Therapy and/or counseling can be immensely valuable. Self- awareness is the key to living a satisfying life. Some of us have found the right therapist, 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–giving us the support and tools we need to make good choices for our self.
Sometimes it’s difficult to determine when it’s time to quit. 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’ve been in weekly therapy for twenty years (I actually met someone like this and he had no plans to quit!). Whoa. That’s way too long. Surely after twenty years, you’ve learned what you need to get out there and live your life. If it hasn’t happened in all this time, it’s safe to assume it’s not going to happen within those office walls. You need to stop being so dependent on your therapist and gain confidence by relying on yourself.
Will all your choices be good ones? Of course not. You will make mistakes. We all do. 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 the wisdom you gain.
So how much time is enough? That’s a very individual thing. You find out by looking at your life, evaluating your progress, and checking in regularly with your therapist to assess where you stand. If you think you are ready to quit, and your therapist doesn’t, listen to what they have to say, but don’t automatically take their word for it. Check in with your gut. Is your intuition saying you’re ready to go out on your own? If so, then try it. No decision is wrong if you learn from it.
Know this: sometimes a therapist needs you more than you need them, especially if their livelihood depends on it. Here’s one example: A young college student is seeing a therapist. She goes for her session, and the therapist is late. The girl waits thirty minutes and when the therapist still hasn’t shown up, she leaves feeling unimportant. Later, her therapist calls and wants to charge her for the session that never happened. She says, “you wait for your professors if they’re late, so you should have waited for me.” To this reasoning, I say “no way.” Clearly the therapist is thinking more about her pocket book than her client.
What if you decide to quit, then something pops up where you need support. By all means, go back to your therapist for one or a few sessions and work specifically on your challenge. Quitting is not irrevocable. You can always go back and work through a difficult situation.
The goal of counseling/therapy is to give you the support and tools you need to successfully live your life on your own. If therapy is not giving you that, you’re with the wrong therapist.
Check out my book, The Affair: From Breakdown to Breakthrough, A Therapist’s Real-life Journey, for more great tips and insights about relationships. You can buy it on Kindle worldwide from all Amazon websites, including www.amazon.com