Therapy and/or counseling can be immensely valuable. Self- awareness, after all, is the key to living a satisfying life with good relationships…romantic and otherwise. Some of us have found the right therapist, have done our work, and are now living life applying the tools and principles we learned in our sessions. This is what good therapy is about–teaching us to tune into ourselves and gain a level of awareness that serves us well.
When have you gotten all that you need from therapy? Sometimes it’s not so easy to determine. After all this business of growing is a life-time endeavor. But do you need a therapist to hold your hand for the rest of your life? Absolutely not. Here is one example that signals it’s time to move on:
You’re a garden variety neurotic (aren’t we all?) who has been in weekly therapy for 20 years (I actually met someone like that and he didn’t plan on quitting!) Whoa. That’s way too long. Surely by now, you have learned sufficient tools to get you out there to live you life. If that hasn’t happened in 20 years, it’s not going to happen. You need to stop being so dependent on your therapist, and gain confidence in yourself by making your own choices.
Will they always be good choices? No. You will make mistakes. We all do. But you know enough, if you would only trust it, to look inside and learn from your mistakes. Growing doesn’t mean you’re perfect. Growing simply means taking responsibility for yourself, examining your experiences (both good and bad), learning and moving forward with new wisdom.
So how much time is enough? That’s a very individual thing. You find out for yourself, by looking at your life, seeing if you are making progress, checking in regularly with your therapist to evaluate where you stand. If you think you are ready to quit, and your therapist doesn’t, listen, but don’t automatically take their word for it. Check in with your gut. Does what they say feel right? Or is some little voice inside telling you you need to be on your own to practice what you’ve learned. Sometimes a therapist needs you more than you need them. Especially if their livelihood depends on it. In that case, it’s up to you to cut the cord.
If, after quitting, you come up against something that throws you, by all means, see your therapist for one or a few sessions to work very specifically on your challenge. You can always go back to talk through a difficult situation without doing a weekly thing. Trust yourself. Ultimately, you know better than anyone what you need.
Check out my book, The Affair: From Breakdown to Breakthrough, A Therapist’s Real-life Journey, for more great tips and insights about relationships, and the therapy process. You can buy it worldwide from all Amazon websites (Kindle).