Of all the break-ups you might encounter in your life, breaking up with your mental health provider can be one of the most uniquely challenging.
Drew Barrymore opened up about her experience being “let go” by her longtime therapist Barry Michels during her 2016 divorce — noting how her relationship with alcohol at the time played a role in that parting and eventually led to her choosing to get sober again in 2019.
“[My therapist] just said, ‘I can’t do this anymore’,” Barrymore told LA Times. “It was really about my drinking. I said, ‘I get it. I’ve never respected you more. You see I’m not getting better. And I hope, one day, that I can earn your trust back.’”
Therapy break-ups happen in both directions for numerous reasons but ultimately the shared understanding between provider and patient is typically “this work we’re doing isn’t working anymore.” And that’s what appears to be the situation Barrymore encountered.
“Occasionally a therapist has to suspend treatment until a patient is willing to stop certain chronic self-destructive behaviors that are impeding the therapy,” Barry Michels said in an email statement to Entertainment Weekly. He also added that there was a happy ending — they were able to continue working together when she eventually quit drinking for good in 2019.
That era, where she was struggling with her split from Will Kopelman and being isolated from her friends and family on the east coast, she said that her therapist and some close friends all expressed concern about her use of alcohol and set some boundaries around it.
“We were like, ‘You’ve gotta snap out of it,’” Chris Miller, one of Barrymore’s friends and colleagues told LA Times. “‘We fully understand that this is a total f— for you. But you’ve got two healthy kids, a fantastic career and incredible friends.’ And sometimes you have to be reminded of that.”
Drew is no stranger to the ups and downs of navigating a life with addiction and has a fairly solid understanding of how healing journeys are not linear, but ongoing and evolving parts of your life.
“Maybe people think, like, I figured out so many problems when I was young, because it was so hard then. We continue to confront things with each decade of our life that almost surpasses what we thought we had seen,” as Barrymore told CBS Mornings back in 2021. “And I’m interested in that conversation ― that we don’t fix it, move on and it never breaks again. We are on that roller coaster.”
Before you go, check out the apps we love for affordable mental health help:
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