Professor Derek Seward Helps NYT Explain “How to Break Up With Your Therapist”

How to Break Up With Your Therapist

(The New York Times | Oct. 13, 2023) If you’ve ever been in therapy, you know that the relationship is unique. You might tell your therapist things you wouldn’t share with your loved ones. “It’s the most intimate professional relationship you’ll ever have,” said John Norcross, a professor of psychology at the University of Scranton. So what should you do when you’re ready to move on?

Derek SewardEven when people feel as if they’ve gotten what they need from therapy, leaving can bring up anxieties, Dr. Norcross said. And while clients are the ones to initiate most therapy terminations, not everyone goes about it in a healthy way, he explained.

It may be tempting to ghost your therapist once you realize you’re through, said Dr. Norcross, who has researched the ways people end therapy. But that’s not the most productive way to handle the situation.

Ending therapy is an important part of treatment, said Derek Seward, an associate professor of counseling and counselor education at Syracuse University. It provides an opportunity to use the tools you’ve most likely strengthened during your sessions, he said …

… Dr. Seward recommended going over scenarios that might trigger you after you leave therapy and role-play how you would handle them. If a client has been having issues with being more assertive in a romantic relationship, he might practice being that client’s partner, he said.

“Ending therapy is an important part of treatment.”

Then talk about what you should do if you run into a crisis and want to come back. Decide on the specific ways that you can get in touch, such as email, Dr. Seward said. He added that some counselors may not be able to take a client back, so discuss other possibilities.

If you live in the same area, Dr. Seward added, talk about what you can expect if, for example, you bump into each other in the supermarket. Therapists are bound by an ethical code not to break confidentiality, he said …

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