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Ending Therapy

Question:

I have been working with the same therapist throughout the past seven years. He is leaving for a different job. I know that this is a natural process, but I don’t feel prepared for it. I have only two more sessions before he leaves. What are some questions I should ask to get the most from him before he is gone? I feel that he understand me more than anyone in my entire life. Is it acceptable to ask him for an email address? I have always wanted to write a book about my experiences and he is a vital tool that I can use in my writing. I also have wanted to write him a thank you letter. I am not ready to write that book or that thank you letter. Is it professinoal to ask him for his email?

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Answer:

Coincidentally, an article appeared in the New York Times this past Sunday, April 22nd. The writer, Jonathan Alpert, himself a therapist, asks if therapy is forever? He concludes that it is not and that studies show that it loses its effectiveness after the twelfth session.

If I may venture a guess, you are ready for him to leave because you are a functioning adult. Even if you have an acute psychotic illness, with the help of medication, you would be able to function. Yes, you feel sadness and even grief that he is leaving. That is natural. But, it’s time for him to move on and it’s time for you, too. Also, if he can understand you then you can understand yourself and others can understand you. You need real and outside friendships and relationships to help you navigate the world. I am assuming you have those relationships and, if you do not, you need to form them and not use therapy as a substitute for the real thing. Unfortunately, therapy can become a substitute for life and that is why short term therapy is much better.

You have every right to ask him for his E.Mail address. You do not have to be professional because you are the patient and, as such, you can ask anything you like. I cannot predict whether or not he will give you his E.Mail address but that is up to him. Just be ready for the fact that he may not give it to youo and that may be better. It’s time for you to move on and not hang on.

You can write that book if you wish and you do not need him to do it. If you wish to send him a thank you note, that is up to you. You have every right to do that. Perhaps you want to thank him in person during your final session?

Best of luck

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