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Page Contents: When a psychotherapist says you will be damaged if you end the treatment.                    


I went in for psychotherapy 5 months ago to cope with the recent discovery of my husband’s pornography addiction and the depression that resulted. He was in cognitive behavioral therapy at the time with a different provider and different practice. Well, he is now out of psychotherapy and I am still in psychotherapy. I am no longer depressed and feeling much better, and I attempted on two different sessions to end my psychotherapy, and my psychotherapist was extremely resistant to me ending psychotherapy and almost controlling insisting that I have tons of other issues that I don’t know I have. She basically has said I that I will never be well if I don’t stay in psychotherapy (which I can barely afford). I am in such a dilemma. On one hand I don’t really believe I need this extensive psychotherapy but on the other hand if she is accurate in her assessment I don’t want to go through life “damaged and confused.” I am a little concerned about the accuracy of her evaluation and sometimes feeling as if I am in One Flew Over the Coo-coo’s Nest.

Psychotherapy is a matter of learning to interpret and understand your unconscious. As long as you are alive, the unconscious continuously reconstitutes itself, and so you could stay in psychotherapy for the rest of your life, if you wanted to.

Now, in terms of simple practicality, the sheer cost of psychotherapy can prevent many people from making it a life-long process. You yourself have discovered this.

But, aside from the cost of psychotherapy, a more philosophical issue can be considered here. As I said, psychotherapy is a matter of learning to interpret and understand your unconscious. Through this understanding, your old psychological defenses will dissolve, and you will be able to relate to others with emotional honesty.

At first, you need your psychotherapist to guide you into emotional honesty, because when you are psychologically and emotionally blind you simply cannot lead yourself. As you make more and more progress in the treatment, however, you will be able to apply the things you learn in the treatment to the everyday world. Eventually the question will arise as to when you have learned enough to function on your own without psychotherapy.

When the question arises, it means that the issue of termination needs to be discussed within the psychotherapy. Your doubts and fears and hopes and expectations deserve attention at this point. Once you decide that you are ready to end the treatment, there is only one thing to do: try it and find out what happens.

The truth is, if anything happens such that you want to return to treatment, there is no reason why you couldn’t return.

But if, as you discuss termination with your psychotherapist, the psychotherapist tries to tell you that you are “damaged and confused,” you will feel unsafe. Ironically, in such a case, it would be best to terminate anyway, not because you believe you are ready to terminate but because you sense that ethical limits have been crossed and that you are being manipulated by the psychotherapist’s needs.


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Raymond Lloyd Richmond, Ph.D.
San Francisco




A Guide to Psychology and its Practice



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