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Page Contents: When a client is surprised by sudden termination of psychotherapy.                    


I am a female . . . and I have been seeing my own female psychotherapist weekly for the past six years. Over the years, we have both developed a deep attachment to each other and have discussed this openly. I was taken by surprise when she told me one day that I don’t need to be in psychotherapy anymore and that I should call her if I need her. We hadn’t discussed termination before. My psychotherapist was much more distant on this day in contrast to her usual friendliness. I agree that I am ready to take a break from psychotherapy. I know she thought she was acting in my best interest, but I feel hurt and sad. Would you advise another session for me to discuss this with her, or do you think it would just prolong the grief of separation for both of us?

In competent psychotherapy, a psychotherapist should never terminate the treatment abruptly without at least one session to process it all honestly. Otherwise the client will be left feeling surprised, hurt, and sad—as you well know.

So, yes, you are owed an explanation.

There could be some hidden, personal reason in the background from which your psychotherapist is trying to protect you, but, if so, that’s a misjudgment on her part. After all, when parents do this to children, it only causes psychological problems. Everyone needs an honest explanation.


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Raymond Lloyd Richmond, Ph.D.
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