Now what? In my opinion, that is one of the most important and emotionally charged question to be explored in psychotherapy. Before discussing the end of a therapeutic relationship, allow me to backtrack a little. When psychotherapy is started, my role is to assist clients in fostering their autonomy to identify the nature of their struggles, learn coping strategies to alleviate their distress and raise their awareness of self-efficacy. As my colleague Andrea described in her blog post about life therapy: “we believe that psychotherapy is not for life and we strive to help clients identify what can make them feel their best and build a life from which they don’t need to escape from”.
Throughout the therapeutic process, progress is monitored and at some point, an agreement is reached to end therapy. To me, that is always a special moment to witness…seeing clients feel better and believing in themselves that they can enjoy life and cope with its challenges is so uplifting! That last part, … coping with life’s struggles… is what the “Now what?” refers to. I have been asked that question by almost every client during the last session. Despite feeling better, clients are often concerned with a fear of relapse. What if my depression comes back, what if I have another panic attack? What if I get in another fight with my husband or son? These fears are very common and important to acknowledge. The answer is Now you live, Now you enjoy what you worked so hard to build for yourself, Now you focus on your priorities and values. Trust yourself that you have the coping skills to face these challenges. Not convinced? Here are a few tips to help you navigate the fear of relapse
In a nutshell, that is it after the last session. Acknowledge the fear of relapse but remember what you learned about yourself throughout the therapeutic process that led to your progress. Lastly, know that your psychologist is always available for a booster session!