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Stay In Therapy Because I Like It?

Question:

I have recurring depression and anxiety, and I had a bad bought of anxiety during a recent move across the country. I started therapy with a therapist that I like, and I’m feeling better. My question is, do I stop therapy because I’m feeling better – which seems like what I should do – or continue because I would like to, which seems indulgent? On some level I feel like going to therapy is feeling sorry for myself, which doesn’t seem helpful.

Thanks for any help you can give.

This Disclaimer applies to the Answer Below
  • Dr. Schwartz responds to questions about psychotherapy and mental health problems, from the perspective of his training in clinical psychology.
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  • Always consult with your psychotherapist, physician, or psychiatrist first before changing any aspect of your treatment regimen. Do not stop your medication or change the dose of your medication without first consulting with your physician.
Answer:

You are asking a very good question and one that worries many people. There is also no easy answer to this question but let’s see what we can do.

The fact that you like therapy is no reason, by itself, to conntinue. I might like seeing my doctor because she is very nice but, if I’m well, there is no reason to see her unless I’m coming in for my annual checkup. On the other hand, when it comes to the human mind and emotions, things become a little more complicated.

The fact is that you have just moved a cross country and that is very stressful. It’s the kind of move that requires a period of adjustment because you are now in a very different environment from where you came from. Stress contributes to feelings of anxiety and even depression. On that basis, it make sense to remain in therapy for now until you feel you have become more accustomed to where you are.

Going to therapy should have nothing to do with feeling sorry for yourself. For some people, going to therapy represents being dependent or something being wrong with them. Quite to the contrary, going to therapy is a very helpful thing to do when in the midst of a crisis, whether it is something due to a life occurrence, such as moving, or to an emotional crisis like depression.

The question you need to ask yourself is whether or not you are gaining anything from therapy at this point. If you are really feeling better and believe you can manage your life without your therapist, then leave therapy. You can always return later if you feel the need. On the other hand, if you know that you are benefitting by going and that it’s too soon to leave, then, continue for now and leave when you are sure you are ready.

The fact that you are asking this question may mean that you are unsure and that, therefore, you should probably continue for now. Remember, moving across the country is a major adjustment.

Best of Luck

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