When it comes to mental health, therapy can be a powerful tool to help you work through your struggles, gain insight into yourself, and develop coping skills to navigate life’s challenges. However, not every therapist is a good fit for every person, and sometimes, it’s necessary to break up with your therapist and seek out a new one.
Here are five reasons why it might be time to end your therapeutic relationship.
1. Lack of Trust
Therapy requires vulnerability and trust. You need to feel like you can share your deepest fears and insecurities with your therapist without fear of judgment or betrayal. If you find yourself holding back or not fully opening up to your therapist, it may be a sign that you don’t trust them. This lack of trust can stem from a variety of issues, such as a therapist who doesn’t seem to take your concerns seriously or who doesn’t seem to understand your perspective.
If you don’t feel like you can trust your therapist, it’s unlikely that you’ll make much progress in therapy.
“I think that with any kind of health profession, any type of career like that, you might have someone who believes that you’re struggling with this, or maybe this might be a diagnosis. And if you’re not feeling completely sure about that, then, in knowing your own health and wanting to be responsible with your own health, you have the autonomy to seek a second and even third perspective, to see if they all line up,” Brittney Moses, a counselor and mental health expert, told RELEVANT. “You have the right to advocate for yourself.
2. Poor Communication
Like any relationship, communication is key in the therapist-patient dynamic.
“It takes time to build that therapeutic relationship, or what we call a therapeutic alliance,” Moses said. “And there is an assessment that’s taking place at first just to get to know you and what your goals are and what your backstory is. So, I always say, give it some time, give it at least a couple of months, give it at least a few sessions, and pay attention to if they are also paying attention to what your needs are.”
But if after a few meetings it seems like your therapist doesn’t listen to you or doesn’t seem to understand what you’re trying to say, it might be time to move on.
3. Limited Expertise
Every therapist has their own areas of expertise, and not every therapist is equally equipped to help with every issue. If you find yourself struggling with a particular issue, such as trauma or addiction, and your therapist doesn’t seem to have much experience or training in that area, it may be time to find a therapist who does.
“I believe any well-intentioned counselor or therapist is wanting to meet you where you are, but they just might be missing something or some information,” Moses said.
While your therapist may be a great fit for some things, it’s important to recognize when their expertise doesn’t align with your needs.
4. Values Misalignment
Therapy is a deeply personal experience, and it’s important to find a therapist whose values and beliefs align with your own. If you find yourself disagreeing with your therapist’s approach or feeling uncomfortable with their worldview, it may be time to find someone who better aligns with your values.
“You do ideally want someone who comes from your worldview,” Moses said. “I think that really does enhance the experience.”
However, Moses also shared that there may be times when non-faith-based therapy could and should be complimented with church.
“I encourage people — especially if they’re having a severe mental health crisis like suicidality or psychosis, or you’re dissociating, hallucinating, having panic attacks or severe PTSD — any trained and competent therapist can help you work through that with evidence-based treatments,” Moses said. “Even if they are not faith-based, you can still go to your church and compliment them with some of the more practical work that can take place. It’s better to get help when it’s disabling your life.”
5. Lack of Progress
Ultimately, the goal of therapy is to help you make progress and improve your mental health. If you’ve been seeing a therapist for a while and haven’t seen any significant progress, it may be time to reevaluate whether this therapist is a good fit for you. While progress can take time, it’s important to recognize when you’re not making any headway and consider whether a different therapist or approach might be more effective.
“It’s a bidirectional relationship,” Moses explained. “If something’s not working, try to communicate it with your therapist or counselor. They’re learning you as well. See how they respond to those needs. If you notice that it’s just not working, there’s just still something that’s not connecting there, then you have the autonomy to seek someone who is a better fit for you.”