When is it time to leave your therapist?

People start therapy for many reasons, divorce, career changes, depression and anxiety. What happens when the client feels done or some other reason to end the client therapist relationship, but the therapist is making it difficult to end things. 

Therapist have a term for the process of ending therapy: termination. A strong word for what’s ideally a positive, bittersweet, and moving experience. Generally, when the therapy is coming to an end – either the patient feels ready to move on, or the therapist suggests to the client they have done lots of healing and the work moves toward its final stage, which is to say good-bye. 

The termination process allows someone who has spent an incredible amount of time working through personal issues to not just end it with a “see ya later” attitude. The termination process gives patients the experience of a positive conclusion.

What can be most common in a therapist patient relationship is that both know when the work is done. For example, the patient is no longer depressed or having panic attacks, for instance, or no longer struggles so much in relationships

What if your therapist won’t let you end therapy? Or at least makes you feel bad if you hint you might bring things to a close. 

Here are some questions to think about to determine if your therapist is helping or harming you:

  • If your therapist is offering a service, or are you servicing them?
  • Does your therapist get angry, or acts disappointed or hurt if you don’t behave as they want?
  • Does your therapist make you feel too dependent on them and their approval?
  • Have you started to base all your decisions on whether what you do would please or displease your therapist?
  • Does it seem that your therapist is trying to meet their own emotional needs through you?

Is this right for me?

Of course, any therapist will influence you, and should influence you, but they should always do this in ways that help you meet your emotional needs outside of and beyond the therapy. You should be able to sense that a therapist is in your own best interest at heart and not filling their own emotional needs.

It’s ironic that sometimes people need the help of another kind of therapist to gather the strength and courage to leave the longstanding or emotionally destructive therapist.