I had a session with a client last week where we talked about ending therapy. As the sessions are due to end, I always review the client’s journey. I go back to our very first session and we talk about how far they have come. This is very often highly emotional.
In this session both myself and the client became emotional and there were tears from both of us.
Yep, you read that right. From BOTH of us.
You see I emotionally invest in my client’s journey. I am cheering them on and willing them to succeed and hit their goals. Along the way you cannot help but get to know a client inside and out. Part of my job, in fact the main part of my job is to get a client to open up and to share. So of course, it makes sense that I get to know them.
Therapy is a strange job though because for all we build this strong therapeutic relationship based on trust it is temporary and does need to have some boundaries. Much as I would dearly love to go for a glass wine with many of clients and in another life, they would certainly become friends in this job that is not really the way.
And so, after all we share along the way when therapy ends so must the relationship. And this can be hard for both parties. I am often left with unanswered questions. Did they go on to have another baby? Did they ever resolve their issue with their family member? You get the idea.
Sometimes clients are lovely and send me updates, especially if it is new baby news but most of the time, I am left wondering.
From the client’s side they miss having that weekly space to chat, to off load with total honesty. It can be scary to head out on your own after so long together. As part of ending sessions, we talk about all the tools they now have in their backpack to bring out and use whenever life throws a curve ball. Because ‘life’ still happens. Tricky events, sad times, all still happen. But now they are stronger and better able to deal with these things. We talk about the possibility of relapse and what to do in this event.
And although these endings are tinged with sadness ultimately, I like nothing better than hearing a client say they no longer need me.