I’m coming to an end of my work at the mental health centre that I work with. As I do short-term therapy many of the clients I see I will be discharging or passing on to another therapist (if I lobby hard enough).
Endings don’t get much attention in therapy conferences, workshops and literature.
It can be hard for therapists as well as clients.
This is especially the case when a client without explanation, or via a supervisor says they do not want to see you anymore.
This happened to me the other day. Without warning. This kind of event evoked in me a feeling of discouragement, inadequacy, and sadness. As a beginning therapist these feelings may be based in some fact: I’m just new in the game and have a fair ways to go in learning how to be a skilled therapist.
Nothing significantly different had happened between us. However, this comes in advance of us needing to call it quits (a planned termination). His diagnosis is complex, with significant personality issue. Nonetheless it is a person I had spent a lot of time supporting.
This feeling of “counter-transference” is to be expected and acknowledged as therapy is at its core a relationship. It can be hard to bare and to let it be known to other therapists.
It’s humbling too- knowing that a “good” termination/discharge is something I desire for my own reasons, as well as something we as therapists aim for so that the client can leave with a sense of finality, closure, and accomplishment.