Grieving the loss of a long-time therapist

grief photo

I haven’t been able to write here much lately. Somehow I’ve just felt almost paralyzed in some ways. It’s been more difficult to do my chores and errands. Though I have been able to write short bits here and there, writing a more substantial piece has seemed impossible. I’m in the first paragraph of this post. I hope I manage to finish it. If you see it on my blog, I guess I succeeded.

For quite a while, my moods had been quite good. No anxiety, no depression, no level of mania at all. I was feeling stable and even eager to take steps forward. I signed up for an evening adult school class with my husband, and auditing a university course at my local university, on my own, to better fill my weekdays. Both are meant to get me out of the house around people, and build confidence, and the endurance one needs to follow through with additional responsibilities. But then all of a sudden something very sad happened. I was at a therapy appointment with my therapist of four years and after discussing various things, she told me that she would be ending her practice because of serious family issues.

My therapist’s statement was a huge shock to me. I confess to being so shocked that I barely managed to even acknowledge that she has serious issues that deserve well wishes. I’ll be sure to offer them next time. In that session, she obviously recommended that I start looking for another therapist. She said that her last appointments will be in two months.

I am so much grieving this upcoming loss. She was a key member of my mental healthcare support system. Over the last four years, I’ve opened up to her more than I have with any previous therapist; really, anyone in some ways, perhaps other than my husband and psychiatrist. She and my long-time psychiatrist have made the greatest difference in my recovery thus far. I admire her greatly for that. I was sure she would be helping me walk the path to getting back to work, which will surely be a stressful path indeed. I was confident that, with her, I stood a great chance of success. Now, I don’t know how easy it will be. It’s an intimidating prospect to walk it with a figuratively weakened “leg”. Yes, I may have a new therapist, but from my past experience with other therapists, I may not get the right kind of support specific for me. New relationships are generally weak, and some time is spent focusing on caution with them, rather than fully on the task at hand.

This grief is surely the main cause of my mood shifts, not that the upcoming study doesn’t seem stressful, too. It almost always seems that when I’m starting to take steps forward that something manages to either push me down or make the journey harder. In the past, this made me stumble and fall, sliding further back in my progress. I will say I am stronger now, I’ll do my best to fight this obstacle.

I feel like I shouldn’t talk about my grief that much with my current therapist, so as not to make her feel bad. That’s why I want to talk about it with my psychiatrist, who after 12 years, knows me even better than my therapist. But one can’t squeeze into a 20 minute medication check such important topics as this grief, the symptoms I’m experiencing, discussion of a new therapist, and also some stinkin’ form I need him to fill out. Tears were falling from my eyes when I called his office to leave a message asking for a longer appointment. I do hope he can accommodate one.

I don’t often write posts that resemble journal entries, like this one. I don’t intend to make a habit of it. But I don’t think I’m the only person out there that has grieved the loss of a therapist, psychiatrist or other long-term doctor of personal significance. Have you? How did you cope with the transition?

Starting over again with a new therapist, especially, or any type of doctor is a great stress in and of itself. I will ask for some records or some statement from my current therapist and/or psychiatrist that perhaps helps with the transition. But getting to really know me, my fears, weaknesses, and specific needs takes time. If they give me that time or I give them that time. Trust is not something I give easily, I confess.

20 thoughts on “Grieving the loss of a long-time therapist

  1. Roda January 30, 2018 / 4:38 pm

    I am so sorry you are going through this difficult loss. When situations like this surface, I remind myself that there is a bigger picture that we are not able to see at this point in time. Trust in your journey. You will look back at this bend in the road, in the future, and it will all make sense. For now, as hard as it can be, trust in the process. You are stronger than you know. Take each day one moment at a time, not looking too far head or behind. Sending love and hugs your way…

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight January 30, 2018 / 4:41 pm

      Thank you so much for your encouraging words, Roda! I will try to look at it as you suggest.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Roda January 30, 2018 / 4:48 pm

        self-care will be most important in the coming weeks.

        Liked by 1 person

      • updownflight January 30, 2018 / 5:02 pm

        I know. I will have to try hard. It’s kind of fallen to the wayside to a degree. I’ll try to make myself do something very positive/pleasant today. Thank you, Roda!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Roda January 30, 2018 / 5:29 pm

        Maybe you need to have a dance party with yourself! 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      • updownflight January 30, 2018 / 5:40 pm

        I’m afraid I’ll have to wait on the dance party, though I have enjoyed them often in the past.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Karin, theaustriandish January 30, 2018 / 4:56 pm

    I’m so sorry for you. It’s hard to loose a person in who you have so much confidence and trust.
    But on the other hand, now you have the opportunity to start something new. That will be different of course – but maybe it helps you to develop different sides of your personality and different perspectives on your life.

