Having worked in a Mental Health Clinic, in which, the wait list for services is typically 4-6 weeks long, there is a consistent expectation of timely discharge once therapeutic goals have been met, so I usually initiate counseling with clients by framing it as working towards discharge from the very beginning. Despite this, my recent resignation from that role meant that I had to end services with clients who would not have been ready for discharge otherwise, in which case, I encouraged file transfer to another clinician, with whom, they could continue therapeutic work.
Although I have been actively working on leaving this role for some time, and I am pleased with my new opportunity, I was caught off guard by how mentally and emotionally draining the process of approximately thirty client goodbyes were for me, in spite of how these individuals congratulated me on my career growth and wished me well, amidst statements of profound appreciation. Terminating these client relationships made me feel as if I were failing these individuals, despite all the reasons that propelled me in my earlier pursuit of further career exploration.
In our work with clients, we often discuss self-care and how essential that is to functioning well mentally, which is why I had to prioritize my own mental and emotional wellness, as I also navigated a host of goodbyes with colleagues and friends I had grown close to over the years. I had to show myself the very compassion I pride myself on with respect to client care, as I normalized the grief associated with the loss of any meaningful relationship or role, while attending to those emotions with the healthy coping skills I regularly encouraged in session. While I hope that clients take something positive from our time together, I can certainly attest that I do from this rewarding work.
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