In the last blog, I brought up how to tell if your therapist isn’t a good match. This week it’s all about how to break up with your therapist while making sure that you're getting closure. Many clients ghost therapists or leave without a closing session. Termination or goodbye sessions are an amazing way of finding closure, working through what it means to say goodbye (if you’ve ever ghosted someone, you might struggle with saying goodbye), and to move forward with clean energy and honest feedback.
Here are some thoughts on how to break up with your therapist:
1. Talk to your therapist about how your needs aren't being met (we can handle it).
You'd be surprised how much therapists really truly want to know what went wrong in a session. We are trained to hear all feedback with open ears and to not let our own defenses show up. Bringing up difficult things to your therapist might even be a teaching tool for you especially if you struggle with conflict avoidance.
2. Ask your therapist what styles of therapy they have been using and if they would recommend a different style of therapy for you moving forward.
It could be that your therapist is just only trained in and using certain modalities that aren't necessarily a good fit for your needs. This is always hard to come to terms with but talking it through with your therapist can help you find a therapist who has training in modalities that might make therapy less challenging and a better fit for you.
3. If your needs still haven't been met, ask to schedule a termination or goodbye session at least one day (ideally one or more weeks) in advance so that they can prepare.
I know it can be hard to come to terms with breaking up with a therapist and feel very uncomfortable. I can't tell you just how important scheduling a break up or termination session is for you and finding a sense of closure and peace. While you might not consciously realize it, our bodies collect all energy from past relationships and have the tendency to feel unsettled until we say goodbye or find closure. If you struggle with saying goodbye, this can be even more difficult and if you feel safe to do so, this could be a good time to process what and why goodbyes are hard.
Therapists need plenty of time to be able to give your goodbye session the closure and consideration it deserves. We simply can't prepare a termination that comes out meaningful without advance warning. Let us know and we can help navigate this important session with and for you in a way that feels meaningful.
4. Therapists are humans who worry about you and your physical safety- please don't ghost us!
Just.. don't. I know, I know... If you've read my blogs you'll see that I've ghosted my therapist in the past. But hear me out. I still hold onto that energy. Several years and huge life changes ago and it still comes up from time to time. Your therapist worries about you even if they aren't a good match. At the very least, you can send them an email stating that you won't be making sessions anymore and that you're physically safe. Then go schedule yourself a new therapy appointment and work through it. Ghosting isn't just rude (therapists can handle rude btw), but it's a window into some clinical information about you. Ghosting is a fear and a way of holding power or control over someone when no harm has been done from the other party. Don't not ghost for us. Do it for yourself and grow from what you learn.
5. Give your therapist feedback.
What was helpful? What was unhelpful? What will you take with you? Are there any negative memories or bad energy that happened in your sessions? Now is the time to air it out so you don't take it with you when you're done.
6. Engage in a goodbye ritual either in the termination session with your therapist or afterwards on your own.
Here's an example of a closure ritual you can practice on your own: Find a safe, quiet spot in your house and light a candle. Scan your body and observe all of the positive energy, space, and growth you made while in therapy. Fully embody these positive sensations in your body. Next, scan for any negative energy, bad memories or emotions that you don't want to take with you moving forward. Imagine yourself funneling these things into the flame and watching them burn away. When you are done, honor yourself and the investment you made to yourself and your mental health and blow out the candle.