Wednesday, 23 February 2011


In the last of a series of therapy postings, I have chosen to write about endings.

Every therapeutic relationship needs to end at some point, though the ending itself can be difficult. If the issues brought to therapy were those of loss and abandonment, then they are likely to resurface as the final sessions draw closer. In fact, endings can generate trauma irrespective of the issues that have surfaced during the sessions. We are talking about a deeply emotional human relationship where the two people involved are about to part company and, quite possibly, never see each other again.

I have decided to focus on the very last session of the therapeutic relationship, when both the therapist and therapee are faced with that final ‘goodbye’. As opposed to using dialogue, I have crept into the minds of both players & created a dreamlike sequence, drifting in and out of their unconscious thoughts. Once again, my imaginary therapee, Riadne, has kindly agreed to join me in my rhapsody on the final hour.

Finally, it is probably worth mentioning that I have created a ‘good’ ending, where the therapeutic relationship has been productive and the ending positive. In the real world this is not always the case. Sometimes, for some people and for a multitude of reasons, therapy just does not work out.

‘Let it be so,’ I said
And my heart laughed with joy
To know the death I must die
Kathleen Raine

R 'Will you miss me, I wonder?' (tearbirth)

P 'I will miss you … you who landed here a distance ago, tumbling down from the heavens … crashing, crumpled, broken, empty. Here – this smile has lived in my soul since you arrived … it’s yours now. Please take it … for always (you can never lose smiles once you have accepted them).'

Twilight: umbra shades, lifting through a bruiseglow of fireflies and owl-light. I reach a clearing and a smouldering of embers where a fire has burned all day. Riadne is there, waiting for me. I drift over to join her (she does not feel me … but our breathings rise and fall in harmony).

R ‘You are my therapist. At first, I did not trust you. I thought you were smug. I thought you looked down upon me. Slowly, I began to like you. Eventually, I wanted to be with you … forever. Give you the all of me.

But you rejected me.’


P 'As the weeks, months, passed by your feelings changed towards me. I became your saviour, your lover, your perfect other. And I rejected you.

But oh! How I wished I could have flown with you back to your Eden - those balmy times whole testaments ago of figs and almond petals. What you wouldn’t have given to smell those musty hollows, rub fold of flesh beneath your mummy’s arm and curl into the cradle of her thighs, soft pillow bellywhite and shiny rips of skin cleaved by her amniotic sea.'

R 'You rejected me. I felt the steel of your resolve like soft armour round my body. I looked up and saw the smiles in your eyes. And I was a child again, grasping that bulging breast between my little hands, that swollen bud of nipple spurting sugarmilk: warm lactose pools that puddled in my folded tongue.

I came to know that you were there when you were missing … and though I have to go now … no, I choose to go now … you will always be alive in my soul … and I know that you will miss me.'

The calmness of a beautiful dying descends upon me. I rise, and smell the rich leaves that break quietly beneath my steps. I am on the edge of a still lake. Upwards, a storm threatens and clouds jostle angrily as heaven’s bells begin to peel their tonic sol-fa … clangs that echo in the distant Sundays of my childhood.

P 'When you arrived, staggering with the weight of your emptiness, you stood motionless at the margins of despair. You looked down into a paradise of darkness and only the dimmest of lights swayed and flickered in the howling winds that screamed inside your soul. I danced around you with my arms spread wide (did you ever see me?). You followed me around all day. I even took you home with me. I suffered like any parent might … though I knew my arms, my words, my actions would be snapped like twigs if ever you decided to jump.

Now, you have reached an edgeless place. This place has no limits. It is a feminine space, it is everness and it reaches far, far beyond being. So be nomadic, hitch your wagon to the stars … be free to roam in all the places you have been told never to go. Rip up your roots, be rhizomatic and wander through those pathless woods.’

R 'I am. I exist. And I no longer need the slow rip of a blade to prove my existence. I can be … I do not have to hide in the tall grasses of denial, nor do I have to sail my small boat upon a foggy, feathered ocean. I am enough of me, now, to dance between imagoes and long shadows. I am whole.'

A solitary kingfisher skims greenblue over the lake, heralding the dying of us.

I feel Riadne’s shoulders loosen, sense the strictures breaking open, hear the tumbling of her Jericho as the most beautiful dawn begins to appear: a hazy lemon light that plays so all-at-once over the late spring frost of a fallowed field … there is birdsong, the most wonderful aria that fills the sky with corals and carmines … and then …  twilight breaks, becomes dayspring.

P ‘It is time, Riadne … time for the end of us … for the beginnings of not-us again. Die peacefully … farewell.’

R ‘Farewell, my rock.’ *She watches as I crumble into a million particles. She smiles as she feels the mountain rise inside her chest*


Lunch, coffee … letter: ‘Dear Doctor … Riadne, etc.’ …


5.57 p.m.

Lock cabinet … lock door … down the steps … air shrouded in the after-rain scent of tea roses.

*a sigh: bigger than a planet  … *


  1. Blimey so 'get' it. You capture that 'space' between dreams & reality so brilliantly. *sigh*

  2. Thank you so much for your lovely comment Louise. Really pleased you connected up to my rhapsody.

  3. I could never imagine that someone would be able to write about a therapy session in such a poetic way. It's nearly a poem! Wonderful how you write the voice of the unconscious or subconscious. But - big pain remains ... losses are hard to take.

  4. Hi Martin ... thank you for your kind words. Yes, that's still the bottom line, isn't it? No matter what angle we come from, losses hurt. And all good therapists should be mindful of this at the beginning of every therapy contract. The 'ending' should be visible (in terms of its potential impact) from the very first session and reviewed continuously throughout.

  5. It is amazing how beautiful you write about such difficult feelings. The hows and whys of the ending is so important. It is reminiscent of leaving home, one's parents, except usually most people still talk to their parents. When one says "good bye" to a therapist, does one ever have contact again?

  6. Hi Quirina - thank you for your lovely comments. Yes, that's the big difference, isn't it? Usually, the final session means no further contact, though it does depend on the therapist's orientation as to whether that 'rule' applies. Many therapists do relax the 'no further contact' rule & will see people in follow-up sessions some months after the last session. Often, it is dependent on the organization's policy if the therapist is employed by someone (eg NHS). However, a privately practicing analyst would probably be very tight with her/his boundaries & say 'that's it' after the last session, based on the premise that any other arrangement would render the ending a non-ending. However, there is nothing to stop a patient entering a further course of therapy with the same analyst some years down the line if it is appropriate.

  7. Ohhhhh Peter....I had to come back a few times to read your words..The timing of your words amazing..since I have had an ending hat has torn my heart in two...I consider myself very lucky to have my therapist as my friend..I am still grieving the safeness I had for 7 years that has now been cut off..I think few know how deep the therapeutic alliance goes....when you have never known safe..a love that is pure...and then you find it...and then lose it is incredibly profound...though I will survive I believe I will always have this hole that grieves something lost..Thank you so much for your words...As always...XOXOXO

  8. Hi Bonnie - thank you sincerely for your comments. Yes, I was aware of your recent therapy ending with Z & I thought about you as I created this blog posting. Seven years with the same therapist is a very long time &, irrespective of how much preparation you make, ending that relationship was always going to be very difficult for you.

    It's good to read your words: 'I will survive' ... & sad to read that you believe the hole inside you feels like it will never close or heal.

    Being a regular reader of your blog I'm aware that you're struggling to adjust to your therapy ending - yet you have already taken perhaps the bravest step of all by stepping back & accepting that it has ended. Presumably, a part of Z will remain for always inside your soul? I hope his inner presence provides you with some comfort each time the emptiness weighs heavily inside you.