Ending therapy – and how to do it in the least painful way possible!

joeylittle

Administrator
Is it an option to tell her that you'd like to take a three month break, and then resume?

Seems like a plan like that would give you a chance to see what it's like to not have the relationship. You're afraid it will be painful to end things permanently, which says to me that you'd have some regret about doing that...an extended break would give you space to learn whether or not you want to resume w/her, or make it permanent;.
 

barefoot

Sponsor
First I want to say there is no easy way of leaving any relationship after 7 years without pain.
Yeah....I think that's the conclusion I'm reaching...

you may have a pattern of making a huge fist so you do not feel so bad when you are dumping someone.

Not so much this. More that I tend to just slide out of relationships. I think I said something about this early on in the thread. That I suppose I don't have much experience of conscious endings...I drift away from people, slide out of their lives...or people have left my life very suddenly and unexpectedly, with no chance to tie up any loose ends or say goodbye (eg my mum dying, and the way a few close friends have died over the past few years)

So, it's not really that I'm used to toughening up and dumping people. More that I probably avoid the ending. So, now, with therapy, confronting the ending (whether that's going to happen now, soon-isn or sometime way off in the future) is anxiety-making and painful. And, I guess, a bit alien?

I do not know for sure but it felt like you were looking for a way to end therapy without pain and now you started to nitpick the therapist - so you can leave feel good about it, but will crash with shame, guilt, and yearning cause you created drama just so you could break it off and not feel anything momentarily.

Yes, this is possible....gathering evidence for why I should end...
I would ask you to see in your own writing what is the "soothing" like functions you are asking your therapist?

Not sure exactly what you mean.

I want her to:

- be fully present
- care
- listen attentively
- be consistent
- offer a safe space so that I can talk about things I can't talk to anyone else about
- point things out about me that need to be pointed out – make these observations kindly so they don't feel like judgements or criticisms
- eta - calm, grounded presence

Are these the sorts of things you mean? if not, would you mind explaining again, please?

I've mentioned earlier in the thread: not only am I worried about 'losing'/missing her, specifically, I'm not feeling great about the idea of losing the one person/place where I can talk about things I never talk to other people about. It's not that I want to start talking about old historical trauma or going into detail about every odd trigger with my partner or a friend...I don't want to do that. But ending therapy, seems to mean ending having an opportunity to talk about that stuff. Which means going back to keeping quiet about it all over again. And that doesn't feel....very healthy? Or feels like a backward step? Or something?!
 
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grit

MyPTSD Pro
Hi @barefoot
I am really sorry you are going through this. The bright spot is you care about your therapist and that you are truly trying to understand what is happening.

I admire that in you and I am glad to explain what I was getting at below.

First I know this is Ptsd site and of course this means we all have sort of traumas that need therapy for a time or forever. So keeping that in mind what I meant the functions you need from the therapist might be what you wrote here:

- be fully present
- care
- listen attentively
- be consistent
- offer a safe space so that I can talk about things I can't talk to anyone else about
- point things out about me that need to be pointed out – make these observations kindly so they don't feel like judgements or criticisms
- eta - calm, grounded presence


You want her to be fully present (asking anyone else to be fully present) is really us wanting to be fully present. If we are present, others being present or not is not much of stretch. So one area the therapist is helping you that you have not fully mastered is "being present".

Care - seems to be obvious.

Listen attentively/be consistent - IMHO you have these functions from reading what you have but maybe you are not conscious of it all the time so you may still projecting these to her.

Offering a safe space so you can talk about things is a good therapy need - but at some point two other things may come priority - time and money. The healthier we get the less we need this from others because it is created - we cultivate those in our lives who give us safety without asking as we also do for them and we start to PLAY! or CREATE!

Pointing things out is having the ability (this is my opinion) to experience subjectively, be present while experiencing, creating memory while experiencing, and observing all these at once (opposite of unconscious and dissociation and trauma). If you ever had a moment in nature where you fell into awe or bliss - then you know the feeling.
I too asked my therapist many times to tell me back what I said unconsciously. I see you may need this still and that is valid so maybe you are not ready to leave therapy yet but you could focus on these areas or talk about them to understand until they become internalized parts of you.

Calm and grounding again - a thing for therapist to help us but it means only until we do not project and we internalize this enough to do it ourselves.

BTW, I am not a mother and sorry I do not remember if you are - but a mother or a parent teaches some of this to the child so deeply that a healthy child/adult client may have them and unable to explain how they know! some of us we learn this as adult in life or in therapy to be able to articulate or ask for it until we learn.

Hope this makes sense barefoot and thank you so much for making me explain further cause honestly I am also learning all this as I am bout to leave therapy too soon.

ps I want to add a bit more. Because therapists are not god and human like us and also hard to know where they are in their own journeysthere are points in therapy where the therapist wound and the client wound can get stuck. So I do not want to imply that you are deficient or anything but that you want these things from the therapist but if you are still struggling after 7yrs then perhaps I would wonder too if the therapist is struggling some of these area herself and it is frustrating when you are growing faster than the teacher. so only you would know that since you are in this relationship. Did not want to sound like freaking clairvoyant!
 
