Therapist Advice - Letting Go?

Long story short, when do you end a therapy relationship? Been with mine for almost 20 years (yes, I have likely funded his vacation home, kidding). Lately he just seems checked out. Typical story, I started out a basket case of dysfunction (thanks mom and dad) and have made great strides, and he has been helpful over the years, but still cant 'get over the hump' of stuff I'm working on. (Also, he's way into Freud and of course it all has to do with sex, which really is not speaking to me, I mean, sometimes a banana is just a banana, right?)

Recently had a setback to which he suggested I medicate (sleep meds) when he knows I don't want to go that route, and last session when I talked about being really stressed and anxious he recommended yoga or TM. Really? That's all he's got after knowing me so well? I get that it must be crappy to be my cheerleader for SO LONG as I try to move through stuff....but when I mentioned an upcoming challenge I'll likely decline (due to my explained level of anxiety) he just scoffed and said "ah come on, you have to do it." 

Oh yeah, also, he mentioned I should see him more often to 'get through this stuff' (I had been seeing him 2x week for years until I couldn't afford it anymore) and when I said I really couldn't afford that he suggested I 'get a job' (I already work from home for a family business). Of course it wasn't as harsh as it sounds typed out, but I just feel like if you can't help me in one visit a week why do you think you can help me in 2?

I know this stuff is complicated and nuanced, but has anyone been in this position before? If you are a therapist do you have any thoughts about this? I really DO want to move through stuff and I am REALLY RESISTANT I guess, I just feel that maybe there's someone else out there who can help me, maybe I just need a change of scenery, or maybe I'm hopeless in that I really can't/don't want to change.

Any thoughts are very much appreciated - and/or recommendations for a therapist who really helped you get through to a better place after years of 'stuckness.'

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RE: Therapist Advice - Letting Go? ()

These are big questions and this is a small answer - so please take it with a grain of salt. He has helped you all he can. My general feeling is after such a long time in therapy, you might consider a break -- or you could consider a different therapist. After 20 years he has nothing new to say to you (nor likely, you to him). His suggestion of more frequent visits is not totally off the mark. He's suggesting you shake things up. 

Transitioning in a thoughtful way out of therapy can kick start things in a new way: Give yourself and him a time limit (3 months?), see him two or three times a week and be done with it. You'll be amazed at how much less 'resistant' you suddenly are with the clock ticking. 

In any event, he's the person to be discussing this with. It's not like a marriage. He's probably waiting for you to bring it up out of a fear that his bringing it up will feel like abandonment. Go ahead and say it out loud:  I've been coming here forever. I wonder if we've gone as far as we can. What do you think? How would we go about making a plan to terminate in a thoughtful way?

Good luck! 

RE: Therapist Advice - Letting Go? ()

You HAVE to tell him all of these feelings with an open mind & see if there’s something important & potentially helpful about addressing difficult topics with him. He’s obviously important to you so talking about this might be revealing for both of you. Don’t worry about hurting him. If he’s curious and not defensive & you are too, you could figure out what’s going on together! 

RE: Therapist Advice - Letting Go? ()

So sorry to hear that the therapist is no longer effective for you.  I recently had to cut loose our family therapist.  We hadn't had her for long, but I realized that the level of trust had degraded over the past year and she was really leading us down the wrong path.  It got so I didn't trust her to honor our needs and was always second-guessing her advice and her interpretation of what I was living through.  It sounds like that may be happening with you.  In my opinion, you shouldn't feel anything but safe--well, challenged but safe, with the therapist.  Part of not wanting to switch may be inertia -- how are you going to find another one??  But there are really good therapists out there for you to find!  It also comes down to a business relationship, and you are being a good consumer when a service isn't living up to your expectations and needs.  Best of luck!

RE: Therapist Advice - Letting Go? ()

Hello, as we grow and develop along our healing journey we often need new mentors, teachers and Therapists. There is nothing wrong with change and to be grateful for the good work you’ve done with this one Therapist. Try someone new and or a different modality and you may experience a fresh perspective and change. 

RE: Therapist Advice - Letting Go? ()

Forgive me for trying to see his side; I know people suffering from anxiety although I do not have it myself. Perhaps that after 20 years he sees himself as an enabler of your anxiety, and he's trying a different method (sleep and exercise) to help you. Many recent studies have shown sleep and exercise, as well as having an outside purpose, such as a job outside of the home, to be be effective against anxiety; maybe he is not checking out, but wants you to try a different method, with 2x per week to check your progress, to see if that helps. Good luck.

RE: Therapist Advice - Letting Go? ()

Please, don't discount yoga and tm. Those can be very powerful tools. In fact, I suggest you cut back on the therapist, and take more yoga classes. Much less expensive! Maybe see the therapist once a month while you look for a new person. When you find someone that seems good, you can quit the old one. He is just hired help like anyone else. Would you get rid of your gardener or housekeeper if you were not happy with their work? Of course! So it is with a therapist, too. They do seem like a friend. But, even though you have developed a relationship, it is not a friendship. No need to hang on to hired help if you feel like they are not serving you well. 

RE: Therapist Advice - Letting Go? ()

I've found trying new approaches really helpful. It tends to mix things up when I've plateaued or am in a rut. That could mean trying a new therapist. This would take you out of your comfort zone at first, but that in itself might be a useful process in shifting things. For me, talk therapy got me just so far till I hit a wall, and then I tried things that were outside that box--movement, support groups, etc. (I have discovered that as a pretty physical person, movement of my body tends to bring emotions to the surface and allows me to work through them that way, be it dance or yoga or whatever). I eventually went back to talk therapy but I had changed enough that I was more open and trusting and got something different out of it. Actually, each therapy go-round (each lasting a few years) and each different therapist brought me something different. In a support group, just hearing another's story helps bring up your own emotions around that subject--if it's facilitated by a good therapist, you get a lot out of hearing what they say too. If well done, it's also a valuable container to feel supported and heard--much like a therapists office, but with different perspectives. And I agree with the person who said you should bring all the feelings you mentioned here up with your therapist. That's a healthy way to learn to express and advocate for yourself. And don't feel obligated to continue with therapy even if they recommend it--it's a good opportunity to learn to trust and respect your own intuition. Good luck!

RE: Therapist Advice - Letting Go? ()

I've been thinking about you since I read your original post -- a combination of my own long-term-therapist musings and having just read Lori Gottleib's "Maybe You Should Talk To Someone" (which I really really recommend).  I'm in agreement with the others who have responded already: it sounds like its time to say goodbye to this therapist and begin to engage in all that that process involves. I sometimes wonder if our long-term therapists at some point have a harder time seeing us in fresh new ways. Also, and maybe more importantly, what you shared with us is what needs to be shared with him. Which can feel super hard and vulnerable but what is part of the therapeutic process and will likely feel incredibly freeing and also connecting.  To be able to say "I need something different" in the context of the relationship.  Perhaps by doing that, by setting a clock ticking, it will open up new conversation around terminating therapy and also by saying what we need or what is real for us, it creates space to acknowledge and express gratitude for what we've received.

My deep respect to you for the hard, self-reflecting work that you've done in relationship with your therapist and the life you've created that is different than the one you had with your parents. My best wishes to you.