When someone enters therapy and begins a relationship with their therapist, whether it’s online or offline, the last thing on that person’s mind is leaving.
– by Nicole Amesbury, MS, LMHC / Talkspace Therapist & Head of Clinical Development
But, just like with all relationships, there will come a time to say goodbye and it’s how they choose to go about it that really matters. Lets face it, many endings to relationships tend to be negative; think break-ups, death, and divorce. They may even be the reasons someone comes to therapy in the first place. But the good news is, ending therapy on a positive note is absolutely possible and it will enrich the time you spent receiving it!
Ending a therapeutic relationship can can also help someone end their other relationships more successfully. That’s because people’s relationships with their therapists frequently mirror the relationships they have outside of therapy, and some of these individuals may have never left a relationship on good terms. Although they may have tried to do so, they were likely made to feel bad or guilty about wanting out. Therapy, as well as the experience of ending it on a positive note, can provide a corrective emotional experience that will help the individual handle similar changes in life.
Let’s say you avoid the conversation by simply discontinuing therapy, you will miss a valuable opportunity to experience a deeper level of healing. And because it would be extremely unfortunate if that happens, here are some tips for ending therapy on good terms.
Figure out why you’d like to leave.
Are you feeling bored? Do you think your therapist is not a good fit? Are things getting a bit intense and you want to bolt? Or have you reached your goals and are feeling better?
Don’t stop abruptly.
Honor the commitment you made to yourself and the therapeutic process. It’s good to honor and be responsible for the relationship you established with your mental health provider. Be aware that therapists are genuinely concerned for their clients and often wonder what happened if they suddenly “drop out.” They also hold your time slot, so other people are missing out on getting help.
Talk about it.
Even if something is bothering you or making you feel a little uncomfortable, try voicing your concern rather than abruptly disappearing. Therapists are aware of the different situations that can come up and are trained to help you deal with them. It is part of what we do.
If something is not working for you, be direct. Conflicts and misunderstanding can arise in any relationship. Again, therapists are trained to expect this. When you can work through it together and find a good resolution, you can actually strengthen the relationship, therebydeveloping and building skills that can help you in other areas of your life.
Plan for the end in the beginning.
Therapy ends, and there is absolutely no reason to deny this fact. We want you to feel better. Therefore, it’s beneficial to talk about your expectations and goals, as well as your financial situation and how you would like therapy to end.
And keep in mind that if you need help at some point in the future, you can reconnect with your therapist at a later time. Good therapists leave the door open for this possibility.
So, by following these tips, you can get the most out of therapy and learn to appreciate life’s beginnings and endings as part of the journey.
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