Q. I want to leave my therapist and maybe find a new one. She wants to talk about why I want to leave. I don’t want to pay for another session. Should I schedule a session to fire my therapist or not?
A. It depends.
The one absolutely rock-solid reason to avoid another session is if a therapist was verbally or physically inappropriate or abusive. This is very rare.
On the other hand, there are good reasons why you may want to schedule a “last” session.
If you feel therapy isn’t effective and isn’t making a difference in your life, and you haven’t discussed this with your therapist, it might be helpful to make another appointment to tell your therapist how you feel.
An experienced, competent and caring therapist will want to try other approaches that could be more helpful, or at least explain why the approach she’s using is effective.
However, if you’ve already discussed why you feel therapy isn’t working for you and your therapist is unable to make changes, or worse, dismisses or minimizes your concerns, then making another appointment to discuss this again, might be a waste of your time and money.
To ensure that you are on track with therapy, in most cases, it’s best to work with a plan.
You might also want to consider that it isn’t uncommon for people to want to end therapy when important issues that can lead to change begin to surface. These feelings can be painful. Telling your therapist how you feel before you quit is generally a good idea.
For example, a few weeks ago, one of the therapists I supervise had a teenage client quit therapy with no explanation. She realized he quit a few days after a family session. The client, an 18 year-old man living at home with his parents, was pulled over for drinking and driving. He’d been diagnosed with ADHD in the past, and was recently diagnosed with depression and anxiety.
During the session with his parents, the therapist wanted to learn more about how the family functioned. She asked about family communication. The father became visibly angry, even aggressive at the suggestion that the family dynamics might be a factor in the boy’s anxiety. The mother began to accuse the son of lying about the family’s interactions and also accused him of being determined to break up their marriage. Both parents verbally attacked the therapist, saying she was trying to blame them for their son’s problems.
Within a few minutes it was clear that the situation was an emotionally unhealthy one. The boy was made into a scapegoat by both the mother and father, and he told the therapist it had been going on since he was a child. In this case, rather than accept that they might need to change, too, the parents pulled their son out of therapy in which he was making measurable progress.