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barefoot

Sponsor
Is it an option to tell her that you'd like to take a three month break, and then resume?
Yes, it's an option...in that anything could be an option at this point! ;-)

an extended break would give you space to learn whether or not you want to resume w/her, or make it permanent;.

for some reason – and I think I mentioned this earlier on in the thread – I think I tend to think of ending therapy as quite a binary thing: I'm either continuing with it, or I'm fully stopping. For some reason, the thought of taking an extended break, as you suggest, feels like a strange and confusing thing to do. But I'm not sure I can really articulate why that is/exactly what I mean by that!

If I pause....and that initially feels painful....and by the time three months is up, it still feels painful, is that a sign to go back or to stay paused?! And if, after that amount of time, the pain is less raw and the loss feels more bearable...even if there are then things I wanted to work on at that point, I would probably not want to go back as it would take me back into the relationship and start the yearning to be close again, which just starts this cycle over again.

I'm aware that I'm writing a lot about wanting and trying to avoid pain and loss and grief...and I'm realising that, in reality, I probably can't. Especially now I don't really fully dissociate anymore.

I've been thinking that if, for whatever reason, our session doesn't go well this week, I am probably going to quit. Perhaps, instead, I should opt to take a break rather than make a permanent decision – might take some pressure off.

You want her to be fully present (asking anyone else to be fully present) is really us wanting to be fully present. If we are present, others being present or not is not much of stretch. So one area the therapist is helping you that you have not fully mastered is "being present".
Oh, I see....you mean, the things I want from her are the things I need to work on for myself? Hmm....I haven't heard that before...

Just to be clear then – now I know what you were asking and why – the list of things I wrote is my list of things that I would look for in any therapist....and by putting them on the list, I'm not meaning that my T isn't providing them.

I do not want to imply that you are deficient or anything but that you want these things from the therapist but if you are still struggling after 7yrs then perhaps I would wonder too if the therapist is struggling some of these area herself

I didn't take it that you were implying I am deficient :-)

It has been on my mind when I've been thinking about all this, that my T just had to cancel all her work to take two weeks leave to deal with a family matter. I don't know what that is that's happened and I don't want to try to make stuff up when I don't know and am unlikely to find out...but the thought has struck me a few times that something may have been going on for a little while, which has caused her to be a bit distracted/preoccupied/that is causing her stress and worry and the two weeks off was the culmination of whatever was going on. But, as I say, I don't know that for sure. And, even if she has had something going on in her personal life, she does need to find a way to manage it so that it doesn't impact on her work with clients.
 

Rosebud

MyPTSD Pro
Idk if this is helpful @barefoot , and I haven't been able to read everything (my head is splitting), but I'm just going to throw a radical suggestion out here. Since you are several years in an intimate-disclosure place, since you are very introspective and self-aware and have put in much thought, since you have some empathy for your T, and believe she may care, since you've had progress and ruptures, and because you go to a T for solutions you cannot solve alone, then what about spending one session (if cost possible), to go in non-defensively, and ask her to spend that hour telling 'you' what 'she' says you prevented (bulldozed) her from not saying? Even start by saying (truthfully), something like ~'you used that word and I can't say it didn't bother me, but I am here and I want you to tell me more. Not why you used that word, but what was on your mind or your observations or conclusions that you wanted to share with me'. And then listen, but don't let her flip it back on to you for you to discuss or answer. Give her the floor, so to speak. And then go home and let your heart and head think about where you want to go from there. Seven years probably deserves one session before choosing to sever completely, and it may also give you time to digest her observations or comments, and decide if all, or part of therapy is good to be salvaged, or whether you want to leave. But truly, don't be defensive, don't focus on your feelings if defensive (you can do that later), and try to hear her. Then you will know how much she has heard you through these years. (Or even split it, 1st 45 minutes for her, 15 minutes response from you.)

Disregard if not helpful. Best wishes and good luck to you.

P.s, I heard it said, our minds think in the day, and our hearts feel at night, but they don't usually have a conversation together. That is true. It takes work, but also trust, and it's not easy at all. 🤗
 
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barefoot

Sponsor
what about spending one session (if cost possible), to go in non-defensively, and ask her to spend that hour telling 'you' what 'she' says you prevented (bulldozed) her from not saying? Even start by saying (truthfully), something like ~'you used that word and I can't say it didn't bother me, but I am here and I want you to tell me more. Not why you used that word, but what was on your mind or your observations or conclusions that you wanted to share with me'. And then listen, but don't let her flip it back on to you for you to discuss or answer. Give her the floor, so to speak.
I really like this idea! I have been wondering whether to ask what she thinks I’m avoiding, but I think what you’ve suggested is a better way to open up a discussion. Plus, this way, I do get to hear - and potentially benefit from - the therapeutic interventions she had wanted to make.

