How To Break Up With Your Therapist

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We are big proponents of seeking professional grief support and know that it can be tremendously helpful when struggling after a loss.  Unfortunately, just like with any new relationship, things don't always work out the way we expect.  Finding a therapist can be tough and sometimes the relationship just doesn’t work out – you don’t connect, you aren’t getting what you want or need out of the relationship, you need to see other people.  Sometimes things go well for a while until suddenly they don't.  Knowing if you should break up with your grief counselor can be tough, and navigating the breakup can be awkward. No one tells you how to break up with your therapist! So, we are going to go through a few of the circumstances that may have you contemplating a split and talk through some considerations.

These break-up feelings often fall into three major categories:

First Date: I just don’t feel that spark

Seven Year Itch: Things just aren’t that exciting anymore.

I’ve Outgrown You: The goals feel accomplished, I feel ready to move on, I just don’t need you anymore.  

Let’s start at the third and work our way back.  Before we do, it is important to say that if your reason for considering a break up is that your therapist is inappropriate, abusive, or threatening then you should bail.  Immediately. No questions asked.  If they don't seem invested, forget important things you've shared, doze off, spend time talking about their own problems, or make you feel rushed by checking their watch, phone, etc then I would also suggest finding someone new without hesitation.  You are paying for this service and you should find someone you feel confident is invested in you.

Now, back to some of the common causes for a therapist break up:

I’ve Outgrown You

If this is your reason for breaking up with your grief counselor, this is a good problem to have.  The vast majority of grief counseling (and therapy in general) is expected to last for a finite period.  There is no expectation of 'til death do us part with your therapist - you are going to improve and things are going to get better.  The relationship is going to come to an end.  You may be feeling that you have gotten what you wanted and needed from the relationship, you are ready to move forward, you are feeling pretty good (relatively of course).  So how do you broach this topic with your therapist?  Chances are, at some point, you and your therapist set out some goals for counseling.  Even if you didn’t explicitly do that, there is a good chance you went into therapy with a sense of what you wanted to get from it.  If you feel you have made the progress you hoped to make and no longer need counseling, let your therapist know this is how you are feeling.  Review the list, discuss where you think you are now compared to where you started, and explain that you feel ready to stop your counseling.   If your therapist agrees, that’s great!  The breakup is mutual, you can stay friends, all is well with the world.  If your therapist doesn’t immediately agree with your self-assessment, take some time to listen.  Your therapist may have some valid reasons to consider continuing treatment.  If that is the case, you may wish to heed their advice.  If you are feeling especially antsy, this may be a good time to readdress goals and timeframes.  Whether you end counseling right away or give it a little more time based on recommendations, you may wish to ease yourself out of treatment.  You and your therapist should coordinate a discharge plan you both feel comfortable with to make sure your transition from therapy goes well.

Had an experience breaking up with a counselor? Leave a comment to share!  And don't forget to subscribe to get our updates sent right to your email.

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After writing online articles for What’s Your Grief for over a decade, we finally wrote a tangible, real-life book!

What’s Your Grief? Lists to Help you Through Any Loss is for people experiencing any type of loss. This book discusses some of the most common grief experiences and breaks down psychological concepts to help you understand your thoughts and emotions. It also shares useful coping tools, and helps the reader reflect on their unique relationship with grief and loss.

You can find What’s Your Grief? Lists to Help you Through Any Loss wherever you buy books:

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2 Comments on "How To Break Up With Your Therapist"

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  1. PARM LANIADO  May 2, 2016 at 1:27 am Reply

    Thank you for this insightful article. I’m faced with wanting to bail out of therapy, instead of staying the course and working through difficult emotions. I’ll stay and hopefully gain some understanding on why I want to bail when emotions get difficult.
    For a reference you can visit

  2. Done with it  August 27, 2015 at 10:50 pm Reply

    Therapist wanted me to keep on going to him. Money and more money and contro. And talking trash. Not dirty jokes, not completely disgusting not much double entendre. Just weird s&#t. Scary too. At te end of the day I was worse off not better.
    Funny how he said we’re all alike. Thank the Lord the rest aren’t like him.

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