THE LAST SESSION
Updated: Jul 14, 2022
It is not easy to set yourself apart in the virtual world, so I am going to do my best by showcasing my skills in a series of blog posts. This introductory series covers various topics related to initiating counselling and psychotherapy.
This post is the last in the series and focuses on what to expect from your last psychotherapy session.
The last session is only part of the termination stage in the psychotherapy process. Preparation for this stage should begin during the introductory stage.
The therapeutic relationship between the client and psychotherapist is a relationship of authenticity, trust, and respect. It is necessary for psychotherapy to be effective.
To this end, it is only respectful that the psychotherapist informs the client that their time together will be time-limited.
What I love most about psychotherapy is empowering clients until they no longer need my services. As the sessions progress, the psychotherapist will assess your readiness for concluding your sessions.
The beauty of a psychotherapy relationship is that you experience a full relationship cycle, from beginning to end. It helps us learn that the end of a relationship is not always negative.
Additionally, we don’t always want to analyze every event or situation. It is a good thing that psychotherapy ends because you eventually want to get back to just enjoying life.
The termination process begins during the introductory period when your psychotherapist informs you that your time together will be limited. Preparing clients for the eventual end of the relationship is the first part of the termination process.
I like to explain to clients that my goal as a psychotherapist is to teach them to be their own counsellors. When I’ve accomplished my goal, they will no longer need my services.
Reasons for ending psychotherapy can vary. Hopefully, you have successfully resolved your issue and no longer feel the need for your sessions.
Often it is because your insurance provider will only cover a limited number of sessions. Whatever the reason for ending psychotherapy, hopefully, there is at least time to make a plan to support you after discharge.
The Discharge Plan should include the following:
- Self-care behaviours to maintain your mental health
- Individuals in your life you can turn to for support
- Social groups to join
- Signs of when you need help
Crisis Plan with numbers stored for easy access
- Professionals you can contact
- Crisis Lines
- Online Resources
- Local Resources
- Further Reading
Often your psychotherapist will make it clear that you are always welcome to return or else recommend where to find a new psychotherapist if they are not available.
The Last Session
I don’t mean your last psychotherapy session EVER but the last session in this batch of sessions, with this psychotherapist, about this topic. You may come back later when you are in crisis, or after you experienced a significant event and are concerned about a crisis.
This last session will often include a review of the discharge plan. Your psychotherapist may ask you how you feel about your last session and what you plan next.
This appointment may be more relaxed and conversational than previous sessions. It may even end a bit early. If you are having strong emotions about your final session, discussing this with your counsellor is important.
Initially, being without a counsellor may feel weird, like you’ve just taken off the training wheels and think you might fall. But I think you will surprise yourself with how much better you will handle situations from this point on.
I would love for everyone to have an annual mental health check-in along with their physicals and various scopes. It seems only logical to have a professional sit down, talk with you, see how you are managing mentally and provide some insights and tools to carry you through the next year.
As we age, our lives grow more complex. We marry, or we don’t, have kids, or not. Sometimes things go to plan but fail, or they never take off.
Not all of us learned how to process our problems.
Not all of us have someone to help us process – even though we all need a sounding board.
Our family and friends are regularly overwhelmed with their own lives. Even if you asked for help and they wanted to help, most couldn’t without projecting some of their desires on you.
I believe having a dedicated mental health professional check in on you is the minimum we need to survive these inane times.