How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.
Would it surprise you to hear that many clients don’t do a closing session when they are finished with their therapy sessions? I was kind of surprised by this, but in this day and age, ending therapy often occurs with an email.
- It’s often easier for people to say goodbye in writing versus face-to-face.
- Goodbyes can be so awkward, and people often don’t know what to say or do.
- Often when people have met their therapy goals, they are simply done with therapy all together.
- When clients are starting with a new professional such as a marriage counselor (when they’ve been in individual treatment), EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) specialist (if they’d suffered a trauma) or business coach (to help with their new business), etc. they may realize that one professional resonates more than the other at this time in their lives. Plus, it can also get very expensive to pay for all of these different professionals.
- Clients may not have met their therapy goals, but they may not feel like they are in the right mental space to continue with counseling at this time. They may decide not to do a closing session, per say, because they would like to keep things open for the future, if and when they are ready to return to counseling.
I get all of this, I really do. Therapy doesn’t usually end in a simple and direct way. That being said, I’ve been there with my own therapy and closing sessions. With my last therapist, I felt like I had met all of my therapy goals, and had to force myself to come back for a closing session because I knew it would be helpful to both of us, even through I didn’t feel like I necessarily needed one.
Often, when clients start doing something out of character for them, it’s the first sign that therapy may be coming to a close. This may be cancelling a session, forgetting to show up, showing up late when they are usually early or right on time, wanting more time in between their sessions, disconnecting therapy reminders, etc. This is bearing any new life transitions, of course.
So, why do a closing session at all?
- You get to process how far you’ve come in therapy/the progress you’ve made/your personal successes.
- You can talk about how to keep this same positive momentum outside of therapy/in a sense, do your own therapy “in your head.”
- You can talk about signs and symptoms to look for if things take a turn for the worse again, so you can hopefully catch them early.
- You get to say a proper goodbye to your therapist and they get the opportunity to say goodbye too (the closure is for both of you!).
- This is great practice for those hard goodbyes in your life, from moving and saying goodbye to friends and neighbors to changing jobs to launching children from the home.
So, there you have it! I hope this helps you see that showing up for your closing session is so very important for your own self-growth. Don’t leave something this big to email; be brave and do the hard work of saying goodbye face-to-face. You won’t regret it!