When is therapy over? This is a very good question. Of course, no one can really predict when that will happen, but there are a few things to think about.
The easy answer
The obvious answer is that therapy is over whenever you decide to end it. Of course, this seems obvious, but it’s important to say. You’re the client; ultimately, you’re in charge. People stop coming for a variety of reasons, and I often don’t know why.
It’s helpful to me when people tell me when they want to stop coming. It’s good to have a session to discuss why (if you want to) and it’s nice to have that final session to wrap things up (again, if you want to). Many people don’t do either. It’s up to you.
The more interesting answer
When is therapy over? usually means when should it be over? That depends on what “should” means. My usual thought is that it should be over when you’ve accomplished the goals that you came for, and any additional goals that you might have created for us along the way. It’s usually pretty easy to tell. When people tell me, “I can’t really think of anything else to say,” or “I came today, but I don’t have any idea what to talk about–everything is fine,” these are good incidations that we may be finished with your goals. When you’re no longer having many noticeable symptoms of PTSD, when you have the resources you need to deal with anxiety or depression when they crop up, when you feel like you’re “on track”–these are good signs. We’ll talk about these things as they happen, and the ultimate decision is always yours.
Other answers to “When is therapy over?”
There are a bunch of other reasons for therapy to end. An important one is if you’ve been coming for a little while and we don’t see any progress being made. That means that I’m not the right therapist for you at this time. My skill set might not include what you seem to need; you just simply might not like me or feel any connection with me (not everyone likes everyone!). This is fine. If you’ll tell me about it, I will make some referrals or recommendations as to what you might want to look for. My job isn’t to keep you coming to therapy, nor is it to keep you coming to see me. My job is to help you accomplish your goals, and sometimes the best place for that to happen is not here.
There are quite a few other reasons that show up from time to time. People often move to another place. Sometimes financial circumstances change and people can’t afford the price anymore (if you’ve been coming for a while, talk with me about that and we’ll try to work something out; often we can). Regardless of the reason, my job is to smooth the way and help you take your next step. That’s what you (or your insurance) pays me for, and I’m happy to do it. Therapy will end at some point–let’s make that transition as smooth as possible.