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My Therapist Quit! Now What????

Losing a therapist can be devastating. You start your healing journey, you confide in a new counselor and build a bond and poof…they are gone. Since the pandemic, all professionals have encountered a shift in their careers and personal life and this has caused a decline in available counselors in the market. This is clearly not an excuse for the high turnover rate amongst counselor professionals, but we must consider the tremendous shift in available counselors post pandemic. The true reason is likely due to counselor burnout from the long hours and high demand for counselors during and after the pandemic.

While losing your counselor can be completely detrimental to your healing journey, it can also be a blessing to encourage your resiliency. So, let’s analyze some of the barriers that can result in your therapist leaving. Most of the time, private practices have independent contractors who have a contract time frame that ranges from 3-12 months. Most independent contractors will stay between 6-12 months. There is a huge problem with this as this can result in the contract counselor leaving prematurely after making significant therapeutic relationships with their clients. Although most counselors will give a 30-day notice, this is still a very short time to transition and can make it very difficult for clients to find a new therapist. Most counselor will go on to be independent contractors at other practices, establish their own private practice or work for an agency. Most clients will transition with their counselor but this poses a thin line and possibly an ethical dilemma as our Code of Ethics states that we are advised against soliciting existing clients to leave a practice that you were once contracting with or employed by. While the client choses who they ultimately transitions with the counselor must focus on continuity of care over personal need to move clients from a practice or agency.

Agency counselors face high turn-over due to managing massive caseloads and long hours on low salary wages. This also leads to counselor burnout. Agency counseling positions can be so demanding, some counselors decide to leave the field entirely and assume other careers. This is a huge problem and leads to less counselors for the high demand of clients. So basically, just as our fellow health workers at hospitals and clinics, counselors often leave the field for various reasons and hardly any have anything to do with the client.

So basically, your counselor deciding to leave is not personal. Consider the following things as you navigate through your counselor ending your therapeutic relationship or moving on from their current counseling position.

  • Breath and take some time to reflect on how far you have come on your healing journey.

  • You have options! Take your time and visit counseling directories, speak to friends and family members and ask them if they can recommend a counselor or contact your insurance carrier to find counselors that are in your network. If all fails, you can use telehealth platforms such as Cerebral and Better Help.

  • Connect with other counselors within the practice that you saw your previous counselor.

  • Remember this is your journey and while a great counselor is very effective in assisting you while on your healing journey, they are not the catalyst for your healing and any licensed professional counselor that you establish a therapeutic relationship can possibly help you on your journey.

Lastly, do not give up on counseling! I have personally had to change counselors 3 times over my lifetime and I feel that each counselor provided me with different tools at that particular time of my life to assist me on my healing journey. I know that we are all human and even my counselor may terminate our relationship prematurely. While it is not comfortable changing counselors, I also realize it is necessary for my personal growth to push past feeling uncomfortable. I have learned to give others grace, as I have also needed the grace of some of my clients. Therapy Works so keep going!!!!

~ Sharika Pruitt, LPC-S

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