Is Therapy Forever?
Personal growth is a lifelong process. But does therapy have to be?
After nearly two years of weekly therapy, I am done.
I had been with my latest therapist since January. She was the first therapist I really connected with after bouncing from one provider to the next following the treatment I received for depression in a partial-hospitalization program that ended in March of 2021. We connected on a human level, not just in the transactional way that many client-therapist relationships operate. When she first brought up the subject of ending therapy several weeks ago, I was baffled. In many ways, it felt like we had just begun, and I knew I would miss her.
Personal growth is a lifelong process, and healing is not linear. We are imperfect, messy human beings who are always going to face obstacles and triggers. There’s always more to address and unpack. Couldn’t we all use a therapist by our side through it all?
I thought about seeking a new therapist, one who would be committed to the never-ending work I believed I needed to do in order to be a better person. To me, there was no way I could be done.
But as the weeks went on, I started to see what she meant when she said I had all the tools I needed to do life on my own. I was responding to everyday triggers without spiraling. I noticed my reactivity instead of taking my hurt or frustration out on my partner or others. Rather than defaulting to whatever my partner wanted or liked, I spoke my mind. I stopped blaming myself for every little thing and started to reject the narrative that I always had been terrible and always would be. At 24, I am feeling more like myself than I ever have.
But does that mean I will be okay without a weekly therapy check-in? There are kinds of grief that I have not yet known, stressors I have yet to face, and hurts I have only just begun to name.
We think of therapy as a routine form of self-care. It’s where we go to fix ourselves up so that we can emerge as stronger people, partners, and friends. The internet is filled with memes imploring anyone and everyone to go to therapy. We act as if it’s the solution to everything. But does it have to be that way?