Are You Thinking About Leaving Therapy?
There are a lot of reasons you may be considering ending therapy. Maybe you've gotten everything you need out of it. Perhaps you want to try implement the skills you've learned without the help of a therapist. Or maybe things just aren't working out between you and your therapist. Whatever your reasoning, it's important to know how to say goodbye.
Is there a wrong way to end therapy?
I wouldn't say that there is a wrong way, but there are less than ideal ways of ending your therapeutic journey.
The least ideal way would be ending it with a fight. Hopefully things aren't contentious between you and your therapist; a shouting match would be a sour note to end your therapeutic journey on, and if the therapeutic relationship has devolved to such a state, then it's probably best that it ends anyway.
Leaving without saying goodbye
If you've had a meaningful therapeutic journey and developed a positive regard for your therapist, the idea of ending therapy might make you a bit sad. Goodbyes are hard. Maybe you feel like it will be easier to just stop coming to sessions, stop responding to phone calls, and hopefully your therapist will forget about you. I can't speak for other therapists, but that has absolutely not been the case for me.
As therapists, we are invested in your wellbeing and it's only natural that we might worry when we don't hear from you.
On the other end of the spectrum, maybe therapy isn't going the way you thought it would. You might feel like your therapist isn't really understanding what you are saying or maybe they said something that put you off. It's normal. Your therapist is still trying to get to know you, especially in the first few sessions. They are still getting a sense of who you are, how you communicate, what you value, etc. So, while they're learning all of this, they may not get it right all the time.
Bring it up in session and let's see if it can be corrected. It's absolutely okay to say things like...
"I think there was a miscommunication. What I meant to say was..."
"I don't know if you are really hearing what I'm trying to say"
"I feel like we are not on the same page about..."
Comments like these provide your therapist with valuable information and can help make therapy a more rewarding experience. It's not rude or an imposition to express how you are feeling about the process.
However, sometimes, despite all efforts, it just isn't a good fit. That's absolutely fine too! By communicating this to your therapist, they can at least provide you with a list of referrals to other mental health professionals that they recommend. At least you won't have to re-start your search from square one.
At the end of the day, it's always better to be honest with your therapist about wanting to end therapy. The graduation session is an important piece of the therapeutic process because it allows you to reflect on the progress you've made. What did you gain from therapy? What still feels unresolved? What is your strategy for if these issues ever come up again? These are all important things to consider and your therapist can be help you come up with a game plan for managing your symptoms in the future.
If nothing else, you will both have a sense of closure.