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How To Break Up With Your Therapist

break up with your therapist

Is there anything worse than confrontation? 

“It’s not you, it’s me.”

“We’re just growing in different directions.”

“I don’t see us working out long term.”

Breakups are notoriously tricky to handle and can be a source of anxiety and many sleepless nights. While breaking up with a romantic partner or friend is a well-documented expedition, what about breaking up professional relationships? 

Specifically, how do you break up with your therapist? 

In an ideal world, everybody would be matched with their perfect therapist. They would continue therapy until their problems are resolved and then mutually end therapy. Sometimes, this does happen. But many other people are with therapists who don’t understand them or aren’t able to provide them with the mental health help they need. Or, they’ve grown past what their therapist can offer and are ready to leave therapy. 

Whatever your reasoning, breaking up with your therapist can be tricky. Know that it is also completely normal. Therapists are not expecting you to stay with them year after year. They (the good ones, at least) understand that mental health therapy is not a one-size-fits-all approach and that sometimes a client would be better served by someone else. 

Wondering how to break up with your therapist? Let’s dive into it.

When to Stop Seeing a Therapist

It’s important to note that therapy is an uncomfortable process. Many people have said that it gets worse before it gets better. This is because much of therapy is about facing the painful, uncomfortable emotions, thoughts, memories, and behaviors that you have been running from. Stopping to face these uncomfortable experiences head-on can activate your defense mechanisms, leaving you dissociated, angry, sad, or anxious.

However, once those painful emotions have been revealed, mental health therapy begins its healing work. Like how a broken bone will hurt as it stitches itself back together, therapy can be a painful healing process. Growth, too, can be uncomfortable. Do you remember growth pains as a kid? As we grow, we have to adapt to the new changes we’re bringing to our life. This can be uncomfortable, but it is also good.

So, before you break up with your therapist, ask yourself “Why do I want to quit therapy?” Is it because therapy is bringing up uncomfortable emotions, thoughts, experiences, or behaviors? If so, talk to your therapist about how you’re struggling. They can help you learn healthy coping strategies that will ease the discomfort. 

There are, of course, plenty of other reasons why you should break up with a therapist. These include:

  • Your therapist doesn’t understand you: Have you ever explained something to your therapist, and they respond with “It sounds like you’re. . .” except their response is way off the mark? If this sort of misunderstanding happens frequently across multiple sessions, your therapist may not be the best fit for you. You want to find someone who gets you. 
  • You don’t trust your therapist: Trust is the cornerstone of effective therapy, so if you don’t trust your therapist, your growth is going to be stunted. You want to be able to tell them anything without fear of judgment. You want to know that they will have your back and always do what’s best for you. And you need to trust that they will not violate your confidentiality or privacy in any way. If you don’t trust your therapist, then it’s time to find a new one. 
  • Their therapeutic strategies aren’t working for you: Therapists use dozens of methodologies to help their clients. They range from the very popular Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to more obscure therapies like Schema therapy or Psychoanalysis. A good therapist will only use evidence-based treatments, but that doesn’t guarantee that modality will be good for you. If you are seeing a CBT therapist, but you need someone with more unconditional positive regard, maybe you should switch to an Acceptance and Commitment Therapy approach. 
  • Scheduling with them is impossible: Life happens but if your therapist is repeatedly not respecting your time by showing up late, canceling last minute, or rescheduling, then they won’t be able to help you in the way you need. 
  • They talk about themselves too much: As a therapist, it is considered good practice to not bring your own baggage to the session. If your counselor is frequently bringing up their own anecdotes, talking over you, or spending more time talking about their theories than listening to you, that’s not a good therapist and not a good fit for you. 
  • You don’t feel like it’s working: Sometimes you just have to listen to your gut. Yes, therapy will be uncomfortable and you may leave sessions feeling worse than when you came in. Ask yourself: Am I working on the things I want to be working on? Can I see progress in my life? Is this working? If it has been four or more sessions and you still feel like you’re walking away with nothing, talk to your therapist. They may be able to adjust their approach to better fit your needs. If they don’t, then it’s okay to leave them for someone else. 
  • They don’t listen to feedback: The therapeutic relationship between therapist and client is a two-way street. They are the psychology experts, but you are still the expert on yourself. If you say “Hey, this exercise isn’t working for me, can we try something else?” and they keep trying to push that same exercise on you, then it’s time to leave. A good therapist will always place your feedback into effect. 
  • You’ve met your goals! Therapy is not meant to be long-term. The purpose of therapy is to help you heal and grow, with the hope that one day you won’t need therapy anymore. If you’ve accomplished the goals you’ve set for yourself, congratulations! There’s no reason to keep seeing your therapist, so talk to them about what termination (leaving therapy) would look like. 

There are many reasons why you should break up with your therapist. Remember that therapy is about you. So if you’re not happy with the progress, it’s okay to tell them that and ultimately to leave. 

