Goodbyes can be hard. Chances are most of the goodbyes you have experienced in your life have been difficult. Saying goodbye to a therapist can be different. It can be an opportunity to create a healthy ending in a positive relationship in your life. If you work with a therapist who is skilled, then saying goodbye can be just as transformative as the therapy itself.

Ending therapy is also known as “termination.” I know, “termination” doesn’t have a great ring to it! However, it is what it is. It is an ending of the relationship as it existed. It is reality cold and stark. Of course, when I talk to clients I don’t use the word “termination,” I usually say “our goodbye.”  Under what circumstances does therapy usually end? Therapy should end when a client does not need further assistance, is not receiving any benefit from therapy, or might be harmed by continuing to work with a particular therapist.

In the best case scenario the decision to move on from therapy and “say our goodbyes” happens when both the therapist and the client feel like the client is ready to move on and move up!  Ending the therapeutic relationship should actually be worked on from the very first session. What I mean by that is, there should be an understanding that the work we do together will have an ending and that is a good thing because it means the client has gained the skills to continue working on themselves independently. So the first session I have with clients usually outlines a plan where the end goal is discussed and we both have an understanding of the skills the client wants to learn or what they hope to achieve.

Now sometimes there are situations where the therapist ends the relationship and the client may take that personally, it is hard when any relationship ends and it might bring up feelings of sadness, and fear or abandonment. Any good therapist will end the relationship based on what is right for the client.

What are some situations where a therapist might end the relationship?

If the situation the client is dealing with is out of the therapist's scope of practice, the therapist may end the relationship and refer the client to someone else. This is in the client’s best interest. Another reason a therapist might end the relationship is that the therapist is in a place in her life which prevents her from being objective and helpful.  A therapist who is going through a painful divorce may have difficulty working with a couple that considering divorce. A good therapist may see that their judgement may be clouded and want to refer the client to see someone else. This is good practice and helps the client.

If a client is actively suicidal or actively using substances then the therapist may end the relationship and refer out for a higher level of care. The client may need to be hospitalized or may need an inpatient substance abuse treatment program. Therapy may be terminated while they are being treated and may continue after the intensive program is completed. 

Ending therapy should be a time for connection and bringing together accomplishments, or reviewing the next important step the client needs to take. It should not be an experience of abandonment. A skilled therapist will help a client gain a new perspective on closure. For some clients, it may be the one time in their lives when they get a clean ending in a healthy relationship and they get to feel a sense of control on creating that ending. 

Good luck to you!

The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health... (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
I love this question! Some people shy away from counseling because they think since they already talk about how they feel to their relatives or friends they shouldn't need a counselor. However, if you are having a difficult time, counseling can be beneficial in helping you move forward and get your life back on track. 

Counseling is not like the kind of talking we do to people we know. For one, your counselor does not have a history with you and has no expectations of how you will act and what you will do. In that way, counselors come to a session without judgement and expectation. This gives you the platform to truly explore your thoughts and feelings. A counselor can also help you understand your motivation and help you integrate your past experiences and recommend coping skills that can help you if you are feeling overwhelmed by your emotions. 

Over time, as you work with a counselor you will get feedback and also be able to share new insights. The work you do is based on you and where you are at. Oftentimes, when we talk to friends they bring their own agenda to a conversation, and while they mean well they may offer solutions that work for them and not you. A counselor will help you uncover the solutions that work best for you and help you find the motivation to follow through with your plan.

Best of luck to you!
The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health... (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.

Thanks for reaching out. This is a great question. Communication is definitely a 2-way street. One person cannot participate in a discussion. It takes a talker and a listener. Furthermore, communication will breakdown if each party is only focusing on his or her agenda and is not open to what the other person is saying.  since I can't ask you questions about what is going on, I am going to make a guess at one situation that comes up a lot when I work with couples. One person focuses more on solving the issue, than listening to their partner.  This can be frustrating for the partner who wants to just be "heard."

I understand that you are working really hard to listen to him and he might not be putting as much effort into listening to you. That can be really frustrating and difficult and I want to acknowledge you for wanting to improve your relationship.

One of the best strategies to gettting heard, is actually to BE A GOOD LISTENER to someone else. I know you are probably already a good listener and for you to work on listening skills may seem counterintuitive, right? You want to get heard and now you are the one doing the listening. But this can really create more effective communication if you invest time working on doing some active listening in your relationship because then you get to model those skills for your husband and allow him to see what it feels like to be listened to and then you can even teach him some of those skills. In other words, you practice specific techniques that you can use and then teach later on. 

Here are some skills for you to use consciously and then you can teach:

  • Pay attention and use your body language to convey that you are in the conversation. No texting or distractions. Lean in. Focus.
  • Listen for content and for emotion. Clarify what you don't understand. Try to understand the person's underlying emotions. 
  • Don't rush to judgement or to changing what is going on with the person. Sit in a place where you are really curious and want to understand what is going on. 
  • Encourage the other person to continue speaking, Nod and vocalize that you hear what they are saying.
  • Ask questions to get to understand the other person's point of view.
I believe when we can model these kinds of listening skills, and the other person feels heard, they will be more likely to listen to us. If you don't find that this doesn't spill over in that way, then have a discussion about what you are practicing and that you are learning these skills to be a better listener so you can understand him better. Then explain how it might be helpful if you both tried it. If there is push back from him, set up a trial period to just try the skill, perhaps for 2 weeks and see if it helps. If communication is really breaking down, then it might be time to work with a counselor who can help with these skills.

