Yesterday I quit therapy.
This was a big decision; one I thought long and hard about. Psychotherapy has always been helpful, but I simply didn’t want to go anymore. My sessions had ceased covering tragic life events, occupational crises, my childhood, and my parents. Therapy had become a place where I discussed everyday trivialities. These trivialities were still important topics in my life – how to make more money, where to take my career, and how to best deal with relationships – but they did not seem worthy of going to a therapist to discuss. In my session yesterday, I talked about how glad I was that I had mopped my kitchen floor. Seriously? I had so little to talk about in therapy that I was starting to discuss household chores? It was time to move on.
I had been seeing my therapist for a little more than a year. When I started going, my life was filled with uncertainty. I had been laid off for six months and was starting a job I was not sure I wanted. I also was going through a difficult breakup. In the beginning, my sessions were extremely hard. I felt like I had to make the best of my new job. My therapist thought I was in the wrong career. We would argue endlessly about it. I would vehemently exclaim that work didn’t matter, I just needed money. He would retort that if I had work that I enjoyed, the other pieces of my life would come together more easily and that I would place less importance on my continually failing romances. This argument continued until I got laid off from my new job as well and I was relieved of the effort of making my “new” job work.
At that point, our discussions shifted slightly. I was stuck to the idea of finding a job that was similar to my old ones. I was in a field that I did not particularly like, but the money was pretty good and I was used to the environment. I knew what to expect from my old line of work and I found that comforting. Even though I had been laid off twice in less than a year, the types of jobs I had previously held represented security for me. In my mind there were two types of jobs. Jobs where I would have financial security and jobs that I would enjoy. I wanted the financial security. This opinion fueled disagreement after disagreement with my therapist. He believed that if I kept working at the same types of jobs I had held before, I would continually be dissatisfied and get laid off again and again. He thought that the cycle I was in would endlessly continue until I found work I was passionate about.
As I searched for jobs, our disagreements continued. My therapist kept encouraging me to try a different career path. To think about graduate school. To consider working at non-profits. He guided me to think about the things that I enjoyed doing outside of work and how to make a career out of them. I did not listen to him and kept looking for the same kinds of jobs. My therapist often spoke of short-term financial sacrifice for long-term gain. I was not into this idea. Searching for meaningful work while living with 12 roommates and eating ramen noodles was not at all appealing to me.
If I had found a job easily, things may have turned out differently. As it was, there were very few jobs available in my field. Even if I wanted those types of jobs, I could not seem to get one. I was forced to think about other options. Although I was starting to agree with my therapist’s opinion about my work, I was still argumentative about it. During those days, I was difficult to deal with. I doubt that my therapist looked forward to our confrontational sessions.
All these arguments with my therapist eventually took their toll. I was forced to switch directions in my career because my old one did not seem to exist anymore. I had to start fresh on a new path. It was intimidating, but turned out to be for the best. When I tell the story of leaving one career behind and starting a new one, most people perceive it as a story of bravery. Really, I had no choice. And a good therapist.
Once my career issues were on a positive track, I found I had less to talk about than I did before. I still wanted to discuss financial issues with my therapist, but found that we would end up having the same conversation over and over again. He had good ideas, but my continued stubbornness got in the way of some of his suggestions. We sometimes spoke about my dating life, but I had also gotten that area of my life vaguely under control. I rarely had anything hugely dramatic to speak about.
As this shift continued, I began to dread going to therapy. I started to view it as just another task I had to do. I did not feel like I was getting a lot out of my sessions anymore. As my life is full of tasks that I have to do, I decided to cut back my sessions to every other week.
At this point, I also ran into a problem with my health insurance. I had a new insurance plan and provider that considered my therapist to be ‘out of network.’ The insurance provider granted me a couple extra months of sessions, but requested that I use that time to look for a new therapist. I had no interest in looking for a new therapist and my current one was nice enough to work out a deal for me so I could keep seeing him. As much as I appreciated this, I still did not look forward to our sessions. I weighed the pros and cons of the situation and decided to stop going.
It was one thing to decide I was not going to therapy anymore. It was another to actually do it. I went to a handful of sessions fully intending to quit, but I kept chickening out. Yesterday was the day I finally psyched myself up to tell my therapist I was not coming anymore. At the end of our session, he got out his appointment book and asked me when I wanted to come again. I asked if I could call him if I wanted to come. He said yes, but told me he wished I had brought this up earlier. I’m guessing that he knew I had not brought it up earlier because I did not want to be talked out of my decision.
It feels a little strange knowing that I will no longer see my therapist. Therapy was an extraordinary experience that brought me to a more peaceful existence, but I am ready to move on.
Goldstein, S. (2013). Quitting Therapy. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 4, 2015, from http://psychcentral.com/lib/quitting-therapy/0002097