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight January 30, 2018 / 5:05 pm

      Thank you for helping me look at this in a positive light. I know that it is certainly possible that a change could have surprisingly positive benefits. If not, I’ll work hard to find someone who helps me find them. I also know, I have to steer myself to the greatest degree, too. I’ve learned a lot over these years. I know I’m no longer so weak that I was in past years. I’ll try to trust in myself a bit more.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. marandarussell January 30, 2018 / 9:07 pm

    Wow, I am so sorry to hear this! This truly is a loss and is so hard to go through. I hate having to start all over with someone, and I’m sure many others do too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight January 30, 2018 / 10:08 pm

      Thank you, marandarussell! I knew others could surely relate to this. It’s especially difficult with therapists and psychiatrists.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Suzanne January 31, 2018 / 12:53 am

    I am sorry to hear about your situation; it is so hard to let your guard down in therapy, so to do so and then feel like the ground shifts can be really paralyzing. I had a therapist years ago who was the first person I opened up to about my childhood trauma. Life circumstances forced me to find another therapist. I felt really hopeless for far too long because no one I was working with provided me that same sense of connection and comfort.
    However, in the last year I found a new therapist where things are going really well; all the trial and error in my first good therapeutic relationship means that I am able to process a lot more effectively this time around. So, my take on it is that once you know what you need and the type of relationship that tends to be most supportive for you, it can take hard work to find another person of the same caliber, but some of the work you’ve done in the past may launch you forward once you do find a new therapist that works for you. At least that was my experience and I hope happens for you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight January 31, 2018 / 1:32 pm

      Suzanne, that is encouraging and I believe I, too, am at a better place in my recovery where I’ll be able to start with the right therapist at a mid point, and not ground zero. I just hope so much that I find the right new therapist soon. I don’t want too much more time to pass. Thanks so much for sharing in your comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. bipolaremily January 31, 2018 / 3:36 am

    I am so sorry you are going through this. Sending virtual hugs your way 💜

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Josephine February 4, 2018 / 2:00 am


    Sorry you are parting with someone you were so close to. My heart would drop, too. I hope that with time you find another therapist who can help just as much. I’m sure it will happen because although there are many therapists we may not connect with, there’s a handful who are best suited for us, maybe at different times in our life.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. thesearemystories April 29, 2018 / 7:46 am

    I know how hard losing a therapist is, as I am currently where you where when you wrote this blog. – That’s actually how I found it, searching for others who have experienced what I currently am. Anyways, I hope that your transition has gone well and that you have found a new therapist and are making great progress with them!

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight April 29, 2018 / 12:16 pm

      I’m sorry you’re going through this loss, thesearemystories. Some people don’t realize the extent that it can affect clients.

      Just to continue my story, I did find a wonderful new new therapist. In fact, I was stunned at how much I liked her from the beginning. She and I “connected” even more than I even did with my last therapist that I wrote about. I was so excited! I hope you can find such a great new therapist (or even partly as great) soon.

      You may have noticed that in my paragraph above I wrote “was” excited (in past tense). I wrote it that way because about three weeks ago, my wonderful new therapist announced that the therapy group owner had announced to all of the therapists in his group that he was abolishing the group at the end of May. Given that, my new therapist of only three months will no longer be able to see me after that time. She is 70 years old, and also teaches at a university. My assumption is that she will then teach only.

      I’m very saddened about my bad luck, but hope this wouldn’t happen to you so soon after finding someone new. I just wanted to say that it is possible to find a new therapist that you like as well as, or even better, than a previous one. I’m reminding myself of that, too. In any case, my latest therapist was different from the previous one. They both had their unique styles and personalities that benefited me in various ways.

      I’ll confess that I’m not looking forward to doing a new therapist search so soon after finding my current one. I feel a little numb about it and maybe even trying to pretend this didn’t happen. I go on a vacation soon. I’ve decided to start the search again when I get back.


      • thesearemystories May 1, 2018 / 7:26 am

        Wow, that is just so awful. I’m sorry that you’re having to find another new therapist. 😦 I’m glad that finding this one was such a success though. I’m sure that restores some hope in the therapeutic process. Actually, it gives me some hope for myself.

        I had a session today with my current long time therapist and she’s going to see me until August and help me with the transition to someone new. It’s still devastating, but I’m lucky to have her while getting used to someone new.

        I hope that you find your “forever” therapist and are able to heal.

        Liked by 1 person

      • updownflight May 1, 2018 / 12:44 pm

        Thank you, thesearemystories. I really did want my response to come off as a positive and hopeful one, but I thought it necessary to follow-up on my story.

        That’s great that your current long-time therapist is giving you plenty of notice. My long-term therapist did, too. My current therapist had no choice about her end date.

        All the best in finding someone new! Perhaps I’ll follow-up on my experience finding yet another new therapist. At least nowadays I think I’m better at the search knowing more what I need from therapy.


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