How To Tell When To Stop Therapy

Being in therapy can help with multiple issues and help you focus on the future, but it’s not suppose to last forever.  There comes a time in treatment when you and your therapist should talk about termination.  It’s really not meant to be for the rest of your life, although many people are in therapy for years, and get addicted to the support.  Although you may return for support in the future, the idea is for the support to be short term, to gather skills and a new perspective, then go back into the world to use your new skills independently.

When you learn to ride a bike, your parents (usually) are close to you.  They teach you the skills and eventually you learn about balance, and before you know it, you ride off into the sunset.  When you grow up,  hopefully your parents taught you the skills you needed to be independent.  Sometimes you might come home, for some support, but you go back out into the world.

Finding a therapist that can work with the needs that you have is important, as in the previous post.  As you learn new skills and as you learn to think about things differently, you are able to move forward.  With new skills in communication and relationships, you can change your approach to life and better manage decisions and the future.  Although it’s scary,  trying your new skills in real life is important and part of the process.

Somehow, in the therapy office, it’s easy to talk about what to do.  My patients are able to talk about things they should do.  They can see things differently, and talk about making changes.  They feel better, and sometimes they cry, or get angry.  They work through emotions and learn different vocabulary to talk to the people around them in a way that helps move them forward.  Part of the goal of of treatment is to improve and increase their support system, and healthy relationships, so they have people to talk to that care about them and that they care about.  That is always better than therapy.  A good support system is so important and building that while in treatment can help progress last a lifetime.

Whether it’s a spouse, or significant other, partner or friend, having people around you that you can trust and rely on helps make the future bright.  A therapist develops a professional relationship with patients, but not a friendship, and I think that gets confused.  There is something very comforting about talking to someone who knows you, and understands what you have been through because you shared it with them.  There is no competition and no real give and take.  The relationship is one sided, if it’s the way it should be, but healthy relationships are two way,

As you progress through therapy, do the homework that your therapist gives you.  Work on skills to improve your life, whether it’s communication skills, relationship skills, or other skills that your therapist can help you learn.  Use the skills, test them between sessions, ask questions and learn all you can.  Then take those skills and move forward with your life.  Try the skills independently, and return if you need support in the future.  Most people are able to significantly improve their life and functioning after treatment, and you can too.  Don’t be afraid to try it on your own.  You can do it, and when you feel it’s time, talk with your therapist and spread your wings.  Take what you have learned and be happy for life.