Friday, June 12, 2015

Termination with patients

In a recent Art Therapy supervision, we discussed how to terminate with patients.  Since we work in a long term facility, it would be more common that the therapist would leave before the patient, though the termination would be similar if the patient were to be discharged. We've had therapists in the past who have left without telling patients in their groups that they were leaving which is unethical and unprofessional. Saying goodbye can be difficult for anyone, even a trained therapist, but it is the therapist's responsibility to know if this is an issue for her/him and seek supervision or therapy, so the therapist will be able to properly terminate with patients. We talked about the importance of giving patients as much notice as possible, so they can process any feelings that come up about loss, rejection, or abandonment. It is also good for the therapist to be able to say a meaningful goodbye. I had a couple of therapists practice how they might inform a group of patients that they were leaving while the rest of us role played the patients. It is also important with the sex offender population to terminate appropriately because many of them have issues about women, and we wouldn't want to reinforce any of their negative beliefs by terminating improperly. The role playing was a good exercise to help staff think about how they would handle termination.