Description: Think about how relationships tend to go for you. Think about how relationships end for you (assuming you have had one or two relationships end). Now imagine you have been seeing a psychotherapist for the past 6 months, perhaps to help you sort of what is or did go on in your relationships. How would you see THAT relationship, the psychotherapeutic one, ending? Psychotherapy, since the days of Freudian analysis is typically short term, a matter of weeks or perhaps months but rarely years. So, if you have not been involved in a psychotherapeutic relationship, or if you have, think about how it would or did end. Did you (would you) initiate the ending process, did your therapist, or was it mutual? Did you (would you) just stop going or was it something your discussed with your therapist? Did the (would the) nature of your relationship with your therapist make parting harder or easier than other relationships? Many of the broad array of ethical requirements and standards to which psychotherapists are committed relate to how their relationships with clients are managed, given that they involve and inherent difference in power between the client who is seeking assistance and the therapist who is providing it. That power imbalance can make ending the relationship difficult or confusing even despite the ethical requirements that exist. So how should you end your relationship with your therapist? Slip out the back Jack? Make a new plan Stan? No need to be coy Roy, just get yourself free (or at least so says Paul Simon in 50 Ways). Have a look at the article linked below to se what it suggests as an alternative to ghosting.
Source: How to Break Up with Your Therapist, Malia Wollman, Tip, The New York Times Magazine.
Date: January 28, 2020
The author of the linked article offers some useful advice in suggesting that yourself if there is something familiar in your desire to leave your therapist (in fact it is a question the therapist might well ask you to consider). The business and the process of deciding that it is time to end therapy is a complicated one, sometimes for both client and therapist. The therapist bears a larger share of responsibility for managing that process given that clients, by definition, enter therapy with uncertainty about their abilities to understand and manage themselves and/or their relationships. However, clients need to keep in mind that they can and should be open to the possibility that the idea to move on or to change from one therapeutic relationship to another might be their own idea and involve initiative that is more theirs than their therapist’s. Sorting out if it is time and good to be moving on or whether it is “one of those things again” can be challenging but all good, and all not so good, therapy come to an end, and, hopefully, end positively and professionally.
Questions for Discussion:
- What are some reasons why one might consider ending a psychotherapeutic relationship?
- What responsibilities do (should) psychotherapists be aware of and keep in mind over end of therapy moments?
- How should clients be monitoring their progress and their experiences in psychotherapeutic relationships and how should they decide if the one they are in needs to change or end?
References (Read Further):
Knox, S., Adrians, N., Everson, E., Hess, S., Hill, C., & Crook-Lyon, R. (2011). Clients’ perspectives on therapy termination. Psychotherapy Research, 21(2), 154-167. https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/6854/851335b7fb75f5755187e6dd44f438cf276f.pdf
Charman, D. P., & Graham, A. C. (2008). Ending therapy: Processes and outcomes. Core processes in brief psychodynamic psychotherapy, 275. http://www.al-edu.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Charman-Core-Processes-in-Brief-Psychodynamic-Psychotherapy-Advancing-Effective-Practice.pdf#page=292
Råbu, M., Binder, P. E., & Haavind, H. (2013). Negotiating ending: A qualitative study of the process of ending psychotherapy. European Journal of Psychotherapy & Counselling, 15(3), 274-295. https://www.duo.uio.no/bitstream/handle/10852/37407/NeogotiatingEndingPostPrint.pdf?sequence=7
Råbu, M., & Haavind, H. (2012). Coming to an end: A case study of an ambiguous process of ending psychotherapy. Counselling and Psychotherapy Research, 12(2), 109-117. https://www.duo.uio.no/bitstream/handle/10852/37390/PostPrintCaseending.pdf?sequence=5
Owen, J., Imel, Z., Adelson, J., & Rodolfa, E. (2012). ‘No-show’: Therapist racial/ethnic disparities in client unilateral termination. Journal of counseling psychology, 59(2), 314. https://www.academia.edu/download/42923267/No-Show_Therapist_RacialEthnic_Dispari20160221-2557-d9veor.pdf
Vasquez, M. J., Bingham, R. P., & Barnett, J. E. (2008). Psychotherapy termination: Clinical and ethical responsibilities. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 64(5), 653-665. https://www.academia.edu/download/46106995/jclp.2047820160531-27403-1o9fjen.pdf