Breaking up with a therapist

I just told my therapist I didn’t plan on returning. It was a scary step, although made easier by the fact that I have another appointment with a new therapist next week.

It felt really brave for me to tell her I didn’t think I would be back because it didn’t feel like the right fit, though. There was a time when I would have made excuses or tried to hedge my way out of it. It was difficult to not just tell her I was skipping this week’s appointment and leave the door open until I see whether or not I like the new therapist better.

Ultimately, I decided that I need to find the right therapist or even not go at all if I can’t find the right one. This therapist consistently made me feel worse after I left, which seems like a pretty big warning sign. I always felt kinda judged, which is not something you want to feel from a therapist.

More importantly, I felt like she just gave (mostly inapplicable) advice and didn’t leave me with actionable suggestions I could work on.

I don’t know if what I’m looking for can ultimately be found, though. I’ve never had a really good experience with therapy but I still believe it can work anyway.

I want a therapist who challenges me but who usually makes me leave feeling better about myself or at least more empowered.

Rather than telling me what to do, I want one who takes my life circumstances into account before offering suggestions that I might want to consider.

For example, when I say I’m worried about how I’ll make it when my husband’s gone, I want a therapist to help me get to the root of those fears and give me confidence that I can get through it. I want to be given tools I can use now when the fear comes up. Instead of telling me to meet with a certified financial planner and double my husband’s life insurance (the latter of which is literally not possible with a spouse with cancer), I want to address fears and coping mechanisms.

I want to be given strategies to find in myself the strength to get through whatever challenges I face, including this one.

Even though I know what I want and it doesn’t seem that difficult of an expectation from a therapist, it’s hard not to feel discouraged that so far I haven’t been able to find it.

So I’m going in a different direction this time. Rather than seeing a PsyD who’s an upper-middle-class white woman, I’ll be seeing a masters-level black woman. I’m not sure the demographics will make a difference and my expectations of a therapist should make it so that demographics wouldn’t matter.

Can I find what I’m looking for? I hold out hope that I can. It felt brave to admit that this wasn’t it. I just hope I’m only looking for the right fit, not searching for the unicorn of therapists.

7 Comments

    1. Ah I did it by text because that’s how she schedules appointments w regular clients. She just said she understood because fit is important and told me to reach out if I needed anything.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. My 20-year-old daughter explained breaking up with boyfriends is now OK to do by text, so I’m guessing the protocol is the same for therapists, too. Congrats on taking that nerve-wracking step. Hope the next one clicks with you.

        Liked by 2 people

  1. I definitely believe you’ll find your unicorn. Have you considered showing (perhaps via email if they offer a short pre consult) potential therapists exactly what you’re looking for? Or if it’s a clinic, sometimes you can tell them what you’re looking for and they try to match you to a therapist in the practice. And of course, if it’s a clinic and the first therapist doesn’t work out, they could recommend a colleague that’s a better fit.

    I think it’s great that you’re advocating for yourself

    Like

  2. I don’t think that you are looking for the impossible. It seems to me that you have a clear view of what a therapist actually should do. It’s good to look for a good fit, otherwise you’ll end up losing money and time. And let’s be honest, who has those two in abundance? Good luck with your new appointment, I hope it turns out good.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you (and sorry for the delay in replying!) I think I’m going to start my appointment with the new therapist by telling her what I’m looking for and seeing if it sounds like an approach she’s skilled in.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Do not worry about some delay! I think it’s good to have clear expectations and being able to communicate those. I think your therapist will appreciate your input. The best of luck!

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