My therapist is leaving. I’m so sad: what should I do?

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In this blog we will discuss what you should do if you are sad about your therapist leaving.

We will also briefly discuss what an ethical termination should look like and how you can choose your next new therapist. 

My therapist is leaving. I’m so sad: what should I do?

Here are a few things you can do if you are feeling sad about your therapist leaving:

Bring it up to your therapist.

If you have been informed by your therapist about the termination, it is very likely that they have prepared a termination process for you and they are likely to set up a few sessions with you to terminate the relationship.

This means that you have time to discuss what is going on with you with your therapist. While it might be awkward to do so, considering that these feelings come because of them, it is even more crucial to discuss it with them because of this. 

By doing so, you learn to confront your feelings and at the same time express your feelings to the people involved and to yourself which can be healthy. 

Talk to your therapist about your feelings including:

  • How do you feel about them leaving
  • Possible feelings of abandonment
  • Feelings of fear at the thought of losing them 
  • Feelings related to having to cope on your own

Discuss finding a new therapist

Another important aspect of what you need to discuss in the next few sessions with them is the prospect of finding a new therapist to replace a new one. 

While you might be apprehensive about this idea, it is a possibility if your therapist leaves you in the middle of treatment or if you still want to see someone to help you cope with life circumstances even when you feel a lot better.

They should also help you in the referral process when you are trying to find a new therapist to replace them if that is what you need. They should be able to refer you to someone you can work well with and discuss feelings about talking to someone new during the termination process. 

If they do not do this, you can take the step yourself to bring this up in the session with them. Ask them if they could recommend you a therapist who can work with you considering that they know what kind of person you are as well as the orientation of the therapist they can recommend. 

This can be an easier route for you to take as well as lighten the load of having to find someone on your own after the termination. 

Coping plan.

Having your therapist leave you can be a distressing experience and you might need to learn how to cope with this emotional experience and it is helpful to have a coping plan in such cases.

There is no harm in creating a plan, in fact it can help you feel more prepared and this can be a crucial part of what you discuss with your therapist during the last days of your sessions. 

Working with your therapist about the transition and termination also includes finding a new therapist as well as clarifying coping skills and support systems to help you through the process. 

You might also have to discuss various coping strategies that you usually use and apply them to this particular situation this could be part of your therapeutic journey as well. 

Allow yourself to grieve.

When you miss someone, allow yourself to miss them, grieve them, and be sad. Don’t question it, don’t stop yourself from it- instead allow yourself to feel everything and anything. 

Losing your therapist to unavoidable circumstances is a challenge that some people struggle with when they are seeing a professional for their mental health because therapists are human too and they experience events that cause them to abruptly leave their practice and clients.

This is a critical experience for most patients and clients of psychotherapy as it can be a painful experience to deal with considering that the therapist tends to be someone with whom you have a deep relationship. 

When the relationship ends You might feel sadness and along with this anger of having been separated, despair that the thought that you might never see them again, and you might be so afraid of having to live life without them. 

When you feel all of this, and more- allow it. The only way to heal as you grieve is through these feelings.

Discuss the termination with your new therapist

As part of moving on, you will have to find a new therapist considering that this termination is not voluntary which means your treatment might not be over.

In such a case, when you settle in with your new therapist, it is best that you speak to your new therapist about the termination and the feelings that you have about the fact that your therapist has left. 

Talking about the loss is very important as the relationship between you and your therapist runs deep and the loss of the therapist is an important one and it might affect your relationship with your new therapist. 

Giving yourself the permission to talk about the loss is an important aspect of your therapeutic relationship.

What does ethical termination look like?

Termination is part of one’s therapeutic journey and like every step of the way, there is an ethical way for your therapist to terminate the relationship with you irrespective of why the termination is occurring- including your therapist leaving suddenly. 

Here are some things that should be part of your termination if it is to be done ethically:

Your therapist should inform you of the approaching ending of the sessions with you. This should be done at least 2-3 sessions prior to the final session. 

Your therapist should also give you opportunities to talk about your relationship as well as what you would like to focus on during the remaining time. 

Your therapist could also help you wean you out by spacing the sessions so that you are given time to build your confidence to build up your ability to handle things without seeing them on a weekly basis.

They should also spend time reviewing the progress that you have made during your sessions. They will review with you what you learned, what you intend to do with what you have learned, and what you found helpful about your sessions.

They should allow you to talk about your feelings about termination and also work through these emotions with you as well as processing them which is very crucial for the termination process. 

They should also help you in the referral process when you are trying to find a new therapist to replace them if that is what you need. They should be able to refer you to someone you can work well with and discuss feelings about talking to someone new during the termination process. 

How to choose a good therapist?

Here are some things to pay attention to if you want to be safe when you connect with a therapist online:

Credibility

A credible online therapy service that allows you to speak with a professional should have the details about their professionals on their site with links for further cross checking- such as links to the professionals place of work. 

It is very important that you check out their credibility by looking into this information and perhaps even check the reviews left by other clients. 

Chatting with a “professional” online who doesn’t fully understand how to help you improve your mental health can do more harm than good. 

Professional guidelines

Pay attention to whether the service providers you are talking to are adhering to the five principles of ethical counselling that most mental health professionals stick to.

They should focus on you and stick to the ethical principles. If they aren’t and you feel unsafe, it is best to withdraw from these services. 

Look into the therapists’ credentials

It is possible that when you are matched with a particular therapist, you can look up their credentials and experience online. 

This means that you might have to do a little background check independent of whatever information BetterHelp has provided on their website. 

This is for your own mental health and wellbeing, so take some time to cross check the credibility of the therapists that have been assigned to you. 

Trial mindset

You have to understand that when it comes to therapy, it takes time to find the one that you are able to connect with. So go into each session with each therapist with a mindset of getting yourself comfortable and being open to new people. 

Just because one therapist does not fit well with you does not mean that all therapists at Betterhelp are the same, take time to get acquainted as well as open yourself up to the possibility of changing therapists and trying out new therapists when one does not click with you. 

Conclusion

In this blog we have discussed what you can do if you are sad about your therapist leaving. 

We also briefly discussed what an ethical termiantion should look liek and how you can choose your next new therapist. 

FAQ related to my therapist is leaving i’m so sad

Why does my therapist seem sad?

Your therapist could seem sad for a lot of reasons, they are human too. It could be because of what you are sharing and they are able to empathise with you and share the sadness you feel with them or it could also be you projecting your feelings onto them or it could be just the way their face is.

Why am I sad after therapy?

It is normal to occasionally feel bad or worse after therapy, especially at the beginning of your work in the sessions because of what is uncovered in the sessions with your therapist. If it is bothering you, you can opt to talk about it with your therapist in the next session.

References

Termination of Counseling. Retrieved on 14th May 2022. https://soe.syr.edu/departments/academic/counseling-human-services/modules/termination/#:~:text=Additional%20Resources-,Moving%20Toward%20Termination%20of%20Therapy,more%20manageable%20or%20is%20resolved.

What to Do If You and Your Therapist End Things Abruptly. Self. Retrieved on 14th May 2022. https://www.self.com/story/ending-therapy-abruptly

What To Do When Your Therapist Leaves. Duff The Psyche. Retrieved on 14th May 2022. https://www.duffthepsych.com/endingtherapy/

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