Every therapist has the occasional client who engages in treatment very briefly and leaves without a word. Sometimes they come back and other times we’re left to wonder why they started so strong and then abruptly ceased. There are a plethora of good reasons not to do therapy. I encourage my clients to consider how much stability they have in their day to day life. I encourage them to build support in the here and now before they start digging around in the past. Life takes precedence over self help. The rent has to get paid whether we’re feeling depressed or not.
When the client comes back to sessions; it’s an honor. It takes guts to come back and face not only your demons, but also the therapist you left hanging. I love it when that happens. Roll your sleeves up; they’re ready! I love working with people who want to do the work. Half hearted undertakings don’t last long with me.
I had a young woman come back to me recently. When I first met her she not only lacked support, but also lived with abusive parents. Today she is an adult and yet she still feels like the scared, defiant child I first met years ago. She’s much more able to do the work as an adult. While her focus is on everything she needed and didn’t get while growing up, mine is on how extraordinary it is that she’s identified those things and is ready to receive them at such a young age.
Working with people in recovery means that one must expect a bit of a revolving door on ones practice. Relapse is part of recovery. The shame that accompanies relapse is pervasive and there are times when picking up a white chip and making your next therapy appointment seems impossible. I remind those I serve that there’s a reason why folks clap when you pick up a white chip and there’s a reason why I welcome folks back when they’re ready to stop using and start working again.
So if you’ve left therapy for a week, a month, or for years, call your former clinician if you benefitted from them in the past. Be accountable. Ask to meet with them and explain that you’re ready to do the work. Welcome back!