I got very angry with my therapist last week and fired him. I felt that we were in some kind of sadistic reenactment and it had degenerated over 3 sessions into “having to be right” and holding on to feeling wronged. He was trying to convince me that I was running away from my anger. I thought that he was bullying me and trying to make me feel angry at him. I felt hurt and misunderstood. I had fired him in the past but always went back because it was obvious that I only left because of something too scary to discuss. Now I feel that the relationship is probably too damaged to go back. I had been with this therapist for 3 years and he had helped me through horrible suicidal times. I am no longer suicidal and I am no longer in the pit of major depression. In fact, since I fired him, I have felt a new sense of agency. I have enrolled in school, started taking meditation classes, and I have finally accomplished some self-care chores that I haven’t had the energy to do in the past (dental work, renewing my driver’s license, getting new eyeglasses).
I’m writing because I miss my therapist a lot and I know that I left many issues untouched when I left therapy. However, my life has been looking up and objectively I can say that it’s going OK without him. So should I return to finish and not run away from my anger (assuming he will take me back as a patient)? Should I find a new therapist to work with? Should I just keep doing what I’m doing and see how it goes? I am at a loss because I have no one to discuss this with now that I no longer have a therapist.
A: I don’t feel that you can really make a bad choice in this situation. It sounds like this has been a good learning experience for you and has been the catalyst for you to make some changes that you needed to make. If you want to go back and mend bridges and let him know about the positive changes you have made, I’m sure he would appreciate it. You might even consider rescheduling just so you can have a proper termination. This would give you both a chance to review your progress and have closure.
On the other hand, having a new therapist with a fresh approach can sometimes be a very good idea, especially if you feel that you have reached a plateau with your former therapist. If you choose this option, you can still let him know of your plans so he can forward your records and consult with the new provider.
Finally, taking a break from therapy can give you a chance to put in place the concepts and insights you have gained thus far. Just be sure to monitor yourself closely so you will know when it is time to go back and work on some of the “untouched” issues you mentioned.
My only concern with this choice is that you reported that you have no one to discuss this whole issue with, which prompted you writing in. Sounds like you might need to let some friends or family into your inner world a little more. Don’t underestimate what can be gained from sharing your struggles with the folks already in your life who care about you.
All the best,
Dr. Holly Counts