My Therapist has had to end our work very abruptly

Waterbear

Confident
My therapist of five years has recently ended therapy with me very suddenly. We were working away quite nicely, just starting to really 'get to' the real trauma work when she had a bereavement. She took a month off and then before our scheduled session said that she had re-evaluated her working life and was planning to wind down her private practice by December. I took this really badly, but did kind of get used to the idea before our next session, which seemed to go ok. I was now focussed and ready to dive into the work that we have spent the last few years preparing for.

Then, in the middle of the next session, she just said that she had just realised in the last half hour that she shouldn't be working. That she needed to stop and that it was unlikely that she would ever start back up again.

Boom.

I have been left totally alone with this Teenage One, and with all of the thoughts and feelings surrounding the trauma that we were unearthing and I just don't know what to do with any of it. I have been trying to find someone new to work with but I am not having a great deal of success. It's just so hard to find the right person to work with me. I am just trying to get by the best I can.

She offered no 'good-bye' session, no planning for the future, no referral, no nothing. She still has some of my belongings (a book, some art that I created and some papers that we wrote on) and I haven't even heard back from her about getting these back. I loved my therapist and I truly believe that if she were in her right mind and able, she would not have done this this way, but something must have really, really clouded her judgement - at least I hope that is the case, otherwise this will really be a terrible lasting memory for me. She has always been so sensible, so safe, so reliable.

We had been doing a form of reparative/reparenting therapy, which, before anyone comments, has worked wonders for me. So many positive changes in my life and I have even learnt how to be the good enough mother to my own Little One, but we were deep in the middle of working with my older child part, the Teenage One, and this bombshell is hitting me so hard. I feel so totally lost and confused. Alone and hurting. This was 5 weeks ago now and I am still really, really struggling. I am functioning. For sure. Day to day, I am working and cooking and eating and exercising but emotionally I am dying inside and it doesn't feel like anyone will ever understand except her, and she isn't here anymore.

I don't know what I am looking for here, maybe just understanding and a place to talk about how this has left me feeling and what my actions going forwards are. I hate not being in control, so maybe this could be a good lesson for me in a very twisted way but here is literally nothing I can do with regards to her, it is totally out of my hands.

Thanks for listening.
 

joeylittle

Administrator
My therapist of five years has recently ended therapy with me very suddenly. We were working away quite nicely, just starting to really 'get to' the real trauma work when she had a bereavement. She took a month off and then before our scheduled session said that she had re-evaluated her working life and was planning to wind down her private practice by December. I took this really badly, but did kind of get used to the idea before our next session, which seemed to go ok. I was now focussed and ready to dive into the work that we have spent the last few years preparing for.

Then, in the middle of the next session, she just said that she had just realised in the last half hour that she shouldn't be working. That she needed to stop and that it was unlikely that she would ever start back up again....She offered no 'good-bye' session, no planning for the future, no referral, no nothing.
After five years - and assuming she's licensed to practice individual therapy, meaning, she knows the rules - sounds out of character for her (at best), but perhaps more importantly: she's not allowed to do that.

"That" being, specifically - not offer any referrals. It's unethical for her to also not offer a closing session, but I think her not offering referrals is a pretty solid requirement.

I don't know what I am looking for here, maybe just understanding and a place to talk about how this has left me feeling and what my actions going forwards are.
I'm really sorry this is happening to you, I honestly don't know how you'd not feel shocked and hurt. Those feelings are real.

I think the most tangible thing you can continue to follow through with is in getting your things back, but also - getting referrals. Because she knows you and what kind of framework has been successful for you in therapy, she should have some idea of colleagues that she thinks could be a good fit. And if not - because it's possible those colleagues aren't in your vicinity - she should be able to plug you into some kind of place to start, as far as interviewing new therapists goes.

My advice would be to pursue those things.

Because it also sounds like she's been struggling, and she disclosed her decision to you in an inappropriate manner - she's probably not handling this transition very well with anyone. Reaching out to her and using some degree of kindness or empathy would probably go a long way towards getting a faster response.

I'm not saying, don't feel your feelings - those feelings are very real. But if you can compartmentalize them for future work with your next therapist, you'll probably be better off. The therapist that just quit on you isn't likely to be capable of working through those feelings with you; but, they should be able to give you some ideas for how to find the help you still want/need.
 

