Why therapists go on about talking about endings

When you initiate an ending with unresolved problems, unless it will cause harm or you’re not ready, regardless of the reason for leaving, always work through your feelings, thoughts and decision process with the therapist first.

Why? Because of the potential upsides of talking to the therapist whenever you wish to initiate an ending, especially prior to leaving with unresolved concerns. In particular, you will understand how conflicts (sometimes called rupture and repair) in the relationship can—if handled well by both you and the therapist—be of enormous therapeutic value.

You may decide to leave therapy for any number of reasons including:

  • You feel worse.
  • You’re not ready or therapy is not for you.
  • You feel the therapist may be thinking badly of you.
  • You don’t want to be rejected by the therapist, so want to end it first
  • You feel you don’t deserve to be in therapy any longer
  • You don’t feel connected to the therapist.
  • There is something intangible you don’t like about the therapist.
  • You’re not improving.
  • Your ideal in how you envisaged the therapist and the process to be has not been met
  • You come into contact with new memories and thoughts which you are aren’t ready to bring into awareness
  • You don’t feel therapy is going to work for you.
  • The pace of therapy is too fast or too slow
  • The therapist said or did something you didn’t like.
  • The process of therapy feels threatening. For example, going to your inner feelings and experiences.
  • Life priorities and money.

The objective in talking about your reasons to end is, of course, to learn something new. By exploring the end you can check out your feelings, see if the relationship can be repaired, check out the therapist’s perspective, learn a new way to deal with feelings including endings, and determine whether there is therapeutic value in exploring your reasons.

Talking to the therapist does not take away your decision and your freedom to choose. For example, the therapist may not be right for you or you may feel that their way of working is not suited to you. But by checking out your feelings, it could even accelerate your process or provide closure. If this doesn’t yield any benefits you have still learnt to speak about your feelings, and you can end gracefully. If a therapist is critical or does not accept your feelings it obviously confirms your decision to leave, so in that sense even a negative experience can be seen as an acknowledgement that your feelings are in harmony with reality.

So unless you feel unsafe, always talk about your reasons for ending, you may be surprised by what you learn.

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