Ending a client relationship can be just as difficult as ending a personal relationship. In fact, while much of the literature addresses when to terminate, a more significant topic is the feelings that surround termination. Depending on the client and the length of treatment, saying goodbye can be hard for both of you. As a result, you should prepare for termination and the feelings surrounding this step of the GIM process early in the client-social worker relationship.
While you generally anticipate that successful treatment will lead to the eventual termination of the client relationship, there are a variety of other reasons for why this relationship might come to an end. There might be a set number of sessions the client’s insurance will allow, or maybe the end of your internship is quickly approaching. Maybe termination results from the unexpected, like a new job, an illness, or the client leaves without notice. Regardless of the cause, you and your client must be prepared for the end of your working relationship. Not discussing termination can result in uncomfortable feelings, including anger and disappointment for the client. As the social worker, you might feel disappointed about not being able to see the treatment through to completion. Even when termination is a planned event, clients might respond with anger, increased silence, missed sessions, or early termination. If they feel positive about this next step, they might express feelings of satisfaction and pride, with an appropriate amount of sadness about losing this relationship. While you are involved in a purely working relationship, you may be surprised at how many emotions or what types of emotions might surface for both of you when terminating the relationship.
For this Discussion, review this week’s Learning Resources. Consider potentially positive and negative feelings that you, as a social worker, and the client might feel regarding the termination of a therapeutic relationship. Then, think about how you might assist the client with the potential negative feelings. Finally, reflect on how you might help yourself with your own potentially negative feelings.
By Day 4
Post a brief description of two potential positive and two potential negative feelings that both you, as the social worker, and the client might feel, regarding the termination of a therapeutic relationship. Then, explain a skill you might use to assist a client with the potential negative feelings. Finally, explain how you might help yourself with your own potentially negative feelings.
Support your posts and responses with specific references to the Learning Resources. Be sure to provide full APA citations for your references.
Kirst-Ashman, K. K., & Hull, G. H., Jr. (2018). Understanding generalist practice (8th ed.). Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning.
- Chapter 8, “Evaluation, Termination, and Follow-Up in Generalist Practice” (pp. 307-348)