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  • Writer's pictureSawah Danniels

Termination Thursday

Let's talk termination in therapy. This isn't something that we often talk about as clients or clinicians and should be a part of healthy discourse, especially upon intake. Therapy can and does end for a number of reasons. Each of these reasons can fall into two different categories: planned termination, or unexpected/unplanned termination.

Sometimes we enter therapy knowing there's an end date. This end date could be due to insurance coverage, EAP session limits, a set number of sliding scale sessions, finances, needing a break (totally valid and often needed, especially when doing deep trauma work), or wanting to spend a set number of sessions on a specific issue. Often these sessions are more solution focused and aimed at providing short-term relief of symptoms and challenges. Sessions might focus on a specific issue, instead of a few at once and diving into the origins of the challenges faced. Having a planned end date also means that a maintenance plan can be created and implemented to set the client up for success.

More often than not therapy ends for unexpected reasons that can impact both sides and can be brought about by either the counsellor or client. Unplanned termination can happen due to changes in situation - moving to another country or province, change in relationship status that doesn't feel like it needs counselling, mental health needs being more than outpatient private practice can provide, job loss, and more. It can also happen when ruptures occur between therapist and client - while recognising we're human and make mistakes that don't minimise the impact and safety required to do this work; sometimes that means "breaking up" with the therapist is needed.

Navigating unplanned termination is a delicate thing especially if a rupture occurs. When ruptures occur, remember as a client that you don't owe your counsellor a reason for leaving. If you want to provide that feedback a good therapist will thank you for it and for taking care of yourself and may offer some referral options; however, this is not an obligation. When it comes to other reasons the delicate balance is imperative when it comes to honouring client needs/capacity and ensuring they are set up for success with a maintenance plan.

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