A psychodynamic exploration of premature endings

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Neary, Patricia
Issue Date
Higher Diploma in Arts in Counselling and Psychotherapy
Dublin Business School
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Is it time to say goodbye? Goodbye to professional bodies that regulate psychotherapy in favour of an umbrella state regulation. Goodbye to a client after as few as six sessions? Goodbye to our idea of the therapeutic alliance as being a fundamentally positive relationship? Goodbye to a relationship that provides either the therapist or the client with fulfilment? From Freud’s scepticism of short term therapy to a societal expectation that today’s therapist facilitate therapeutic change with short term psychotherapy, what are the considerations for trainee psychotherapists as they start on the journey of facilitating growth and change in their client while experiencing personal satisfaction in their profession? Premature endings in short-term psychotherapy can be limited by three essential elements. Firstly, by understanding the relational nature of the therapeutic relationship. Secondly, by accepting that the therapist is also a human being and needs to have her own support in the form of personal therapy, supervision and peer group. And thirdly, by clearly defining with the client what he hopes to gain from his therapy. However, due to the relational nature of the therapeutic setting, some endings will inevitably have a premature end. Skovholt (2005) proposed that mastery of the profession is defined by the ability to repeatedly attach and separate from clients. Herman (2015) reminds the therapist to stay aware of her own vulnerabilities and to prioritize self-care. She concludes that the therapist can experience an enrichment of her life experience through her boundaried engagement with her clients (p. 153).