Whether you’ve recently started therapy or have been going for years, you might find that you don’t want to continue working with your current therapist right now. This situation can feel awkward, but rest assured that it’s common—and totally understandable!
You might want to stop therapy for any number of reasons, including the following particularly common ones:
- Your schedule doesn’t allow for the commitment
- The financial costs of therapy aren’t sustainable
- You’ve realized that your therapist isn’t a good fit for you
- The emotional work of therapy feels like too much right now
- You’ve made progress and aren’t sure you really need therapy anymore
If you’re dealing with this kind of challenge, you might be wondering if you can simply ghost your therapist. After all, leaving calls and emails unanswered can feel easier than facing the problem directly. But at the end of the day – even if it turns out that you don’t want to continue therapy – discussing your options with your therapist can give you closure.
Consider the following scenarios and see what feels most helpful for you in braving the talk.
If you’re not sure you want to continue therapy…
If you’ve been thinking about stopping therapy (for any reason at all!), the first thing to consider is whether you can talk honestly with your therapist about your concerns.
In many cases, this kind of conversation can be a powerful way to practice the things you might be working on in therapy – communication skills or emotional honesty, for example. And if there’s a chance that you might want to continue therapy, then having an open conversation about why you’re considering stopping can deepen your work with your therapist and make your sessions more productive going forward.
Even if it turns out that you don’t want to continue therapy, discussing your options with your therapist can give you closure on the work you’ve done together. And, just as importantly, it can give you a way to reflect on what you’ve learned with this therapist and perhaps consider what you’d like to continue working on with other therapists in the future.
If you’re not sure what to say, try one of the following conversation openers:
- “I’ve been considering how our sessions have been working for me, and I’m interested in talking over some of my thoughts.”
- “It’s been difficult for me to stay committed to therapy recently. Could we discuss some of the challenges I’ve been having?”
- “I’ve made a lot of progress on the challenges that brought me to therapy, and I’m wondering if it makes sense to continue our sessions for much longer.”
If you know you don’t want to keep working with your therapist...
Even when you’ve already decided that it’s time to stop sessions with your current therapist, talking the situation over in person can still be helpful.
Having a chance to discuss your transition out of therapy can be helpful for a number of reasons, including the following:
- It gives you a chance to reflect on what you’ve learned from this therapist and how you can apply it to your life going forward;
- It lets you consciously consider what you’d like to be different if you do work with another therapist in the future;
- It provides closure on the therapeutic relationship.
It’s up to you exactly how you end the relationship, but don’t be afraid to be clear and straightforward. You can even say simply: “I’ve decided that I’d like today to be my last session, and I’m hoping we can use this time to talk over the progress I’ve made and what my goals are going forward.”
It may also help to think about what you want to get out of this final conversation. Do you want your therapist to know what you’re grateful for, or what could have gone better? Would you like your therapist’s impressions on your progress, or ideas about where you might focus going forward? Keep in mind one or two key points and be sure to address them in your final session.
If you’d rather not have a final session, sending an email is also an option and can provide some of the same benefits as meeting in person. And you don’t have to write anything fancy—just a simple note saying that you’re not planning to continue sessions can be helpful in getting a sense of closure. You might consider a variation on this example email:
“I wanted to reach out and let you know that I’ve decided not to continue with our sessions at this time. Thank you for all the work we've been doing together the past few months—I've learned so much and feel I've grown a lot through my work with you. I've recently been thinking that I might need a different style of therapy at this point, so I've been looking for a different provider and wanted to let you know. Thank you again for all our work together. May I reach out if I find I'd like to work with you again in the future?”
If you’ve been out of touch with your therapist for a while…
Even if you’ve already ghosted your therapist, you might still consider getting in touch and wrapping things up more formally. Reaching out can give you a sense of closure and help you move past any guilt you may be feeling, and it can also be a way of giving yourself permission to start working with a new therapist if you’re interested in doing so.
In this situation, email is usually best. There’s no need to go into too much detail if you don’t want to; just letting your therapist know about your choice can make a big difference in letting you move forward. Try using a variation on this example email:
“I'm sorry I haven't been very responsive recently. I've actually been thinking that I might need a different style of therapy and I wasn't sure how to share this with you, as I was still thinking over it myself. I’ve decided not to continue our sessions at this time. Thank you for all our work together—I really value the progress I’ve made, and wanted to let you know!”
Alternatively, if you think it would helpful to have a final phone conversation or a last full session before ending therapy, feel free to ask. Your therapist may or may not be able to accommodate your request, but most will do whatever they can to help you wrap up therapy in the most productive way possible.
No matter what, keep these three points in mind
Regardless of your situation, ending sessions with a therapist can be both a challenge and a milestone. Be sure to remember these key ideas as you consider what course of action will make the most sense for you:
- Therapy is intended to work for you. While you should absolutely try to be respectful of your therapist’s time and energy, it’s also important to remember that therapy is primarily about your needs. Though it might feel awkward, it’s crucial to stand up for what’s best for you and pursue whatever kind of therapy you think will be most helpful.
- Therapists are professionals. Though therapy is often very personal and emotional, it may be helpful to remember that therapists are professionals trained to prioritize their clients’ wellbeing. If you decide that they’re not a good fit, that you’re ready to “graduate” from therapy with them, or that you need to end sessions for whatever reason, they’ll understand!
- Ending therapy can be a kind of therapy. Especially if you’re tempted to ghost your therapist, you might ask yourself: does your wish to stop sessions or avoid confrontation with your therapist reflect any similar tendencies in other parts of your life? Are you displaying avoidant behavior in any other relationships? Or avoiding any other difficult situations or potentially awkward discussions? Your relationship with your therapist can often be seen as a reflection of your other relationships, so try using the end of it as a way to deepen your self-awareness and note areas in which you might still have work to do.