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What should I do if I want to stop working with my therapist?

Updated: Mar 14

Therapy Session

In theory, the decision to end therapy is a collaborative one between you and your therapist. However, the decision is ultimately yours, and your therapist will honour and respect your autonomy in making that choice.


This can be a big decision you are making, so it may be valuable to consider a number of steps to help reassure yourself about it.


Reflect on Your Decision:

Take some time to reflect on why you want to end the therapeutic relationship. Consider if there are specific concerns, issues, or reasons behind your decision.


Be Honest and Direct:

Communicate your decision honestly and directly. Let your therapist know that you've decided to end therapy and provide some context or reasons if you feel comfortable doing so. It’s also fine if you don’t want to give any reasons


Take Your Time:

Allow yourself time to process the decision and the conversation with your therapist. It's a significant step, and it's okay to take some time to reflect on the experience.


Ending therapy is a very personal decision. If or when you do decide to end your therapy here are some common aspects of what happens at this stage:


Discussion of Progress:

Therapist and client typically review the progress made during the course of therapy. This includes reflecting on the goals set at the beginning and assessing the changes and growth experienced.


Closure:

Therapists often facilitate discussions about closure, acknowledging the end of the therapeutic relationship. This can include expressing appreciation for the client's efforts and the work done together.


Exploration of Feelings:

Clients may express a range of emotions as therapy comes to an end. It's common and perfectly normal to feel a mix of relief, accomplishment, sadness, or anxiety. The therapist will provide a supportive space to explore and process these feelings.


Final Session:

The last therapy session is usually focused on summarizing key insights, discussing coping strategies, and reinforcing skills learned during therapy. It's an opportunity to reinforce positive changes and provide a sense of closure.


Future Planning:

Therapists and clients may discuss strategies for maintaining progress after therapy ends. This can involve identifying potential challenges and developing plans for how to cope with them.


Feedback and Reflection:

Both therapist and client may offer feedback on the therapeutic process. Clients might share what they found helpful and discuss any suggestions they have for the therapist's practice.


Referrals and Resources:

If the client expresses a desire or need for ongoing support, therapists may provide referrals to other mental health professionals or suggest resources to continue the healing process.


Follow-Up Options:

Some therapists offer the option of follow-up sessions or check-ins after the formal termination to ensure a smooth transition and address any lingering concerns. It’s quite normal for clients to also request this.


Administrative Details:

Practical matters, such as settling outstanding payments, scheduling any necessary follow-up sessions, or returning any borrowed materials, are typically addressed during the termination process.


Celebrating Growth:

Therapists often acknowledge and celebrate the client's personal growth and achievements during the course of therapy. This positive reinforcement can contribute to a sense of empowerment and self-efficacy.


It's important to note that the end of therapy can provoke different reactions from clients, and therapists are trained to handle these transitions with sensitivity and professionalism. Additionally, the door is often left open for clients to return to therapy in the future if they feel the need for additional support. The termination phase aims to empower clients to carry forward into their daily lives the skills and insights gained in therapy.


Therapists acknowledge that some clients may decide to conclude their therapy without engaging in a direct conversation, and they will respect the autonomy of these choices. Therapists are aware that clients have individual reasons and comfort levels when it comes to bringing therapy to a close.


First published on Counselling Directory, 15/02/24




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