Counselling Resource

Psychology, Philosophy & Real Life

Libby Webber

“Beginnings and Endings in Therapy and in Life” Comments, Page 1

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14 Responses (5 Discussion Threads) to “Beginnings and Endings in Therapy and in Life”

  1. 1

    Hi Libby, I agree that endings are important times. I’m left with a question I can’t stop thinking about: If therapy isn’t real life then what is it?

    • 1.1

      Ooh that’s a good question! Not sure I have an answer to that one. I’m thinking that therapy is both ‘real life’ and very artificial at the same time — real life in the sense that you’ve got your transferential material (or unresolved emotional baggage from the past) going on in the room, as it tends to do in all relationships; and very artificial in the sense that intimacy (largely one-way) builds up very quickly within the relationship (unlike, usually, real-life) and is strictly contained within the 4 walls and boundaried time-frame of the counselling sessions — unlike the messy, blurry-boundaried relationships of real life.

      So is it both real life and not? Not sure. What do you think?

  2. 2

    I think different relationships are done in different ways but they can all be real. I don’t think that fake relationships heal people. I think it is the therapeutic relationship that heals.

    • 2.1

      Yes, I completely agree that it’s the therapeutic relationship that heals. I do think though that the therapeutic relationship, by definition, is different from other relationships — though they too can be equally ‘real’.

  3. avatar image
    Jasmine
    3

    Hi Libby!!

    Thank you so, so much for this article! I was under the care of a clinical psychologist for 13 months and I used to think that termination was most brutal. I was such a difficult client to deal with because of termination. I feared not being able to form relationships like I had with my therapist ever again, because she was the first one. I feared “going back to square one”. I struggled with “delving deep” like you said, because I didn’t see the point of getting more hurt when termination comes.

    What you’ve shared is VERY REAL to a client, at least to me. I came into therapy thinking that it’s “open-ended”, and I’ll always have someone to “fall upon”. Seeing this, my therapist had prepared me for termination way before time, but I had never taken it well.

    However, I must add this: “kicking” me out of therapy was probably the best decision that she has made. When I no longer had my “crutches”, I realized how far I’ve actually come. Yes, I still miss my therapist (it’s been nearly a year), but I know that I can be on my own now.

    • 3.1

      Hi Jasmine

      Thanks very much for your comment — I’m so glad that it struck a chord for you. What I take from your comments is that entering therapy, knowing that it will entail delving deep and opening up to another, is a risk and like all risks, it’s worth weighing up what the potential pros and cons are. I think this is why it can take people (including myself when I first went to a counsellor) such a long time to ‘take the plunge’ and make that first appointment to see someone.

      I also take your point that sometimes endings are necessary, even when deeply undesired by one or both people involved, and I’m glad to hear that you’ve come to understand how you needed to leave therapy in order to see how far you’d come.

      All the best for the future, and thanks very much for sharing your experiences.

  4. 4

    The difference being that it is constrained in time and space, if I read your previous comment correctly.

    • 4.1

      Yes indeed. As well as being contractual and fee-based (the latter in private practice at least).

  5. avatar image
    Jasmine
    5

    Yeah a therapeutic relationship is not just about risks, but personally I used to wonder why should I allow myself to grieve even more if I know that this relationship will not last? My therapist literally had to “beg” me to look at the good side of therapy and not the “bad” (i.e termination), else I’ll be at the losing end. She took 8 sessions just to gain my trust, but when she had – she had it.

    I also liked it when you said that therapists grieve over terminations too (probably just not as much as some clients do). My therapist asked me, “Do you think that I won’t be affected by you leaving…after having you with me for so long?” That struck me – therapists aren’t without emotions. What struck me more, was that I am worth being “missed”.

    I’m a psychology student myself, but I’ve heard many of my comrades almost accusing me of being so involved in a “fake” relationship. To them, a therapeutic relationship is “made up” just to suit the client, and is not generalizable.

    • 5.1

      There’s a quote from the poet Tennyson, which has been co-opted by many songwriters over the years: ‘It’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all’. I guess the same could be said of entering the therapeutic relationship, if you hold the belief — as I do — that there is something to be learned from every experience and every relationship that we have. I think grief is part of the price we pay for the experience of a deep emotional connection with someone, whether that be a therapist, a lover, a friend — or a pet, for that matter. The ending will always come one way or another, and by attempting — albeit understandably — to protect ourselves from the pain of the ending by not delving deep in the first place, we also deny ourselves the learning that can come from exploring those depths.

  6. avatar image
    Jasmine
    6

    My problem at that time was that I have never really had a satisfying friendship, let alone relationship. Never had someone whom I could spill my heart to. Hence, I wasn’t sure if there will be one after therapy, and I was afraid that that’s the end.

  7. avatar image
    Aisha Gordon
    7

    hi Libby,
    this information is great as endings keep coming up for me in my training as a counsellor. I am struggling to find theoretic references for this experience. do you have any suggestions? :)

  8. avatar image
    Jane
    8

    Nothing new in this article. Assumes all clients are the same. And paints a picture-perfect ending that has nothing to do with real people. “Expressing your feelings about the client” may be patronising or counter-productive.

    Aggghhh!!!!

  9. avatar image
    David Willis
    9

    Hi
    I am in the throws of coming up to the end of my therapy; in fact it is at the end of November. I have been with my High intensity CBT therapist for 3 years; I know being with a CBT therapist for that amount of time is unusual, but my issues were long and slightly complicated. Basically, she has helped me above and beyond the call of duty. There have been number of (lets say) false ends to my therapy were I went down hill fast when she left; but this is it, I’m finally going to lose the one person that helped me; I want it to end, but I don’t know what I’m going to do without her there. It has brought up that I do have attachment issues, but I feel abandoned and alone; however, I know in the back of my mind that it is for the best and deep down I want an ending, full of smiles and no doubt, a few tears.

    This probably wont get replied to, but it’s nice to type.

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