Survivor3

MyPTSD Pro
It sounds like your coping quite well but I understand what a shock to the system that would be. It's not easy is it. My advice.is take your time and find another therapist. Have faith that this could be something really good. I can't speak.for your therapist but it really sounds like she couldn't personally work anymore. That's not your fault. The next one might be better.
 

Waterbear

Confident
After five years - and assuming she's licensed to practice individual therapy, meaning, she knows the rules - sounds out of character for her (at best), but perhaps more importantly: she's not allowed to do that.

"That" being, specifically - not offer any referrals. It's unethical for her to also not offer a closing session, but I think her not offering referrals is a pretty solid requirement.


I'm really sorry this is happening to you, I honestly don't know how you'd not feel shocked and hurt. Those feelings are real.

I think the most tangible thing you can continue to follow through with is in getting your things back, but also - getting referrals. Because she knows you and what kind of framework has been successful for you in therapy, she should have some idea of colleagues that she thinks could be a good fit. And if not - because it's possible those colleagues aren't in your vicinity - she should be able to plug you into some kind of place to start, as far as interviewing new therapists goes.

My advice would be to pursue those things.

Because it also sounds like she's been struggling, and she disclosed her decision to you in an inappropriate manner - she's probably not handling this transition very well with anyone. Reaching out to her and using some degree of kindness or empathy would probably go a long way towards getting a faster response.

I'm not saying, don't feel your feelings - those feelings are very real. But if you can compartmentalize them for future work with your next therapist, you'll probably be better off. The therapist that just quit on you isn't likely to be capable of working through those feelings with you; but, they should be able to give you some ideas for how to find the help you still want/need.
Thank you. I will be pursuing getting my things back, and I trust that when she can, she will. I am fortunate that I have an old therapist who I worked with right at the beginning, who really gets me, who is helping me to find someone else, I just have to be patient as the one she has in mind is not quite ready to take on a new client yet. I am disappointed in her. I feel let down by her in a big way but I can also totally see how much she must be hurting and how, as a human being, she just did/is doing the best she can. I too felt like she disclosed her decision in an appropriate manner but, like with a lot of things, there never is a good way to break news like that. Beginning of session, end of session, mid session, email, phonecall. None of those are appropriate. The situation isn't appropriate, that's the problem, but it is what it is and I do believe that if she knew a better way, could see a better way and could facilitate a better way, she would.

But like you say, doesn't make it any easier. The feelings are still there.

She is now on an 'extended and indefinite break' and I can do little but sit and wait, every couple weeks sending a short "I'm still here" text.

It sounds like your coping quite well but I understand what a shock to the system that would be. It's not easy is it. My advice.is take your time and find another therapist. Have faith that this could be something really good. I can't speak.for your therapist but it really sounds like she couldn't personally work anymore. That's not your fault. The next one might be better.
Thank you. Yes, I felt that she really had reached a personal limit with what she could safely do. In that session she was missing the mark. She was disclosing personal details (something she hardly ever does). She was pushing away parts of me that needed to be brought close. Not intentionally, I must add. I think she simply couldn't do it safely any more. I am trying to see that this could be a positive thing, but I am in pieces emotionally. I am a high functioning person, so will always appear to be coping quite well, despite what is going on inside. That is something that I have always done. I am trying to find a different way here. I AM REALLY, REALLY HURTING and I don't know what to do.
 

Survivor3

MyPTSD Pro
I understand that your hurting. I would be aswell. Im sorry. I hope that you find another therapist soon. At least your old therapist is helping you find a new one. In the meantime is there a "samaritans" phone number you can call if you need to talk? Im guessing your in the US?
 

Waterbear

Confident
I understand that your hurting. I would be aswell. Im sorry. I hope that you find another therapist soon. At least your old therapist is helping you find a new one. In the meantime is there a "samaritans" phone number you can call if you need to talk? Im guessing your in the US?
Thank you for understanding, it means a lot. I really hope so too. I really need that right now. I really need to start to build a trusting relationship so that I can process everything that has been dumped on me. I have been using the Shout text service during the very very dark times, as I don't talk easily at all, and am in the UK. Thank you for seeing me.
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
That is so hard. I'm sorry that has happened.
It sounds like you are holding up and able to see that this was something in her life that she can't cope with bow, rather than you. But, you are now left with all this. That abrupt end is so challenging.

Might not help, but it sounds to me how you are coping shows your inner strength and resilience. And that, given how you were able to attach and trust this T, you can do that with a new T.

