Dr. Mendoza has helped me better understand my patterns and where they stem from. After every session, I feel better equipped to deal with my issues. Dr. Mendoza is both flexible and compassionate in her communication. I HIGHLY recommend her.” Read more on  Zyanya Mendoza.

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