Expert Advice On How To Break Up With Your Therapist

Therapy can help you navigate through a breakup, give you tools to balance stress in your life, or find more effective ways to communicate with difficult family members. Your therapist might be your lifeline to become a better you, but sometimes, life takes a different turn. You might find that you and your therapist aren't connected the way you used to be, or maybe you didn't find the right therapist in the first place. You realize the relationship must come to an end. How do you break up with a therapist?

Ariel Landrum, LMFT, is a Filipina American clinician working out of California. In an exclusive interview with Health Digest, Landrum gives us what signs to look for that indicate we need to end our relationship with our therapist. She also gives us some advice about how to break up with a therapist and how the therapist might respond.

Landrum says that this is your decision, and you should evaluate your needs and feelings. You should feel you're progressing forward in your therapy sessions. "Additionally, a misalignment of goals or values can make it challenging to continue the work effectively," she said. "Feeling consistently unheard, invalidated, or experiencing discomfort or distrust toward your therapist also indicates that the relationship may no longer benefit you."

Therapy might also be straining your finances. Landrum says this is the most common reason people end their relationships with their therapists.

What to say to your therapist and how a good therapist will respond

Rather than ghosting your therapist, Landrum suggests scheduling a session so you can keep the dialogue open and explore any unresolved issues. She also stresses being honest. "By clearly communicating your concerns, you can help ensure a constructive conversation," she said. "The collaboration may highlight areas the therapist needs to work on (such as cultural humility), and it could highlight appropriate referrals you may need to further your treatment."

You and your therapist can then develop a plan for the remaining sessions and any needed referrals for continuing care. "By working together to establish a plan, you can ensure a smooth transition and address any lingering concerns or goals," she said. This also helps you end the therapeutic relationship on a good note.

Landrum says that the therapist should be supportive and understanding of your decision and assist you through the termination plan. Your therapist might also want some feedback to help improve their practice. A therapist should handle the termination professionally and maintain the privacy of your information.

"Therapy is a collaborative process, and the therapeutic relationship should support your growth and well-being," she said. "If you believe it's time to end the relationship, trust your instincts and take the necessary steps to find a therapeutic approach that better aligns with your current needs."