Finding a good therapist to help you manage issues is important, but sometimes, you have to transition to another therapist. Therapists are human, just like everyone else, so if they work for an agency, they might leave, move to a different agency, or move to a different area. There are other reasons that they may need to terminate care, and hopefully they will offer options to continue support. After being in private practice, I closed my practice and worked with other therapists in the area to refer people, who wanted further support. to therapists that I respected and trusted. Some patients are ready to terminate care due to progress they made, and others have other options for support. The reality is, someone you are working with may need to terminate with you, for many different reasons (most of which have nothing to do with you) and assist you with finding further support.
As you transition to another therapist, there are important things to remember. Just like doctors, every therapist has his/her own bedside manner. Just like the previous post that talked about finding a therapist you can work with, you have to interview people to find a new person that can support you. If you are involved in an agency setting, they may try to shift you to a new therapist. If you aren’t comfortable with that therapist, ask for other options. If they don’t offer other options, find a new agency.
Another thing to remember is that therapists don’t write down everything you say for notes. I often get patients from other therapists, but I still ask questions to help me better understand a new patient. Many people get very upset because they think I haven’t reviewed previous notes, but there is so much more information that never makes it into the chart. I ask questions for the first session, after reading the chart, because I generally get a better picture of the person and their goals. I know that it’s hard to tell your story over and over, but for someone to help you, they need to get to know you in person, not just on paper. A good therapist can get good direction from a session that includes a review of history. Be patient, and relax when meeting a new therapist.
The next thing to think about is your goal for support. What is it that you want from therapy? Therapy is not suppose to go on forever. Some therapists pad their panels with people that just come in to talk about the weather, or drama, and always seem to have drama. I have heard this type of therapy referred to a “rent a friend” therapy. Some therapists have problems with boundaries and will cross the line from professional to friend, and blur the lines of therapy. If your goals are clear, make sure that the therapist has a focus on your goals. Your goals may change over time, and the goals you had initially with your previous therapist may have changed. A change in goals can be the result of progress, change in your issues, or other reasons. Reviewing your goals for yourself, and with your new therapist will be important as you restart therapy.
Transitioning to a new therapist happens more often than we would like, but being prepared can help make the change manageable. Depending on the reasons that you are transitioning, I hope these suggestions help at least a bit. Don’t let having to make a transition stop you from being happy, for life.