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The End of Therapy and the Beginning of Life

Letting go of the fantasy of a post-therapy relationship with your beloved therapist means you are ready to move on from the transference.  When your mind starts to shift from an enmeshed relationship with another to a singular meaningful relationship with yourself where the focus is now “me” and not “we” it signals a profound shift in cognitive thinking.

There is much self-examination and reflection and untold pain that comes with this.  Socrates said that the unexamined life is not worth living and I have explored every possible nook and cranny of my inner life.  Letting go of someone you love is the hardest part and this creates a vacuum which needs to be filled with something that is just as meaningful.  Never take a crippled person’s crutch away from them unless you have a replacement that is equally as effective.  But before you do that, you need to reach into all corners of transference options and the therapist who is willing to explore every aspect of your attachment to him/her and their own considerable counter-transference issues and/or attachment to you is doing themselves and their client a huge favour. 

Yoga, Tai Chi and Pilates along with learning to live healthily with my diabetes has empowered me considerably and helped me achieve self-love.  When you love and accept yourself you don’t need your therapist as much.  Your life becomes more important than therapy and when you want to spend more time outside the therapy room than in it – it is time to move on.  When this mind-shift happens, and it occurs incrementally over time, your need to rely on your therapist decreases exponentially.

I now react with loving kindness to myself rather than self-destruction and suicide ideation.  I am strong, I am invincible – I am “Me.”

And “Me” was a long time coming.  For an eternity there was just my therapist and I in an enmeshed relationship in my head.  Separating ourselves was like trying to untangle a basketball-sized bundle of knotted wool.  Neither of us wanted to chop the ball in half and own our severed part, we had to slowly unravel section by section until I knew that all the wool was entirely mine, but it was now one long piece that could be knitted into anything I wanted it to be.

I learned to separate by understanding how to love myself and recognize my limitations as being normal.  This was not easy, but it was not all gloom and doom.  I started with routine and a daily morning walk.  Over the months I value added with many other inducements – such as taking photos, cajoling other family members on my walks, finding a bird watching group and joining a gym.  Getting involved in my own life increased my self-esteem.  For the first time ever I viscerally understood what “self-esteem” meant.  It led to healthy eating and responsibility for my long-term diabetes.

It was only then I could explore realistically what a post therapy relationship with my therapist would mean to me.  I decided it would work brilliantly if she would only give up her career, her other painfully irritating clients, her immediate family, her partner, her pets, her friends and work colleagues and all her extended family, and walk off into the sunset holding hands with me as we boarded the mother ship and headed off to a deserted island for the rest of our natural lives, living on coconut cream pies and rainwater in splendid isolation from the rest of the world.  There I would have her full undivided attention day in and day out.  Be careful what you wish for.

However, to be more prosaic and pragmatic, I decided, after two weeks of solid thought, it would not work out too well.  We have too much considerable transference history that is best left in the past, rather like the dotty old aunt rocking away in the family attic and moving on is about change and transformation, which is both scary and exciting.  What does a post-therapy life look like?  You rarely see a butterfly dragging the cocoon carcass on its backside as it flutters brilliantly, beautifully and effortlessly around attractive and colourful flowers – but I can imagine it will always carry a body memory of metamorphosis.

This is I believe the same internal memory I will take with me as I embark on yet another phase of my extraordinary life which now includes amongst other things, a fledgling career as a mental health worker, yoga convert, fitness freak, healthy eater, Buddhist meditator, lake-walker, bird-watcher, photographer, animal lover, people lover, student and writer and strong advocate for transference-based therapy.

I may not have my therapist in my life for much longer, but she will be in my heart always and forever.

The End of Therapy and the Beginning of Life

Sonia Neale

Sonia Neale was recently awarded the Inaugural Barbara Hocking SANE Australia Fellowship to study and research Borderline Personality Disorder overseas in the USA, Canada, UK and Ireland. Her previous Psych Central blog was called Therapy Unplugged. She is the author of two books, The Bad Mother’s Revenge and Death by Teenager, both published by ABC Books/Harper Collins. She lives in Western Australia, is married with three adult children, has studied psychoanalytic psychotherapy, has a Certificate IV in Mental Health and is studying for a Psychology/Counselling degree. She currently works as a peer support worker in the mental health field.

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APA Reference
Neale, S. (2011). The End of Therapy and the Beginning of Life. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 30, 2020, from


Last updated: 18 Apr 2011
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