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Therapy: Does It Ever End?

When it comes to therapy, when is it enough?

What Is a Good Therapist?

A good therapist should listen to those messages, too, says Rosenthal, who asks his own questions when a patient says he wants to leave: Is this a sign of healthy independence? Has the person sorted out the major issues that brought him to me?

"Good therapists are results oriented," says Rosenthal. "Therapy has to be more than just hand holding."

Ending the relationship doesn't have to be abrupt, says Rosenthal. If you've been going once a week, taper off to every other week, then perhaps to once a month. You and your therapist can agree on the length of time this transition period should last.

"I don't make a big deal out of termination," says Rosenthal. "Patients come in, they deal with their issues, and then they move on. If other issues arise sometime later on, they can always come back then."

What if you think you need more therapy but this therapy, or therapist, just isn't cutting it anymore? That happens too, Tuzman tells WebMD. "If you're not making the changes you were hoping to make, you might need to see someone else." That doesn't mean you should leave in a huff though. If something's bothering you about your therapist, tell him.

"Therapists are people, too," Tuzman says. "Something could be going on in your therapist's life that affects the way he's dealing with you. Talk about your feelings and get his feedback.

"Look at all the possibilities, however. Are you really angry with him, or are you resisting looking at something that makes you uncomfortable?"

Even if you do feel you're ready to try your hand out there in the real world without the safety net of a therapist, don't be surprised if ending therapy comes along with a host of conflicting emotions.

"When therapy is complete, you realize you're an adult," says Tuzman. "You begin to trust yourself."

But just as you feel pride that you're ready to meet life's challenges on your own, you may also grieve the loss of the bond you've created with your therapist, says Napoli. "It's a unique relationship," he says. "You've bared your soul to this person, without his judging you."

"Leaving your therapist is a bittersweet experience," Napoli continues. "You're moving on but you're losing a relationship that has meant a lot to you."

Ending therapy should mean a success story though, says Rosenthal. "It's a chance for you to say, 'I think I can move on right now.' Getting out into the world and feeling good about it is what therapy is about."


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