How To Tell If It's Time To Dump Your Therapist
After reading this headline, you're probably thinking to yourself, "Signs it's time to dump your therapist? Who does this bitch think she is?"
Maybe you're a therapist yourself, or you're the protective child of a fabulous therapist.
But please, before you get upset, allow me to add this disclaimer: I'm not a therapist-shamer.
No one on the planet loves a shrink more than I do.
If I could buy gift certificates for my friends, they would be for therapy sessions. There's no place I'd rather be than curled up on a shrink's comfy couch, clutching a hot cup of tea while digging up the nasty demons of the past.
If I could buy gift certificates for my friends, they would be for therapy sessions.
Is it because I'm a narcissist? Perhaps. (But hey, I'm working on all that with a therapist!)
However, it's more than just sheer self-obsession. A good therapist can turn around the entire course of your life.
My lovely therapist is the very reason I stopped feeling the need to vomit up the cartons of ice cream I used to self-destructively binge on when I felt out of control and sad.
She's the reason I'm "kind to myself."
She's the reason I understand what a goddamn boundary is.
If it wasn't for her, I would probably have 17 ex-girlfriends, 15 stray dogs and 21 troubled teen runaways living with me in my apartment in Manhattan.
However, sometimes your relationship with your shrink will simply run its course.
Sometimes, just like in a romantic relationship, we've learned all we can learn from our therapist, and it's time to move on to someone new.
Breaking up with your therapist doesn't undermine the amazing relationship the two of you had.
Maybe you're just in a different place right now and need different things.
Or maybe, the relationship was toxic to begin with, and you need a new, nice therapist who won't charge you $150 an hour to emotionally abuse you.
So here are some signs, that it's time for a new shrink, honey:
1. You're starting to pre-plan what you're going to discuss before your therapy sessions.
When I was coming to the end of my relationship with my therapist, I would start to panic before appointments.
"What the hell are we going to talk about?" I would wonder to myself, trying to think of ONE self-destructive thing I had done over the weekend that we could breakdown for our 55-minute session.
It got to a point where sometimes — no joke — I would start overdramatizing things in my life just so we wouldn't have to sit there in silence.
Now look, if she was still the right therapist for me, she would've seen through my bullshit.
She would have pushed me to delve deeper into my issues, and together, we could've broken through to the next emotional epiphany.
Her playing along with my obviously made-up melodramas was a surefire sign that our relationship had come to an end.
2. Your therapist is totally checked out.
I had a friend who told me that his therapist didn't give him any advice or feedback at all anymore.
"Doesn't he ask you questions? You do know the therapist is supposed to ask you questions so you figure out the answer to your own problems, right?" I smugly asked, a real pro at the therapy game.
"Nope. He just nods and stares into a notebook. He doesn't even remember what we talked about the week before."
"That doesn't sound like a good therapist, dude."
"I know. At this point, I just go to listen to myself talk."
"You can listen to yourself talk in your car for free."
My friend went ahead and broke up with his therapist over the phone later that evening.
The therapist didn't even seem remotely moved or sad because the therapist had clearly checked the fuck out of their relationship.
Now, my friend sees an awesome therapist, and he's doing better than ever.
And that's saying a lot because he was manically depressed drag queen with a cocaine problem before this new shrink.
Now, he's a happy, drug-free drag queen with no cocaine problem.
3. Your therapist is no longer creating a safe environment for you to express yourself.
Look, I think it's fantastic when a therapist holds you accountable for your actions.
I definitely get nervous when I have to tell my therapist I've sorely screwed up or done something reckless that will undo a lot of the amazing work we've done together.
I hate disappointing my therapist, and I don't think it's "morally" wrong for your therapist to be disappointed in you, either.
You do cultivate a very real, personal relationship with your shrink, and when you go ahead and do something blatantly destructive, I get why they would take it personally.
However, if your therapist is shaming you for how you feel or making fun of your emotional reactions, and you suddenly don't feel like they're a safe person to be open and honest with, get out of there ASAP.
A therapist should not make you feel judged or uncomfortable for your struggles or inner thoughts.
In fact, while a therapist can be disappointed in you, they should never "judge" you.
One of my favorite things about therapy is that it's a nurturing environment where I'm actually free to say how I feel and break down what's really going on inside that whacked-out head of mine, without the fear of judgment.
PSA: If you feel like your therapist is judging you, before you go ahead and dump them, make sure it's not just you judging yourself and projecting your self-judgment onto your poor shrink.
Sometimes we use our shrinks as our emotional punching bags, accusing them of the very things we do to ourselves.
4. You've developed an unshakeable crush.
It's a very normal part of the therapeutic process to develop ~feelings~ for your therapist.
After all, they might be the first person in your life who has ever made you feel so safe and so heard and so unconditionally loved.
It feels warm and cozy, like being back in the womb. It can give you an oxytocin rush, just like love.
So if you're crushing on your shrink, don't be ashamed because it's actually very common.
But you need to work through the crush.
I recommend telling your shrink about your crush. They'll help you process your crush on them, and I'll bet you a couple thousand bucks that it's not the first time they've dealt with this sort of thing.
But if you can't work through your irrepressible sexual attraction to them after six or so months, and it's stopping you from being real with them, you need to find a new therapist.
Develop a crush on the girl who works at your gym, not your shrink.
We all act differently around our crushes, and we definitely censor ourselves to please people we're attracted to you.
And the last thing you want to do in therapy is trying to impress your therapist. It's a waste of time, money and treatment.
5. They inherently don't get you.
I once saw a therapist who after 15 minutes asked me if I was a cutter.
"Why?" I gasped, shocked that she had drawn such a drastic conclusion about me in 15 minutes.
"Well, your necklace?" she raised her eyebrow at the trendy, gold, necklace razor blade necklace I had hanging off of my neck.
"Oh, that makes sense!" I said, laughing. "My best friend got it for me. She just thought it was sort of badass. She has one, too. It's by a really cool designer we know in Brooklyn."
She folded her arms and asked, "So you cut together?"
"No, it's just fashion. It's not a REAL razor. It literally means nothing except for the fact that we both like provocative jewelry."
"Cleary, you're not addressing your self-destructive friendship."
I laughed, and then I got the fuck out of there.
If this woman thought that a designer necklace I owned attained a dark hidden meaning, she did not get me.
So, I never went back because I knew it was FRUITLESS to see a shrink who was going to draw such harsh judgments on me that quickly.
I'm a weird dresser. It doesn't really mean that much except that I read a lot of Japanese fashion magazines.
So if your shrink inherently doesn't understand you, your humor or the difference between what's a real issue and what's just an expression of your eccentricity, it's definitely time to break up.
But don't worry; there are so many therapists out there.
It's like dating: You need to find a therapist you click and connect with, and that takes time.