Best of luck to you!
The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health... (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.

I am really glad you reached out. When parents get divorced, they still need to figure out how to have relationship so that they can parent their child. We might divorce our partners, however, we don't divorce our children. If anything our children need to know that we are still a stable force in their lives. Unfortunately, in some relationships children get used as a bargaining piece and I am hearing that may be happening in your relationship. 

You can move on from the relationship with your ex while still maintaining a relationship with your child. It is possible and it takes both parents to agree to do the right thing by their child. It is important for your children to have some consistency in his or her time with you. For example, if you and your ex don't have a parenting schedule it is something that you want to create so that you can not only decide for you when you will see your child, but your child can know when you will be available just for her. This will lay the foundation for consistency and allow your child to have some security in troubled times.

I would highly recommend you sit down with your ex and discuss how you can both be a positive source in your child's life. How you can both be there to help raise her. If this is not a conversation that you can have on your own you might seek out help from the court. There are parenting experts and mediators who might be able to assist you.

Remember, in any discussion keep the focus on what is best for your child and you will be moving in the right direction.

Best of luck to you!

The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health... (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.

Dealing with a breakup is difficult. We have high hopes and then those hopes and dreams are dashed and we feel at a loss for how to deal with this sudden change in our lives. First, it is important to acknowledge that losing a relationship is a loss and we need to grieve that loss. If we don't allow ourselves time to process and move through the grieving process, we may remain stuck and it may make it hard to move on. So in some ways, you don't want to move on too soon by just trying to ignore your feelings. Instead, take good care of yourself, talk to friends and give your self time to heal. The second most important thing is to forgive yourself; this is also an important part of taking care of yourself. You might be blaming yourself and re-living moments when you wish you would have done things differently. By replaying those thoughts you remain stuck. When we begin to forgive ourselves, we truly begin to heal. Lastly, in my experience the people who have the most difficulty moving on have not really severed all ties with their ex. They are still following them on social media or even checking in with texts. This is probably the hardest part for some people, but to move forward there needs to be a clear boundary and a clear ending. If you have a clear ending, you can have a new beginning. I hope this helps. Take good care of yourself! 

The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health... (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.

If you have only been to a couple of sessions, it makes sense that you might still feel apprehensive at first. Therapy is hard work! You may be talking about some things that you never talked to anyone about before. Opening up to stranger can be scary. After you feel comfortable with your counselor, and trust has built up and you feel understood in session, you should feel more relaxed. I would encourage you to talk to your counselor about feeling a little shaky. Sharing what the process is like for you is important in your work. If you still feel unsure about sharing after several sessions, it is important to take a look at that and try to understand where that may be coming from. For example, are you and the therapist not a good fit? But, again if you are just starting out in working together, feeling a little bit nervous makes perfect sense, and I encourage you to give it a bit more time and to talk to your therapist about how you are feeling.

The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health... (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.

Betrayal in a relationship can be one of the most difficult things a relationship can sustain. Sometimes feelings about the betrayal may also trigger past wounds. The fact that "it only happened once" may not make it any easier to move forward. I highly recommend working with a mental health professional who has experience working around the issue of infidelity. Together, you can work on healing the wounds and moving forward. I do believe it is possible to move forward, if both partners are ready and willing to do the work to move forward together and create a new vision for their relationship. 

The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health... (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.

Sometimes we have difficulty keeping the past in the past. The best way to build a great relationship and have a great future, believe it or not, is to be firmly placed in the present. That means that when we stay in the moment with our partner and can notice what we are experiencing in the here and now we reap the best benefits of that relationship. We notice the good things that are happening in the moment. We are reacting to what we are experiencing in the moment, not reacting to a worry about the past. We notice, especially, who the person is right now and not who they were in the past.  We can connect with the things we love about them, too.

I think it is great that you want to help him and the choice to stay in the present and move forward in the relationship will mostly be up to him. We cannot change another person. It sounds like couples counseling might be a great step for you because you can both learn the skills you need to stay in the present and also learn some helpful "active listening" skills so that you can really listen to one another and understand each other. Communication skills can really be helpful. You can both have the opportunity to hear each other and support each other. We cannot change the past, but we can create the future we want.

Best of luck to you both! 

The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health... (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.

It is not easy being a wife and mother. You have shifted roles in your life. You went from having a career to focusing on your family. Transitioning can be hard, especially when we feel we gave something up that we really wanted. I want to acknowledge you for wanting to be the best wife and mother you can. I think it is great that you are self-aware and want to work on this.

Feeling "unhappy and trapped" may also mean that you are  believing these negative thoughts are absolutely true. We have lots and lots of thoughts throughout the day. Sometimes we pay a lot of attention to some and some we ignore. Right now these thoughts are getting a lot of your attention and perhaps you are thinking because you are thinking them they are true.  Is it really true that you trapped? You also said that you have an amazing life. It doesn't sound like you are only having negative thoughts. You have some positive ones, too. However, you are giving a lot of weight to the negative thoughts, more weight than the positive ones.

I also wonder if you are struggling with the fact that you are even having this thought. One thing that can be helpful is to recognize that you are having a thought, that it is a negative thought, that thinking it does not make it true, and to let it go. This is the basis for mindfulness work that can be really helpful. It is a great place for you to start so you can balance out your thoughts and emotions.

Best of luck to you!

The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health... (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.