Using data from an outcome study of adult individual psychoanalytic psychotherapy, conducted in a low‐cost Australian clinic, a mixed‐methods approach was employed to investigate patient discontinuation. This paper addresses the qualitative component of the discontinuation study, which explored patients’ reasons for leaving the clinic service upon assessment or in treatment proper. Of 205 patients commencing clinic contact, 41% discontinued during or shortly after the four‐week assessment period, while 40.5% of patients beginning psychotherapy withdrew before reaching the two‐year treatment limit. Across these two groups, former patients were interviewed about their therapy experience and decision to discontinue. Thematic analysis of 20 interview transcripts generated five descriptive categories of discomfort or dissatisfaction prompting discontinuation: clinic factors, therapist factors, patient factors, therapist–patient relationship factors and therapy factors. Findings suggest that experience of the clinic setting itself, together with negative patient perceptions of therapists and therapist interactional style, weres significant influences and that dissatisfaction with the psychotherapy process and outcome was more relevant than problematic patient factors in treatment withdrawal. A number of patients, mainly late discontinuers, reported positive experiences of psychotherapy and significant treatment gains. Implications of the findings, with specific emphasis on psychoanalytic treatment settings, are discussed.