Closing with clients can be a lovely, magical process in which you survey the value given and got in the process and send them from the nest to navigate on their own, or the opposite; no ‘closure’, no opportunity to send them off with tools and encouragement, more of an “it’s not you, it’s me” kind of feeling.
So who is ‘termination’ (such a hard word for what should be a delicate process) or ‘closing’ (still not the best word, but more better) really for? Some therapists emphasize that the closing process is for the client; to help them with transition, prepare them for change, make sure they are up-to-date on their skill set and using their ‘tool box’. Therapists may give referrals to make sure they have options if things get hard, or if it’s time for change – maybe the client has gotten all they can from this particular therapist and needs a new approach.
But I think it is important to know, own, acknowledge, hold, and remember that closing can be just as much for you, I, we, the therapist, counselor, professional as it is for the person who came to us for our skills and training and experience. Each client gifts us with his or her experience. They trust us to help hold the pain, sorrow, disappointment, joy, fear, and hope. As we travel on the journey with them, we also need to remember to pause and give the end of the relationship the respect it deserves. Even if and when the client chooses not to, when they cancel the last several sessions, leaving you high and dry to mourn the relationship on your own (that sounds so dramatic!), that very act of avoidance merits a moment of silence.
It’s hard to make the decision to go to therapy, to bare your soul to a complete stranger, to learn not to sit in judgment of yourself and others, if just only for an hour a week. I am grateful to all of my clients for their trust and the lessons that I have been privileged to learn from each of them, as either ‘good’ closers or avoiders.