How to Break Up With Your Therapist

Female therapist listening attentively to a patient during a therapy session, both are wearing protective face masks during COVID-19.

FatCamera / Getty Images

Finding the right therapist can be challenging, and you may have to try working with a few different therapists before you find the right fit for you.

For therapy to be successful, it’s important for you to have a strong therapeutic alliance with your therapist. You and your therapist should have a cooperative working relationship, agree on the goals for therapy, and be able to establish a strong bond that is built on mutual trust and respect.

If your relationship with your current therapist is not feeling like a good fit, you may feel like it’s time to “break up” with your therapist.

Navigating this situation can be tricky, because you would typically rely on the support of your therapist when you end a relationship. Furthermore, a therapist is someone who knows your most intimate thoughts and feelings, making the relationship an important one in your life, and a difficult one to terminate.

This article explores some reasons why you might want to break up with your therapist, as well as some steps that can help you do it successfully.

Reasons to Break Up With Your Therapist

There are many good reasons why people might want to end their relationship with their therapist, says Sabrina Romanoff, PsyD, a clinical psychologist and professor at Yeshiva University. According to her, these reasons may include:

  • You don’t think it’s a good fit: There may be several reasons why you may feel like your relationship with your therapist is not a good fit. For instance, you may feel like you need a therapist who shares some aspects of your identity in order for them to better understand what you’re going through or for you to feel comfortable sharing your innermost thoughts and feelings with them.
  • You feel like you’re not making progress: According to the American Psychological Association, people often see progress and start to feel better after completing six to 12 sessions of therapy. If it’s been that many sessions and you feel like you haven’t made progress or can’t see a path to feeling better, you may feel like you want to see a different therapist.
  • You want to see a specialist: You may want to see a therapist who specializes in an area you’d like to work on. For instance, if you have a specific mental health condition or issue that you’re dealing with, it can be helpful to seek treatment from a therapist who has experience in that field.
  • You feel better: You may feel better, be happy with your progress, and feel confident and capable of managing things on your own.
  • You’re having difficulty scheduling sessions: If you or your therapist have extremely busy schedules, or schedules that just don’t seem to line up, you may not end up making it to therapy due to logistical issues, despite your best efforts.
  • You don’t want to continue therapy: You may decide that you don’t want to continue therapy at all, with your current therapist or any other.

Sabrina Romanoff, PsyD

Therapists are not the best match for every person they work with and that’s OK.

— Sabrina Romanoff, PsyD

How to Break Up With Your Therapist

Below, Dr. Romanoff suggests some steps that can help you terminate your relationship with your therapist.

Reflect on Your Reasons

Before you end your relationship with your therapist, you should pause and consider the reasons why you’re making this decision.

If the disappointment, frustration, or conflict you’re experiencing in your relationship with your therapist is similar to the feelings you eventually experience in your relationships with other partners, friends, or family members, then it can be helpful to review your relationship patterns.

We all have these blueprints for what to expect in relationships—some blueprints are helpful, but others can be detrimental to our relationships and needs. It’s important to consider your relationship patterns and how your blueprints might be at work.

While you may bring these blueprints with you to therapy, and sometimes apply them to your therapist, you need to be mindful of them so your past experiences aren’t in control of our present behaviors.

Working on your relationship blueprints and developing healthier relationship patterns is something you would typically do with your therapist. If you’re feeling frustrated with your therapist, you should first share your feelings with them before ending the relationship. 

Having a constructive conversation with your therapist can give you insights into your relationship patterns and help you start practicing healthier relationship habits.

Consider Whether the Relationship Can Be Repaired

Before you terminate your relationship with your therapist, consider whether the relationship can be salvaged. Even if you’ve had conflicts with them, the relationship may be repairable.

In fact, conflict or disappointment in therapy can be constructive. Research shows that having conflicts with your therapist and working through them together leads to better therapy outcomes than if you never experience conflict at all, or if you drop out of therapy as a result of conflict.

Have the Breakup Conversation

If you decide you want to proceed with ending your relationship with your therapist, make it a point to have a conversation with your therapist rather than ghosting them and simply dropping out of therapy.

In other relationships, you may get ghosted or ghost people, as a result of which the relationship is cut short and you don’t get the opportunity to fully process it. Therapy, on the other hand, provides an opportunity to fully express yourself and end a relationship without necessarily having a negative connotation.

Sabrina Romanoff, PsyD

The end of therapy can be curative in itself, and it’s important for you to give yourself the opportunity to have this corrective emotional experience. A good therapist will encourage you to express your concerns and assert yourself in an effective way.

— Sabrina Romanoff, PsyD

Having this conversation can help you get closure and may even be an empowering process that gives you an opportunity to review:

  • The therapeutic alliance between you and your therapist
  • The goals you have and haven’t achieved
  • The most and least helpful parts of therapy

After you have the conversation with your therapist, congratulate yourself for communicating and expressing your needs. These are not easy conversations to have and it is important to acknowledge that you are able to manage uncomfortable conversations and emotions that can help your future relationships.

Ask for a Referral

You may wonder whether it’s acceptable to ask your current therapist for a referral to another mental healthcare provider. The answer is yes.

Sabrina Romanoff, PsyD

Your therapist likely will not take your desire to end therapy personally—they have likely supported many people through endings before.

— Sabrina Romanoff, PsyD

Your therapist can work with you to explore the conflict you might have about therapy, help you understand what you want next, and refer you to someone who may be a better fit.

A Word From Verywell

Ending your relationship with your therapist can be challenging. However, having a constructive conversation with your therapist to terminate your relationship can give you closure, which can be helpful for future relationships.

5 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Arnow BA, Steidtmann D. Harnessing the potential of the therapeutic alliance. World Psychiatry. 2014;13(3):238-240. doi:10.1002/wps.20147

  2. American Psychological Association. Therapeutic alliance. APA Dictionary of Psychology.

  3. American Psychological Association. Understanding psychotherapy and how it works.

  4. Nof A, Dolev T, Leibovich L, Harel J, Zilcha-Mano S. If you believe that breaking is possible, believe also that fixing is possible: a framework for ruptures and repairs in child psychotherapy. Res Psychother. 2019;22(1):364. doi:10.4081/ripppo.2019.364

  5. Chapman, Alexander L. & Rosenthal, M. Zachary. Managing therapy-interfering behavior: strategies from dialectical behavior therapy (pp. 217-234). Washington, DC, US: American Psychological Association, xi, 274 pp.

By Sanjana Gupta
Sanjana is a health writer and editor. Her work spans various health-related topics, including mental health, fitness, nutrition, and wellness.