Medically reviewed by Katelyn Hagerty, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 1/12/2022
Regardless of where you are in your therapy journey, changing therapists can be a daunting task.
There are a variety of reasons that can lead to you switching to a new mental health professional. You may find that you’re no longer making progress with your current provider, or that your specific needs simply aren’t being met.
Regardless of the reasoning, you should feel safe and supported in your therapy journey, just as you’re entitled to with the care of any other medical concern.
Here are some best practices we recommend if you’re going through the process of switching therapy providers.
Whether your switch is prompted by a change on the side of your provider, or simply because you’ve decided that it’s time to move on, have a conversation with your current therapist first if you feel comfortable doing so.
A therapist who needs to separate from a client for whatever reason will likely have feedback on the types of specialties to look for in a new provider, colleagues who may be able to continue your care or information that you should provide to your next therapist so that they can better support you.
For a therapist that you’ve decided to move on from, don’t hesitate to give feedback if you feel safe doing so. You may find that your provider can shift their own methods to better suit your needs, and that switching therapists may not be necessary at all.
Of course, a therapeutic relationship is just that — a relationship, and one you should feel comfortable in. If you ever feel uncomfortable with any medical provider, it’s critical to move on to someone better suited to your needs.
It’s ok to break up with your therapist.
In looking for a new therapy provider, you’ll want to make sure that they offer therapies that work with the status of your mental health and lifestyle.
Therapists have all sorts of specialites, and even the hers mental health care offering has categories, including online talk therapy, psychiatry support, anonymous support groups and self paced resources.
When looking for a new provider, the American Psychological Association recommends that you shouldn’t be “afraid to interview potential candidates about their training, clinical expertise and experience treating problems like yours”.
For example, a therapist who primarily focuses on behavior therapy may also have additional expertise in treating conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
There are generally five broad categories of psychotherapy.
This type of therapy explores interactions with yourself and others, and seeks to uncover unhealthy dynamics.
The goal is to not only build an understanding around behaviors, feelings and thoughts you may be unconsciously exhibiting that are potentially harmful to you and others, but also to discover the motivations behind them.
This therapeutic approach focuses on how learning impacts the development of both our normal and abnormal behaviors. There are a variety of methods ranging from phobia desensitization, to the use of rewards and punishments to condition certain behaviors.
This therapy focuses heavily on our thoughts, with the goal of shifting them to influence alternate and healthier outcomes in our emotions and behaviors.
The humanistic therapy experience focuses on the rational mind and how we can make choices through the lens of maintaining care and respect for others and ourselves.
This is a blend of the approaches mentioned above, and is commonly found among therapy providers. The goal is to provide each person with treatment that best suits their unique needs.
So you’ve found a new provider you’re confident about and you’re ready to pick up right where you left off. Hold your horses.
As with any new relationship, it will take time for you and your therapist to get to know each other, and the process can be a challenge for both sides.
Your first one to two sessions will likely focus on intake, where your therapist will ask you questions about you and your mental health history.
During this portion, feel free to share information that you learned with your previous provider, as well as what did and didn’t work for you. However, don’t expect to fall right back into the level of rapport that you had before — though, it’s great if you do!
Give the relationship some time to warm up so that you can continue receiving the support you need.
Once you’ve made the switch, it can be tempting to compare every interaction you have with your new therapist to those with your previous therapist.
Maybe they share less anecdotes that you find relatable to your experiences, or they don’t cater as much to your learning style by providing as many written resources.
The truth is that while your previous therapy experiences can certainly impact your feelings around your new therapeutic relationship, you should be cautious about judging too harshly and instead focus on what you’re enjoying about the shift.
If after a few therapy sessions you don’t feel that you’re getting the support you need, share your concerns with your current therapist so that they are better positioned to offer tailored care.
While finding yourself in the position where you need to seek a new therapy provider may feel daunting, with the right tools you’ll be well on your way to finding the support that best matches your needs.
For more information about how therapy can work for you, check out the mental health care options offered by the hers platform. Our resources contain self guided options to help you further support your mental health.
Don’t forget, the goal is a relationship with your mental health provider that helps you feel supported and safe as you continue on with your therapy process.