How To Know The Right Time To Stop Therapy

Your relationship with your therapist is an important one. They see you through some of your most vulnerable moments. They spend time trying to understand how you think, feel, and navigate difficult circumstances, and they hopefully help you learn healthier coping skills to use in the world. 


From dealing with a divorce or breakup to finding ways to cope with depression and social anxiety, most people can benefit from seeing a therapist. The COVID-19 pandemic exposed most of us to social isolation, loss of jobs, and other challenges that most of us haven't experienced before. As a result, there was a spike in the need for mental health support, according to American Psychological Association

While many choose to remain in therapy sessions throughout their lives, others meet with a professional to work through a specific issue and may no longer find it necessary once that has been dealt with in its entirety. But, how do you know when it might be the right time to stop therapy?

If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.


There are signs to watch out for

The reason we enlist the help of a therapist is to learn the essential tools we need to manage our mental and emotional health and live life on our own. In that sense, there is an expiration date to the journey with your therapist, whether you explicitly discuss this in the first session or not. If you feel as though you've reached the objectives you've set for yourself or you don't have a lot to discuss each week, this might be a sign that the therapy is working and that you're ready to taper down on sessions or stop entirely. 


Marriage therapist Saba Harouni Lurie tells Bustle that the time to stop therapy will become clear to you "when you have developed a new way of responding to the challenges and stressors in your life," and you're able to do so without outside help.

Alternatively, you might find that the therapy isn't working for you anymore. Maybe what you want out of therapy has changed, or perhaps your sessions have become too much of a financial burden. Perhaps you've just lost the chemistry with your therapist. You might see benefits from seeing someone else or even trying a different approach. Either way, it might be the right time to pause with your current setup.

Here's how you can stop therapy

Deciding to end therapy can feel difficult. You might be nervous about not having a weekly session that you came to depend on over time, or you may be worried about hurting your therapist's feelings. Therapists are well aware that such a day might come, and for most of them, it's a day of celebration for you and them. It's a normal part of the journey and in most cases, it's to be expected.


If you're feeling anxious about stopping therapy entirely, you could try meeting less frequently with your therapist as a first step. If you're doing equally well with the reduced sessions, you can discuss a "termination session" with your therapist, per Therapy, Explained. A termination session would involve going over what you've learned so far and planning for the future. However, it's important to remember that ending things for now doesn't mean you can't go back to your therapist if you find the need to later on. 

If your goal is to find a different approach or person to work with, you needn't worry about communicating this to your current therapist. They can help you find the right therapist to suit your needs