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How to Break up with Your Therapist

Katelyn Hagerty

Reviewed by Katelyn Hagerty, FNP

Written by Rachel Sacks

Published 12/17/2021

Updated 08/12/2023

Breaking up is hard to do — and it’s not just romantic relationships that may need to be cut off. If you’ve worked with a therapist for some time, you’ve built a relationship with them. But sometimes, breaking up with a therapist is the best thing to do.

If you’ve been dealing with depression or anxiety, you may have started working with a mental health professional (aka a therapist) to help change your thoughts and behaviors to better deal with your symptoms. And while this can be incredibly helpful, getting the most out of therapy depends on finding the right therapist for you. 

In some cases, you might “click” with a therapist right away. Other times, it might be obvious from the start that your therapist just isn’t right for you — kind of like dating, right?

And just like dating, cliché expressions sometimes hold true (it’s not you, it’s me). And other times, how to tell your therapist you want to stop is more complicated (also a breakup cliché).

So how do you “break up” with your therapist? Below, we’ll explain when you should consider breaking up with your therapist and how to do so.

First things first — it’s absolutely okay to break up with a psychotherapist.

You may feel that because you’ve taken the first step of going to therapy for depression, you shouldn’t quit. But if you feel like your therapist just can’t provide the help you need, or if you think you want to try other types of therapy, it’s perfectly alright to seek out information on how to break up with your therapist.

So, when should you consider breaking up with a therapist? While the overall benefits of therapy are vast, therapy is very much about the relationship you have with a mental health professional. A better relationship with your therapist can result in better outcomes.

One of the major therapy goals is making sure you’re getting the help you need. Are you on the same page as your therapist? If you feel like your therapist isn’t helping you achieve success in therapy, you can (and often should) move on from them.

There aren’t very many specific studies on how to break up with a therapist. But you can consider the following red flags when thinking about a good patient-therapist relationship and what outcomes you may want from therapy.

  • You don’t trust your therapist. As with any relationship, trust is essential for effective therapy. If you aren’t comfortable sharing with your therapist due to a lack of trust, it could be a sign you’re better off with someone else.

  • You feel uncomfortable with your therapist. Has your therapist said something that makes you feel uncomfortable? Therapy can be challenging at times, but you should never feel uncomfortable in your therapist’s presence.

  • Your therapist is difficult to see. Sometimes, your problems with a therapist might be logistical. Maybe they’re located far from you and the distance makes seeing them too inconvenient, or maybe their availability doesn’t match your schedule.

  • You don’t feel better after therapy. Therapy sometimes involves uncomfortable ideas and feelings, but it shouldn’t leave you feeling bad. If you often feel worse after therapy, it may be a sign you’re not seeing the right therapist for you.

  • You feel like you’re not making progress. The goal of therapy is to improve the way you think, feel and behave, especially if you’ve been diagnosed with a specific mental illness. If you feel like you aren’t making progress with your therapist, don’t feel afraid to switch to someone who can better help you progress on your mental health journey.

  • You feel like you no longer need therapy. Sometimes, breakups are positive. If you feel like you’re ready to end therapy (and your therapist agrees), there’s nothing wrong with having a mutual breakup with your therapist.

Most mental health professionals are dedicated, ethical people who want to help you first and foremost. The connection you have with your therapist should be a professional relationship.

If your therapist has made an ethical violation — for example, by sharing your information with a third party or making a sexual advance toward you — you should end your relationship as soon as you can.

You should also consider reporting your therapist’s misconduct to any scientific and professional organizations they belong to, as well as the relevant licensing board in your state or area.

The American Psychiatric Association and American Psychological Association provide detailed information online about filing complaints against members. 

Breakups aren’t always easy, even when you know it’s time. But therapists are professionals, and like other healthcare providers, a good therapist is very aware that people move on from therapy for all sorts of reasons.

The following tips and techniques will teach you how to break up with your therapist and ease the process of changing therapists.

Understand Why You Want to End the Relationship

Before you pull the plug on your relationship, it’s good to check in with yourself and figure out why you want to end things.

Make a list of the reasons you don’t feel comfortable with or confident in your current therapist — like a lack of comfort, different values or simply a feeling that you can’t achieve your goals. Or maybe you feel you’ve outgrown your relationship with your therapist and can no longer benefit from therapy sessions.

Next, try to work out if any of these issues are fixable. Can you talk to your therapist and improve the situation, or is it best to move on to someone else?

