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How Do I (Politely) Quit My Therapist?
January 2, 2014 6:30 PM   Subscribe

I've been seeing the same therapist, mostly once a week, for a little over two years. I feel like we're going around in circles. It may be me (it probably is), but he's been very patient and flexible with me on a variety of issues (including financial--he's not covered by my insurance.) What's the most respectful to say adieu and jump ship

I've seen plenty of therapists in the past for short periods. They've been more of the "I have this problem and I need to fix it" situations and after a certain period of time I just stopped going. This guy was referred to me by a friend of a friend in the mental health profession. I've seen him since November of 2011. As stated above, he's not covered by my insurance and has seen me on a very generous sliding scale, given his typical hourly rates. He's helped me over a few immediate hurdles, but a when it comes to delving into some of my more chronic issues he mostly seems either bored with or mildly contemptuous of, as if he doesn't really take them (or me) seriously. Which is fine. I'm not currently incapacitated or in critical pain or wracked with grief. I'm employed. The worst of my depression has abated. But I'm still sort of spinning in the same circle that I can't get out of, and now it just seems like he doesn't want to hear about it, which makes me feel sort of guilty and embarrassed and self-conscious, which is sort of why I'm there seeing him in the first place. Cue spinning top.

So I need to end it. How do I do this nicely? Apologies if this seems too obvious a question. In all aspects, I struggle to finish and I'm terrible at endings.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
I would send an email canceling your next appointment and say you've decided to take a break from therapy for now. Since he's seen you on a sliding scale maybe include a short thank you for his help and that you greatly appreciate him taking you on as a patient at a reduce rate.

It really can be that simple.
posted by whoaali at 6:41 PM on January 2 [7 favorites]


Cancel your appointment. What's he gonna do, come find you?
posted by oceanjesse at 6:43 PM on January 2 [1 favorite]


I'm a therapist. Don't over-think this. All you need to do is say "Thanks for the help you've provided, I don't feel I need to schedule another session at this time."

Clients come and go, a good therapist doesn't take it personally.
posted by HuronBob at 6:43 PM on January 2 [12 favorites]


Is it possible you're projecting your feelings on to him? Obviously you don't have to keep seeing any therapist you don't want to, and quitting is as easy as people above are suggesting. But any competent therapist would have too much empathy to feel contempt for a patient, let alone show it. And you yourself describe the pain you're in dismissively -- great, so you're not at the worst of your depression, or incapacitated or wrecked with grief, but that's a pretty low bar to have risen above.

It might be worth considering telling your therapist you've been feeling boredom or contempt from him, to see what happens, because you may well be playing out with him a pattern you play out with other people who are close to you. Addressing it with him might even subvert it and put you on a path to addressing some of the things that are chronically troublesome to you. And if that conversation doesn't seem to be going anywhere after an additional couple of sessions, you can always quit then.
posted by pocketfullofrye at 6:55 PM on January 2 [9 favorites]


Go at least once more and discuss how you are feeling about the therapy. In my experience, this is where the rubber hits the road and you either get somehwere or leave.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:06 PM on January 2 [7 favorites]


I'd recommend talking to him about it directly. If nothing else, it's good practice for articulating and asking for what you want in a relationship with another person, which is a useful skill for everyone. The discussion may also give you some insight into why you feel this way and what to look for in your next therapist, if indeed it is time to move on.
posted by judith at 7:24 PM on January 2 [6 favorites]


I saw a therapist for several months last year, and like you, I felt she wasn't interested in what I had to say. She would often cut our sessions short, and once told me that she didn't consider our meetings to be true psychotherapy because I wasn't able to see her consistently. These things were hurtful to me, whether or not she realized it (and I didn't think it was healthy to feel that way about my therapist anyhow). Also like you, I felt I didn't have deep seeded issues, but was going in circles and direction would have been helpful. Although we did have some helpful discussions, eventually I stopped seeing her.

If I had it to do over, I would have first asked her if we could set some goals for what I should strive to achieve. Based off the detail in her response, I would have then determined whether I should continue seeing her or not. Do you think you can broach the topic of goals with your therapist?

