Clients unless they are mandated to attend therapy can quit at any point. If you are in therapy and thinking about quitting, here is what you need to know.
Do not to quit abruptly. Honour your therapy experience by talking openly and honestly with your therapist about your intentions. This process is about you, not your therapist.
Ideally having 1 or 2 sessions geared to closing off your therapy experience is suggested whenever possible. This will be what is most productive in your day-to-day life moving forward. Plus the experience of a healthy good-bye goes a long way! Often we have negative experiences of good-byes in our life, the death of a loved one, a divorce etc. Do yourself a favour and make this one a different experience.
There are many reasons why one would want to leave or quit therapy. Financial costs, transportation to and from the appointments or just a general sense that therapy is no longer useful or maybe you are experiencing a decrease in the symptoms that led you to therapy in the first place. It could also be that you need a break or there is a lack of connection between you and your therapist or that the sessions are just too intense and you feel they are making your symptoms worse. Whatever the reason it is important to discuss your intentions to take a break or leave therapy all together with your therapist.
There are many reasons for discussing your intentions with your therapist rather than simply not showing up or ever calling for an appointment again.
Avoiding talking to your therapist about your intentions is likely something you are quite good at; avoiding potentially uncomfortable conversations. Could this be something you are familiar with? That you recognize you do in your day-to-day life? You are probably very good at avoiding things. Most of us are.
Talking to your therapist about wanting to leave therapy may make you feel really uncomfortable. You may think you might hurt your therapists’ feelings. But you won’t. It is important that you know this. Remember, this process is about you.
By avoiding telling your therapist you want to quit therapy you don’t give yourself the opportunity to safely explore another option, one other than avoiding. You risk slipping into a similar pattern that is all too familiar and feels stuck! Quite possibly one of the things that led you directly to your therapist to start with. Your relationship with your therapist is like no other relationship in your life. And most important, your therapist wants your feedback! If there is something your therapist can do to ease your discomfort it is important to openly communicate this. Maybe your session becomes about how to approach something that may be challenging for you.
Another reason it would be important to have a conversation with your therapist is to explore what no longer having therapy in your life will look like. Are you able to cope and maintain your emotional and mental health between sessions? What plans do you have in place? Sometimes your symptoms are so challenging through the therapy experience that it may feel like the right thing to do, avoid going to sessions in order to ease that distress. However, these might be valid and important reasons why not to quit therapy.
Attending therapy is hard work! You showing up for yourself in this way is an amazing gift you grant yourself.
Assess and reflect honestly why you no longer want to be in therapy. Use your therapist to have this conversation and honor your therapy experience by talking to your therapist about your desire to conclude sessions. This allows you to prepare for post-treatment and can decrease guilt or regret, even sadness about no longer having a regular, trusted professional in your life. No longer attending therapy and ending it abruptly, or without a healthy good-bye, could negatively impact you if at some point in the future you wish to re-start. This may then bring on feelings of embarrassment or shame for not having closed things off in a healthy way with your therapist. No therapist wants to discourage a client from ever coming back (with them or any other helping professional) so please do not do this to yourself by avoiding the termination sessions important to your therapy experience.
The therapy process is about you, not your therapist and if you want to leave therapy you can do this anytime. But leaving feeling empowered about having had the I want to quit therapy or I want to quit therapy with you conversation with your therapist is an important step in continuing to move forward towards better mental wellness.