As the summer begins to say goodbye, I am reminded of all the goodbyes we have to say in life. Some very painful, some emotional and some, very healthy and beneficial. Saying goodbye to people is never easy. I don’t mean this in terms of grieving the death of someone you love. I am talking about the goodbyes we say when life changes and we move on either physically, emotionally, or both. Good goodbyes and endings are so important.
Many clients ask me about how we know when therapy ends? Do I ring a bell or pull out a parchment scroll and make an announcement? No, it usually ends when it comes to what is called a natural conclusion. When the client and the therapist feel that the work the client came to do has been done and the client can go out into their lives and put into practice all that was learned and revealed for them, to enrich and expand their relationships both with others, and with themselves.
This is a process, not a one-time event and a good ending is as much a part of rewarding therapy as a good beginning. Usually, it takes place over several sessions, depending on how long the therapeutic relationship was in place. It allows time and space to reflect on all that was achieved, or not, to recognise and honour the client’s effort and determination in showing up every week to do the work. Goodbyes can be difficult and filled with emotion, but good goodbyes leave a sense of completion for both client and therapist.