Termination in Psychotherapy & Counseling: Ethical & Clinical Considerations

Dispelling myths and providing guidelines for Termination

Online Course Materials:    ArticlesArticles    AudiosVideos   ArticlesArticles   

All materials are available as audios with transcripts.

Developed by Ofer Zur, Ph.D.

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Course fulfills, fully or in part, the Ethics & Law requirements for psychologists in CA and for psychologists, social workers, counselors, and addiction counselors in other states. Verify requirements with your state board.

Audio introduction to course by Ofer Zur, Ph.D. (Transcript)

General Course Description

Understanding the nature of termination in psychotherapy and counseling is extremely important. While every professional relationship between therapist and client must end at one point, just how they end and just how therapists handle these endings have important ethical, legal, and clinical implications. The fact is that about 50% of clients drop out of therapy with or without notice. Many therapists are not sure how to handle such premature terminations as they are concerned with issues of abandonment. They wonder if they have a duty to follow up with a call or letter, offer referrals, or offer a free session. Additionally, different theoretical orientations view termination differently. For example, the psychodynamic therapy approach and focus on termination is generally very different from intermittent-long-term therapy, when we may see clients and their families intermittently throughout the life cycle.

This intermediate course is composed of two in-depth audio interviews with experts (transcripts provided), and it provides guidelines, as well as reviews of the codes of ethics regarding termination. The course dispels many myths and misconceptions about termination. It is geared to help therapists understand how they can avoid abandonment and, at the same time, terminate appropriately when necessary or mandated. Different types of termination will be addressed to include planned, unanticipated, unavoidable, mandatory, and those initiated by clients, by therapists, or by a third party. Additional resources and references are provided for further study, but they are not part of the course.

Educational Objectives:

    This course will teach the participant to

  • Discuss the meaning and types of termination in psychotherapy and counseling.
  • Describe the various forms of termination that may occur.
  • Identify the standard of care for termination.
  • Explain how to plan for termination and how to prevent abandonment and unethical practice.
  • Describe how different terminations may require therapists to terminate differently.

Course Syllabus:

  • Termination and Abandonment
    • Definitions
    • Differences
    • Basic concepts
    • How to avoid abandonment
  • Clinical, Legal, and Ethical Issues
    • Role of Codes of Ethics
    • Standards of care
    • Role of theoretical orientation
    • Role of nature of treatment provided
  • Types of Termination
    • Planned
    • Unplanned
    • Client initiated
    • Therapist initiated
    • Mandated
    • Other types of termination
  • Termination as a Process
    • Role of informed consent
    • Role of planning
    • Intermittent long-term treatment and termination
    • Role of documentation
  • Abandonment
    • Arranging for coverage
    • Responding appropriately to termination
  • Codes of Ethics and California Laws on Termination
  • Abrupt termination
  • Premature termination
  • What to do when clients unilaterally drop out of therapy
  • Dispelling the myths of termination
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Cost: $39.00

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