How to Break Up With Your Therapist (or any practitioner)
| by Kristen Milliron, LCSW, Mental Health Therapist |
So, you have been seeing a member of your health treatment team and you have decided for any number of reasons that you no longer want/need treatment from that provider, what is the best way to terminate treatment?!
Here are some common thoughts and feelings you might have about ending treatment:
“I feel guilty about ending treatment and I don’t want to hurt my providers feelings”
“I don’t want them to be disappointed in me”
“I no-showed or ghosted them to avoid an uncomfortable conversation”
“I don’t want to burn any bridges in case I need them in the future”
Don't GHOST your provider! We're trained for this!
It's completely normal to feel a sense of loss or even guilt when breaking up with your therapist, especially if you have developed a strong connection with your treatment provider. Remember that the patient/provider relationship is a professional one, and your therapist (or other provider) is trained to support you through the process of ending treatment.
We have heard it all, and we're prepared to guide you (non-judgmentally) through the termination process. If you feel uncomfortable discussing your reasons in person, you could consider writing a letter or email to your treatment provider to express your thoughts and feelings. This will go over A LOT better than ghosting!
We WANT you to get better and NOT need us!
It is important to keep in mind that ending treatment does not mean that you are betraying your provider or your progress. The goal of medical/mental health treatment is to help you reach a point where you feel ready to move forward on your own, and it's okay to end treatment when you feel that you have achieved your goals or when you are ready to take a break from treatment.
From the beginning we are honest that we don't want you to NEED us. It is our goal to empower you and educate you with the tools to cope well on your own.
Expressing your feelings / your "WHY" allows your therapist to support you in the process of ending treatment.
It is understandable to feel hesitant to share your reasons for terminating treatment. However, keep in mind that it is important to communicate your feelings honestly and respectfully to your treatment provider so that they can understand your perspective and provide any support you may need in the process of ending treatment.
Is it time to break up with your therapist? Trust your instincts when you need to move on -or- ASK for different strategies when you're stuck:
YOU NEED A DIFFERENT MODALITY - As practitioners, we can settle into a certain rhythm of treatment. It may work great in the beginning, but as you LEARN you may need more advanced techniques. In mental health therapy, this may mean shifting into EMDR or DBT. It's completely acceptable to ask your therapist about trying something new.
YOU NEED MORE HOMEWORK - If you feel like you could make more progress between sessions, ask for homework/resources that can move the needle OUTSIDE of treatments. This can apply to mental health therapy, physical therapy, and even nutrition! This may allow you to go longer between sessions, still make progress, and maintain a beneficial practitioner/patient relationship.
YOU NEED A NEW PERSPECTIVE / OPINION - There's no room for ego in healthcare. When you feel like you're hearing the same things, implementing advice, and still not seeing progress in yourself, it is totally ok to express this! We have an extensive network of colleagues who may be a better fit. Sometimes, that means referring you out for the same type of treatment and sometimes that means recommending an adjunct (complementary) type of treatment. It's better to be honest about your needs to really get what YOU want.
Remember, ending treatment is a personal decision, and it's important to do what feels right for you. If you feel that it's time to end treatment, trust your instincts and know that your provider will support you through the process.
Let's keep the conversation going.. Do you have experience breaking up with your therapist? What went well and what challenges did YOU face? Let me know in the comments below!
“Therapists are human too. We want to know when you're ready to fly the nest. If it's something we can do better, expressing your feelings gives us the opportunity to improve.”
I believe that prioritizing your mental health is a daily practice. Need help putting yourself first? Reach out.
Kristen Milliron, LCSW sees patients in-person at The Facility in Denver, CO and is accepting new patients (Telehealth and In-person).
Learn more about Kristen's Therapy Style here.
Ready to get started?
Book a FREE Discovery Call with Kristen to see if she is a good fit for you!
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