Skip to content

When the therapist says ‘Goodbye’- Using attachment theory to explore endings imposed by the therapist

The Workshop:

A day for counsellors, therapists and supervisors who want to consider the impact of these forced endings.

• retirement

• maternity leave

• moving house

• sabbatical

• illness in the therapist or her family

We are likely to face one or more of these challenges in our working life and taking time to reflect on the ethical and clinical implications can help us when we face sensitive choices. For therapists who are approaching ‘peri-retirement’ the day could provide a space to reflect on the ambivalence about ending and perhaps to clarify the choices about timetabling closure and informing clients. The Covid-19 pandemic will have coloured or even precipitated some of these experiences and we will hold that in our reflections.

The imposition of a forced ending could be on the one hand a rich opportunity for deeper engagement, and on the other an intrusion of the therapist’s own needs and an irreparable break in the frame which compromises the work. How can we work in a way which minimises the harmful impact of this abandonment and maximises the opportunity? The emphasis will be on planned endings imposed by the therapist but we will give some thought to emergency endings and referral on.

This one day seminar aims to help therapists:

• Identify our assumptions about a good enough ending and how we can facilitate that.

• Recognise the meaning to a client of a forced ending and the ways this may impact on the remaining months of work.

• Reflect on the therapist’s ambivalence about imposing an ending – for whatever cause.

• Recognise how attachment patterns influence the way both client and therapist experience an imposed ending.

• Identify the practical implications of closing a practice.

• Identify ethical dilemmas arising from this intrusion of the therapist’s own agenda.

• Consider the supervisor’s role in supporting the clinical challenge of a imposed ending.

• Consider the supervisor’s own retirement and closure.

Learning will be through presentation, questions, discussion, experiential exercises and sharing.

The trainer:

Anne Power has qualifications from The Bowlby Centre, Westminster Pastoral Foundation, Tavistock Relationships and Relate. She has taught on supervision and therapy trainings at The Bowlby Centre, WPF and at Regents University London and has a private practice in central London for both couples and individuals. Her book, Forced Endings in Psychotherapy, explores the process of closing a practice for retirement or other reasons. Her published papers explore attachment meaning in the consulting room and in the supervision relationship. She is currently researching and writing about logic versus magic in partner choice: random romance, arranged marriage, and dating sites – what’s the difference?