Ending therapy - the celebration of a healthy relationship
The experience of a healthy relationship is vitally important for our well-being. The counselling relationship can play a huge part in the well-being of clients. Clients usually engage in therapy because something is not quite right in their life, and they are seeking guidance and support from someone independent and impartial. Counsellors are trained in walking this journey with clients, however, they cannot walk the journey alone or for the client.
So exactly what is happening while in a healthy relationship, and what makes a good ending to therapy so valuable? Counsellors are trained to listen, be present, understand without judgement, and offer clients acceptance for who they are. Possibly for the first time in a client’s life, they can experience a healthy relationship in which they can be themselves without fear, judgement, or shame. They can feel safe enough to risk being authentic.
Once the therapeutic relationship is present, a client may face difficult situations with more confidence, because they are no longer alone in their struggle. They are now being attended to. Therapia in Latin means to "attend to". To be attended to while on a journey of self-discovery and change can be highly comforting and reassuring. When we are young, we might have looked back at a parent for reassurance before taking our first steps, riding our bike without stabilisers, going off to school for the first time, or walking down the aisle. Therapy can provide that element of reassurance, without authority, pressure, or judgement.
Often, the client’s unhappiness with the world around them is really unhappiness about themselves in the world. Unrealised dreams and missed opportunities can often lead to feelings of dissatisfaction and even resentment towards others for how we have become. Therapy is an excellent way of getting back on track.
A healthy counsellor/client relationship can bring about what is needed for healing to take place. Clients may experience being well, in the presence of another, i.e. the therapist.
When a client experiences the restorative healing benefits of a healthy relationship, they begin to realise they are ok in the world. This now means they no longer need the guidance or support of the therapist, and the relationship comes to a natural end.
We know how to end unhealthy or unwanted relationships. We generally lack experience in ending good and healthy relationships, therefore this part of therapy can be mishandled and avoided. Sometimes people move, jobs end or a loved one passes away, thus giving an unwanted or unwelcomed end to a good relationship. This can be experienced as loss or grief, which can be painful, so it is no wonder that we don’t linger too long in this experience.
During the ending process, the client may be keenly aware the therapist mattered to them, and, even more importantly, they mattered to the therapist. This acknowledgement, or at least awareness, can be profound. By ending the therapeutic relationship, the client is now saying 'I am now accepting responsibility for my presence in the world and my well-being'.
Don’t short-change yourself by avoiding the ending by texting and saying you are finished or avoiding it altogether. Plan your ending, take charge of how it looks, have a cup of tea and a cake. It is worth the effort, and so are you.
To experience the closure of a good ending to a healthy relationship brings healing. If you would like to experience a healthy therapeutic relationship, get in touch with a trained and qualified counsellor and begin that journey.
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