The Power/Strength of Termination

Contributed by Kevin Libster, LPCC

I love hellos, but I hate goodbyes.    These are the emotions many individuals experience, even those who enter the counseling relationship.  Many who enter counseling reluctantly or with ambivalence find themselves nervous about ending the service, which is called termination.  Termination is the final stage of the counseling process, but is just as important as the initial phase of counseling. Planning for successful termination should be the goal when entering counseling. Saying goodbye and ending things are difficult, but there are several benefits and positive outcomes from termination.

Termination not only provides an end to counseling, but also lays the groundwork for future success. Termination is utilized as a way for Counselors and clients to process the accomplishments made in therapy.  Together, they can highlight the positive changes and growth made since the start of services.  In addition, terminations are used to build confidence in clients.  The last session provides clients the opportunity to openly express their concerns in the future without supportive counseling services.  Providing an outlet to communicate fears and building this confidence is an important part of therapy and termination.  Furthermore, terminations are used to help clients plan for their long-term future.  It allows clients and clinicians to work through possible future roadblocks and/or prepare for relapse of symptoms.  This is called aftercare planning, which is an essential part of termination.  

Once a client has terminated services, it does not mean it has to be permanent.  Oftentimes, clients will return to counseling, and in some cases, to their previous clinician.  Clients returning to counseling can be seen as a stength, as people can learn to recognize when they need assistance and have the confidence to do so another time.  It allows for an opportunity to work on other issues which may arise.  While it may seem difficult at times, termination allows for the counseling relationship to end on a positive note, empowering the client and giving them a sense of accomplishment.