Do you ever wonder if you are ever going to get off the recognizable couch that is housed at your doctor’s office?
Do you feel like you have spent massive amounts of time on that proverbial couch? Luckily, therapists do not see their patients as lifelong meal tickets.
During the course of treatment, a lot of issues are touched upon. At some point, patients need to take what they’ve learned in therapy out into the community. A therapist should not promote lifelong dependency.
The job of therapy is to make the therapist dispensable, so one needs the necessary tools to leave the therapist and live one’s own life. Just how long does that take though? Well, that depends on what brought you to the therapist’s office in the first place, and what type of therapy you’ve been receiving. Cognitive behavioral therapy is designed to achieve specific goals. If you’re afraid to drive, then a number of sessions – perhaps 10 to 20 – are agreed upon at the beginning of therapy and the dilemma is addressed through a combination of relaxation techniques, talk therapy and exercises designed to get you back in the car. Once the symptoms are gone, so should the therapist.
Therapy that is more self-exploratory, which is the kind that examines how you got to be who you are today and what effect that is having on your life – will be more in-depth and, as a consequence, last longer. A patient learns to look at his behavior and understand its meaning, and can do things to change the actions and circumstances that brought them to therapy in the first place. But whether it takes a year or two, or more, long term therapy generally comes to an end. Deciding to end a relationship with the therapist should be a two way street. It is a decision that’s made in collaboration.
If you are thinking of leaving therapy, you may ask yourself why. Have you accomplished what you set out to do? Are you getting anything out of therapy anymore? Do you feel that your relationships and the world will be manageable on their own? An excellent therapist should listen to those messages and ask themselves, ‘Has this person sorted out the major issues that initially brought him to me?’ ‘Is there a healthy independence?’
Ending the relationship doesn’t have to be abrupt, says Rosenthal. If you’ve been going once a week, taper off to every other week, then perhaps to once a month. You and your therapist can agree on the length of time this transition period should last. Patients will generally come in, deal with their issues and then move on. If issues arise later on, they can always come back.
If you feel that the therapy or therapist isn’t working for you anymore, you might need a new therapist. If you are not making the changes you were hoping to make, this might be your best option.
When therapy is complete, you may start to grieve the loss of the bond that you created with your therapist. It is a unique relationship in that you opened your heart and soul to this person who is judging you. Leaving your therapist can be a bittersweet experience, because you are moving on but you’re losing a relationship that has meant a lot to you.
Getting out into the world and feeling good about it is the main purpose of therapy.
Author: Blaine Pollock
Mr. Pollock has dedicated his life to providing global healthcare services and education.