'Endings' in therapy: a therapist's perspective.

Ending therapy can be hard. Not just for the client, but also for the therapist. This isn’t something that the ‘profession’ feels easy talking about. Indeed, when I was training I was scared of telling my clients I would miss their presence in my life, even though I meant it and prize therapeutic honesty, for fear of what the ‘counselling police’ would say if they found out. Could I be criticised for getting too attached? Worse still, might people think that ‘it’s all about me’ and that by sharing my true feelings, I might be indulging myself, and should march straight back to my own therapist before I dare take on a new client.  

This fear was active in me for a long time.

And yet, I knew it wasn’t about me in a needy or domineering way. It was about me in as much as it was my experience of the therapeutic encounter, but it was also a feeling that was being co-created with another human being. It was a product of relational depth and time spent together week on week.

For some clients (and therapy naysayers) it seems easier to imagine that counselling is, bottom line, a financial transaction. At its worst it’s ‘paying for a friendship’ and at best ‘I pay you to care, and whilst I know you probably do on some level, I know that wouldn’t be the case if I wasn’t paying to come here’. These assumptions are understandable and societally enforced in various ways, but they don’t have to be true. They don’t ring true for me in my work.

I have a private practice, and I ask for a fee. This helps me to live and pay my bills, but every time I step into the therapeutic space I am stepping into a relationship, and entering into it in a meaningful way. No amount of money can make me genuinely care. No amount of money can buy my deepest empathy. No amount of money can be enough to bring me back to the chair week after week with another soul and minister to their despair, or join with them in their triumphs and successes (however small or large).  

You do it because you are called to. I do it because I believe in the healing power of relationship. I want the best for people and to help them bring down their road blocks. I also need to eat. The nuance of what it means to be in a therapeutic relationship is a post for another day, but suffice to say I don’t ever just show up and go through the motions. Great therapy, in my eyes and approach, requires relationality, it requires trust, it requires willingness to be open to the other. It requires some of the qualities of friendship, but more than that. It is not pals. It’s not family. Yes, it’s highly one-sided. It’s a relationship all of its own despite it being about them and not you. No one feels this anxiety more than the client, but it’s OK. We go into it knowing that this is what it’s about. Nevertheless, it holds its own space and it is real. What happens isn’t magic, it isn’t the product of a highly qualified expert and a broken patient. It’s the power of connectedness between two people showing up over time. Some people will be dismayed to hear this, but I believe it to be true. It works because you do the work together not because I hold powers. And each therapy is different. Again, another post.

So, that’s a flavour. And a lead in to the point about endings.

Endings are not transactional as a given. They don’t have to be. On the contrary, if therapy is a relationship, then ending is felt at an emotion level. Hopefully, ending is felt positively – you have done good work together – but there might also be a sense of loss. On both sides. I don’t find it a small thing to sit with another person week after week (especially in long term therapy) and so when our work ends, I feel the absence of the client. This is never truer than when you have moved from near-death back to life with another person. When you have been with them in their despair over the very question of whether to stay alive.

This isn’t pathological. It’s not concerning. It’s not a cause for alarm.

It’s human. It’s life affirming. It’s reflective of the ways that human beings affect each other. It comes and it goes, and in the end you wish your client the very best. It’s OK. Further along in my practice now, I can acknowledge to myself that each ending has an impact to varying degrees. Sometimes I just hold their slot for a week or two without filling it. A nod to their leaving. Sometimes I meditate and send them on their way, privately. Sometimes I smile tearily at myself as I walk to the car knowing that’s that, and they’re going to be OK.

More importantly now, I can invite my clients to hear how I have experienced them and our work together. I can do this with appropriate boundaries. I can do this within ethical practice. I can do this without worry that I am self-indulgent and in need of prosecution. I can do this without it meaning that I am trying to hold on and not let go. I can do this as an offering that says ‘I was here, and I cared, and I will continue to care. Your presence has been felt, I have seen the world through your eyes, and I wish you well’. If my voice and experience doesn’t matter to the client then that’s OK. I don’t feel the need to tell them, and I will talk it though in supervision, but if they want to know, then I am happy to speak truthfully. Nothing is lost, only gained.  

So, how you end matters. Both client and therapist bring their own experiences, discomforts and rituals to ending, and it’s important to understand this and be aware. You need to let some people bolt out the door. Sometimes a client doesn’t want to say more than ‘Thank you for this, goodbye’ and that’s OK. But creating proper endings for people can be redemptive and transformative, for the therapist included, and we try and prepare for these in advance. The client leads and the therapist intuitively finds a way to work with that; this is the deal.

In the final analysis, perhaps the hardest thing for some clients to hear is that they mattered and will continue to matter. Perhaps it’s also the hardest thing for therapist’s to say. But I hope I will always be brave enough to say it, and I hope my clients will be able to receive my genuine warmth and care until the very end of our time together.   



One Day Outdoor Coaching: Friday 25th January 2019

When & Where: Friday 25th January. Peak District, Yorkshire or North Wales (to be discussed together).

What: We will do one-to-one coaching together from approx. 9.30-4pm (in keeping with winter daylight hours) meeting inside first (for a cuppa and a chat) and then moving outdoors where we will walk, talk and explore what’s going on for you.