Have you tried looking on bacp.co.uk and psychology today (UK) for a new T?
 

Waterbear

Confident
That is so hard. I'm sorry that has happened.
It sounds like you are holding up and able to see that this was something in her life that she can't cope with bow, rather than you. But, you are now left with all this. That abrupt end is so challenging.

Might not help, but it sounds to me how you are coping shows your inner strength and resilience. And that, given how you were able to attach and trust this T, you can do that with a new T.

Have you tried looking on bacp.co.uk and psychology today (UK) for a new T?
Thank you. It is also testament to the work that we have done together, building trust, working on my attachment 'issues', developing a healthy internal parent who can comfort my younger part.

Interesting you should talk about my inner strength, because that is something I have always had, maybe too much so. Life taught me to be resilient for sure, but a big part of our work has actually been about not being so strong all the time. About accepting I am human, and that I will struggle and that it's ok to struggle. It's ok to feel.

I have tried those, ys, thank you for the pointers though. I have contacted over thirty therapists. Most don't have availability or the facility or experience to work creatively, and only offer talk therapy (for someone who still can go entire sessions without talking this isn't ideal!)

I have been to see five in person who seemed to fit, but out of those only one who I feel may be someone I could work with, problem is her space. In it I feel cramped and trapped. It is very small. It seems ok for surface work but I'm not sure I could do the trauma work in there.

I am hoping my old therapist will have found a suitable person and that it isn't too long before she can see me.
 

Friday

Moderator
she had a bereavement. She took a month off and then before our scheduled session said that she had re-evaluated her working life and was planning to wind down her private practice by December
Then, in the middle of the next session, she just said that she had just realised in the last half hour that she shouldn't be working. That she needed to stop and that it was unlikely that she would ever start back up again.


First off? WELL done for the human-moment of realizing that this is all about her; she’s having a crisis, and is unfit to care for patients, so has taken the next-best option of simply stopping. Still an ethical breach, but not as big a one as trying to continue on in an unfit state, risking the lives and well being of people in her care.
She offered no 'good-bye' session, no planning for the future, no referral, no nothing. She still has some of my belongings (a book, some art that I created and some papers that we wrote on) and I haven't even heard back from her about getting these back.
Clearly, if she’s unfit, a goodbye session is out of the question… but reaching out for your belongings and referrals was a very good thing to do; and may well be worth reaching out, again. Either immediately, for any hope of a referral…or in the next 3-6 or 12-18mo since you don’t know if she even has access to phone/email at the present, to see about your belongings. (Like if she’s inpatient somewhere for the next 90 days, or has left all of her work-stuff with an attorney to handle the day to day aspect of going on a prolonged medical leave.)

Aside from a referral & your belongings? It might be worth it to do a goodbye-session with yourself. A synthesis letter, or scrapbook/journal/collection, artwork, or series of recordings… whatever medium (or mixed media) you life best… of the past 5 years; what you’ve learned, how far you come, the goals you still have, mileposts, positive changes, struggles, etc. Just to help process / get some firm ground under your own feet / clarify things for you… as you regroup & prepare to move on.

I am a high functioning person, so will always appear to be coping quite well, despite what is going on inside. That is something that I have always done. I am trying to find a different way here. I AM REALLY, REALLY HURTING and I don't know what to do.
I feel ya.

Because I have ADHD, & have spent most of my life moving, I’m past master at finding amazing ADHD therapists… it’s not like I’m new at the process… but finding a good (much less great) Trauma Therapist? Is a whole ‘nother thing. And it can be a really brutal & exhausting process, unless you just get lucky. One of my 2 favourite trauma therapists I had to drive 5 hours across state limits, in order to find… after interviewing dozens and dozens of therapists in increasingly wider areas. My other fave? Who I “currently” see? (Not since Covid started, so it’s been over a year, now). Was the first bloke I met with. Just got lucky with him. But the other bloke took me so long to find, I had to search in batches, just because I didn’t have it in me.

One thing you MIGHT consider? Is looking into attending a specialized Trauma Treatment program, whilst you’re between therapists. Especially with COVID going on, it’s never been easier to take leave from work for 2-6 weeks, without anyone blinking an eye, because they assume it’s COVID-related…

((rather than tell me! Tell me!tell me! Yes-know-it’s-illegal-to-ask-much-less-demand-to-know-private-medical-BUT-ITS-ME-tell-me-tell-me-fell-me!!! Pr just as bad, in another direction, have to fight to get the time off from people who get all uppity about how you must not “really” care about your job, etc., and be suffering the stigma & totally illegal consequences of people with their knickers in a twist))

…Doing a specialized unit? Might both serve both as a bit of a palette cleanser, as well as bridging the gap between working with someone you have years of history/trust with, and someone who you’re brand new to working with.
 

