He Left Therapy with Angry Goodbye

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

The short is this. I’m 60. I was in analysis for 5 years and then therapy for 2. Had strong feelings for therapist. Finally left angry and frustrated — after 7 years — with but a goodbye email. 2 months later sent angry email; followed with apology note. Very intense and unsettling relationship for me. Now seeing new therapist. Anger gone, feel ashamed of my leave-taking and note. Bothered that I will never see analyst again. Should I just move on and assume she understands or doesn’t care?

A: Therapists do care when a therapeutic relationship ends abruptly and badly. My guess is that she respected your decision to leave and accepted the apology.

You now have a new therapist. I strongly suggest that you talk about what happened in your prior therapy. As part of that conversation, I hope you will talk about why you have been in therapy so long. Are you still symptomatic? Was your therapy working for you? If the treatment was working and you are leading a more balanced and more satisfied life, I have to wonder why you didn’t follow up on your apology note with a request to see the therapist again to process what went on and to terminate in a more orderly way. If the treatment wasn’t working, then it may be fortuitous that you are starting with someone who can put fresh eyes on the case. Sometimes therapist and client get so connected it’s hard to let go of each other even when things aren’t going well. One or the other has to leave mad in order to leave at all.

Please do yourself the favor of sorting this out with your therapist.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 17 Jun 2012

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2012). He Left Therapy with Angry Goodbye. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 22, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2012/06/17/he-left-therapy-with-angry-goodbye/