How to Break Up With Your Therapist

Everyone should be in therapy. That’s just a fact.

If you haven’t been, you will. And if you never do, you’re likely either one of those rare, well-adjusted folk who are too unbearably normal to hang out with or more likely you are one of those people everyone whispers about behind your back could truly benefit from therapy, medication, or a short prison sentence at your local penitentiary.

Do the community a favor and book an appointment. It’s beneficial for everyone involved.

A good therapist will listen to your non-sensical, circular-logical rantings that you’re too self-aware to bring up even to your closest friends because they’d just slap you across the face if they had to listen to the manifestations of your OCD for one more minute. (Admittedly your therapist gets paid to do this but that’s almost irrelevant. They’re still saints.)

A good therapist will call you on your crap. They’re not typical “yes” men like all those other hacks you call friends. When you drunkenly call your ex after months of non-communication, they will not agree with your hope it’s “fate.” They’ll tell you that you’re a freaking disaster and even remind you that you’re falling into the same attachment-disorder patterns as your parents. Oh the wisdom.

I found one such great therapist. Ralph, an older, balding man with glasses who appeared sweet and gentle, but could also lay down some truth. Ralph once told me, “Ya know, Matt, you haven’t made as much progress as you think you have.” And at the time he was right. My stress-induced irritable bowel syndrome was still pretty bad. I had been crapping everywhere.

It was a wonderful partnership. Ralph gave me the best two-and-a-half years of my life. I made better decisions. I was comfortably out of the closet. I was borderline emotionally stable and I only pooped in toilets now.

Then one day my world of sunshine, sparkles, and glitter came crashing down. Ralph would be abandoning me like the red-headed stepchild I was.

“But why?” I asked. “I was straight before I met you.”

Ralph persisted, “I’m leaving the practice to go work with a population that really needs me.”

“How could anyone need you more than I could? I’m gay. I’m Catholic. And my dad is a member of the Blue Man Group—what more do you want?” I didn’t see how anyone could top my cards.

“I’m going to work with the transgender community.” He had played the royal flush. I could never beat that hand.

And so the dream relationship ended. As a last gesture of our connection, Ralph offered to set me up on a therapist blind date with his colleague, Marcus.

Two dates in I could tell Marcus was useless. Everyone should be in therapy, but with a good therapist. Not some hoax who swindles you out of your lunch money in the form of copays.

Marcus had already quoted Emily Dickinson at me and called me “brave” for accepting my sexuality at such a young age. I was 24. If I was 12, I’d see how that was an impressive timeline. I didn’t need ego-stroking, Marcus. I needed raw, brutal honesty in the form of Ralph wisdom.

I tried to let Marcus down easy and break it off amicably before feelings got involved, but he already had my file from Ralph. Two-and-a-half years worth of notes. He knew my weaknesses. He wasn’t going to let me, my emotional well-being, or my money go that easily.

It’s hard to break up with a therapist and say “Hey, I don’t think I should be here anymore.” Because they can easily throw all your information right back at you, like “Matt, you still have trust issues and fears of commitment. I think you’re afraid to commit to your own emotional health. That’s why you’re trying to get out of therapy. So I won’t let you.” Damn it, doc. Got me there.

Because Marcus did not accept my peaceful removal, I had no choice what to do next. I had to ghost my therapist.

There are few keys to a successful separation.

1) Cancel the next two appointments, but cancel both of them last minute. Don’t give them any suspicions that you’re backing out of this arrangement. You just had meetings come up or a family emergency—oh no, wait, not a family emergency because they’ll definitely want to know about that. Avoid that excuse. Stick with work, or car issues. Something boring and devoid of emotional content. The goal is to provide them with some mental distance from you and hope they forget about you or care less about your well-being.

2) Reschedule your appointments so again you aren’t divulging your full intentions that you plan to never see the psychotic demon shrink doctor again in your life. But always call on their off-hours so you speak directly to the secretary.

3)After canceling the second appointment, leave a message saying, “I’m really going through a busy time at work and when I’m more free, I’ll reach out to schedule something. I will contact your people, but never contact my people.” Hope for a good reaction, and by good reaction, I mean no reaction.

4) That hope is misplaced and misguided, which is why you’re in therapy to begin with. Get it together. He’s a therapist. You know Marcus is going to call you about five times every week once he gets that message. He sees through your BS. Not only has he had sessions with you, he’s got those notes from Ralph. Prepare for several voicemails which describe in detail why you’re screwed up as a human and are incapable of coping with the world without some form of clinical support. He may not be wrong, but continue to fight the urges. Consider him Wormtongue from Lord of the Rings and just be aware that his words only spread poison in the soul.

5) The final stage. This is where you can choose your own adventure and let the creative juices flow. You can be an adult and call Marcus, telling him honestly that yes, you probably need continued therapy services, but he’s not the right match. When the conversation starts to go south, say, “I’m trying to establish boundaries like Ralph taught me—so stop contacting me!” If that phone call is not your style, which it probably isn’t since that would signal emotional stability and not reflect why you’re in therapy to begin with, you can pretend you’ve moved. Make sure you change your contact info on your insurance so he can’t mail you things. And change your phone numbers. Lastly, if that seems too much work, fake your own death. Write an obituary, have it sent to his office, create a Facebook event memorial service, fly your parents in from Cleveland, create an emotional slideshow about your life until this point, write the eulogy for your best friend to deliver, and then consider whether you actually should still be in therapy, but then ultimately decide no, this is a more productive use of your time. Go with God!

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