01 July 2023

When is it time to stop seeing my counsellor?

Article by: Francois Prinsloo, Accredited MLNP ™ Life Coach & Trauma Counsellor

Reasons for Terminating Counselling

When is it time to stop seeing my counsellor?

When is it time to stop seeing my counsellor?

Seeing a counsellor can be an incredibly helpful and transformative experience, but there may come a time when you feel that it is time to move on. Just like there are many reasons people start counselling, there are many reasons why some people consider stopping it as well. Knowing when to stop seeing your counsellor can be a difficult decision, and it is important to consider several factors before making a final decision. My experience is that clients sometimes stop seeing me too early, but I always respect the client’s position in this regard. I also know that financial  constraints sometimes cause a client to stop the counselling sessions.

There are two main reasons for termination: (1) Counsellor-Initiated termination and (2) Client-Initiated termination:

1. Counsellor-initiated termination
  • Counsellor-Initiated Termination can occur when the counsellor sees that
    • the client has made progress toward achieving goals,
    • there is a reduction in, or elimination, of trauma or symptoms,
    • the client has gained enough insight to deal with future challenges on his/her own

Once the counsellor has determined that there is little left to continue working on in therapy, it is time to introduce the reality of termination to the client.
  • Another reason for counsellor-initiated termination is an ethical one. If you determine as a counsellor “an inability to provide professional service” to your client, for whatever reason, you have the ethical duty to end the sessions. If this is the case, you may make appropriate referrals as alternatives for counselling sessions.

2. Client-initiated termination

This occurs when the client initiates termination. Please not that this article does not address termination because of incompetent or unprofessional conduct of the counsellor.

One of the most important factors to consider when deciding whether to stop seeing your counsellor is whether you feel that you have achieved your goals. If you initially sought counselling to address a specific issue or set of issues, and you feel that you have made significant progress in addressing those issues, then it may be time to move on. However, if you feel that there is still work to be done or that you have not yet achieved your desired outcomes, then it may be beneficial to continue seeing your counsellor.

Another important factor to consider is whether you have built good rapport and a good working relationship with your counsellor. A strong therapeutic relationship is essential for effective counselling, and if you feel that you do not have a good rapport with your counsellor or that you are not comfortable sharing your thoughts and feelings with them, then it may be time to find a new counsellor.

If you feel that your counsellor is not meeting your needs or that you are not making progress despite your best efforts, then it may also be time to seek out a different  type of counselling or a different counsellor who can better meet your needs.

Here are a few signs that it might be time to break up with your Counsellor.
  1. Your sessions aren't making you feel better overall. ...
  2. You feel as though you are not growing. ... You've reached a plateau
  3. You don't trust your therapist anymore.
  4.  It's almost impossible to see your counsellor regularly
  5. You accomplished the goals that you set when you began. ...
  6. You don't have anything to talk about. ...
  7. Your needs have changed throughout the course of the counselling.
  8. Another sign it might be time to end therapy is if you feel the patient-therapist connection is no longer there

Ultimately, the decision to stop seeing your counsellor is a personal one that should be based on your individual needs and circumstances. It is important to be honest with yourself and your counsellor about your feelings and to communicate openly about your needs and goals. You are the best judge to know if you have experienced enough healing to move on provided that you are brutally honest with yourself.

Once you leave therapy, that does not mean you can't come back. "While we would like you to go forth in the world without us, it is completely acceptable to check in again should a crisis occur. It is also common, in my experience, that a client will stop seeing me for a couple of months, even a year or two, and then decide to come back for more counselling."

Discussing Termination with Your Counsellor
If you are wondering whether you should continue or not, the best thing to do is to talk to your counsellor directly.

If you're ready to raise the conversation with your counsellor, it can be as simple as saying "I've learned a lot from our time together, and I'd like to talk about possibly stopping our sessions."

However, if there's something wrong with the therapy itself - the sessions or the methods - you can give them constructive criticism and be honest about why i'ts not working to see if they can offer any changes before ending the relationship entirely.

Maintaining Your Progress After You Leave Therapy

Just because you are not seeing your therapist anymore does not mean all of your hard-earned progress has gone away. There will always be some tips and tools that you have learned that can help you to continue with the coping strategies and techniques that you have learned.

© Francois Prinsloo for Mental Health and Motivation (Counsellor / Life Coaching Services)

About the author:
Francois Prinsloo is a registered MLNP coach and trauma counsellor. For more information you can visit his website at www.coachprinsloo.net

This article is not intended to take the place of medical advice from your personal physician.

Published with permission from Francois Prinsloo, Accredited MLNP Life Coach & Trauma Counsellor

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