When Is it Time to Stop Therapy?

When Is it Time to Stop Therapy?

We have all heard that saying, “Getting too much of a good thing.” If true, at what point do you get too much of something, even a good thing? Kind of a loaded question don’t you think? Can you ever be loved too much? For the true chocoholic the idea of having too much chocolate doesn’t make a lot of sense. Yet, common sense will tell us that we should strive for moderation in all things.

The over-indulgence or gluttony is one of the seven major sins. Yet, most of us do it from time to time. Especially when it comes to addictions. The same can be true for a long term psychotherapy. It can become an addictive process for many. Think about it, for at least one hour a week you are the center of attention. There is someone there who nurtures you. Your opinions matter. There sits someone who shows attention and care, what’s there not to like? The same dynamics when addicts can no longer exists without drugs or alcohol applies to psychotherapy. Clients become dependent on a psychotherapist and unwilling to discontinue psychotherapy sessions. They still don’t believe in their own strengths and many afraid that they will get back where they started without therapist’s constant support. Yet, it is essential for therapy to end at a right time.

But when is the right time? When is it time to stop the therapy and rely on your own strengths? This article will help you evaluate your progress in therapy and make decision on when it is a right time to quit therapy.

Quantity vs Quality


There are two good areas you can use for evaluating where you are at in therapy. The first is quantity of therapy.  Although self-explanatory, quantity without the balance of quality is meaningless.

Psychotherapy is a unique relationship between you and your therapist. While a participant in therapy you will be challenged to do a lot of work.You may even have brought some skeletons out of the closet. Much of the work you do is ongoing. Some of the subjects or content that requires lengthy examination. In spite of this, hopefully, you have benefited from all of your hard work, but you have reached what can only be described as an impasse. Nothing you can put your finger on, just a feeling that there should be more coming from your sessions.

A friendly word of caution though, it is strongly recommended that you not quite your therapy without due consideration. There are some conditions that a client may have that quitting prematurely can only worsen for them. That said, let me assure you that these types of feelings a quite normal. They are the kind of questions many people ask themselves.

Let’s begin by reframing the question. Any evaluation of when you have participated in enough therapy should include the factors of quantity versus quality. If you see your therapist five times a week and nothing has changed in your life maybe it is time to re-evaluate the therapeutic relationship. Conversely, you may be seeing your therapist five times a week and your life has made dramatic positive changes why would you want to rock the boat?

The difference, the quality of the relationship.


Evaluating Quality


On the surface quality may seem subjective and a lot of it is. Yet, there are some objective measurements we can apply. Below is a series of questions. There are no right or wrong answers, only your assessment of the responses based on a five point spread.  For example:

  1. Have any of your stated goals for being in therapy been met?
1 2 3 4 5
None A Few Half or more Most All
  1. How do you feel about going to a session?
1 2 3 4 5
Bumbed out A nuiscence Let’s get it over I’m OK Gung Ho
  1. My relationship with my therapist remains:
1 2 3 4 5
Distant Fair Good Pretty Good Excellent
  1. In therapy I am
1 2 3 4 5
Bored Waiting to end Involved Active Full participant
  1. Do I want to continue?
1 2 3 4 5
No Don’t know Maybe Yes Certainly


Although brief, the information gathered in this scale shoud provide you  with an idea of how your therapy may be helping or not. It is equally important that you recognize other reasons for why you may want to stop.Among those reasons are:

  • You may not have the right therapist for your personality or issues.
  • You may have burned out from therapy.
  • The issues you thought were a problem turned out to be acceptable.
  • You have grown past the original presenting issues.
  • Therapy seems to be a waste of time for you.

Other areas of concern that are not uncommon are these:

Dependency: As you and your therapist develop a therapeutic relationship often there comes with it a growing sense of dependency transferred to your  therapist.This is an area the experienced therapist will watch for. Should you feel it, talk about it.

Boredom: Over time boredom can set in, usually a sign that you are feeling stuck.

Progress:Never enough nor fast enough.Remember, therapy is a process.

When should you evaluate your progress in therapy?  Continually, with specific times for a more formal evaluation There are several ways to accomplish this, ask your therapist, check with family and friends and most importantly conduct your own internal check.

Most importantly, always remember that you are in charge of your therapy.


Image: flickr.com/photos/sidereal/2208412684