How to Change Your Therapist

person talking to their therapist

Mediaphotos / Getty Images

Table of Contents
View All
Table of Contents

First things first: If you’re currently receiving care from a mental health professional, please take a moment to celebrate this feat. It takes a lot of courage to acknowledge you need some support. Finding a therapist who is a good fit for you can be challenging given the therapist shortage, racial disparities in the field, and ever-increasing costs of care.

Despite the hurdles crossed to find a therapist, it isn’t uncommon to realize you may not be working with the right provider for you. Sometimes this realization occurs after a few sessions. Other times you may wonder if it is time to switch things up after a couple of years.

Regardless of when this thought comes to mind, it is completely OK to change your therapist. Read on to learn about reasons to get a new therapist, how to change your therapist, and how to navigate the process of starting over with a new provider. 

Signs It Might Be Time to Change Therapists

It is completely normal to question if you should get a new therapist. The most important thing to explore is why you’re wondering if it is time to move on to a new provider.

You Aren't Feeling Better

First, you may have been in therapy for a long time and are curious why you aren’t “better.” Studies show that the length of therapy varies based on the individual and the type of therapy provided.

For example, some modalities like cognitive-behavioral therapy are considered short-term. Other modalities, like psychodynamic therapy, may focus more generally on the human condition and can last for years.

Moreover, you may feel that talk therapy isn't working anymore and prefer to explore a somatic modality like EMDR. Perhaps you’ve been working with your current therapist for years and simply feel you could use a fresh perspective.

You Can No Longer Afford Therapy

If your financial situation has changed, you may not be able to afford your therapist’s full fee. If it would cause you financial distress to continue paying your therapist's current rate, the best thing to do is to ask if they would be willing to negotiate the session rate with you. Many therapists are able to accommodate changes in financial situations and can offer a sliding scale rate to ensure continuity of care.

If they are unable to do so, they may refer you to another therapist that offers session fees within your budget.

You Are Upset With Your Therapist

Sometimes you might get angry with your therapist. A rift can arise from disagreeing with feedback received in session, being charged a cancellation fee, or anything in-between.

When a rupture occurs, bringing it to your therapist’s attention could actually lead to a breakthrough by therapeutically working through the trigger and distress with care and compassion. If ruptures aren’t skillfully mended between a client and a therapist, however, it can lead to clients quitting therapy before they are ready. The client might even stop seeking therapy altogether.

If you’re considering changing your therapist due to a rupture, consider letting your therapist know how you feel first. Even if you decide you’d still like to change therapists, having an open conversation about what occurred can be very healing.

Your Therapist Is Inappropriate With You

If your therapist has exhibited any unethical or incompetent behavior that harms you like violating your confidentiality, behaving inappropriately in session, making a sexual advance, using you to meet their personal needs, or violating your boundaries, it is extremely important for you to protect and take care of yourself by ending the session and therapeutic relationship immediately.

You can file a report or complaint your therapist for any behavior that is unethical or incompetent. A report may be filed by contacting your local or state licensing board to determine if the therapist is licensed and obtain information on filing a complaint with their licensing board. 

Your Therapist Doesn't Understand You

If you feel deeply misunderstood in therapy or are exhausted continually doing emotional labor to educate your therapist, it can negatively impact your mental health and healing. For example, if you are of a different cultural background, race, gender, or sexual orientation than your therapist, they might not understand or be aware of how you experience the world.

While all therapists should be culturally sensitive and have knowledge of the mental health struggles of all communities, that isn't always the case.

Additionally, you may want to find someone who shares your cultural background or has had similar life experiences to you. This can bring a greater level of safety, comfort, and ease to your sessions by trusting someone to support you through something that they have also lived and experienced.

How to Change Your Therapist

Changing your therapist can seem daunting, so here are some steps you can take to make a change:

  1. Tell your therapist that you want to find a new one: To begin, let your current therapist know that you are searching for a new provider. You don’t owe them an explanation, but being honest about why you’re changing therapists can help them support you in this process. Once you’ve let them know, determine how many sessions you’d like to hold with your current therapist. It is OK if you don’t want to hold any more sessions after letting them know. However, taking time to have at least one session before closing out therapy with your provider can be helpful in honoring the ending of an important relationship in your life.
  2. Ask your therapist for referrals: Feel free to ask your current therapist for referrals, especially if you’re needing to seek out therapy at a lower cost or are switching modalities.
  3. Call your insurance provider: Call your insurance provider and ask for a list of the psychotherapists they have within their network. If you are changing therapists because you would prefer to work with a person of color, Therapy for Black Girls, Inclusive Therapists, Therapy for Black Men, Latinx Therapy, and Asians for Mental Health Directory are great directories to look into.
  4. Ask friends and family: Don’t hesitate to ask your friends for a referral. You may have someone in your circle who is enjoying working with their therapist. 
  5. Check social media: Many therapists are quite active on social media and post general mental health content and even videos. If you check out their pages, you might be able to get a feel for their therapeutic style and personality. If they have a website listed you can reach out to them there or you can send them a private message.

If You're Worried About Starting Over

It is completely normal to dread finding a new therapist because you don’t want to start over. Here’s the good news: You don’t have to.

When searching for a new therapist, ask them if they’re willing to communicate with your current therapist. Be sure your current therapist is OK with this, too. This will allow your current therapist to fill your new therapist in on the work you’ve been doing, your therapeutic goals, and any information about potential diagnoses.

Most providers are happy to do so and will just need you to sign off on a release of information before they communicate with one another.

4 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. King M. Duration of psychotherapy has little association with outcome. Br J Psychiatry. 2015;207(2):93-94. doi: 10.1192/bjp.bp.114.160978

  2. Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

  3. Juul S, Poulsen S, Lunn S, Sørensen P, Jakobsen JC, Simonsen S. Short-term versus long-term psychotherapy for adult psychiatric disorders: a protocol for a systematic review with meta-analysis and trial sequential analysis. Syst Rev. 2019;8:169. doi: 10.1186/s13643-019-1099-0

  4. Safran JD, Muran JC. The resolution of ruptures in the therapeutic alliance. J Consult Clin Psychol. 1996;64(3):447-458. doi: 10.1037//0022-006x.64.3.447

By Julia Childs Heyl, MSW
Julia Childs Heyl, MSW, is a clinical social worker and writer. As a writer, she focuses on mental health disparities and uses critical race theory as her preferred theoretical framework. In her clinical work, she specializes in treating people of color experiencing anxiety, depression, and trauma through depth therapy and EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) trauma therapy.