Sign# 1: You realize your progress has plateaued.
Has it been a long time since you felt you have made progress in therapy? Do you find yourself often feeling worse after your therapy sessions? If you can answer yes to either or both of these questions, it may be time to break up with your therapist. Progress is the backbone of therapy, and although there are times where you may feel yourself making baby steps, or even a step or two backwards, that shouldn’t be the overarching theme of your therapy experience. After all, you are in therapy because you wanted help making real change in your life, so don’t settle for less.
Sign #2: You find that you avoid talking to your therapist.
If you find that you are avoiding your therapist or even your sessions in general, that might be a sign that your therapist isn’t a good fit. Just like in other relationships in your life, having a good rapport and feeling comfortable with your therapist is super important. After all, research has shown that your relationship with your therapist is one of the biggest predictors of your success in therapy! Try to be honest, and if possible, have a conversation with your therapist about your concerns. Feel free to ask them for recommendations of other therapists, or even a clinical psychologist, whom they know and trust.
Sign #3: You aren’t fully honest with your therapist.
Honesty and trust are two of the most important components of a therapeutic relationship. If for whatever reason you don’t feel comfortable talking with your therapist about real life topics or situations impacting your mental health, that is a red flag you should not ignore.
Now, it is important to be mindful that sometimes this can happen because either you are attempting to talk about something difficult/painful or you aren’t quite sure how or what to share. If this is the case, feel free to ask your therapist to guide you through the process of sharing. A good therapist will understand and empathize that sharing difficult experiences or feelings requires their support and direction.
Sign #4: Your therapist is rude, late to appointments, or unprofessional.
If your therapist isn’t respecting the most fundamental rules of his/her/their profession, it’s time to find a new therapist. You deserve to be respected, especially by someone whose job it is to help you achieve your goals. A good therapist will respect you and add value to your life. Don’t settle for less!
Sign #5: You and your therapist have different goals.
If you feel as though your therapist isn’t hearing or respecting your wishes when it comes to your therapeutic goals, that is a problem that should definitely be addressed. Therapy should be a collaborative practice, where the client helps set the goals and do the work, while the therapist provides structure and guidance to make that happen.
Sometimes a therapist might encourage you to work on something or suggest a goal for your sessions, but again, you should be working together towards your goals. If you have different goals than your therapist, it may result in feelings of frustration. Additionally, it may contribute to you using unhealthy coping skills, all of which are unhelpful for your current goals and may even impact your future.
Sign #6: You feel like you got what you needed.
If this resonates with you, that is good news! Therapy is all about emotional growth and making real progress. If you have achieved your goals and feel like you can tackle life’s ups and downs, that’s a sign it might be time to end therapy. Now, sometimes this transition or ending can bring about a variety of emotions, and that is okay. Share your thoughts and feelings about ending therapy with your therapist, and remember, you can always call and schedule an appointment sometime later down the road.
Sign #7: You want to try a different form of therapy (couples counseling, individual counseling, etc.)
Therapy is all about finding what works for you. If you are thinking about wanting a different form of therapy or are curious about a technique or intervention, ask your therapist! Advocating for your own needs and being clear about what you want is super important and a good therapist will encourage you to do that. Be mindful that your therapist may not have the experience or credentials to provide a specific service, but if that is the case, they should be able to point you in the right direction.
American Psychological Association https://psycnet.apa.org/doiLanding?doi=10.1037%2Fa0032605
Counseling Psychology Quarterly https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09515070.2017.1296410
Journal of Individual Psychology https://muse.jhu.edu/article/687863/summary
Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1365-2850.2004.00774.x
Psychology Today https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/lifes-work/202107/is-my-therapist-match