How: My coaching is person-centred and broadly rooted in existential philosophical practice. That means, you are the expert on your experience and have the answers and solutions to the problems you’re facing. My job is to listen, ask questions, challenge and help you make sense and meaning of where you’re at in the here and now. We will look at your goals, and what’s troubling you or holding you back from living the life you want, and we will look at ways through that suit you. During the day we will consider your values and beliefs, the stories you tell yourself and others and how you understand the role of purpose and meaning in your life. We will do this and plenty more besides!

Who: I am a qualified psychotherapist/counsellor specialising in outdoor therapy and coaching. My approach is non-pathologising and relational, meaning that I am interested in helping you make sense of your life and the things you are facing (however difficult) through a strong and safe working relationship together.

Suitability: You do not have to be an outdoorsy person, or be especially experienced outdoors. We will work at your pace and level of experience, whilst aiming to gently push you forwards. We do not have to have worked together before (this may be the first time) but you are equally welcome to book the session if we have or already do work together in therapy/coaching. All I ask if that you wear appropriate clothing for the day and I can advise on that when we know the weather!

Cost: £165 for a full day of outdoor coaching (plus email support before and after.)

How to Book: As there is only one place available securing the space will be on a first come first served basis. Please email me at ruth@whitepeakwellbeing.com to express your interest and I will send you a paypal invoice to secure the place. Once we’ve got it in the diary we will plan the location in line with your preferences and get started!

For more information on my practice approach and values please have a scout around this website or find me on Instagram @whitepeak_ruth. I look forward to working with you.

Outdoor Wellbeing: Mindful Hike/Walk 31st May 2018 Peak District

I will be leading an informal and mindful hike/walk in the Peak District next Thursday 31st May, as a moment to mentally pause at the end of Spring, and welcome the coming Summer ahead, whilst giving quiet gratitude to the season that has passed, and all that it has brought with it (whether that's good or bad). 

If you would like to join me then we'll be meeting at 11am in the free car park on the reservoir edge a few hundred metres before you arrive at the Fairholmes Visitor Centre S33 0AQ. The car park is surrounded by 'metred' car parking places, and is fairly shaded as it's surrounded by trees. We'll be meeting near my small LIGHT BLUE Peugeot camper van, reg beginning PK58.  

Please bring suitable clothing for the weather, food (for yourself and others if you wish to share!) and drinks (cold, warm, whatever is your preference). 

We will spend some time introducing ourselves to each other, and I will briefly talk about the art and technique of walking mindfully, before heading off for a quiet walk up onto the moor tops towards Alport Castles. We will intersperse quietly walking mindfully, with stopping to rest, reflect, notice and chat! The aim is to enjoy the surroundings and hopefully each other's company too. You are welcome to bring a journal if that suits you.  

You do not have to be fit to walk mindfully. We will go at a pace that suits everyone. The emphasis is on enjoying nature, and the surroundings in the present moment, not to be getting anywhere fast, or ahead of anyone else :-) This is an informal introduction to mindful movement. 

If you would like to join me/us, then please let me know on ruth@whitepeakwellbeing.com - if I know you're planning on attending then I will not leave without you! Likewise, if you want to join, but find you can't please also let me know so that I am not waiting around ;-) 

I look forward to meeting you on the hill!

I Walk For You



Columbia X She Explores X White Peak Wellbeing

Not ten minutes back from London, and I'm thrilled to receive some photos from last month's morning hosting a discussion about outdoor wellbeing for Columbia Sportswear EU and their She Explores campaign. Honestly, it was hard to imagine a more inspiring urban morning for me, bouncing out of the hotel to store, only to be met by amazing staff, croissants, some great gear and a welcoming and willing group of women ready to engage in conversation about outdoor wellbeing over their OJs. 

This was a really chilled session to facilitate and it was great to get folk thinking about 'their outdoors' and what the outdoors means to them. From there we discussed the ways that being outdoors is amazing for wellbeing, even if we've never thought about exactly why or how that happens. I then introduced a couple of approaches to walking and wellbeing, as well as my own LAND technique for getting grounded and making the most of  those snippets of time outdoors. 

As the session drew to a close I invited the group to set some wellbeing intentions for the months ahead, and I look forward to following up with them in a few months time to see whether they've got stuck in with renewed enthusiasm. I also provided notebooks, because everyone loves a notebook. I even designed them myself. 

All in all, an inspiring morning with inspiring women. I'm all about promoting inclusivity outdoors; encouraging everyone to find their own meaningful relationship with nature, and it's exciting for me to see big brands starting to notice that for every elite athlete, there are thousands more people who are living and loving the outdoors in their own way. 

Oh yeah, and how thrilled was I to be given their newest eco-friendly entirely plastic- free waterproof? This goes everywhere with me right now (because don't we all know how dismal the weather is this spring in the UK. Gah.)

I simply can't talk about outdoor wellbeing, without including the wellbeing of the outdoors. The outdoor industries have a long way to go in getting their gear ethical and ecological, but I'm gratified that they're listening to the demands of consumers, and starting to make changes. Being part of the conversation matters.  

The Healing Power of the Wilderness

The link below will take you to an article I recently had published with Passion Passport, on the theme of healing in the wilderness. As it is, it's mainly about the light and sound of the mountains. I hope you enjoy it!


For some reason, I can't embed a visual link. Sorry for this rather shoddy looking blog post!