End-of-treatment planning is an ongoing process that culminates in the final sessions with a treatment review and the introduction of relapse prevention skills. It is important to ask the patient what they expect for the last session and come up with a plan that both parties are comfortable with. This could be something like writing a note, exchanging a symbolic object that reflects the patient's work, or deciding to hug or shake hands during the last session. It is essential that this exchange is planned so that the patient is not surprised.
The end of therapy can be a positive experience with a lasting impact on both the client and the therapist. When successful, termination is an opportunity for closure. The client and therapist can take a step back and look at the personal growth that has slowly developed throughout the treatment, something that may have gone unnoticed if it had not been paid attention to. Another way to end a session elegantly is to reflect and summarize.
Reflecting on the important message in the client's last statement, reconnecting it to the general topics of the session or relevant conclusions, and then translating it into a practical action, step, or question to reflect on during the week can be an effective way to summarize the entire session. However, this technique has clumsy potential as well. On one hand, you may have to interrupt the customer as they speak to reflect and summarize, which might seem as if you are telling them their last statement instead of them naturally stopping on their own. Harmony, authenticity and delicacy are key when it comes to these types of endings, which also require good communication.
An example of this could be redirecting the conversation to small talk, such as what might have taken place at the beginning of the session, or redirecting the client to tasks and messages aimed at the next session. Ethically, psychologists must discontinue treatment if they are unable to address the patient's needs, if the patient is not benefiting from treatment over time, or in cases of inappropriate multiple relationships that may affect objectivity or judgment or harm the patient. You might find that you've been ending sessions in a certain way and then your customer wants to change it after a few months. Because of this, it is important for customers to have a plan in place to deal with any recurrence of their problem.
Good old fashioned direct communication is always an option, especially if the client is unwilling to end the session as agreed or if they communicate less directly. The pilot must accompany passengers until they disembark from their flight, which may have been turbulent or fluid, and instill a sense of safety and confidence from boarding until they leave. If sessions are extended regularly, it is unlikely to be therapeutic and may not be useful for either party's growth. A mental health maintenance plan helps clients recognize ongoing mental health needs by summarizing their triggers and warning signs.
In general, therapy is completed when the client has achieved their goals as described in their treatment plan. Conceptualizing the end of a session as a therapeutic interaction that could contribute to your client's growth can encourage and inspire you to end it in a timely and thoughtful manner. Abruptly ending treatment too soon can make patients feel abandoned and miss out on crucial opportunities to consolidate therapeutic advances. A professional should provide their patients with a document that serves as a backup plan in case they are not available; this document should include information such as how to access patient records, meeting times, and where office keys are kept.
Dismissal is also an important time for reviewing what has been achieved by your client and reinforcing plans for maintaining good mental health. The therapeutic alliance has been correlated with improved treatment outcomes in people with various mental health problems and has been found to be a better predictor of treatment outcome than type of intervention.