How To Know When It’s Time To Leave Your Therapist
Finding a therapist you feel comfortable with is not always the easiest thing in the world, but neither is figuring out if it might be time to move on from your current practitioner. Especially if you've been working together for awhile, knowing how to tell if you've outgrown your therapist can be a challenge, but there are some key factors that might help you make the decision one way or another.
"I love this question because I do not think it is asked or thought of enough in therapy circles," Elizabeth Cohen, Ph.D tells Bustle. "I wish people knew going into therapy that they are a consumer. As such, they should feel more agency over choosing a therapist and a therapeutic modality. I, too, often see people who have been in therapy for a long time with a therapist or a therapeutic modality that didn't work for them."
In order for any work to be done, Dr. Cohen says, a person needs to feel comfortable with their therapist and that therapist’s methods. So, if they feel like it is not working for them, they have to take an action.
Take a look at some of the tips below to see if you and your therapist are no longer a fit.
1. You're Taking They're Suggestions But They Aren't Helping
If you have stuck to it for awhile, taken your therapist's suggestions, and things don't seem to be helping, it might be time to move on and find another person or method.
As therapist Stephanie Korpal tells Bustle, "If you’re going home and implementing the strategies you and your therapist have been discussing for the past several sessions, and the needle just isn’t moving, then it’s maybe time to think about moving on."
Korpal says that it's important to really review the efforts you’ve made behind utilizing their tips, but if it's there, and the progress is not, it's OK to try something new.
She also says that addressing the topics with your therapist before “ghosting” them is really important.
"A conversation about what your goals are and the obstacles you’ve been feeling could help you grow in the relationship," says Korpal. "And because they know you fairly well at this point, he or she could give you some good referrals to another therapist to take you to that next level."
2. You Are Feeling Judged
As Katie Ziskind, LMFT tells Bustle, a therapist should not be dolling out advice or judging you.
"A therapist should never judge you, and if you feel judged by your therapist, it’s time to find a new one," says Ziskind. While you want someone who is honest with you, if you aren't feeling comfortable or emotionally safe, finding someone you jive with more is a good idea.
"Any good therapist will grow with you, and will ask you questions to help you come to your own answers within yourself," says Ziskind.
3. They Often Seem More Frazzled Than You
You want to go into a therapist's office and feel it's a calm environment, you know? So if it feels as though they are more stressed or disorganized than you are, this could be a sign that it's not a great match and time to move on.
"If your therapist seems disheveled, their hair isn’t washed for example, and they’re frazzled, this is a sign that you need a healthier, more centered therapist," says Ziskind.
You always want to feel like you are in good, capable hands!
4. They Continue To Focus On A Topic You've Moved On From
You might just be done talking about childhood for awhile, or why you're still single. But if you're therapist keeps on circling around the same topics when you want to move on, it might be something you want to look at.
"For some people, they may find their therapist wants to continue to focus on a particular issue but you have moved on from that and want to work on something else now," Dr. Tricia Wolanin tells Bustle. It might indicate that you need a different approach, or that you can take a break for awhile.
5. You Find It Difficult To Come Up With Topics To Discuss
Are you sitting there trying to rack your brain as to what to talk about, because you feel like you've really, totally covered it all?
"Clients know it's time to celebrate the work completed when they begin canceling appointments, not looking forward to sessions, or finding it difficult to come up with topics to cover in sessions," therapist Shannon Thomas, tells Bustle.
"Rather than letting the counseling time become stagnant or unnecessarily aggravated with their therapist, experiencing healthy closure is a much better option for the client and therapist," she says.
6. You Feel Your Issues Are Being Minimized
No matter what, you want to feel heard, even if you are being challenged.
"If you are brave enough to open up about something vulnerable in front of your therapist and if it sounds like your issues are being minimized or met without regard, then that's a problem," counselor Kisha Walwyn-Duquesnay, tells Bustle.
Feeling safe and supported is number one.
7. Your Therapist Talks More Than You Do
If you feel the therapist spends more time talking than listening, that is a signal you might want to move on as well. Especially if it seems like your therapist is trying to prove themselves or prove a point, says Walwyn-Duquesnay;
"You are supposed to feel heard and validated," says Walwyn-Duquesnay. "You should not feel like you have to share your time."
But do move forward with positive support, talk about it with trusted loved ones, and reach out to new practitioners for advice.
While it can be hard to tell if you're frustrated or just having a rough time with their suggestions, it's really OK to think about transitioning out of the relationship. It's all about your unique healing journey, after all.