How to Stay Consistent with Progress After Ending Therapy

Simone Koger, MA, LMFTA, CGP

2022-07-01

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A frequently asked question in your final session of therapy tends to be some form of, "How do you plan on staying consistent with the tools, skills, and concepts you have learned in therapy on your own?" This question is meant to do a few things, first- it helps present the concept that life outside of the consistency of therapy can be supportive. Secondly, it presents the idea that these things you have learned, are now part of your metaphorical toolbox you can take into the world and continue to use.

While this may seem scary, freeing, comforting, worrysome (or something in-between), it is a great way to start thinking of a plan of action. One of the benefits of therapy is that this outside person, who is trained to do so, can help you pinpoint things you can focus on developing/healing/processing to attain your therapy goals. Once that consistent check in is gone, you have to become that for yourself. Think of it like you wrote a large essay, you have looked at it so many times the words blur together- and your therapist comes in to highlight the gaps. Now, ending therapy means you have to do that for yourself.

Being consistent looks different depending on a lot of things, how long you were in therapy, how effective your therapeutic alliance (connection) was, what goals you met, and why it has gotten to the point where you are deciding to end services.

To be consistent once you are out of therapy, think of these prompts:

  • What can I do to hold myself accountable to these new skills/knowledge/habits?
  • How will I know if I am starting to slip into old habits that don't serve me?
  • Who can I check in with to also hold me accountable?
  • If it gets bad, what will I do? Who will I contact? Am I okay with returning to this therapist if necessary in the future?
  • How have I proven to myself I can go on without consistent therapy now?
  • What has changed from the start of therapy to now?

These are just a few optional prompts to think of when transitioning out of therapy.

If you are coming close to your termination session with your therapist, think about these prompts and what you would like to summarize with them. Having a termination session is a great time to go over some of these prompts to prepare for the transition out of therapy.

This is a big step!

Remember to ask your therapist their policy on returning to services if you feel you want to connect in the future. That way if you are feeling nervous, scared, anxious or any other type of way about the step into the world outside of therapy support you have that as part of your support plan as you go on.

Please note, not all people "leave" therapy. Many people consistently see a provider for the span of their life, whether it is weekly up to monthly, or there may be larger gaps in between seeing a therapist where life is easier to navigate alone, but sometimes it becomes difficult to navigate again. Therapy is what you make of it. It is not just for crisis or the most overwhelming times of life.

These suggestions do not apply if you are ending due to non-goal related reasons (finances, moving states, etc).