Questions You Have When Your Therapist Quits

Recently, my therapist told me we had a limited number of sessions left because he is moving to another state and taking some time off from being a therapist. I was confused because, I guess I’d assumed that the therapist-patient relationship was an indefinite one, or at least one, that if it were to end, would end on my own terms — perhaps with me rushing out of my therapist’s office in to the sunshine with my arms wide open ready to embrace life and love and happiness without crippling anxiety and depression, maybe while “Beautiful Day” by U2 played in the background.

Unfortunately, like most of my relationships, this one with my therapist is ending abruptly and without me feeling ready for it. (Abandonment issues! Hooray!) Obviously, I hadn’t previously considered the possibility that my therapist was also a real person and might someday need to move on.

When my therapist told me he was quitting being a therapist, I had many questions. Here are some of the immediate ones:

“Wait, what?”

“What?!”

“Wait, you’re quitting being a therapist? But…but you’re MY therapist! I thought this would go on forever and you’d be coaching me through my panic attacks as we grow old together! It was going to be romantic.”

“Are you even ALLOWED to do that?!”

“What about all your patients?! I mean, I know I’m self-obsessed, but this time, it’s not just me here.”

“You’re just going to abandon us all?”

“But you haven’t heard all my f-cked up stories! And what about the f-cked up stuff I haven’t even done yet? There will be so many of those! Don’t you want to stick around for that?”

“Is that it? You just drop off the face of the planet after everything you know about me and we live our separate lives never to speak again?”

“Can we keep in touch?”

“Is that weird?”

“Like, can we still talk? We used to talk so much and now there’s no protocol for saying ‘Goodbye.'”

“Would you want to be pen pals and maybe listen to my b-tching and moaning via letter?”

“Can we be friends now?”

“Are you going to write a book about me?”

“Seriously, why are you doing this?”

“Did you not hear me when I said ‘Everyone always leaves me in the end’?”

“You can’t just stop being a person’s therapist! Haven’t you seen The Sixth Sense? Won’t one of your disgruntled patients just show up at your house and shoot you?”

“I’m not going to shoot you, no! I’m just saying.”

“Am I supposed to find a new therapist now? I’m not going to liiiike anyone else!”

“What if I hate them? What if they don’t get me like you do? What if they’re mean?”

“What about all we had together?! All we shared? You’re just going to throw that away?”

“How is it so easy for you to walk away?!”

“Was I the last straw? Were my problems too intense?”

“…Or worse, were they too ordinary?”

“I can have weirder problems! Will you stay if I say that I think I go for men who are just like my father? Do you ever wonder if the Earth is just like, a reality TV show for aliens? Is that narcissism? One time, I ate toilet paper when I was a kid because I read a story about a goat that ate garbage and I wanted to see what it was like and oh, god. Okay, maybe I was like, actually a teenager in that story?”

“Don’t leave me. I’m not ready.” TC mark

image – Ambrophoto

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  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_VYDVROKY4PUBOKUHB3QF42FH2Y Paul S

    Anecdotal, but the few women I’ve dated who were seeing therapists got WORSE the more their therapy continued. What’s up with that?

    • http://www.facebook.com/angela.poire Angela Poire

      It’s like peeling an onion, sometimes there are layers and layers and layers of f*cked up to get through.  It took me the better part of a decade to let go of all the baggage and come out the other side, there is no quick fix to emotional problems sadly enough.

      If there was though, you can bet your ass it would never come out in generic!

  • Joycenancy

    oh my god I would say all these things and be devastated times a million if my therapist decided to leave. abandonment issues galore. I got anxious just reading this! that being said, my sincere, sincere condolences. I hope you can find someone else. there should be a rule that therapists should never be able to do the things that trigger our issues in the first place. 

    • Allie

      Therapists aren’t there to fulfill our every need and desire. They have lives too, they are people, just like us. And don’t forget, they actually have issues too. 

      They weren’t placed on this earth just to never leave us. It’s a very selfish relationship and saying they should never be allowed to leave just glorifies it.

      • Joycenancy

        sarcasm =

      • Allie

        Ah, my bad then. 

        I’m sure that’s another diagnosable condition of mine.

  • Humanist Social Worker

    Ending treatment, especially unexpectedly, can be a very difficult process, but also one that can be filled with a lot of potential for growth. And all of these questions and comments are totally appropriate to bring up to your therapist while you both process the end of your relationship. Your therapist is also probably experiencing a lot of feelings with respect to ending the relationship with you and, for a time, the profession, and those are OK to ask about as well.

    My training as a therapist has really emphasized the importance of the relationship, and alliance, between the clinician and the client, and exploring your feelings about the therapist leaving, and being able to say “goodbye”, can, ultimately, be very rewarding. I wish you so much luck (and growth) in the process.

    Hopefully, if you decide to continue treatment in the future, your therapist will give you some referrals to other clinicians who are a good fit for you.

    • Humanist Social Worker

      … and when I said that all of these questions and comments are totally appropriate to bring up, I meant it. Even the funny ones!

  • Guest

    My therapist leaving me is one of my biggest fears =/

  • Messyjess1

    bawhahaha  laughed my tushy off that was hilarious and so real.  been there done that.  : )

  • Guest

    He is lying to you. He just doesn’t want to treat you… 

  • Shatha H.

    :(

  • Dylan V

    THE TIMING OF THIS ARTICLE IS SO PERFECT IT’S SCARY. I just had my last session with my therapist today because she told me she was leaving! All of these questions are so accurate! DON’T LEAVE ME, I’M NOT READY.

  • http://twitter.com/JonTargaryen Carly Fowler

    Oh, Gaby, you are one of my favorite people ever. Good luck finding a new therapist. 

    I only go to a psychiatrist but I would still be crushed if he quit. She’s a little bamf. 

  • https://thoughtcatalog.com/2012/5-fears-about-seeing-a-psychiatrist/ 5 Fears About Seeing A Psychiatrist | Thought Catalog

    […] What if I get there and he hears my concerns and stories and then is just like, “Wow. Okay. Well there’s nothing I or any other psychiatrist can do for you because you are MESSED UP.” What if he immediately commits me to a mental hospital? What if he deems me unfit for society? What if he says I’m the worst case he’s ever seen and I am beyond help? […]

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