Fear of the Unknown
Once you are making progress in therapy, it feels really good. You’re happy and satisfied and things are going your way. It’s all very wonderful. Then the therapist suggests that it’s time to think about terminating therapy. Oh no, here comes that old fear again, the fear of the unknown. What if you forget what you learned? What if you don’t continue doing it right? What if something changes and everything goes haywire again? You don’t want to lose all the progress you’ve just made.
At Down To Earth, we realize that ending therapy can be as difficult as starting therapy and we work the termination right into the treatment plan. The end won’t surprise you. We will set goals and steps toward those goals and when the steps are complete, we’re finished. You can always set new goals and continue if you like. However, we also understand that it is not in your best interest to keep you in therapy indefinitely. If we believe that you are ready to terminate therapy, we will work to build your self-confidence, not just trump up some more goals so that you will keep coming to appointments.
Could we make more money if we would just keep you in therapy forever? We don’t think so. We think the sign of good treatment is when people get better and stop coming. If none of our customers ever finished therapy, we would have to think we were doing something wrong. Other people would think so, too. They would wonder why no one ever gets better when they come to our clinic. So, our goal is not to keep you in therapy, but to help you begin and end therapy with us successfully.
What if you have to come back? That happens sometimes. You may have a very successful course of treatment and make a number of positive changes, but sometimes things happen that are outside of your control. Sometimes new things that you didn’t anticipate happen. Certainly children come up with new things all the time and new problems will appear that couldn’t even exist when your children were younger. So come back. That’s not saying that your therapy didn’t work, just that you need a different treatment plan to treat a different problem.
You Made Me an Offer I Can’t Refuse, I’ll Try It
Another discomfort you might face when you are ending therapy is the feeling of loss. If things went well for you, you will probably have some warm feelings for the therapist. You may feel close to them and not want to lose that closeness. You will have told them things that you might not have told anyone else. You may feel like something is missing in your life when you no longer have appointments to attend.
At Down To Earth, we acknowledge these feelings of loss as real and normal. However, if termination is extremely painful for you, we’ve done something wrong.
It’s perfectly okay for you to have warm, positive feelings for the therapist, but we keep our boundaries very clear. The therapist is NOT your friend. Your friends are your friends. The therapist is someone that you are PAYING to help you. You don’t pay friends and should therefore not see your therapist as a friend. Friends also share their personal information with you and seek your advice. Your Down To Earth therapist should not. She may tell you various things about herself, for the sake of example, but she will not share with you the intimate details of her life, nor should she seek your advice about anything because you are paying for the time and it should only be used to help you.
If you are starting to develop a relationship with the therapist that exceeds the boundaries of a client-therapist relationship, it is the therapist’s responsibility to address it. If you cannot observe boundaries and expectations, you will be referred to another therapist for your own good and to protect the high ethical standards of Down To Earth.
If you have shared things with your therapist that you never told anyone else before, there is a good chance that part of your treatment plan will include teaching you how to share those types of things with the people that need to hear them. That way, when you terminate therapy, you will already be experiencing the type of closeness with a spouse, family member, or friend that you were previously only able to experience with the therapist. Therefore, when it is time to end, you’re not really going to miss the closeness because you will have built it into your daily life where it belongs.
As far as not having any more appointments to attend, you will probably be happy to have the free time to enjoy the things that you were not able to enjoy before you began therapy. At Down To Earth, we feel most successful when people terminate therapy and promptly forget all about us. We are both sad and proud to say that it happens quite a bit!
Let’s Get This Show On the Road