How to Break Up With Your Therapist

By Lauren Ruth Martin, LPC-MHSP

When entering any relationship, it’s common to not think about how the break up (unless you are super doom-and-gloom but that’s for another post). So the first thought of “therapy isn’t working” or “I really don’t like my therapist” can feel unexpected. Breaking up with your therapist can be daunting. However, if you follow these steps you might be surprised that breaking up with them is the most therapeutic thing you can do. 

photo by  rubyetc

photo by rubyetc

photo by  rubyetc

photo by rubyetc

photo by  rubyetc

photo by rubyetc

Disclaimer: Be aware that I didn’t call this guide "How to Not Feel ANY Discomfort While Breaking Up." It’s not easy being the breaker-upper, but someone’s got to do it. 

Tip #1: Know why you are breaking up with them. Ending therapy can be because of not getting along, feeling like there is no progress, or the exact opposite—feeling that you are ready to take on life without their help!! Take a few minutes to write a list your thoughts, feelings, and circumstances that led to your decision. 

Tip #2: Make a commitment to say it to their face. In anticipation of this breakup, you might notice the desire to ghost, send your swan song in an email, or just leave a voicemail. Does anyone really feel good after they ghosted someone? Do your self-respect a favor and show up in the room. Having the genuine experience of ending a relationship can show you that break ups are not always bad. 

Tip #3: Start the session saying you want to break up. Rip. The. Bandaid. Off. If you aren’t so sure that you are ready to leave the relationship, then express your concerns. If you are sure that you are ready to be done, let them know. 

 
 

Tip #4: Give specific feedback. Remember that list I told you to write? Take it to session and refer to it. Give your therapist feedback. They might be able to clarify or at least acknowledge where they may have fallen short. Conflict is not the root of all evil…in fact having the conflict just might IMPROVE the relationship. 

Therapists are naturally curious, so you know they will likely ask “why.” This isn’t some ploy to keep you in therapy, but more of a genuine concern. Consider this, If you were getting fired, wouldn’t you like to know what caused your termination? Get it off your chest and give your therapist the gift of truth. I love to review my client’s progress and discuss tips to maintain after therapy. Feel free to ask your therapist for a summary or suggestions.

Don’t give a crap about the relationship? Well then consider this as “paying it forward” so the next client doesn’t have to go through what you did. 

Tip #5: Don’t be an a*&#^%!. Believe it or not, this is more about you and less about the therapist. It might feel good in the moment to get all ratchet on your therapist and let them know what’s up…the adrenaline is quite intoxicating (here’s looking at you Comcast). But will you really still feel that good when looking back on that interaction? Have you ever been so skillful that you even impress yourself? You want to walk away knowing that you were honest, direct, and skillful AF.

Remember, break ups are a part of life. We haven’t done ourselves any favors by thinking they only occur in the heat of anger. So why not practice breaking up with someone who is (or at least should be) equipped to handle conversations like that? Now get out there and break up!!!

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