Key Takeaways

  • Each person’s mental health journey is unique. Common reasons people choose to restart therapy include a return of mental health symptoms or recent life changes.
  • When resuming therapy, you’ll have to decide if you want to return to your previous therapist or find someone new. 
  • The idea of restarting therapy may feel uncomfortable at first, but preparing some talking points can help set you up for a successful transition with your therapist. For example, sharing your current feelings and recent life events are good places to start.
The goal of therapy is to help people improve their quality of life. It aims to provide folks with the tools to manage mental health symptoms, navigate change, and understand life’s challenges. Time spent with a therapist varies person to person, but therapy typically ends when a person achieves the goals they created with their therapist at the start of treatment. So what happens when something comes up that leaves you ready to set some new goals or seek additional coping methods? One option is to consider going back to therapy. The idea of starting and stopping therapy may sound counterintuitive, but therapy is a resource that’s meant to be used when you need it. 

How do I know if I should go back to therapy?

No matter what the reason for originally starting or stopping therapy, there may be a time when you consider seeking mental health support again. Each person’s healing journey is unique to them.  Here are some of the more common reasons for going back to therapy.

1. Your mental health symptoms have returned.

Mental health issues affect each person differently. For some people, episodes will come and go. For others, symptoms may be constant. If your symptoms return, going back to therapy is a proactive way to manage your mental health condition. Your therapist can work with you to adapt coping strategies to your current situation and provide additional tools to manage your symptoms effectively.

2. You’ve experienced significant life changes.

Life changes, even positive ones, can be stressful to navigate. Whether it’s a new job, marriage, divorce, or loss of a loved one — sometimes you just need some help navigating a new situation. Therapists are trained to support people during times of change and to provide coping skills to acclimate to change in a healthy way.

3. You don’t feel like yourself. 

Have you ever felt a bit off but you couldn’t pinpoint exactly what was wrong? Maybe your eating habits changed, you were having trouble focusing, or struggling to fall asleep at night. And maybe those symptoms were starting to affect your relationships or performance at work. If your quality of life changes but you’re not sure why, consider reconnecting with a therapist to explore what’s going on in your life. 

Should I return to my previous therapist or try someone new? 

If you had a positive relationship with your previous therapist, there are benefits to returning to them for care. First, they already know about your mental health history, patterns, and concerns so you won’t have to review your previous therapy experience. They also witnessed your growth firsthand so they’re in a unique position to help you modify your goals and monitor your long-term growth. Plus, they’ll probably be happy to hear from you and eager to continue to support your mental health journey.  That said, try to not be discouraged if your previous therapist has retired, is no longer accepting clients, or simply wasn’t a good fit. Starting with a new therapist can feel overwhelming, but building a good relationship with someone who’s right for you is worth the time and energy. Still uncertain if you should stay with your previous therapist or find someone new? Here are a few questions to consider as you make your decision. 
  • Do you click with your therapist? You don’t have to want to grab a coffee or go on vacation with your therapist, but there should be some sort of chemistry. Working with a compatible therapist can help eliminate communication issues and other unnecessary barriers to success. This also applies to where you receive care. If your former therapist only offers in-person services but you prefer remote care, you might no longer be a fit for each other. 
  • Do they have experience treating your concerns? It’s important to work with a therapist who understands what you’re going through. For example, if you’ve been diagnosed with a specific mental health condition like depression or anxiety, you’ll want a therapist who specializes in that issue. If you need help coping with a major life change like divorce or loss of a loved one, you should consider finding a therapist with that interest and expertise. 
  • Do they still offer the right type of care? It’s perfectly normal for your needs to change over time. Maybe you previously saw a therapist for talk therapy but you’d now like to discuss medication management with a psychiatrist. Or you’re interested in trying eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) to help process trauma, but your current therapist isn’t trained in that method. Understanding what you want can help direct you to an appropriate form of care. If you don’t have a good idea of your needs, you could always ask your previous therapist — who knows your history — for a referral.
  • Are they culturally sensitive? Ask yourself if you’d be more comfortable partnering with a therapist who understands your race, gender expression, sexual orientation, and cultural background. This can be especially important for members of the LGBTQ+ and Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) communities who may face unique mental health challenges and barriers to care. 
  • Does this make financial sense? Before committing to your previous therapist, find out about the out-of-pocket costs. For example, if you switched insurance plans or the therapist changed their rates, you may want to find a more affordable option.

What should I talk about with my therapist when I restart? 

Returning to therapy can feel a bit strange, especially if you’re seeing the same therapist after an extended break. You probably have a lot to say, but might be stumped on how exactly to start the conversation. Below are a few talking points to break the ice. 
  • Express your uncertainty. Remember that therapy is a chance to be open, honest, and vulnerable. If you’re uncertain about how to resume treatment, let your therapist know. You can say something like, “I’m not quite sure what to talk about today” or “I’m feeling a bit stuck and don’t know where to start.”
  • Share your current feelings. Begin the conversation by sharing how you’ve been feeling recently. This could be specific emotions, general mood, or any changes you’ve noticed since the last time you were in therapy. For example, you could say, “Lately, I’ve been feeling overwhelmed,” or “I’ve noticed that my mood has been fluctuating a lot.”
  • Talk about recent life events. Share any significant experiences that occurred in your life since you were last in therapy. This can include both positive and negative events, as well as challenges you’ve faced. Your therapist can help you explore the way these events may have impacted your well-being.

Start (or restart) therapy with Rula

Making the decision to start therapy again can be tough. First, you have to acknowledge that you’re ready to seek support. Then, you need to decide if your previous therapist is the right person to help you reach your new goals and navigate new challenges. Luckily, Rula can make the whole process easier by helping you find a therapist who’s in network with your insurance, currently accepting new clients, and is the right fit for your needs. At Rula, we match people with therapists based on their preferred gender, language, availability, specialty, and more.  Find a therapist with Rula.

Find therapists near you

New York, NYHouston, TXRancho Cucamonga, CAAustin, TXChicago, ILLos Angeles, CAColumbus, OHPortland, ORDallas, TXJacksonville, FLCharlotte, NCDenver, COHuntsville, ALPhiladelphia, PASeattle, WAFind your city

More From Rula

April 18, 2024
What causes low self-esteem? Six ways to feel better about yourself

If you have low self-esteem, there are things you can do to boost your confidence.

April 17, 2024
Understanding existential anxiety and how to cope

For people with existential anxiety, life’s big questions can cause extreme distress.