Is it okay to switch therapists? Yes, and here's why...
The relationship between a client and therapist is unique. The one person you allow yourself to be unguarded with needs precision and care. Because they are the one person that helps you through your journey of healing, it becomes important that they are the right fit for you. So how do you determine if they are the right ones?
Most of the online spaces suggest that we find a therapist who you are comfortable with. Personal references are the most commonly sought option in finding the right therapist. And while that method is effective, there is no certainty that the therapist that worked well for your friend may be a good fit for you. If you dislike your therapist, there is no healing that will happen.
One of the primary learnings that a therapist gets in their training is that they ought to be non-judgmental and empathetic. That primary learning is also something that will help you connect with your therapist. The absence of a connection discourages a client from talking about the issues that they are experiencing or things they don’t often talk about with others. And the therapeutic alliance is what determines how much is the therapy helping you. And as much as a therapeutic alliance is comprised of connection, it also very much talks about alignment. The alignment of goals, beliefs, and methods used in reaching the said goals.
Carefully consider who you would like to work with - be it based on their gender, age, qualifications, or even orientation. Remember, not all therapists will be the perfect fit for you, and that is perfectly alright. One might have to change multiple therapists before finding the right fit. It is like choosing the perfect chair, or the perfect temperature you’re comfortable in.
But when do you know it’s time for you to change?
You’re not seeing progress. While therapeutic progress is different for everyone, it is important to visit and revisit the goals your therapist and you have set for yourself. Progress in therapy is imperative, and the absence of it dissolves the purpose. Bringing it up in the session to express a lack of progress helps the therapist and you to revisit the goals and work on them. However, if that doesn’t seem to be an option, changing your therapist can help.
You’re constantly questioning if your therapist might judge you. As mentioned, a therapist is going to show a non-judgemental attitude. They are going to help you see discrepancies, conflicts, and disproportionate behaviour while being very much empathetic. But if you feel you’re being judged by your therapist, you might end up not seeking the help you need, yielding the entire process, as unfruitful.
Your therapist is inconsistent. One of the key factors in the journey of healing is being consistent. Your therapist is going to be consistent in their sessions with you and even in the breaks. However, if they aren’t, and are unavailable at the time of your need, it is a good idea to bring it up in the session and work around it.
Going to therapy begins to feel like a task. Therapy is not always roses and lilies. There are going to be numerous days when it feels ugly and exhaustive. It is natural to feel unmotivated to continue because it involves effort and confronting a lot of things we may be unready for. While that is okay, what may not be is that the process of going to therapy and talking with your therapist feels a burden, a chore.
Ethical standards aren’t upheld. Now, it’s natural for you to be unaware of all the ethical regulations that a therapist is ought to abide by, maintaining personal, physical, or sexual boundaries, upholding confidentiality and privacy, being unbiased, respecting your rights, are the major ones that will help you to determine if you should change your therapist.
Not all relationships work. And that is okay. Sometimes a client may not progress because of many other reasons and may not have anything to do with the therapist. Change is difficult and not making changes may seem comfortable and familiar. In such cases, changing therapists might become a pattern and yield no purpose. However, bringing it up with your therapist and working towards resolving it would help.