Termination.. this can be such a scary word! Hasta la vista, baby..

Termination literally means bringing something to an end, and this is all it refers to when we use it for therapy. Terminating therapy means ending the counseling process. Ideally, this happens when you’ve accomplished your goals and you no longer need the assistance of a professional. Sometimes this occurs when external circumstances arise or a boundary gets crossed.

Hard termination rules are set at the beginning of the relationship- for example not paying or not showing up without calling multiple times. Many therapists consider these grounds for termination. The therapist and client both have full control of the relationship and can terminate if and when necessary for any reason.

Saying Goodbye

Counseling is not meant to last forever. Although some people may engage in counseling for a longer period of time (even years), the ultimate goal is developing the skills to live an autonomous life. Discussing timelines with your therapist is an important part of the counseling process, so you can have an idea of how long you will work together. However, this is often an ongoing discussion due to the fluctuating nature of treatment progress and goals.

When you and your counselor decide to end the counseling relationship, it can end abruptly (not ideal) or gradually over multiple sessions. Ending treatment gradually helps to highlight the important skills you’ve learned, remember how far you’ve come, and go over gains you’ve made in treatment. You can also space these ending sessions further apart to practice going longer periods of time without speaking with your counselor.

Ultimately, terminating therapy does not mean you can never see a counselor again. If new circumstances arise, symptoms return, or you need a ‘touch up’ session to go over a specific issue, that is normal and totally okay. Sometimes we just need a check up!