By Larissa May
I walked into my first day of therapy with a fresh cup of tea. It was sort of like walking into a first date. I was hopeful, curious, and anxious all at once. After surfing the web, reaching out, and searching for a therapist that fit my requirements, I thought I had FINALLY found the one. *Cue swipe right.*
I quickly learned that finding a therapist is much more like finding a significant other than a doctor. Just because they’re right on paper—in your financial bracket, take your insurance, and located on the same side of town—doesn’t mean it’s going to work out.
In a perfect world, you would walk out of your first therapy session feeling like a million bucks. But for most, this just isn’t the reality, and it most certainly hasn’t always been the case for me.
If you’re questioning whether or not your therapist is *the one,* they’re probably not. Your relationship with your therapist is crucial for results. Just like any relationship, it’s important to evaluate whether your psychologist is serving you.
The weird thing about ending a therapy relationship is that it’s not like you can just skip your appointment and move onto another practice. Your therapist is your confidant and they know EVERYTHING about you. But at the end of the day you have to do what serves you (and your wallet). So… how do you go about making such a tough decision?
ask the hard questions
Leaving your therapist is a difficult decision. Like physical health, it takes serious discipline, practice, and time to see results. It’s important to remember that change begins with *you*, and although your therapist is here to help, they can only give you the tools. However, if you feel like you’re giving it your all and STILL don’t feel the chemistry, here are a few questions to ask yourself before leaving a therapist.
- Do you know why you are in therapy? Therapy can offer tools that will change your life, but much like a personal trainer, it’s crucial that you have agreed upon goals that you are working towards.
- How have you changed since you started therapy? After approximately 6-8 sessions of therapy, you should see reasonable differences in the way that you feel. If you don’t feel a change, it’s time to reconsider the relationship.
- Is your therapist invested in your success? Do they check in on you throughout the week after a difficult session? This was a BIG one for me. How could I walk out of a session in deep depression and not hear from my therapist for an entire week?
- Does your therapist ask you how the experience is working for you? It’s crucial that your therapist checks in on how the process is going every once in a while. This is where my past therapists have missed the boat.
- How do you feel after each session? Some sessions are going to be harder than others. If you leave feeling amazing after each appointment, it’s probably not the best use of your time. Therapy should challenge you and bring you to new feelings that you haven’t experienced before.
the break up
Once you’ve made the decision to end the relationship, it’s time to make a move. I thought finding a therapist was tough… but MAN, the break up was even worse. I experienced *almost* all of the same emotions as I would in a normal break up. Guilt, anxiety, fear, and confusion. Was I crazy to leave this therapist? Were they REALLY not the right fit or was I just being stubborn? I had to go with my gut.
I’m not going to sugarcoat this. It is AWKWARD to break up with your therapist unless they give you space to share your honest truth.
The weirdest thing about it was that I couldn’t really ask my friends for their opinion. It’s just not a conversation I’ve had before. Isn’t it weird how we can complain about our dermatologists or hairdressers, but when it comes to therapy… we’ve still got a long way to go!
Preparing for the conversation is the hardest part. Like any break up, you have to think through what you are going to say and consolidate your thoughts beforehand. Here’s a simple format that has worked for me. (BTW, I’ve always opted for the email break up.)
Dear *insert your therapist’s name*,
Thank you for your time and support over the past few months. I’ve been reflecting on my experience at therapy and at this time I would like to explore a few different options. *You can also include what you are looking for or WHY you are leaving, but it’s not required.*
I appreciate your support on my journey and look forward to crossing paths in the future.
the dating game
Once you’ve made the break up happen it’s time to take a different approach to help find the right therapist. Here are a few tips I’ve learned along the way.
- Make a job description for your therapist that identifies your goals, requirements, and needs.
- Interview 5-6 therapists and set your expectations up front.
- Ask for peer recommendations. I’m an entrepreneur, so it’s been helpful to ask other entrepreneurs for recommendations.
Have you ever ~broken up~ with a therapist yourself? How did you handle the situation? What are your tips for finding the right match? Join the conversation in the comments below.
Larissa May is a mental health advocate and social media consultant whose early years as a fashion blogger propelled her to the forefront of the discussion on mental health in the digital age. At just 24, Larz runs her own company called #HalfTheStory, which is a global non-profit community and media platform reducing the negative effects of social media on youth. You can find her on instagram @livinlikelarz and join the mental health conversation on @halfthestory.