If you feel like things just aren’t working out, or if your working relationship with your therapist is damaged beyond repair, it’s often a clear sign to move on to a different provider.

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Meet With Your Therapist to Discuss Breaking Up

Even if your therapist isn’t the right person for you, your relationship with them is still important and deeply personal.

After you decide to end your relationship with your therapist, reach out and let them know.

You and your therapist may decide to discuss the matter at your final apportionment and plan a new approach you can use to move forward. 

Above all, avoid ghosting your therapist. Not only is being a no-show unfair to your therapist, but it can also set you back by limiting your ability to ask them for referrals or clear up any remaining issues before you formally end treatment.

If You Feel Uncomfortable, Consider Sending an Email

Of course, if you don’t feel comfortable talking to your therapist, it’s okay to end your therapeutic relationship via email.

How much you choose to share with your therapist in your email is completely up to you. Just remember, you don’t need to provide a long, detailed explanation of why you want to end things.

If the relationship was short (i.e., a few sessions), a brief email explaining that you’d prefer to try something different is completely appropriate. 

And if you’ve had a good experience with your therapist, make sure to mention this in your “breakup” email.

A short message letting your therapist know you’re trying a different approach or just want to work with a different mental health provider is absolutely fine. 

If you no longer plan to attend your next few appointments, make sure to follow your therapist’s instructions for cancellations.

Be Direct and Honest About Your Reasons for Ending Therapy

We know it’s not easy to tell your therapist you’re leaving.

Understandably, you might worry about your therapist’s feelings. But being direct and upfront with your therapist can not only help you end the relationship — it can also help them to understand your reasons for leaving.

Nearly every single one has had patients switch therapists, move or just move on from therapy. Very few will be offended or upset about parting ways with a client who leaves in a friendly, respectful manner.

If you have a clear, specific reason for ending therapy, such as a cultural mismatch or a sense your therapist didn’t quite click with you, don’t be afraid to let them know. They may be able to suggest a more suitable provider based on your specific issues and feedback.

Find Another Therapist Before Leaving

If you want to continue therapy, consider looking into other therapists before you break up with your current one.

You can find a therapist by asking your primary care provider for a referral or searching online for licensed therapists in your area. Depending on what you’re looking for, this guide on inclusive therapists has resources for finding the right therapist for you.

Once you find a new therapist you feel comfortable talking to, make sure to reach out to your previous therapist to ask for a release of information.

This provides your new therapist with access to any relevant notes and other information they’ve kept about your personal needs.

Ask Your Therapist for a Referral

It may feel awkward to ask for a referral for a new therapist while breaking up with your current therapist.

But as a professional, your therapist may be able to recommend someone who can better address your concerns or needs. At the end of the day, a good therapist wants what’s best for your well-being.

A good referral can make changing therapists easier and help you avoid time away from therapy while you search for someone new.

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Just like any relationship that needs to come to an end, breaking up with a therapist is normal.

Unsure how to tell your therapist you want to stop seeing them? Here’s what to keep in mind:

  • There are plenty of valid reasons you might consider parting ways with your therapist. Maybe you don’t trust them or feel a boundary was violated, maybe there are logistical issues, or maybe you no longer feel you need therapy.

  • To “break up” with your therapist, make sure you know why you want to stop working with them. Meet with in-person or send an email to discuss your reasons — and be honest. Therapists are professionals, so they understand that patients want to move on sometimes.

  • Be sure to find another therapist before leaving your current one if you’re continuing treatment. You can also ask your current therapist for a referral to ensure a smooth transition.

Your mental health and wellness are important, and finding the right therapist is a crucial part of the treatment process.

Our mental health services provide resources with more information about online therapy and more. You can also connect with a mental health professional through our online psychiatry platform.

2 Sources

Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references.

  1. Ardito, R. B., & Rabellino, D. (2011). Therapeutic alliance and outcome of psychotherapy: historical excursus, measurements, and prospects for research. Frontiers in psychology, 2, 270. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3198542/
  2. Friedman, S. H., & Martinez, R. P. (2019). Boundaries, Professionalism, and Malpractice in Psychiatry. Focus (American Psychiatric Publishing), 17(4), 365–371. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7011306/

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Learn more about our editorial standards here.

Katelyn Hagerty, FNP

Kate Hagerty is a board-certified Family Nurse Practitioner with over a decade of healthcare experience. She has worked in critical care, community health, and as a retail health provider.

She received her undergraduate degree in nursing from the University of Delaware and her master's degree from Thomas Jefferson University. You can find Katelyn on Doximity for more information.

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