Determining When It Is Time to Fire Your Therapist or Sponsor

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Therapists and sponsors play essential roles throughout the entire addiction recovery journey. They provide support, information, and a caring shoulder through even the toughest days, helping to guide through crucial turning points in each individual’s life. 

It’s crucial to find the right support for a particular part of a journey. Just any sponsor or therapist will be a good fit for each individual, and there may come a time when an individual realizes that their sponsor or therapist isn’t providing the kind of care they need. 

Being open to new ideas and approaches throughout one’s recovery journey is essential. It is not required that every person agree or find success in everything a sponsor or therapist suggests. Some signs may indicate the need for a change in support personnel. While the decision to fire one’s sponsor or therapist is not easy, it is paramount to understand that such a possibility exists and may be necessary for continued healing. 

Your Time Is Your Own

It is normal to feel reluctant to fire one’s therapist or sponsor, even if an individual feels like they are not getting the degree of attention or care they need. The fear of uncertainty in finding a new therapist or sponsor can prompt people to “settle” for the ones they have, which can stifle one’s change and progress. 

Each individual in recovery has agency over their own time. Refusing to address potential problems with one’s therapist or sponsor takes a toll on recovery. If an individual is not getting what they need from their sponsor or therapist, the time spent with them is wasted. Taking ownership of one’s time can contextualize needs and further help an individual decide whether to fire their therapist or sponsor or even just open an honest dialogue with them. 

Signs That It Is Time to Fire Them

Some signs can indicate that it is time to consider making a change:

  • Consistent Unavailability: Unreliable therapists or sponsors can stunt recovery or development or give rise to feelings of neglect or betrayal. While rescheduling an appointment may be necessary from time to time, consistently rescheduling or canceling meetings is an active detriment to one’s recovery. It may be time to find a new sponsor or therapist available to work with each person and their needs. 
  • Overgeneralizing Your Recovery: Noticing a transition in one’s recovery plan that leans towards a “one-size-fits-all” approach can be a red flag. Recovery is an intricate, nuanced journey. If one’s unique, personal needs aren’t heard or considered, it can seriously inhibit one’s progress.
  • Focus Shifts Away From Therapy: Some asides may be necessary during meetings or therapeutic sessions to provide a mental and emotional break when discussing heavy topics. If a therapist constantly shifts focus away from one’s recovery, it can become a detriment. This is especially the case if such asides seem to have little to no correlation to an individual’s progress or struggles. 
  • Ongoing Lack of Focus: Therapists or sponsors that respect regular meeting times can still be unfocused while engaged in discussion. If a sponsor or therapist is consistently asking an individual to repeat themselves, forgetting critical aspects of a conversation, checking their phones, or otherwise seems distracted regularly, it is a sign that one’s recovery is not a priority to them. 
  • Taking an “I Know More Than You” Approach: This type of approach to conversation focuses on a therapist’s training or experience or a sponsor’s personal journey. However, it can shut down an otherwise active dialogue. When a therapist or sponsor takes a “just do as I say” attitude, they are not considering one’s unique situation. Each recovery story is unique, and finding the path forward is the product of meaningful dialogue and one’s experiences with certain therapeutic approaches. 
  • The onset of Romantic Feelings or Language: If either party begins having romantic feelings toward the other, the relationship can become very complicated and inhibit one’s ability to focus on recovery. Any romantic inclinations are a sure sign that one must find a new therapist or sponsor immediately to remain focused and ensure that an individual is receiving fair treatment. 

Noticing any of these signs consistently is grounds for opening a dialogue. For some, simply voicing one’s concerns about the meetings can be enough to refocus efforts with a sponsor or therapist and can lead to a change in approach going forward. However, other times, it may be best to fire the sponsor or therapist and find new support in their stead. While doing so can be difficult, prioritizing one’s recovery is a testament towards growth and helps to determine the desired characteristics of the next sponsor or therapist. 

Coming to terms with the fact that it may be time to fire your therapist or sponsor can be difficult. However, it is best to take your recovery into your own hands. The professionals at Avalon Malibu understand that each case of addiction or mental illness is unique and requires a personalized approach. At our treatment center, you will spend your time finding your own best practices by exploring various therapeutic techniques, such as art therapy, yoga, meditation, writing, music, and physical activity such as our seasonal ropes course. Your recovery will also be supported by the group and individual therapy sessions. Our beautiful and expansive campus gives you the air of freedom you need to find your path towards a transformed future. For more information on how we can help create a personalized plan for you, or speak to a caring, trained staff member, call us today at (844) 857-5992.

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