And I guess, if she has nothing to say because, actually, her saying she was trying to make interventions but my talking was stopping her was her just covering herself, this will still give me some clarity about the situation!

Really helpful, thanks - especially, thanks for reading and posting with a cracking headache!
 

Friday

Moderator
your narrative of my T being a terrible person.
I do not have an abusive therapist. Working with her is not one giant trauma re-enactment
Just to be clear / although I don’t know if it’s helpful at all? That wasn’t what I was saying, at all. But I was pissed off, which rarely leads to clear communication.
 

barefoot

Sponsor
Just to be clear / although I don’t know if it’s helpful at all? That wasn’t what I was saying, at all. But I was pissed off, which rarely leads to clear communication.
Ok. I’m confused by your other post though, as it still reads that way to me. But I take at face value that you say that’s not what you meant! (And I don’t mean for you to try to explain what you meant!)

I got what @scout86 was saying about some repeating patterns. So, if that’s the route you were going down, I think I gotcha.

Thanks for getting pissed off on my behalf, I guess 😉
 

scout86

MyPTSD Pro
It has been on my mind when I've been thinking about all this, that my T just had to cancel all her work to take two weeks leave to deal with a family matter.
Just a thought on this, based on personal experience.

First, my family dealt with conflict a little like yours. Except that my dad was pretty much ok and my mother not only wouldn't explain what was bothering her, she expected you to figure it out and more or less made you pay for it unless and until you somehow "fixed" things.

A few years ago, there was a stretch where my T moved his office, there was some discussion about whether or not I was going to make the longer drive to the new office. He was worried about "influencing my decision". Instead of SAYING that, he behaved in a very neutral and non-committal way that I took to mean "he wants me to quit". And from there you can go down the whole "rejected again, it's all my fault, I'm a totally defective human being..." road. AND, both his wife and one of his kids ended up in the hospital as 2 separate emergencies. (One serious enough to involve a helicopter ride.) HE thought he was compartmentalizing well enough that none of his clients would pick up on any issues. (Thinking back on it, that's almost funny.) I (of course?) assumed something was wrong and it was all my fault. I finally point blank asked him what I'd done, in an email. He was shocked. He'd had no idea, first that I'd picked up on anything being wrong and second that I'd assumed it was my fault. He explained, told me that I "read the energy in the room better than anyone else he knew" and things went on from there. Except that we've actually (and I think both of us) have had an easier time talking about "what's going on" since then.

Consider that you were raised in an environment where reading the energy in the room might have been important but you never had a chance to learn how to effectively handle that information. That's something that you're trying to learn now. It well might be that she IS distracted and you're accurately perceiving that but it might not have anything to do with you. Which doesn't mean it doesn't EFFECT you.

I came really close to quitting therapy before we had that conversation where things finally got sorted out. At the time, my thinking was "He's too nice to fire me, I should quit and spare him the trouble." And I was totally sure it was because in some way I was a bad client, or totally hopeless, or something like that. There was a time when quitting is exactly what I would have done. I would have gone on with my life assuming a whole bunch of additional "proof" that I'm wasting the world's limited oxygen for being here and he would have been puzzled or assumed I didn't want to make the drive. I'm glad it didn't work that way! And I'm totally sold on the idea of trying new ways to deal with old problems, even if just as an experiment.

I suspect that you don't want to quit, at least not yet, because you don't want to use old methods to deal with this problem. It's just that finding new ones is HARD. But that's ok. It's SUPPOSED to be hard. And sometimes you get it wrong too. As long as you can learn stuff along the way, I think that's ok.
 

Rosebud

MyPTSD Pro
I think @scout86 brings up a good point, that what we know, what we're used to, what we've required, what we necessarily honed, will affect our observations and more importantly conclusions. (Perception is 99% reality.) Hard to know what's what without a discussion, or at least that there is anything else beyond one's own conclusions, and necessary for both parties to dialogue. Necessary too, that there's a mutual desire to. Also probably necessary to have a presupposition of mutual general good will, and confidence that they are on your side (and you on their's, as to being fair, and realistic), and that there will be honesty, and therefore more likelihood to trust. Likely why the working relationship becomes more likely to predict progress or fracture. Discrimination, discernment, and then decision. Hard to do when taught it's not a right or worthwhile, or useless, or self-confirmatory, to speak up. Easier to shoulder blame and give up, though ultimately that is for most of us an old or familiar method (and has been a necessary one). I guess like @scout86 said, are they on your side or not? Because it's way too difficult and painful and convoluted to tackle without that basic, which is maybe the most critical point, or at least leaves potential room for healing or gaining strength.

I guess what I'm trying to say, is perhaps a goal is to tease out flaws in (our) thinking, with the goal of overcoming and healing, but also acknowledging what are not flaws in our thinking. Which can be discriminated more easily in a place of safety, dialogue and mutual kind positive regard.
 
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