by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghJune 14, 2019 ending counseling relationship, how long does marriage counseling last, how long does therapy last, how to know when to terminate counseling0 comments
Ending Counseling; It’s a Relationship too! When to do it and How to know For Counseling Clients as well as answers to Questions like, ” How long does Marriage Counseling last?’
If you have been seeing a counselor for several months or several years, you may have at first gained some significant benefits but then over time the therapeutic gains could have slowed down and you may even start to wonder if you should continue on with counseling or marriage counseling. All endings are difficult and ending relationships is even harder, the counseling relationship, is a kind of professional relationship and it also has a definable beginning, middle, and end. While length of treatment really varies and some clients or couples gain what they need in as few as 10-12 sessions, others continue to be benefited several years and at times even decades into the onset of treatment. It really depends upon what your diagnosis is and what factors are supporting your wellness as well as holding your back from achieving your therapy goals. Some individuals who hold diagnoses like certain personality disorders or those who have chronic mental health issues like major depression or schizophrenia, they will likely benefit best from long term therapy support. Others who are working through a situational loss, couples therapy, or grief counseling may need less time in counseling to feel better. The key is to identify what is working for you, even if at one time you were doing very good work with your counselor or couples therapist, there are times when the therapeutic repertoire of the clinician will have provided the best that it can for the clients benefit. In other situation’s the client may continue to grow in a different therapeutic setting, with a different therapist. Still other times, the client’s growth is limited by their own incapacity to be honest or share their concerns and they could move beyond their current hurtles if they shared an honest dialogue with their clinician about feeling stuck or stagnant. Here are several litmus tests to help you assess if you, the client should think about ending the therapy relationship and then a few easy steps for how to end it.
How to know if you should end the counseling relationship:
- If you have been using your therapy session to talk about how well things have been and notice that you are able to encounter life challenges in a constructive way outside of the therapy office.
- If you have cut back to bi-weekly or monthly, you are probably starting to ween yourself out of therapy- this is a good thing.
- You have achieved your therapeutic goals.
- You feel as though you are not a good fit with your counselor, or your counselor fails to respond to your concerns about their understanding of key parts of information that you have shared with them. Being a good fit and feeling understood by your counselor is vital, in fact studies show that this is the number one factor which influences positive therapy outcomes, how well you feel that your therapist understands and cares about you.
- You have talked with your therapist about wanting to end the therapy relationship. If you bring this into the conversation your counselor should start to talk about what has gone really well and to assess if there is any resistance that might be causing you to avoid counseling or if this is true counseling success!
Of course, its true that the counselor will also terminate counseling in certain instances and make an appropriate referral for the client as we therapists and marriage counselors sincerely want the best for our clients and that even means at time knowing that we can not help them. If the help they need is outside of our treatment specialty a referral is always appropriate, or if we notice that they are not responding to counseling we may recommend a higher level of care. If you are initiating the end of treatment because one or several of the above statements seems like a statement you have thought yourself then please continue to read how to end the therapy relationship.
- If you have done your therapeutic homework then you will likely have fostered some strong communication skills and emotional awareness, you will need to use them to have a conversation with your counselor about the feelings of growth or even stagnation you have noticed. They will have likely noticed this too and were waiting for you to assert your needs.
- You should follow a proper termination method which is often achieved by weening back to biweekly, monthly, and then having a final session. In here you will talk about the therapeutic gains you have mastered, a flash back to your presenting issues and a summary of the various phases of therapy that you have worked through. It should be a celebratory time for you.
- Feel free to be very honest with your counselor about your fears of stopping treatment, it is very common for a person who is having much success in counseling to fear ending their treatment. They fear relapse or don’t trust that they will be able to manage presenting concerns successfully outside of counseling. Your therapist will likely assure you that it is normal to feel that way and that if you ever need to check back in, they will be glad to see you in the future.
When it is all said and done, therapy is about you the client, not about the counselor, if you feel guilty or fearful of hurting your counselor’s feelings you shouldn’t and that says much more about you than about your counselor. Therapists learn through their training that the therapy relationship shouldn’t last forever, we take great pr
ide in our client’s growth and a good therapist takes it as a success when a client is no longer needing their services. So go out into the world and be well!Learn More