I’ve never really had a final session before. In the past I’ve just gotten frustrated with a certain therapist and stopped going, or moved away without ceremony. On Friday I had my official final session with the therapist I’ve been seeing for the last year or so, and the only one I’ve ever really felt a connection with.
I’ve written before about what makes this therapist so great, and how she made this sense of connection possible with patience and warmth. I once came to an appointment with her early and sat outside her office. I realized that I could hear her conversation with another client through the door. I moved away, not wanting to violate anyone’s privacy, but not before feeling this really strange sensation, this kind of detachment.
She always made me feel like I was her only client somehow. She was so attentive, never rushed or preoccupied. It was bizarre to hear her giving that same kind of compassionate support to another person, a complete stranger. It felt like being a child forced to share my security blanket or something.
Therapist-client relationships are such a strange mix of the genuine and the artificial. I think there was real caring between us, but it was a caring that followed predetermined professional standards. It was a bond covered by insurance and co-pays. I’m really going to miss her, but I’m also going to find another therapist after I move and try to build that same bond again.
We shook hands at the end of the appointment. She knows me well enough not to try to hug me. She also let me take a little stone from her office, something to hold and focus on when I am on the verge of deep anxiety.
One nice thing about semi-artificial relationships is that there are clear rules for saying goodbye. The emotions involved are kept relatively shallow. I wouldn’t know how to handle it otherwise.