Maybe your vibe doesn’t match, or maybe you feel like you’ve made enough progress to stop—either way, you’ve got to break the news. How do you do so politely and professionally?
I love this question because I do not think it is asked or thought of enough in therapy circles. I wish people knew going into therapy that they are a consumer. As such, they should feel more agency over choosing a therapist and a therapeutic modality. I, too, often see people who have been in therapy for a long time with a therapist or a therapeutic modality that didn’t work for them. I wish people understood that it’s their choice and before any work can be done, they need to feel comfortable with their therapist and that therapist’s methods. So, if they feel like it is not working for them, they have to take an action. I would suggest first bring up your discomfort or concerns with the therapist. While this can feel super uncomfortable at first, think of it as good practice for having open communication with people in you life. This is a trained professional who hears all the time that people are ready to end therapy, they can take it. Don’t worry about their feelings just focus on practicing your direct communication skills.
I can’t promise all therapists will handle the discussion with ease and a lack of defensiveness, but I can guarantee that if you clean your side of the street by saying what you feel then YOU will feel better when you look back at the ending of this relationship. While talking to your therapist openly is my first suggestion, I suggest that if someone really struggles with open dialogue that they simply call and leave a message for the therapist. I joke with clients that ending on the phone with therapists is easy because we never answer the phone! Rather than focusing on the best way to end this for the therapist (professionally and politely) think about how you can grow and learn from this experience. After all, growth is painful which is why they are called growing pains. See if you can stretch yourself during this process. This, after all is all about you.