Many therapists and coaches will support you toward change. But not so much when it comes to moving on from them.
While some people benefit from a long term (sometime even decades long) professional relationship with their counselor, often the reasons for staying are not actually beneficial for you.
Here are some of the reasons people stay too long:
- Change is scary and overwhelming
- Therapeutic relationships tend to mimic corrective parental figures and separation induces anxiety
- We are afraid to hurt our counselor's feelings - appear ungrateful or even feel like we are abandoning them
Here are some reasons counselors don't encourage you to move on:
- They don't see/are not aware that it's time - that you are ready
- They do not have healthy boundaries/their own unresolved issues and will take it personally if you leave
- They don't want to give up the income
Here are some indicators that it's better for you to move on:
- The stated goals of treatment have been met
- Several weeks have passed with no sense of movement toward progress
- You have more to do but you feel that the counselor has taken you as far as they can with their skill set and understanding
- You started keeping things from your counselor because you don't trust how they will handle it, you don't feel safe to express without judgement, or you are trying to maintain the image you think the counselor has of you
Any good life coach or therapist measures part of the success of their practice by your ability to handle life without them. If you have increased self awareness, self regulation, coping skills, positive/realistic self talk, body/mind/soul balance, and a healthy support system....that is the gold!
We start with the ending in mind. Even in my initial phone consults where you and I decide if we should consider working together, I ask "What is your definition of success? What would make you feel that it was time to end our work together?"
The focus of any good clinician is to support you in flying high. Feeling safe enough in your own being to take the chances toward the dreams you have.
Tune into your own experience in sessions. See how you feel 3-4 sessions later and if the sense of "I'm ready for the next chapter" is still there, have that conversation with your counselor. If there is a clinical basis to continue working together then all theory goes out the window and you do what is best for you. You keep seeing that counselor if it helps.
I'm inviting you to be brave enough to look at your experience and then brave enough to do something about it. After all, isn't that why you came?
If your counselor appears hurt or completely dismisses your feelings about moving on then you are most likely with the wrong match anyway. It is your needs and only your needs that matter in the therapeutic relationship. If you are putting your counselor's needs before your own then that is a clinical issue in and of itself to address - with them or with the next counselor.
Getting another professional's outlook on your goals brings in new energy to you and the work itself. Anyone who has done sessions knows it's work if you are doing it right - because you are creating real change.
Has it been a year or 5 or 10 since you met with a different life coach or therapist? Check in with yourself. Discuss it with them. Be brave to take care of you - because ultimately that is one of the biggest reasons you connected to this professional in the first place.