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When necessary – It’s OK to “FIRE” your psychotherapist

June 28, 2010

These days we are increasingly comfortable with paying for all kinds of specialist services, from personal trainers and dieticians to botox technicians and acupuncturists. With some of these services the relationship is purely business with some the relationship also has a personal dimension. You may feel more comfortable trying out a new manicurist than a new hairdresser; you may negotiate a price with your dentist, but pay exactly what your personal trainer asks. Sometimes it’s about your perception of their expertise, and sometimes it about how much they know about you.

One relationship that is often difficult to gauge is your relationship with your therapist. They know so much about you and they seem sometimes to have such wisdom! And then if you do try to treat them as hired help, they will make you eat your words in the form of an interpretation – and often they’ll be right.

But there are times when you do need to be able to think about the possibility that therapy isn’t working for you, because your therapist isn’t right for you. An article in Psychology Today addresses this point:

There are many reasons why therapy may not have the positive results a client is seeking. Sometimes there’s a mismatch between the client and therapist. For example, the theoretical approach of the therapist may not be appropriate for the client’s issues. Some clients might need a therapist with more experience. Sometimes you can’t point to a specific reason-it’s just that the relationship connection between the client and therapist didn’t happen. As human beings we don’t "connect" with everyone we meet. Sometimes there was a connection at one time but it doesn’t last. You may find that you accomplish your goals with one therapist, but down the road when you need to do some additional therapeutic work your previous therapist isn’t the best match. You’ve changed, and you may need a different perspective from a different psychotherapist.

All this is to say that therapy is complicated–there are likely many variables involved when therapy isn’t working out, and it’s OK for you to be proactive to find a good match in a psychotherapist.

But remember if therapy isn’t feeling good at the moment, it may well be that it’s because it is working. Therapy is hard work when it is going well.


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