Communicate to Decide When Therapy Should End
> 10/9/2007 10:31:14 AM

In an article this morning, Los Angeles Times writer Janet Cromley examined the important and often little talked about topic of ending therapy. When an individual seeks out a therapist, it is with a specific complaint in mind. The goal of the therapy then becomes to identify and correct the problem at the root of the complaint. However, to that end there are many roads to travel, and often no definitive answers about how, when, or why to bring therapeutic treatment to a conclusion.

As Cromley points out, some therapeutic strategies, like cognitive behavioral therapy, set goals and operate with a defined finish line. Other, often more traditional therapies tend to remain open ended with a focus on addressing issues as they arise and in the order of greatest need. The nature of the diagnosis can also play a large role defining the terms of the treatment. Chronic disorders, or those that go into and come out of remission, can often require long term treatment or therapy plans that include contingencies for dealing with future occurrences.

There are no hard and fast rules for how or when to best end therapy, and the only people that can help inform a particular decision are the therapist and client. By ensuring that both parties keep communication lines open that decision should be made easier. If a particular therapy isn't working, that concern needs to be brought up, and if one party thinks that it may be time to cut back on sessions or end them altogether, then that subject needs to be broached honestly. A healthy dialogue can be an important factor in ensuring that when therapy ends, it doesn't end the benefits that have been gained over the course of the treatment. And when the time comes for an end, the terms of that end need to be discussed. Often a person who has been receiving treatment may feel the need to contact the doctor at the slightest problem. In some cases that might be helpful, but in others it could lead to problems. Each situation is different, and only good communication will help decide if the time is right to end therapy.

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