Switching to a New Therapist

A lot of clients will try one therapist and when that doesn’t work out, they’ll give up on therapy altogether. “It’s just not for me,” they’ll say. 

But this isn’t true! The therapist might not have been for you, but there are thousands of other therapists with other treatment modalities, schools of thoughts, and therapeutic approaches that will suit you better. 

If you are struggling with your mental health and aren’t happy with your current therapist, the best course of action is to switch to a new therapist. 

Your current therapist should be able to help you find better-suited counselors and provide referrals, so switching is easy. 

(And if you’re a Lifebulb client, our scheduling team will take care of the details for you!)

Make a list of the things you did and didn’t like about your current therapist. Write down what your goals and needs are. Where was the gap between what you needed and what your therapist was able to provide? Did you need more open-ended questions? More coping mechanisms? Less exercises and more deep dives into your past? You may not know the specifics of the answers, but try to narrow down what you felt like was missing. “I wasn’t being heard” or “We weren’t talking about what I needed to talk about” or “It wasn’t helping me in real life.” 

Armed with this list, talk to your therapist about other options. A different treatment method maybe? Or a different type of therapist? It’s important to feel comfortable with your therapist, so maybe you need someone closer to your culture and way of life. Be honest with yourself and your therapist about what you need.

How to Tell Your Therapist You’re Leaving

Okay, so you’ve decided you want to break up with your therapist. Now what? Your palms may be sweating, your stomach churning a little at the thought of that confrontation. The urge to just cancel all your appointments and never see them again is tempting, but try to resist. Here are three things you should know about leaving your therapist:  

  1. Don’t ghost: talk to them! Good therapists will be receptive to your reasons and will work with you to either find you a different therapist or start the termination process. If you ghost them, you’re missing out on their expertise in the field and possible referrals. 

Note: There are situations in which ghosting therapists is entirely appropriate. If your therapist is acting unethical or making you uncomfortable you do not owe them an explanation. For example, if a therapist is making racist, sexist, homophobic, or otherwise prejudiced comments or has said anything remotely sexual towards you, cancel all future appointments.

  1. It is well within your right as a client to stop therapy: The relationship between therapist and client can be complicated by the weight of what is said during sessions. You may have bared some hidden parts of your soul to this person, and now you’re supposed to never see them again? But remember that you hired your therapist to help you through a specific problem, and if they are unable to help you or that goal has been met, then it makes sense to terminate them.
  2. Have a face-to-face conversation, if possible: This could be via virtual therapy if you’re online. This isn’t so your therapist can try to convince you to stay, but rather so they can help you through the termination process and provide you referrals if you’d like to continue therapy with someone else. 

If you are experiencing unethical behavior or are otherwise uncomfortable seeing your therapist, it is not worth trying to have a face-to-face meeting. Cancel appointments and report them if necessary.

How to Break Up with Your Therapist: In-Person Script

Here’s a short script you can use when breaking up with your therapist face-to-face. 

When you’ve met your goals and are happy with your experience: 

“Hi, [therapist's name], I hope you're doing well today. I wanted to talk to you about something important. As you know, I've been coming to therapy for [length of time] and in that time, I feel like I have made a lot of progress in my mental health journey. I've learned valuable tools and have met my goal of [your therapy goals]. Because of this, I am ready to stop my sessions. I'm so grateful for your help and guidance. 

Thank you again for everything."

Keep it short—you don’t need to over-explain yourself. A therapist will likely have seen this coming and will celebrate this win with you. Reaching your therapy goals is a big deal! By being clear and direct, you empower yourself to end therapy on your own terms. 

When they aren’t a good fit for you: 

"Hello, [therapist's name], I hope you're doing well today. I wanted to talk to you about something important regarding our therapy. Over the course of our sessions, I have come to realize that our therapeutic styles and approaches may not align in a way that works best for me. I need someone who will [therapist traits you are looking for]. 

While I appreciate your expertise and effort, I believe that it's important for me to find a therapist who can better meet my specific needs and goals at this time. Please let me know if you have any suggestions or recommendations for finding another therapist who may be a better match for me. Your professional insights would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you for your understanding and supporting me through this transition. I wish you continued success in your work."

Remember, your mental well-being is paramount, and finding a therapist who is the right fit for you can make all the difference in your therapeutic journey. Trust yourself and take the necessary steps to ensure that you are receiving the best possible care.

How to Break Up with Your Therapist: Email Script

When you’ve met your goals and are happy with your experience: 

Dear [Therapist's Name],

I hope this email finds you well. I wanted to reach out to you today to let you know that I have decided to conclude our therapy sessions. I have found great value in our time together, and I believe that I have reached my therapy goals of [therapy goals].

I am grateful for your support and guidance during our time working together. I am confident that the skills and tools I've learned from our sessions will continue to serve me well in the future.

Again, thank you for your support, understanding, and compassionate care. I appreciate everything you have done for me, and I wish you all the best.


