• 5 Tips to Tell When You're Ready to Stop Therapy
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    5 Tips to Tell When You're Ready to Stop Therapy

    You’ve been sober for several months now. It has been a long, arduous road that you will travel on for the rest of your life.

    You’ve set many ambitious goals and more importantly, you have been able to meet and exceed these objectives even though sometimes it was “one step forward and two steps back.” Sobriety has provided a much calmer and productive daily life.

    Now, when you attend your treatment sessions, there seems to be fewer and fewer issues to resolve and your therapist is encouraging you to consider a future without analysis. However, are you really ready to fly solo? Can you actually make it through weeks at a time without professional assistance?

    Here are a few things to contemplate when you begin to consider ending regular rehabilitations sessions:

    1. Take It Slowly

    Ending your therapy relationship doesn’t have to be “all or nothing.”

    If you’ve been attending weekly session, initiate the meetings to every other week, and then once a month until you feel comfortable in your daily life without help.

    One of the main purposes of leaving this weekly care is to practice all the new skills you have acquired. If you remain in treatment too long, you will forego the opportunity to employ the knowledge you gained during your appointments.

    2. Recognize the End Point – 4 Questions

    Therapy is like Linus and his security blanket in the Peanuts cartoon. Once we have it, it’s tricky to give it up.

    Georgetown University clinical psychiatrist Norman Rosenthal suggests you ask yourself the following four questions:

    • Are you not getting much out of it anymore?
    • Have you accomplished what you set out to do?
    • Do you feel that the world in it will be manageable on your own?
    • Are you confident that you can engage in healthy relationships?

    If the answer to the majority of these questions is, “yes,” you may be at the point to live a life absent of regular therapy.

    3. Concern about Your Therapist

    Often, a client is concerned about the feelings of their therapist when they decide to end regular appointments. Naturally, a bond is formed between the counselor and the patient. Leaving treatment sessions can be similar to the emotions of “breaking up” because it may invoke sentiments that are as difficult as ending a romantic relationship.

    Remember, one of the key objectives of any good therapist is to become expendable. Their guidance is there to propel you to a place where you can confidentially face the challenges of your daily life without falling back on the destructive addiction habits of your past.

    Be sure to end the last few sessions with grace and gratitude. Your therapist is often your biggest cheerleader and you should acknowledge their encouragement and commitment to your success.

    4. Confront Your Fear

    Immediately following your last session, you may encounter severe anxiety. It is common for some initial panic to set in now that your perceived “safety net” is gone.

    During this time it is especially important to reach out to friends, family, group meetings and even your sponsor. The apprehension will absolutely dissipate if you allow yourself to use the behaviors you discovered in therapy. Give yourself permission to learn how to be on your own without your therapist, even if it takes time.

    5. Keeping the Door Ajar

    There is no “normal” for the duration people stay in therapy. Treatment can vary from just a few sessions to a few years. Not everyone is like Dr. Phil who was first known for his ability to diagnose and treat problems quickly, without multiple sessions.

    You, and only you, are in control to determine your own destiny. If you wander astray a few months after leaving therapy, do not be ashamed to reconnect with your therapist. You may just require a “refresher” session to remind you of your strengths and how far you have traveled on your journey to health.

    Remember, regardless of the length of time you are involved in therapy, when it ends, you should feel successful and confident and be able to confidently say, “I can move on now.”


    Audrey Beim holds two advanced degrees from major universities, including a Master’s Degree in Psychology. She has over 20 years of experience in the health, wellness, nutritional and fitness categories and has used her expertise to write articles for media outlets such as Linfield Media and Examiner.com.

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