Episode 80 – When Therapy Ends

Oct 10, 2019


A planned, collaborative termination is the ideal way to bring a depth-oriented therapeutic process to a close. The client may have resolved a problematic life issue and/or have achieved an abiding sense of wholeness. When both partners feel the client’s sense of completion and readiness for a new phase of life, this kind of termination can feel like a graduation, albeit with the poignancy farewells also entail. There are also less satisfying endings for both therapist and client. The fit between therapist and client may not be good enough to form a strong bond; illness, death or a geographic relocation may derail the process; interpersonal conflict may fail to be resolved; or financial difficulty may impose a premature ending. Jung compares a depth psychological process to combining chemicals in a vessel: although the goal is change in the service of individuation, both people are always affected.


“I’m a student in a classroom. I recognize one student, someone I know who, like me, has a talent for deception and manipulation, but he is malicious and I am not…I’ve put a lot of work into not letting these aspects of myself run amok. This student is clearly not interested in the class and doesn’t want to be here. I then realize this is a sort of “personality” class that we’ve been assigned because of our troubling traits. The teacher (a female I don’t recognize) is on the verge of tears as she flips through a stack of papers which I understand to be transcripts of conversations between this other student and people he’s treated badly…using their secrets against them, things like that. Another student leans over to me and whispers “she’s going through yours next” and I say “but I don’t do things like that”. The teacher looks up at me still visibly upset, about to cry. She says to me “You’re supposed to come back next week, right? Well, don’t come, I don’t have time to spend on a MAILBOX student like you” and I say to her “The way you’re feeling right now, I’ve been making people feel like that my whole life and I’m very sorry.”

Check out this episode!


  1. Maria Enes

    Hi there, I’ll be sure to listen 🙂 thanks!

  2. A

    I was an analysand of nearly 20 years – I started at age 22 in 2002, and wanted to end my analysis a year ago at age 43…

    I think your conversation was not inclusive of all experiences that analysand have. Not all analysts will meet an analysand in their need for termination.

    I knew it was time to wind down the work and end. I was beginning from lose energy and connection but I also was not simply quitting. One day I wrote to my analyst and asked for a session, and she replied that she was not available, that it seemed to her like I was only seeking occasional meetings and she did not operate that I. She told me I would need to find someone else. You talk about analysands leaving the work without working through conflict. But clearly analysts do this too. Is that not violent???

    I continued to reach to my analyst in order to find actually closure. She eventually admitted that she was angry with me and that’s why she acted this way. But when I asked about proper closure and termination, my analyst was not able to collaborate with me about how to close those 18 years. I shared with her my experience of her sharp termination and I asked to discuss a more appropriate ending. I have asked for closure. We even talked about working as supervisee/ supervisor (as I am now a therapist as well), which felt alive and meaningful.
    Sadly, my analyst could not offer closure. She simply could not talk about it. She told me she did not want me to bring up anything from our previous work together in any new work we might do. That seemed impossible for me without conscious and intentional transition. I wanted an opportunity to address all the growth and work that we had done, as well the It was a very heartbreaking termination.

    So, reality is that even analysts who have decades of experience sometimes for whatever reasons cannot collaborate on a collaborative ending with a patient.


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