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Deborah Wiig
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Is it time to break up with your therapist?
It’s your decision


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Breaking up is hard to do.

But, in some cases, breaking up with your therapist may be the right thing to do. If you’ve felt for a while that the relationship is not working or that you’re not making the progress you’d hoped for, it’s time to evaluate whether you need to find another therapist.

“I just feel like I talk and talk and don’t get any feedback,” says Helen. “I don’t think I’m learning anything that will help me with my problems. I feel like he’s not even listening to me.”

If you don’t feel a connection and a sense of trust with your therapist, it’s time to make a switch. You may think the therapist’s approach isn’t right for you. You may decide you would be more comfortable working with a therapist of the other gender.

“The bottom line is what you’re getting out of it,” says Dr. Simon Rego, Director of Clinical Training, American Institute for Cognitive Therapy. “You have choices. We shop around to find a good mechanic or hair stylist. This is your health. There are too many opportunities for greater potential.”

But it can be hard to tell your therapist.

“I would advocate for being direct,” says Dr. Rego. “It’s always worth bringing up. A good therapist will understand and will refer you to someone who might be a better fit.”




Woman talking to therapistSometimes it’s time to quit therapy. Many therapists today believe a therapy plan in which therapist and client define specific goals and ways to measure progress is best. “If you don’t start with a goal, how do you know when you’ve reached it?” Dr. Rego asks. “Ask your therapist how long he or she envisions continuing,” he suggests. “Ten sessions or ten years? Find out if you’re on the same page about what you’re working on. You may feel you’ve reached your goal.”

Sometimes there are reasons not to quit your therapist. Therapy can be life-changing but sometimes it can be painful. Be honest with yourself. If you're not willing to do your part of the work, you need to make a commitment. If you're struggling to face your fears, therapy can be beneficial. If you know that you have a history of quitting relationships, you might need to stick with your current therapist to work on that .  

Try to examine the source of your doubts and think it through before you act.

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Simon A. Rego, PsyD, Director of Clinical Training, American Institute for Cognitive Therapy, New York City

Page updated September 1, 2010