When and How to End Couples Counseling

finishing with couples counseling thornton

All things come to an end right? Endings come in many forms and can elicit a lot of different emotions. It is an inevitable part of life, but how we end something carries a lot of importance. A a couples counselor in Thornton, Colorado, I’ve found that the relationship formed in couples counseling between a client and their therapist can be a strong one and as a result should be transitioned out of with care. Creating space to process its end is important and I believe a necessary step not only for the couple but for the therapist as well. Termination should always be in the back of each persons’ mind as therapy progresses and should also be a topic that is openly discussed throughout couples counseling as goals are reached.

Ending couples counseling can come up due to many reasons. These reasons include financial changes, poor connection between client and therapist, a need for more specialized care, relocation, life circumstances changing, symptoms improving, or (the best kind in my opinion) the meeting of goals that were established. No matter why it is ending, it is important for the couple and the therapist alike to come together to discuss why couples counseling is ending. Like all relationships we encounter, communication and closure helps in the processes of moving forward.

Not only that, but by communicating about the reasons for ending therapy the therapist can help you even further.  For example, if you’re ending for financial reasons your couples counselor can help you find books, apps, articles, etc. that are less expensive but still help you make progress. They can also recommend specific ones that meet your unique needs based on the therapy you’ve been doing so far. Also, if you’re just not a good fit with the counselor, your counselor can help you find one that might be a better fit. Or take it as feedback and help tailor your couples counseling better to meet your needs. Here at our couples counseling clinic in Thornton, Colorado we’re always open to feedback and take it as an opportunity to better serve your needs as a client and future clients we serve in the Thornton, Colorado area.

Addressing the end of couples counseling in person is the best route

Though it can feel intimidating, terminating care in person has many benefits. Even in what seems like a negative situation to end care, creating the space to speak in to that gives you (the client) a voice to be heard and it gives the therapist the opportunity to learn and grow from your feedback. I think its safe to say that no one likes being ghosted. On the flip side of that, when things are ending on a positive note, it is beneficial for both parties to come together to reflect on that in order to continue down the path of growth and healing.

What Happens in a Final Couples Counseling Session?

In preparing to end therapy having what we call a termination session should always be a part of the therapeutic process (sometimes done over multiple sessions). During this time therapist and client discuss:

  • Emotions that have come up at finishing therapy

Many emotions can arise at the end of couples counseling. Usually primarily positive but negative emotions can arise as well. Just as it was important during therapy to process what we are feeling, it is just as important to address how the transition out of therapy is effecting us. This is a time to acknowledge, normalize, and work through what may need working through.

  • Assessing if goals have been fully met

Deciphering the effectiveness of therapy is another important component in terminating. We want to ensure that you and your partner leave couples counseling feeling confident in your progress and in the tools you have discovered to be successful outside of care.

  • Reflections on what has been learned

Reflecting on the work done in therapy is a great way to see ourselves in a new light. To really access the areas in which you have grown as a couple and the progress that has occurred. Looking back at where we began and where we are now should stimulate gratitude and confidence in moving forward.

  • Proactively discussing future challenges

Discontinuing therapy does not mean you have it all figured out. Obstacles will come again, old habits can re-trigger, and similar situations that brought you into therapy are bound to surface. So taking the time to acknowledge these areas helps to prepare for their occurrence as well as create a sense of “okayness” in the likely inevitable.

  • Brainstorming how the client may tackle issues in the future

Again, the inevitable “bumps in the road” are bound to happen. Working together, we can discuss ways to utilize the tools learned to enter into new issues. Role-play scenarios and brainstorm together coping strategies. Even when you may need to re-enter therapy to move through bigger challenges. It is always okay to re-ask for help or to re-address a chronic issue in your life. The best offense is a good defense as they say, let us not lose intentionality.

  • Resources (including a return to therapy if the need arises)

A constant resource after couples counseling ends is indeed your therapist! We are here to help you reach your mental health goals whether through our care or helping you via trusted referrals. Returning to therapy is not a failure, it is an acknowledgment that help is there when you need it. As you leave therapy, there are also other resources that can be provided depending on your situation. For instance, support groups or research articles/books that can further your growth/healing.

  • Feedback for the therapist and client

Open, honest dialogue during the feedback time is important. It is a chance for you as the client to help us (the therapist and clinic) to know how we can improve our care and services. It is also a time in which we get to give you feedback how you have progressed through therapy so you can get insights into strengths and challenges that may arise based on your unique treatment that has occurred.

Taking time to walk through these various areas are all a part of creating closure of an important relationship and instills continuity of the growth process beyond therapy. The tools learned during your time in therapy… the insights gained… the healing thats begun… all of these pieces come together at termination.

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