If you've really decided this isn't working out though, there's totally no harm in that. You're devoting time, money and energy to therapy and you deserve to get some sort of benefit out of it. If you're not comfortable seeing your threapist any longer, you could tell him you'd like to take a break from therapy, and will be in touch if you change your mind, and leave it at that.
posted by watrlily at 8:39 PM on January 2 [1 favorite]


"when it comes to delving into some of my more chronic issues he mostly seems either bored with or mildly contemptuous of, as if he doesn't really take them (or me) seriously. Which is fine"

Actually... assuming that you are reading him correctly (did you ever bring this up with him?) this is not fine. It's not fine to be bored by the client who is sitting in front of you, and contempt is way over the top. It his responsibility and his privilege to be totally present for you during the period of time you are with him.

Obviously, you have a choice here. There might be a lot to be gained from making another appointment and bringing these perceptions to the table. But it's completely your call.

And by the way... you engage him / he is working for you. I encourage you to feel more empowered in your approach to therapy and in your relationship with your therapist.
posted by elf27 at 9:05 PM on January 2 [1 favorite]


It's actually not ethical for a therapist to keep stringing you along for years like this without progress. They should have brought this up months or years ago. Yes, it's fine to just not make another appointment, but ideally you would tell the therapist what you wrote here. In fact, why not just show them this question? You could also ask them why they haven't addressed your lack of progress.

(I know my answer is victim-blamey and I apologize, but I really don't have a better solution. There needs to be more accountability in therapy, STAT.)
posted by Violet Hour at 9:22 PM on January 2


You do the hiring and firing in this matter and owe no explanation. That said, I agree with those suggesting there may be something to be gained by explaining your reasons in person, even with the understanding up front that it will be your last session with him.

If you take this route, try to resist worrying that he'll rope you back in. If his response isn't helpful, you're done and you've shown great courtesy.
posted by whoiam at 9:25 PM on January 2


I'm voting for the cancellation via email. Sure, it is passive-aggressive, but why prolong this and why put yourself through any paces with someone who has not helped you (enough)? Be prepared, however, because the therapist may try to call you and arrange an exit type meeting. Be firm. Think of it as a positive for the therapist too. He can't possibly want to continue to take your money if you aren't getting what you want....and you've given it plenty of time.
posted by naplesyellow at 10:59 PM on January 2


In all aspects, I struggle to finish and I'm terrible at endings.
This is a really good reason to have a final session with your therapist and not just quit by canceling. (And please tell him upfront that you want this to be your final session, not in the last 2 minutes)
posted by metahawk at 11:00 PM on January 2 [5 favorites]


Cancelling by email isn't passive aggressive - it's convenient.

Hi Therapist

I don't think this is working out for me so I'm not going to schedule any more appointments.

Regards

...
posted by Mario Speedwagon at 12:15 AM on January 3


The worst of my depression has abated. But I'm still sort of spinning in the same circle that I can't get out of, and now it just seems like he doesn't want to hear about it, which makes me feel sort of guilty and embarrassed and self-conscious, which is sort of why I'm there seeing him in the first place. Cue spinning top.

So I need to end it. How do I do this nicely? Apologies if this seems too obvious a question. In all aspects, I struggle to finish and I'm terrible at endings.


Given what you've written here, I would strongly encourage you to have at least one more session with your current therapist and discuss this. I'm not you but if your mind and your depression work similarly to how mine do, ending it via email would wind up getting added to the long list of Ways I Suck And Have Failed At Life — "look at you, avoidant as usual, not asking for what you need, not getting good value for the money you paid SUCKER!, too pathetic to stand up for yourself" etc. etc. etc.

If you do have a discussion with him about it, then when the drone of self-criticism starts up again, you'll be better able to shut it down. (I actually make a physical gesture when I do, kind of whipping up one hand in an abrupt "shut it! not listening!" motion, as if the critical voice were coming from somebody physically in the room with me, and tell it something like "you lie and I'm not listening." It sounds kind of goofy, but it does help me not believe the WOW YOU SUCK AT EVERYTHING bullshit my brain is trying to pull on me.)
posted by Lexica at 9:48 AM on January 3


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