How To Break Up With Your Therapist, According To Experts

by Lollie King
Psychotherapy session, woman talking to his psychologist in the studio

Sometimes when a situation in our lives isn't quite right, it can be tough to let it go, even when it might be best for us. Seriously, we've all been there. Whether it be a friend who constantly flakes, a partner you no longer feel the same about, a junior employee who you know is just watching Netflix, or a therapist who isn't cutting it. So here's how to leave your current therapist because, even though it's simply a transactional relationship, it can still be hard to call it quits.

Therapy. The word itself can sound pretty scary because of the stigma attached to it, but I'm a firm believer in its benefits. Having an outlet to express yourself and feel like you're being listened to is so important. However, when the therapy you're taking part in is no longer serving its purpose, it's time to say goodbye.

It could be out of guilt, or the fear of being impolite, but a lot of us aren't comfortable with the idea of breaking things off with a therapist. But it's a very necessary step in achieving the kind of self care you're after.

I spoke to Spill, a mission-driven app making mental health support more accessible by enabling anyone to message with a qualified therapist, paid for by their employer or university.


Not every therapist will be the right fit for you, and, as Maria Boghiu, Head of Product at Spill, points out, it's perfectly OK to break up with your therapist "if you feel chronically misunderstood and this is not being addressed in the sessions to your satisfaction" or "if you feel you are stagnating in your therapy, if you 're feeling you'd like to take a break for a while or if you want to try something else."

In addition, Boghiu says, if you're finding that your therapist is not meeting your needs practically — they're always always running late or cancelling last minute, for example — then it may be time to reconsider who you are seeing.

If you feel guilty about breaking things off, try to remember that this is simple the end of a transactional relationship and, if it isn't working out for you anymore, you are well within your rights to bid adieu and move onto the next.

One thing that might really help you to relieve the guilt about breaking up with your therapist is the fact that "the aim of therapy is to be dumped or for it to come to an end," as therapist Dr Annemarie O'Connor from The Mind Works puts it. What she means is that all therapists want to work with their patient to get them to a place where they're comfortable enough to not need therapy anymore. O'Connor says she's "always aiming for improvement and ending." She also says that she's aware that "if someone dumps you after a few sessions, it's not meant to feel personal, not everyone can match."

So, how do you actually go about doing it?

Well, Hannah Karim from Spill says you should end the relationship with the therapist in "whichever way you feel most comfortable". After all, therapy is designed to help you. It can seem quite daunting to end your therapy in person, so know that you can do it via, email, over the phone or even over text. Whichever way you find most convenient and doesn't add anxiety. Karim added "if you can provide them with constructive feedback they'll always appreciate it so that they can work on that with other and future clients."

However, Boghiu says that "ideally they should break up in person. Not only does this help people practice being assertive and practice facing difficult conversations but it allows them to process it." Although it might seem a little tricky and awkward, you could gain a lot from confronting your fears and ending the transactional relationship in person.

The most important thing is to put your self-care first, and have no fear in letting it go.