[Your Name]

When they aren’t a good fit for you. 

Subject: Conclusion of Therapeutic Relationship

Dear [Therapist's Name],

I hope this message finds you well. After careful consideration, I have come to the realization that the therapeutic relationship between us may not be the best fit for my current needs and goals. I need someone who [traits you are looking for]. While I recognize and value the expertise and care you bring to your practice, I believe that finding a therapist whose approach and style better align with mine is essential for my mental health journey at this time. 

As I navigate this transition, I would be grateful for any recommendations or referrals you may have for therapists who could be a better match for my individual needs.

Once again, I thank you for your understanding and support, and I wish you continued success in your work.

Warm regards,

[Your Name]

Remember to keep it short and sweet. Don’t over-explain yourself! You don’t have to give them an explanation, although it can be helpful to both of you to provide your reasoning so your therapist can help you with your transition.

You Told Your Therapist You Want to Quit… Now What?

After you and your therapist decide to part ways, there is what’s known as the “Termination Process”. Your therapist will likely ask you to have at least one more session. This is not to try and convince you to stay, but rather to ease your transition out of therapy. Depending on how much time you’ve spent with this therapist and what you’ve worked through, it’s possible that you are leaving therapy a different person. Without having your therapist to talk to weekly and practice the coping strategies you’ve been working on, the transition can be rough. This final therapy session is a place to process any fears, worries, excitements, and more that may come up. It’s the final closure to make sure you’ve talked about everything on your mind.

Do Therapists Care If You Quit?

Many of us are hesitant to break up with our therapists because we don’t want to hurt their feelings. So, do therapists care when they lose clients?

On one hand, therapists are humans. They want to succeed in their careers and help people, so it hurts when they aren’t able to do that. 

However, importantly, therapists are also professionals. It is their job to provide the highest quality care they can, but a good therapist will recognize that they cannot provide care to every single person. Our individual personalities and experiences are too diverse for one person to be a good fit for everyone.  

A therapist will understand why you have to break up with them. They will not be mad. (If they are, that’s a good reason to leave them!) 

It can be scary, but breaking up with your therapist can be a good exercise in self-respect and boundaries. This is your mental health, your time, and your money. If it’s not worth it, speak up!


Breaking up with anyone is going to be hard, but if it’s for your mental health then it is entirely worth it. Use the tips and templates in this article to leave your therapist and find a better path forward. 

If you are one of Lifebulb’s clients and would like to either terminate therapy or find a new therapist, reach out to our support team. We have over 100 therapists who we can match you with. If your current therapist is not a good fit, we will be happy to find you someone else. 

Call us at: 855-722-4422

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Frequently Asked Questions

Breaking up with your therapist can be a difficult decision, but remember that it's an important part of your personal growth and well-being. To break up with your therapist, consider the following steps:

  • Reflect on your reasons: Take some time to understand why you feel the need to end the therapeutic relationship. This self-reflection will help you communicate your decision effectively.

  • Choose the right method: Decide whether you prefer to have a conversation in person, over the phone, or through email. Select a method that feels comfortable and allows you to express yourself honestly.

  • Be honest and respectful: When discussing your decision, communicate your feelings openly, but also emphasize your appreciation for the work your therapist has done. Be respectful and compassionate, recognizing their efforts in supporting you.

  • Remember, a therapist's primary concern is your well-being, and they should respect your decision to end therapy.

     No, therapists are typically not mad if their clients decide to end therapy. They understand that finding the right therapeutic fit is crucial for effective treatment. A good therapist wants what's best for you and respects your autonomy in making decisions about your mental health. They may discuss your reasons for ending therapy to ensure you have explored all options, but they should ultimately support your choice and celebrate your progress.

     There may be several reasons why you may consider ending your therapeutic relationship, including:

  • Lack of connection: You do not feel a strong rapport or connection with your therapist, hindering the effectiveness of therapy.

  • Mismatched goals: Your goals may have changed, or you realize that your therapist's approach does not align with your needs and objectives.

  • Breakdown in communication: If there are ongoing communication issues or you feel your concerns aren't being addressed, it may impact the quality of therapy.

  • Feeling stuck or stagnant: Therapy should provide a sense of growth and progress. If you feel like you are not making meaningful strides or are stuck in a rut, it may be time to explore other options.

  • Remember, therapy is a collaborative process, and it's important to find a therapist who can provide the best support for your unique needs.

     Yes, absolutely. It is entirely within your rights to switch therapists if you feel that your current therapist is not the right fit for you. Remember, finding the right therapeutic match is crucial for effective therapy and your overall well-being.

    If you are a client of Lifebulb, our support team can switch your therapist for you. Simply call us on the phone or send us an email. If you’d like to switch your therapist yourself, simply use the Client Portal to cancel any upcoming appointments and use our Therapist Finder to find a therapist who will be a better fit. Alternatively, you can talk to your current therapist about referrals and can provide some in-practice referrals to other therapists. 

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