Hollywood movies have reaped big incomes from topics such as this, but let’s deal with reality: Losing your therapist is not amusing. Let’s look at how you can keep yourself together and come out smiling.
The first thing to do is to face your pain. Stare it down, acknowledging every aspect of it. You might feel scared, betrayed, panic-stricken or powerless. You might feel other emotions, too. All of them will swirl in your mind and heart with the power of ocean waves that rise and fall. The good news is that your emotions are normal. Nobody wants to lose what they treasure and need.
The benefit of being real with your pain is that you can think rationally about what to do to minimize and to end it. Sit down and write a list of priorities that you must tend to in order to nurture yourself and to protect yourself from falling apart. Title that to-do list along the lines of “My Therapist has Left Town, What I CAN Do to Keep it Together” because the purposeful statement can initiate some productive thinking in your head. Write down ideas as they come to you. You can edit the list later. Set the first 3-5 things on your list as top priorities, things to do first so that other goals can be achieved later.
The priority to reach out to trusted people needs to be high on your list. Those people can soothe you, and brainstorm with you about potential solutions. Actively pursuing those solutions should also be high to your to-do list. Life coach Mel Robbins teaches that taking immediate, necessary action makes the difference between success and failure. “Gonna do it” thinking never helps anyone. Doing what needs to be done can help. Make a hobby or game out of the task list and the work involved. That takes some pain out of the process. So will interacting with supportive people. Your active life will create energy for you, and that’s a good thing to build on. Passivity is poison to the soul.
Find out if you can speak with your therapist before your appointments end. Ask to grieve together, and to reflect on the accomplishments that you’ve made with their insights and support. If that can be accomplished, and even if it can’t, focus on the positive parts of that grieving process even if you do it alone. You can reflect on your relationship, consider the possibilities of confiding in a new therapist, and perhaps changing your approach with her or him. You’ll be starting with a history of therapeutic intervention and some personal successes, and that means that you’re coming from a position of strength. Do not attend that “let’s grieve together” meeting with a badditude, though. Pouting, blaming, and/or doing else to communicate a sense of negativity toward the therapist will only backfire on you. Some realities can’t be avoided. You’re in therapy to learn how to deal with them. This is not the time to sabotage your past or future progress. By strengthening yourself to face the facts and move forward despite your unhappiness is a positive development for anyone under any circumstances. Focus on your accomplishments due to the therapist’s guidance and your resolve to do your best.
Some future day, when you look back at the parting between you and your therapist, you will be able to reassess the situation. You’ll decide if that therapist was a stepping stone to future progress or not. You’ll realize if you want a different kind of therapy or even a different kind of therapist. You’ll know if you want to continue seeing someone who reminds you of the counselor you can no longer access. Best of all, you’ll feel pride in knowing that you survived a setback.