5 Reasons to Stop Going to Therapy
The second-to-last time I went to therapy, I struggled on the car ride over to think of what to talk about. I knew Melissa (my therapist, sage guide, Wonder Woman) would ask me how my week was, how I was doing, where I wanted to go next in our sessions — and I kept drawing a blank. I was feeling kind of...over it.
The last time I went to therapy, I was 10 minutes late because I completely forgot I had it. I bolted into her office, panting and apologetic and a little confused because if there was one thing I never forgot, it was therapy. After the session, Melissa gently suggested that maybe it was time to take a break.
A break? From therapy? The only time I had ever left therapy was because I physically moved. What if I need her? I’m not better yet, I’m not healthy, we can’t just stop! Can we?
She must have seen the panic on my face because she quickly reassured me that she would never make me leave, she was simply raising the topic. And we decided yes, a regular check-up rather than a weekly session was the better choice for me going forward.
Therapy and working on mental health is kinda my ~thing~. To be honest, I felt a bit like a fraud telling my friend who just started going to therapy that I was leaving it. I’d been pushing counseling as something everyone should do, and now I was bailing? Wasn’t that going backwards, not forwards?
I had to check myself: I’ve always said that you can be healthy both in and out of therapy, and it was time for me to grow into my “out of therapy” season. So, how can you know if leaving therapy is the right choice for you? Here are 5 signs to pay attention to:
You’ve Processed What You Came In For
Lots of people choose to go to therapy because they feel stuck, depressed, or anxious about something in particular. Once you’ve moved through that season, your need for regular therapy might wane. If talking about that breakup, that roommate conflict, that trauma, that divorce feels like pulling up something from the past rather than processing your current emotions about it, it might be time to move on.
Basically, if you feel ready, you’re probably ready. Chat about it with your counselor.
You’re Not Making Progress Anymore
Have you ever experienced a plateau in your physical fitness? You’ve been making gains or losing weight, but then you’re not making progress for weeks? Your mental health can be like that, too. I’m one of therapy’s biggest cheerleaders, but (and this is key) if you’re doing the work and you feel like nothing is changing, it might be time to change things up. Maybe that’s a new therapist or starting medication, or maybe it’s giving yourself time to process outside of the therapist office.
You’ve Got the Tools You Need
I’ve struggled with panic attacks and seasonal affective disorder for much of my life, and I’ve gained a slew of self-care and mental stamina tools from therapists over the years. Here’s the thing about therapy, though: your therapist can give you the tools and teach you how to use them, but it’s up to you to do the hard work of fighting your demons. Once I got a handle on the breathing techniques, mindfulness practices, and healthy coping habits, my therapist didn’t need to hold my hand any more. You got this.
It Feels Like a Chore
This was the first thing I felt when I knew I was coming to the end of this therapy journey: I just didn’t want to go any more. Not in the “ugh, this is going to be hard” kind of way (which you should ignore and go anyway, friend) but in a “this feels pointless” way. What once felt valuable and necessary was now just another thing to add to my to-do list. If there’s not value in it for you any more, you definitely don’t have to keep going!
Your Therapist Suggests It
Just like mine did, your therapist might notice the signs that you’ve grown through the tension that brought you in and suggest that you stop your regular sessions. He or she won’t turn you away if you want to stay, but it’s worth listening to why they might think it’s time for you to move on. Consider it like a graduation; you made it through this season, on to the next.
If you’re like me and immediately went, “but what if I need you?!”, not to fear. Checking in every few months with your therapist is a great idea. Just like we visit a doctor every so often for a check-up, it’s helpful to have a mental health check-up every so often. He or she will likely encourage you to come back in a few months time to see how things are.
If you were hoping this list might be a bunch of reasons to not go to therapy in the first place, I’m not your girl. I think everyone can benefit from a trained professional guiding us through the foggier parts of life. But, when that fog clears or they’ve given you the best flashlight they can, it might be time for you to go on without them. You’ve done amazing work to get here, and you can move on to the next thing with confidence. Trust yourself, girl.