Q8 Describe the possible impact of a helping relationship ending. (4.2)
The end of the helping relationship can have differing impacts on counsellor and client. In the client there could be a sense of loss of the safe and non-judgmental nature of the relationship. They might also miss the support they gained from it, especially if there are few other sources of support in their life. Other emotions also include indifference, relief, fearfulness, thankfulness etc.
Alternatively, the counsellor may have found the helping experience to be most rewarding and to have developed a caring and high regard for the client, again leading to a possible sense of loss when the relationship ends. The counsellor should also consider transfer/handover arrangements where this is appropriate.
In all cases, if the original aims of the relationship are well defined and met and most importantly, both counsellor and client can feel this is the case, it should enable each one to move forward based on a sense of progress having been made, even though they might feel apprehensive to begin with.
It can also be said that the impact of ending of full term helping relationships are likely to be a positive experience for both client and counsellor as goals will likely have been achieved and both parties will have a sense of accomplishment.
Another impact of the termination process might be a feeling of closure and a sense that the process is complete and the ending is timely.
Where there has been premature termination of the helping relationship it is suggests Sutton, et al, in the best interests of the client to (when possible) perform an evaluation.
This will likely demonstrate goals not achieved and cause feelings of disappointment, but it may also serve as a point of referral and new beginnings.
There could be a negative impact on the client as a result of the helping relationship ending. The evaluation and summarization process may prove difficult as memories of the past weeks or months are relived. The client may have forgotten or distanced themselves from the problems with which they came and find the evaluation painful.
It is also possible that the clients experience of relationships ending has been negative and this may impact how they feel about this ending.
The impact of the sessions coming to end for the client could be very emotional and bring up fears of losing the relationship with the counsellor. The client may have feelings of withdrawal knowing that the relationship is ending, especially if the helping relationship has been over a longer period. Thrampi (20011) asserts ‘for the client the result is of feelings about the loss and grief or insecurities of losing the relationship. For clients, this is something to process. For counsellors, this is an issue for supervision.’
In helping relationships outside the counselling framework it is as well to set expectations for example a friend had asked for help with their CV and I felt if I had not put a strategy in place to articulate how much time I was prepared to devote to helping in the capacity and what I would needed from my friend to complete her CV it would have dragged on for may weeks. By stating the time allocated and the frequency of meetings I was able to manage her expectation of what she would receive and when the helping relationship for the purposes of rewriting her CV would end.
Further possible impacts of the ending of the helping relationship for the counsellor could be that they have a negative experience if the relationship has been a difficult. For example: where the client has been resistant to the process, leaving the counsellor emotionally drained and with depleted resources. This could leave the counsellor’s empathy levels depleted and it is therefore important that as part of the ending strategy the counsellor allows time for supervision to recharge (Milne, et al).