end therapy

When is it time to end therapy? This can be a very complex question. People will attempt to end their therapy in order to avoid facing certain issues. At other times, it could be due to the fact their therapy is stagnant, and they are not progressing. There could also be a rupture in the therapist/client relationship that was unable to be repaired. But the healthiest and most healing reason to end therapy is because a person has achieved their therapeutic goals and feels confident enough to move forward.

I think of two young, female clients in particular who arrived in a state of high anxiety, confusion, and self-doubt. Each of these clients went through various forms of abuse in their family of origin. Furthermore, there were failures in receiving a supportive response from their caregivers to help cope with the abuse.

As these courageous, young women went on to address these issues, they gained an increasing sense of self-confidence in their capacities and perspective. After they processed their abuse, they did amazing work in completing their emotional development and constructing a full sense of self. I remember a particular session where I asked the one client what she was experiencing and she stated, “I feel more adult,” as her child self was being integrated into her adult self.

When it came towards the end of their therapy, each woman took the lead in informing me they believed it was time for them to end their therapy. It paralleled the experience of what should occur when a young person is ready to leave home and begin life beyond their family. The goal is not to stay in therapy forever or to reside with your parents eternally. Like a healthy family, my clients knew I was always going to be there as a resource for them, but they were capable of taking charge of their lives and developing a meaningful direction for themselves.

Like a parent, I experienced a blend of excitement, pride, and grief. I was excited about their future, proud of them for all they had accomplished, and sad to see them go. Therapy is a very emotionally intimate relationship. You become very close to your clients in appropriate ways, and you experience grief at the end of your time together. If I did not experience a level of grief, it would mean I did not open myself up and allow myself to be affected. Helping my client process their own grief associated with the relationship ending is an important part of their emotional maturity. We need the capacity to grieve well to live a meaningful and fulfilling life.

Therapy does not often end in such an idealistic way. However, in each of these cases, the termination of therapy was a powerful and healing experience. If you are having thoughts of ending your therapy, I encourage you to honestly and sincerely assess your motivation for doing so. It may be avoidance, or it may hold the potentially positive experience of taking charge of your life.


Boynton Beach Counseling Center
Gateway Counseling Center
1034 Gateway Blvd. #104
Boynton Beach, FL 33426
Phone: (561) 468-6464
Phone: (561) 678-0036

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