How to tell your therapist you want to take a break

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In this blog we will discuss how to tell your therapist you want to take a break. 

We will also discuss some of the things you should do when taking a break from therapy and when is the time you should consider taking a break from therapy. 

How to tell your therapist you want to take a break?

Here are some ways you can tell your therapist you want to take a break from therapy or from them:

  • Bring up that you want to take a break in session
  • Discuss issues related to the break
  • Ask your therapist about the termination process
  • Plan what you want to cover during the remaining period
  • Clarify if this is a pause or an end
  • Address feelings of loss

Bring it up in a session

When you are able to meet the therapist or talk to them, bring up your intention to take a break from therapy or from your therapist. 

You can say something like:

“I really appreciate the work that we have done so far and I believe that I am at a good place right now. I would like to discuss with you my intention to take a break from therapy for the time being.”

You can also add your reasons as well even if it means seeing other therapists. You can say:

“I want to take a break from working with you because I think I want to try out another approach- I am interested in (for example:) Art therapy and I would like to give that a try with someone new, to get a fresh perspective.”

It is best that you talk to them directly, bringing up your concerns and how you feel about the anxieties you feel about discussing this. It’s perfectly okay to leave it at that. 

Discuss issues related to the “break”

Therapists are open to taking a “break” from therapy with their clients because at the end of the day it is the therapist’s call.

If the issues related to therapy can be adjusted and it is not a willingful decision but rather because of circumstances like you moving away to college or due to finances, it is best that you discuss it with your therapist. 

It is very likely that your therapist will be open to temporarily lowering the cost of sessions or moving your sessions online so that you don’t miss out on your care especially if you are likely to have significant difficulty supporting yourself during a break from therapy.

In the case that your therapist is unable to lower the price or they do not work through an online format, you can always ask your therapist to point you in the direction of budget-friendly options or a therapist that they know and would recommend in the state t you are moving to.

Ask your therapist about the termination process

During the conversation with your therapist, you will also talk about your termination process even if it is for a temporary break. 

The termination process is crucial and often, therapists arrange a specific number of ending sessions to allow time to discuss any feelings this change brings up. 

If your therapist does not seem to initiate a conversation about termination (which they should), you need to bring it up in the sessions with them so that you can have a definite closure or “end” during this break. 

Plan out coping strategies

During this termination period with your therapist it is also crucial that you and your therapist review whatever you have worked on, your progress, and coping strangles that are in place. 

An important strategy that you are used to such as seeing your therapist must be replaced with something else- perhaps connecting with loved ones that love and support you for the time you are on break. 

Your therapist should help you identify priorities and plan how to address problems and challenges as much as possible before the relationship ends. 

Clarify if this is a pause or an end

Any time you plan to take a break from therapy, it’s good to clarify whether you’re ending the relationship to stop altogether, if this is truly a break, or if you are on the fence about either option. 

Discussing this with your therapist and getting an opinion about your mental health status is important as your therapist can help you determine whether you should consider a short-term pause or a full stop.

Address feelings of loss 

Even if you are the one initiating this break, it is likely that you will have some feelings regarding this situation because at the end of the day it is a sort of loss and you will have an important part of your life missing for the time being. 

During the last days of your termination it is important that you speak to your therapist about the feelings that you are experiencing because pausing or ending therapy isn’t always ideal, especially when you don’t feel ready.

Your therapist, provided that they are ethical, should have a plan in mind to be able to work you through the process of dealing with the loss, grieving, and generally help you regulate your emotions and feelings in this situation. 

What should you do when taking a break from therapy?

Here are a few things you need to do when you are taking a break from therapy:

Clear all dues and insurance claims

If you have dues with your therapist, you should clear everything before your sessions end with them for the break. 

If you are paying via insurance, you have to make sure that you have an agreed plan if there are issues that arise with insurance payment since Insurance filing isn’t always done immediately after your appointment.

Get your records

If you want your records for further treatment that you might avail later on in the case that you seek treatment elsewhere, you should discuss the possibility of getting your records from your therapist.

This has to be done in advance because therapists usually don’t hand over notes the same way a doctor might since they have to follow certain guidelines about record keeping so for this you might have to schedule a separate appointment to do so.

However, it has to be mentioned that transferring records directly from your therapist to another professional is easier and you only have to sign a release form; so you should discuss this option with your therapist.

Make arrangements for referral 

If you are taking a break from your therapist to try out other therapists and other approaches, you have to make arrangements as soon as possible since the wait times for mental health services can stretch to weeks or months.

Follow up on the referral as soon as possible and try not to wait until you have an emergency.

When is it time to take a break from therapy?

The therapeutic process is a journey that is unique for all individuals and often it is a long process.

If you have been in therapy for a while you might get comfortable and have difficulty looking at your own progress objectively. 

In such a case, taking a break from therapy can be beneficial, especially if you have been able to adjust and adapt well to your life. 

Here are a few things you should consider if you are wondering when would be a good time to take a break from therapy:

  • If you’re find that you are having a hard time coming up with things to talk about in your therapy sessions, and that there is nothing crucial to discuss, it could be a sign that you need a break., 
  • If you feel like your life is going well overall and you are able to adapt to challenges could be a sign that you’re ready for a pause in therapy. 
  • If you have found that you are doing well, have achieved your goals, and are able to handle your life and yourself, it could be a sign that you are ready to take a break from therapy.

In these cases, you can talk to your therapist about scaling back your appointments to even once a month or once every six months which can give you ample time to work through life with the skills that you have learned in therapy. 

Taking a full break from therapy can be beneficial as well and it is often when you are out of therapy that you are able to gain perspective in your own healing process as well as allow you to check in with whether your goals have been met or not. 

It also gives you the time to apply what you have learned and try out living in the world as an independent individual.

If you are ready to take a break, let your therapist know as soon as you can so you can agree how to terminate and transition out of therapy while creating strategies to cope and maintain your mental health. 

Conclusion

In this blog we have discussed how to tell your therapist you want to take a break. 

We have also discussed some of the things you should do when taking a break from therapy and when is the time you should consider taking a break from therapy. 

FAQ related to How to tell your therapist you want to take a break

How do I break up with my therapist?

When you are able to meet the therapist or talk to them, bring up your intention to take a break from therapy or from your therapist. 

You can say something like:

“I really appreciate the work that we have done so far and I believe that I am at a good place right now. I would like to discuss with you my intention to no longer work with you.”

.

Is it OK to take a break from therapy?

Yes, it is absolutely okay to take a break from therapy provided that you feel like your life is going well overall and you are able to adapt to challenges could be a sign that you’re ready for a pause in therapy. It also gives you the time to apply what you have learned and try out living in the world as an independent individual.

References

How To Take A Break From Therapy And Still Be OK.  HuffPost. Retrieved on 15th May 2022. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/pausing-therapy-tips_l_5c9e3b12e4b00ba6327bfb99

When Is It Time to Take a Break From Therapy? SonderMind. Retrieved on 15th May 2022. https://www.sondermind.com/resources/when-is-it-time-to-take-a-break-from-therapy#:~:text=A%20full%20 pause%20from%20therapy,you%20set%20out%20to%20make.

Pausing Therapy: Reasons Why and What You Should Consider. Talk space. Retrieved on 15th May 2022.https://www.talkspace.com/blog/pause-stop-therapy-guide/

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