Relationships change, evolving into something new or coming to an end. For example, a child becoming the caretaker of a parent, the end of a therapy relationship due to the clinician leaving or transitioning from lovers to co-parents, etc. Changing relationship types or roles can come with mixed feelings and mixed realities of the pros and cons. Changing things can be difficult but a way to think of change is its stages: precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, maintenance, and relapse—stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. The stages of grief and change are not linear, and keeping these in mind can be helpful in changing relationships.

Relationships changing is normal. Creating meaning out of changing relationships can be valuable in overcoming adversity. Some role changes can be self-initiated, such as setting boundaries for your well-being/those of loved ones. For example, deciding to home-school a child due to adverse bullying. In other cases, it can be a surprise and out of one’s control. For instance, I became a caretaker of a family member after an accident. Creating meaning can look like taking a step back, reflecting, and being honest about the reality of the situation and your thoughts on it. Reframing is valuable in the associations one makes to the relationship in question. Lastly, having discussions with loved ones about the new reality and figuring out how to meet each other’s needs amidst the changes occurring. To facilitate such discussion, it is essential to take a step back and see the challenge not as between two people but as two people against the problem. Being wary of avoiding statements riddled with blame and shame can reduce defensiveness and allow for a productive conversation.

Therapy typically isn’t forever. Treatment can come to an end for a multitude of reasons. In the case of capital counseling EAP, you have limited time with a clinician for a set amount of sessions. In other settings, it could be when you and the clinician feel the necessary work has been done and it’s time to terminate. It could be either you or the clinician moving to a different state. Or a conflict of interest due to discovering multiple roles between you and the clinician. Lastly, switching to a new clinician because the current one isn’t quite the right fit, etc. Regardless of the reason, the experience of being in therapy and the lessons learned are impactful. Unlike other forms of interpersonal relationships, the client and clinician bond is unique. For example, having a non judgmental space to speak your truth, not knowing much about the clinician and knowing the union will come to an end one day. At the end of therapy, one could reflect on what aspects of treatment worked and what didn’t. For example, having a therapist who interrupts often or not as much can teach you about attributes that would be valuable to communicate with a future clinician. During the last sessions with a therapist, consider discussing your feelings about the session ending, taking notes during your time together, and figuring out strategies to maintain the positive changes you made during your time together.

If you are through an interpersonal transition, consider group, family, or couples therapy here at Capital Counseling by calling (518) 462-6531. Or visit Psychology Today to find a clinician:

By Chioma Ofodile, MHC Intern