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Exploring the Meaning of Session Termination in Therapy: A Psychologist’s Reflection

I have been a psychologist for a while now, recently I have been reflecting on what it means to terminate sessions with a client. For me, session termination signifies that my client and I have achieved my client’s therapy goals. It signifies that they have coping skills to thrive in their lives. What many clients don’t realise that to me they will always remain in my mind and heart. I had the honour of walking their life journey with them for a while. I would like to use this opportunity to ask my readers to comment here on, what it meant for you so terminate with your therapist?

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Asking for forgiveness

In childhood, we often learn that if we make a mistake, we need to say we’re sorry. Apologies aren’t always so straightforward, however. Asking for forgiveness is important, but only when it’s necessary.

Mental illness can sometimes bring feelings of shame and inappropriate guilt.  Making us feel unduly responsible for things that are actually beyond our control. In fact, inappropriate feelings of guilt are a hallmark of depression, and different types of anxiety contribute to self-doubt and self-blame.

While each circumstance is unique, these general guidelines can be helpful in knowing if you need to ask for forgiveness:

  • Did you do or say something hurtful (intentionally or accidentally)?
  • Have you been highly self-critical lately? Sometimes, the person from whom we need forgiveness is ourselves.
  • Was the situation outside of your control? Just because you were involved doesn’t mean that you are at fault for something that wasn’t right.

If you decide that you do need to ask for forgiveness, from yourself or others, keep it simple and sincere. Explaining that you feel bad for what happened, offering to make amends, and asking for forgiveness strengthens relationships—including the one you have with yourself—and allows everyone to move forward rather than stewing over the past.

The use of affirmations and mantras

Affirmations are statements that express and assert a desire or belief. By repeating the affirmation, you are reminding yourself of your strengths and goals.

Mantras are words, short phrases, or sounds that help you focus your mind. They’re often used in meditation by sitting comfortably and mentally or verbally repeating it, returning your attention to the mantra when your mind wanders. You might, for example, repeat the phrase “peace and calm” for several minutes while sitting quietly at a break during your busy day.

How to Use Affirmations and Mantras to Improve Your Mental Health

Some tips for using affirmations and mantras for your mental health:

  • Decide what you want to cultivate. Calm? Happiness? Focus? Motivation?
  • Write statements of affirmation and place them where you’ll see them during your day. Pause and read them thoughtfully whenever you see them.
  • Choose a single word or short phrase to act as a mantra. Pick a regular time to meditate and repeat the mantra. Set a timer, and keep it short at first—even just one minute

Repeating affirmations and mantras regularly teaches your brain what to focus on. You gradually begin to internalize these positives rather than focusing on what you don’t actually want.

Burnout vs. Depression

Have you been struggling with exhaustion and a lack of desire to do daily tasks? Do you find yourself overwhelmed and perhaps hopeless? You might be experiencing burnout, but it could be something more.

It can be difficult to know if you’re experiencing burnout or major depression because they both can cause:

  • Fatigue (feeling physical and/or emotionally drained)
  • Loss of motivation
  • Lack of interest in things once enjoyed
  • Difficulty thinking and concentrating
  • Hopelessness
  • Withdrawal from friends, family, and activities
  • Physical symptoms (headaches, digestive troubles, muscle or joint pain, and more)
  • Neurochemical/hormonal changes in the brain and body

Depression, though, goes deeper and is more serious. In addition to the above symptoms, depression can cause:

  • A sense of worthlessness
  • Excessive feelings of guilt
  • Significant weight changes
  • Sleep disturbances (sleeping too much or hardly at all)
  • Thoughts or death or suicide, with or without a plan

Burnout is typically caused by stress. While depression can be linked to stress, its causes can also be genetic. Sometimes, the cause of depression is unknown. Burnout tends to be shorter lived, improving once the stressor is addressed. Depression can disrupt life for weeks, months, or even years if left untreated. The good news is that both burnout and major depression can be treated. Working with a therapist can be beneficial for both

Mental Illness – It’s not your fault

Mental illness can be difficult to live with. It creates a lot of challenges and interferes in how people think, feel, and behave. Mental illness can make people incredibly hard on themselves. Self-blame and guilt are common mental illness sidekicks. Part of healing involves knowing—and believing—that you are not to blame for your illness. Mental illness isn’t your fault.

Comments such as, “I’m worthless,” “I’m stupid” and “I give myself migraines because I worry so much,” are tragic. They’re tragic because they’re untrue. Mental illness is something you experience. It isn’t who you are, and you didn’t do anything to cause it. Nor do you cause your symptoms to flare. Mental illness is complex with multiple causes. Genetics can play a part, as can functioning of and chemical activity within the brain and nervous system. Sometimes, things happen to people that rewire the brain and lead to ongoing symptoms. Your actions do not cause mental illness or its symptoms.

To help yourself let go of self-blame, catch your critical thoughts and immediately remind yourself, “This is something I live with. I didn’t cause this.” Keep your statement simple and firm to help it stick. When you replace self-blame with this simple fact, you will begin to believe in your inherent worth.

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