I have a love/hate relationship with ending the therapeutic relationship with my clients. I love the fact that I see my clients reach their goals that once felt impossible when they began therapy and am so grateful to have been a part of their journey. I also become saddened by the ending/loss of the relationship. I love my clients so much, that I truly miss them when they go, even when the reason is positive! So this topic is as difficult for me as it is for my clients!
I work very much on a weekly to biweekly to monthly and maintenance visits with my clients. Usually people come in starting weekly or biweekly (whatever works best for need, scheduling, finances, etc) and then when my clients are feeling better I bring it up in session.
I’ve been known before to say something like, “you know, you don’t NEED to come in every week anymore.” But I’m not always a jackass. Often there is a mutual feeling between me and my client that “things are going well” and I recognize that I’m doing more work on “instilling treatment gains” than I am helping my clients navigate problems. So I usually bring up their progress and may ask, “so what do you need from therapy at this point?” or even, “what do you need from me at this point?” This usually opens up a discussion into my client’s progress, goals completed, and if they have more goals to work on we can get refocused, and if it’s just maintaining then I usually recommend monthly visits so that there is more to cover between sessions and we can see how things go with less frequent visits (do you find you’re falling apart? or managing well without so much support).
What if my therapist doesn’t bring up reducing our sessions or ending? Will I hurt his/her feelings if I do?!
Although I do believe scheduling aimlessly with clients week after week to not be of highest ethical standards, I have been told by my colleagues that they think I bring it up too much. Then again, I suppose it is my goal to work myself out of a job, that I know will never happen, but rather I just get to serve more and more people. But anyways, if your therapist hasn’t brought it up yet, he/she may think that you are still wanting/needing the ongoing support and is just following your lead (because it is your treatment after all!) So it’s important to let your therapist know where you’re at because we can’t read minds!
A great way to bring this up to your therapist might be saying something like: “You know, I’ve been reflecting a lot on my therapy goals and how I was feeling when I first came in, and I realized I feel so much better and I think I completed my goals!”
Your therapist will likely be very pleased and ask you how that makes you feel…… It will likely turn into a discussion on where you’re at in therapy and where you need to/want to go.
Do I want maintenance therapy visits? Or do I want to end all together?
Again, you’ll likely figure this out with your therapist, but for my clients usually if they’re feeling they completed their goals, but are afraid of going backwards, or not wanting to dive fully into the deep end, but step comfortably down into the cold water, maintenance visits make a lot of sense. The frequency of maintenance visits can look different from person to person depending on how often you were going previous but usually they are monthly visits. I even have clients who come in every 2-3 months, just having me around and an appointment on their calendar feels better for them.
Other clients I have are sometimes comfortable with completely ending. Life is going well and it seems silly to pay money for what otherwise feels like a discussion over coffee and if that’s how maintenance visits are looking, then ending usually is the most logical sense. My clients know that even when ending, they are always welcome to return. And although my goal is for them to not struggle with the same problems in the future, I do know that more problems arise in life and glad they know they have someone they can turn to if support is needed again in the future.
If you’re currently navigating this issue, I hope this article served you well. And if you’ve googled such a problem and landed on this page then CONGRATS! I’m glad you’re feeling better. I hope bringing this accomplishment up in therapy either depends your therapy goals, or helps move you to new beginnings into life after therapy, or life in between therapy
Thinking about ending therapy but not because of positive reasons and moreso because you’re feeling worse? Read this article first, which has seemed to be helpful for people to understand more about the therapy process and next steps to take.