We love it when couples or individuals we’ve been working with finish therapy. Sometimes it’s a bittersweet experience. We’ve invested a lot into your relationship and your progress. We’ve seen you through some ups and downs and have no guarantee that we’ll see you again or get to know what happens in your future.
How far you’ve come
At the final session (at least when we know it’s the final session, sometimes people just stop coming to their appointments but that’s a story for another day), we reflect on where you were when you started therapy and how things have changed since then. Sometimes when you’re living your own life day-to-day, you don’t realize how much has changed.
We review the goals we set for our work together. If it’s a final session, we’ve likely accomplished the goals and sometimes more. And this is something to celebrate! As therapists, it is so fun for us to see the amazement in people’s eyes when they realize things really have gotten better.
How hard you worked
Next we talk about what happened that made the amazing changes you’ve seen and helped you reach your goals. I’ll let you in on a little secret: it’s you. It’s always you that makes the changes and does the hard work. There’s nothing magical about being in therapy. Therapists aren’t mythical creatures, where simply being in our presence makes your dreams come true.
Always, always, always when we talk with our clients about how the changes in your lives and relationships happened, it was you that made the changes. These amazing results happened because you worked hard, you changed, you apologized, you forgave, you fought for what you wanted. It’s your commitment, love, and dedication to each other that pulls you through. Therapists can’t do that for you; we support you, coach you, help you identify and overcome road-blocks, but it’s your work that makes the difference.
At this stage, we love seeing our clients’ proud smiles as you realize how hard you’ve worked. We love witnessing couples look into each others’ eyes with gratitude and love for the sacrifices and dedication you’ve put into your relationship. We often see you reach for each other, squeeze hands, or scoot closer on the couch.
What? More work? Yes! You don’t get to just ride off into the sunset and live happily ever after. That’s a fantasy. Graduating from therapy doesn’t mean that your life or relationship problems are solved forever. You’ve done some great work and built some awesome momentum up to this point. We don’t want you to backslide. Part of how we help ensure your continued success is to help you identify new goals for the future. What are the next 6 months of your life going to look like? What are the red flags you should watch out for? We’ll help you make a plan for how to handle it when you fall back into old patterns. We want you to finish on a high and keep going. Finishing therapy is launching further growth, not a time to relax back into old ways.
We’re always here for you
We know you’ve come to rely on the support of your therapist. We understand. And we also know that, as much as we like you, keeping you in therapy forever isn’t going to be good for you. We honor and respect the trust you’ve put in us. If a few weeks, months, or even years in the future you need to come back for a booster session, we’ll be here for you. After successful graduation from therapy, sometimes just one session is enough to get you back on track when you slip. Or maybe you face something new and would like to schedule a group of weekly session to deal with the challenges you’re facing. As long as we’re in business, we’ll be here for you and will do our best to find time for you in our schedules even if we’re “full.”
Why are you talking about ending therapy? We haven’t even started!
Most people browse around our website before starting therapy, so why are we talking about ending it? We want you to have a vision of what’s possible. We’ve celebrated with couples graduating therapy who were so discouraged at the start of therapy that they were afraid to even dream that they’d work out. We’ve seen people at the final session making retirement plans together who started out living separately with divorce papers ready to file. And we’ve seen other couples end therapy with a decision to dissolve their relationship, sad but with the peace of knowing they each did all they could and that this decision is what’s best.
If you read any of the above and felt a little tickling of hope, maybe it’s time to start couples counseling. If you read the description of a final session and felt a little jealous, wishing you could sit with your spouse, snuggling close, feeling full of love, and celebrating your hard work together, give us a call today. We’ll explore whether working together is the right fit for you and get you started on your journey.