Waterbear

Confident
First off? WELL done for the human-moment of realizing that this is all about her; she’s having a crisis, and is unfit to care for patients, so has taken the next-best option of simply stopping. Still an ethical breach, but not as big a one as trying to continue on in an unfit state, risking the lives and well being of people in her care.

Clearly, if she’s unfit, a goodbye session is out of the question… but reaching out for your belongings and referrals was a very good thing to do; and may well be worth reaching out, again. Either immediately, for any hope of a referral…or in the next 3-6 or 12-18mo since you don’t know if she even has access to phone/email at the present, to see about your belongings. (Like if she’s inpatient somewhere for the next 90 days, or has left all of her work-stuff with an attorney to handle the day to day aspect of going on a prolonged medical leave.)

Aside from a referral & your belongings? It might be worth it to do a goodbye-session with yourself. A synthesis letter, or scrapbook/journal/collection, artwork, or series of recordings… whatever medium (or mixed media) you life best… of the past 5 years; what you’ve learned, how far you come, the goals you still have, mileposts, positive changes, struggles, etc. Just to help process / get some firm ground under your own feet / clarify things for you… as you regroup & prepare to move on.


I feel ya.

Because I have ADHD, & have spent most of my life moving, I’m past master at finding amazing ADHD therapists… it’s not like I’m new at the process… but finding a good (much less great) Trauma Therapist? Is a whole ‘nother thing. And it can be a really brutal & exhausting process, unless you just get lucky. One of my 2 favourite trauma therapists I had to drive 5 hours across state limits, in order to find… after interviewing dozens and dozens of therapists in increasingly wider areas. My other fave? Who I “currently” see? (Not since Covid started, so it’s been over a year, now). Was the first bloke I met with. Just got lucky with him. But the other bloke took me so long to find, I had to search in batches, just because I didn’t have it in me.

One thing you MIGHT consider? Is looking into attending a specialized Trauma Treatment program, whilst you’re between therapists. Especially with COVID going on, it’s never been easier to take leave from work for 2-6 weeks, without anyone blinking an eye, because they assume it’s COVID-related…

((rather than tell me! Tell me!tell me! Yes-know-it’s-illegal-to-ask-much-less-demand-to-know-private-medical-BUT-ITS-ME-tell-me-tell-me-fell-me!!! Pr just as bad, in another direction, have to fight to get the time off from people who get all uppity about how you must not “really” care about your job, etc., and be suffering the stigma & totally illegal consequences of people with their knickers in a twist))

…Doing a specialized unit? Might both serve both as a bit of a palette cleanser, as well as bridging the gap between working with someone you have years of history/trust with, and someone who you’re brand new to working with.
Thank you. I absolutely love the idea of having a goodbye session for myself. I do think I have been holding on to the small glimmer of hope/wish that she may return to work. I practically begged her to do this when we ended. I sent email after email after email asking her to reconsider.

But as the weeks have gone on I am starting to see that I will likely (see, still can't quite say for sure!) have to continue with someone else. I am coming round to the idea that I will have to move on, and that the best I may get in the future is a closure session.

It's the unknown that is so hard. What is going on? What are her plans? (She likely doesn't have a plan to be honest though) Who will I end up with?

So maybe in the next couple of weeks a closure session for me with me, would be good. Creating a canvas or art journal piece sounds like a plan, thank you.

I totally hear you, it is too much. I can't handle too much of the search for a therapist. I did this last time too, saw lots in one go, before taking a break after a while when none seemed right. Then after a couple of months I looked again and found this one on my doorstep, so I am trying to keep that in mind. I am hoping I will just know when I found the right one.

That's a good thought too about a programme? Not sure if we do anything like that in the UK though? Maybe a group though, but I'm not sure I'm ready to do anything like that, or even think about all of that near anyone else. Definitely worth mulling over though, thank you.

It's just so damn hard. Hurting, being angry, being confused and yet still trying to be understanding to her humaness and still having feelings of warmth and affection. Feelings are relatively new to me, as is reaching out to other people, so just trying to find my way though all of this in a positive way.

Thank you again
 
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