Dear Captain Awkward,
I’ve been seeing my therapist twice a month for about five years. I got lucky in finding the right person for me – at the time – on my first try, and he’s helped me through severe depression and anxiety as well as dealing with a lot of the underlying causes of same.
For the past six months or so I’ve been feeling like our sessions are not productive. I am in much, much better mental and emotional health than those first couple of years, I’m well beyond crisis, but I still have several issues I want to work on and the responses I’m getting from him are…disengaged.
Whereas before he was helping me work through tough stuff, roleplaying difficult conversations, pushing me to socialize more (world-class introvert here), even giving me homework between sessions, now I get bordering-on-snide comments like “ya think” and “oh really” and “I’ve already given you clues about where to start”. He also checks his phone at least once per session and has even taken a personal call once during a session. Clearly he’s no longer invested.
Yesterday I went to my session with two specific things I wanted to discuss, thinking perhaps I needed to be more focused instead of falling into the “vent about how stressful work is” habit that’s marked the last few months. Even though I told him outright that I wanted to work on these two things, I got very little useful feedback. Honestly, I think I need to see a female therapist because what I want to work on now, I don’t think he can relate to (he’s a straight white male in his 60s).
One of the issues he and I have been working on pretty much from the beginning is knowing when to let go of a person or situation or thing. Well, I think I need to let him go and find someone else to help me through the next set of issues. But…how do I do this? As you can probably guess, confrontation is not my strong suit but social awkwardness is. Scripts and roleplaying are very helpful for unfamiliar or difficult situations.
[insert clever alliterative name]
P.S. I did a search on the site but didn’t find this particular question. If it is there and I missed it, I apologize.
Dear Alliterative Name,
Yep, sounds like it’s definitely time for you to find someone new. Good news! Therapists are used to being broken up with and this is not a big deal for them.
Here’s the easiest way:
1) Look for a new therapist.
2) Whenever you want to, stop/cancel upcoming appointments with your current therapist. “Thanks for all the help, I think it’s time for me to work with someone new so I won’t be coming to any more appointments.” You could call and leave a message, send an email or a card, however you normally communicate (my therapist uses text, it’s the best).
That’s all you have to do! You don’t have to fill out a comment card, explain reasons, or negotiate this. You’re the client, this is normal. People leave therapy all the time for all kinds of reasons: bad fit, new insurance, they are feeling better, they want to find something closer to work. You don’t have to have any kind of confrontation about this, it’s possibly the easiest breakup you will ever encounter.