Plenty of relationships simply drop off the edge of the earth—romantic, friendships, professional, etc.
Sometimes, it happens because we purposefully end the relationship. Other times, relationships fizzle out gradually. This is just the nature of having emotional connections.
A relationship with a therapist, however, is one that needs and deserves a proper goodbye. Especially, when it’s your child’s therapist.
This isn’t because therapists are more special or deserving than other individuals. Rather, it has to do with the overall dynamics of the relationship and how those dynamics can impact the rest of your child’s life.
So, why is properly terminating a counseling relationship is so important?
“Dropping Out” Creates Negative Ripples
When your child appears to have met all the benchmarks you hoped for, it can be tempting to simply “drop out” of therapy. This approach is fairly common when it comes to extracurricular activities, etc. Yet, therapy is more emotionally involved than your typical chess club or gymnastics class.
In their counseling sessions, your child has intimately opened up their emotions to their therapist. Not only does this connect the two of them in a special way, but it has also established a viable bond between them.
Quitting cold turkey would likely cause more harm than it simply being an easy out. Instead of slipping away quietly, your child might question (in their mind or aloud) why therapy stopped. It also might tear a hole in their fabric of trust to suddenly lose someone they relied on so heavily.
How to Properly Terminate a Counseling Relationship
Forgoing the “dropping out” approach to terminating your child’s therapy, here are a few simple ways to get the job done while safeguarding your child’s tender emotions in the meantime.
Give Your Therapist the Heads Up
Firstly, it’s vital to have a candid discussion with your child’s therapist. Mention that termination has been on your mind because of how well your child has been doing.
Although you likely pay the bill and serve as the chauffeur to and from therapy sessions, make sure you pay respect to the relationship between your child and their therapist. Meaning, it’s best the therapist also feels that termination is in your child’s best interest.
Give Your Child the Heads Up
Along with clueing in your therapist, remember to have a similar discussion with your child. A suggestion to end therapy may evoke a different response than you imagined. Try to give them ample space to process this possible change.
And as mentioned, it’s important to honor the child/therapist relationship by not attempting to take total control of it.
Allow Your Child Time to Say Goodbye
To set things straight, a few extra minutes at the end of a counseling session don’t exactly qualify as a proper goodbye. Leave that kind of goodbye for this school year’s P.E. teacher, not your child’s therapist.
Instead, consider strategizing a phase-out period. During this period, the therapist will review all the challenges, techniques, and progress experienced in the sessions. This will help to solidify all the positive momentum your child has embraced throughout therapy.
Honor the Therapeutic Impact
Lastly, keep in mind that therapy isn’t simply one and done. Your child’s impression of therapy is something that they will take with them as they grow older. Moreover, a proper goodbye makes it easier for them to reach back out if they need services later on in life.
Closure is often joked about as something random or unnecessary. While we can’t always capture relational closure in every situation, your child undeniably can as they terminate the relationship with their therapist—assuming you give them space.
For more ways to enrich your child’s emotional horizon and support them as they grow, please contact our office today. We would like to support you as you become the parent you desire to be.